Apr 24, 2012

Farmers' Markets in Little Rock

By no means do I know of all the farmers' markets in Little Rock but here are four markets I can give details about.  If you know of others, spread the love and leave a comment.  

When: Saturdays from 7am-noon, now until October
Where: 6th and Main Streets in North Little Rock
Why it's my favorite: parking is easy, it is small and I know most farmers by name

When:  Saturdays from 7am-noon now (grand opening May 5) until September
Where:  2200 Kavanaugh Blvd
What you'll find: many of the same farmers from the Argenta Farmers' Market plus several other local farmers.  It would be so cool to live within walking distance of Pulaski Heights Baptist Church.  Many people walk to this market with their pets and push their children in strollers.  What a fun Saturday morning experience!

3. Bernice Garden Farmers' Market
This is a NEW market this year, open on Sundays.
When: Sundays starting May 6 from 10am-2pm until October
Where:  1401 S. Main, Little Rock (near Community Bakery)

Vendors planning to be there:

Laughing Stock Farm
Dunbar Community Garden
Kent Walker Artisan Cheese
Tom Frothingham - native plants and vegetables
Bussey-Scott Urban Garden
Little Rock Urban Farming
Goat Roper Farms

Also, The Root Cafe will start opening for Sunday Brunch from 9-2pm on May 6 to coincide with this market.

4.  River Market Farmers' Market
When: Tuesdays and Saturdays April 24 until October
Where: 400 President Clinton Avenue
What you'll find: a very big market, produce from everywhere including Arkansas (bananas don't grow here, by the way), lots of arts and crafts, live music, big crowds.  I like going to this market on Tuesdays if I've been out of town on the weekends or run out of strawberries (or peaches) during the season and can't wait for Saturday.

By all means, visit a farmers' market soon.  Read my reasons why.


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Apr 19, 2012

Reasons to Go to a Farmers' Market

1. Think of it as entertainment.  At Argenta Saturday, my ears enjoyed a folk band.  I gave my son $2 and told him he could spend it on anything he pleased.  This pocket change helps him engage at the market and is much cheaper than going to the movies.  Being at the market has a higher educational value - but I'm getting ahead of myself...

2.  Stimulate local economy.  Money spent at a farmers market stays in the local economy.  Local farmers are not paying third parties for national advertising campaigns.  When you put food on the table from the farmers market, you help small farmers put food on their tables.
3.  Save the earth.  Often local farmers use less chemicals on their food than large commercial farms. Be sure to ask, though about farming practices - or you can read about some local farmers here.  Another way shopping locally saves the earth is that it uses less petroleum.  These veggies have not been shipped thousands of miles to get to your grocery store.

4.  Teach children.  Once I saw a TV episode of Jamie Oliver go into a classroom and ask the elementary aged children to identify various veggies.  It was embarrassing.  Many could not give the name of a potato.  But I'm assuming all those children could identify potato chips.  
5.  The food tastes better.  You won't find strawberries like these at Kroger - local strawberries are uh-may-zing.  It tastes better because it has not been picked too early then spent days on a truck.  Many of the farmers offer samples - or would be delighted to give a sample if you just ask.  If you don't know what to do with a particular food, ask what they would do with it.  

6.  Buy healthy food.  Chances are, you won't find processed food at the market.  Farmers market food is food you can feel good about snacking on as you drive home.  I've been guilty of eating a whole quart of blueberries before I pulled in my driveway.
7. Meet people.  Farmers become your friends.  Pictured above is Larry Kichler and his honey (his wife and that from bees:).  My 7 year old son loves stopping to talk with Larry, especially when the bees are present.  And I've run into many non-farming acquaintances at the market, too.  Last spring I bumped into a friend I had not seen in about 15 years.  We knew each other in college; she was from Hawaii, I was from Kentucky and we loved on children at a camp in Ohio.  Small world that we both ended up in central Arkansas.

8.  Enjoy outdoors.  I love being outside.  What's not to love about shopping outside? 

9.  Learn a new veggie.  For the first time I feasted on a lemon cucumber because of the farmers market.  Take home some bok choy.  Robert from Willow Springs Market Garden sent me home with minutina greens this past Saturday.  You also learn what is "in season" and what could grown in your own garden.

10.  Try something new.  Saturday I bought a bar of Tammy Sue's shampoo.  I have been on the hunt for a toxin-free shampoo that doesn't leave my hair feeling like straw.  My quest for shampoo is over.  I love Tammy's shampoo bar.

11.  Support a good cause.  Every Saturday is a mixed bag - you never know which vendors you will see.  One Saturday last summer there were a couple of  young women desiring to go to Bee Keeper's conference in the northeast (was it Vermont or Maine?).  They had baked a cute assortment of cookies in the likeness of bees in hopes of raising money.  Of course we had to support their cause.  My son was so happy to see the bee cookies. 

Well, there are my eleven reasons to visit the farmers market.  Will you go this weekend?


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Apr 18, 2012

Linky Love

I have high cholesterol and I don't care from that site I also found interesting Food Fascism and the 80/20 Rule by Chris Kresser.

Top 10 Dangers of Fluoride by Cheeseslave.  After reading that article, print this and give it to your friends.

40 Fertility Super Foods by Holistic Kid.  Even if you aren't trying to conceive, read the list to see how many of the super foods are in your diet.

My Thoughts on Supplements by Naturally Knocked Up

How Vegetable Oils Make You Fat by The Healthy Home Economist

Remember this no bake cookie recipe I shared in December?  I made it again - gluten free this time - using all coconut (no oats) and substituted half of the butter with coconut oil.  Delicious.

Lacto-fermenters:  I tried this recipe for 5-Spice Apple Chutney and liked it as a compliment to the chicken curry we make in huge batches.

- Julie

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Apr 16, 2012


Opening this weekend at Market Street Cinema (1521 Merrill Drive) is Jiro Dreams of Sushi.  It looks like a real foodie kind of movie.

Trailer and other info below.

from the film's website:
JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is the story of 85 year-old Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef. He is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station. Despite its humble appearances, it is the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded a prestigious 3 star Michelin review, and sushi lovers from around the globe make repeated pilgrimage, calling months in advance and shelling out top dollar for a coveted seat at Jiro’s sushi bar.

For most of his life, Jiro has been mastering the art of making sushi, but even at his age he sees himself still striving for perfection, working from sunrise to well beyond sunset to taste every piece of fish; meticulously train his employees; and carefully mold and finesse the impeccable presentation of each sushi creation. At the heart of this story is Jiro’s relationship with his eldest son Yoshikazu, the worthy heir to Jiro’s legacy, who is unable to live up to his full potential in his father’s shadow.

The feature film debut of director David Gelb, JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is a thoughtful and elegant meditation on work, family, and the art of perfection, chronicling Jiro’s life as both an unparalleled success in the culinary world, and a loving yet complicated father.

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Apr 13, 2012

Roasting Bok Choy

If you do a quick Google search of bok choy recipes, most include stir fry.  The first time I tasted this leafy green, it was roasted and quite delicious.  My Australian neighbor (and amazing cook) roasted baby bok choy and it was divine.  

When my family moved back to Arkansas, I was thrilled to learn it would grow in my garden!  You will probably see it at the farmers markets, this spring too.

If you're not into stir fry and want to try something different, try roasting your bok choy.

After cleaning the leaves, I spread it out on a cookie tray.  Then drizzle it with olive oil or a yummy homemade oil and vinegar salad dressing and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Roast in a preheated oven at 450* for about 15 minutes, keeping an eye on it.  Once the leaves wilted a bit (about 10 minutes), I spread them out a bit.
 When the leaves begin to look like the below picture, turn on the broiler for 5 more minutes to help the leaves crisp up a bit more.
My family enjoyed it this way.  It was something different.  And best of all it came from my garden!


See also this post where I used bok choy in stir fry, and commented that the stems can be used to scoop peanut butter (like celery but no strings!)

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Apr 12, 2012

Liver: Ate It But Didn't Even Taste It

Talk about nutrient dense: gram for gram liver contains more nutrients than any other food.  My brain knows it is good for me, but my tongue is not in agreement...yet.

Today I decided to chop it in gummy bear sized pieces and swallow it raw.  I never tasted it.  It was awesome.
Don't think about slugs or leeches as you pop it in your mouth.

Just sayin'.

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Apr 11, 2012

Honeysuckle Lane Cheese from Daley Dairy

Springtime in Arkansas is beautiful. My children and I took advantage of a beautiful day and drove about an hour from Little Rock to Rose Bud to visit a raw milk cheese maker.  For about two years I've been telling Ray (Sr.) at the Argenta Farmers Market I wanted to visit and see how the cheese is made.  
Raymond and Ray Daley saying "Cheese!"
Currently the Daleys have their cows and dairy on leased land.  Raymond (Jr.) is building another dairy on land he owns not far from their current operation and has hopes of moving everything soon.  The farm, Honeysuckle Lane, got its name from the honeysuckles that grow on the lane that leads to their farm.
Ray Sr. lives about 20 minutes from the farm and drives to Rose Bud about one a week to help make cheese.  Raymond Jr. lives close by, is a police officer at night, and milks the cows twice a day - he's a busy man!  In peak cheese season they make cheese twice a week.  The milk not used to make cheese they sell to be pasteurized.
Once inside, we saw a huge vat of curds and whey...just like Little Miss Muffet's.  The paddle needed to stir a bit longer so we took a tour.
Inside a walk-in refrigerator we feasted our eyes on CHEESE!!  This below cheese has been cured and cut to half pound portions and is waiting to make it to your table.
This is a picture of the full "horns" that are curing for 60 days.
This is one of the Daley Dairy babies.  They raise Jersey cows, a breed that provides the most milk fat - which makes yummy cheese.
I also saw the milking parlor but didn't take pictures.

Back inside it was time to drain the whey.
I asked how they knew when it was time to pull the plug and separate the whey, Raymond Jr. showed me.  "It's when you can squeeze it and it sticks together like this."
Once the whey was drained, they began sort of packing the curds.  I say sort of packing because like most foods worth eating, it takes time and is a bit of a process.  They weren't cramming the curds together but the process was methodical and obvious they had done it a few hundred times.
My 7.5 year old son got a real kick out of saying, "They're cutting the cheese, Mom!"
After 15 or 20 minutes they flipped over the big blocks of cheese to let more whey drain and gravity to do its thing and push the curds together.
At this point we said goodbye because my toddler wasn't nearly as interested in the process as I was.  I could have stayed a LOT longer.  As I understand it, the Daley men will stack the cheese cubes, then cut them into one-inch cubes using a press.  Then the cheese goes into molds to make the horns (shown refrigerated, above).

Before leaving we were sure to take home lots of cheese.
Honeysuckle Lane cheese can be purchased from the Local Food Club, Little Rock Athletic Club, or at the Argenta Farmers Market (opening day THIS SATURDAY, April 14).

See also GreerAR by the Day's blog post on her visit to the farm.


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Apr 5, 2012


Grilling season is upon us!

Below is the marinade we quadrupled on cooking day.  After quadrupling, I added everything together and poured it into containers.  The next time I double, triple or quadruple this recipe, I will add the oil separately to each container - so that each portion receives the correct amount.

1/4 c soy sauce, preferably naturally fermented.  San-J is a good brand, found at Whole Foods.
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
1/8 c raw apple cider vinegar (or whatever vinegar you like)
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T basil (more if using fresh)
2 T parsley
1/2 t white pepper

The portions of marinade were frozen without meat.  We have read differing opinions on whether or not to freeze meat and marinade together. 

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Apr 4, 2012

Batch Cooking: Another Day in the Freezer

Yesterday we tucked another batch cooking day under our belt (menu here).  It just about killed me.  Today I was so tired from standing in the kitchen for almost 4 straight days, I wanted to lay in bed all day.  Didn't happen.  Two little people needed me to make more food - starting with breakfast.  Imagine that.

However, I took comfort in the fact that I have an enormous amount of food in my freezer to show for it.  HB has just as much.  It is our hope that it is enough food to last both families six to eight weeks.  Crazy amount of food, people.  We used over 20 cups of mushrooms, 8 whole chickens, a 5 pound roast, 12 pounds of stew meat, 3 pounds of round steak, 4 pounds of brats, lots of beans and rice, 11 green peppers, a gallon of cream, and lots of Real Salt.
This was some (cold) gelatinous nourishing broth, made with chicken feet.  You won't find healing nourishing broth at the grocery store.
The Cruise Director wanted to make sure we stayed the course so she taped our schedules to the cabinets.  We got off track, by the way.  The proposed schedules really do help.  When I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off and I'm tempted to say, "What do I do next?"  I just look at the schedule.

At 3:30 I realized we were not going to get everything done so I didn't make the double batch of falafel. The day started late (babysitting snafu).  And it takes FOREVER to package and clean up - we never allot enough time for that.  HB kept making quesadillas until 4:30.
 HB made 12 loaves of soaked wheat bread and it was delicious.
I wish I'd had the presence of mind to take more pictures.  Really, you just need to be here to fully appreciate the madness that ensues.  If you know HB in real life, be sure to ask her about the smoke in my kitchen (it was billowing out the windows and doors).  I didn't get a picture of that but my neighbor said, when I went to borrow worchestire sauce, "Your hair smells like smoke."

All in a day's work.
-Julie for HB

The ingredients for the falafel still beckon me from the fridge.

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Apr 2, 2012

Stewed Chicken (for Burritos)

The last time HB and I made burritos for our batch cooking day, the chicken burritos were a bit, ahem, bland.

Never fear!  The Cruise Director decided to kick it up a notch this time.  She told me to "stew the chicken."

I was like, "Wha...?"

She came to my house and did it for me.  What a friend.  Here's what she did (I took notes for you.)

Cook and debone a whole chicken.  Since mine was cooked in the crock pot, the meat went back in the same crock (without washing it.)

Add a can of Rotel (or 10-16 ounces of tomatoes and chop up a jalapeno).  She also chopped up a jalapeno and added it.  Add spices to taste...approximately 1T cumin, 1T chili powder, 1T salt, a bit of pepper and anything else that sounds good and Mexican-y to you.  Stir it all around and it will probably appear a bit dry.  Add about 1-2 cups of broth, preferably with lots of fat.  If you don't have fat on the top of your broth, bacon grease would be super-yumma-lish.

Give it another stir, taste, and turn crock on low for 4-6 hours.  Taste again and adjust seasonings.


Bye-bye bland burritos.
-Julie for HB

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Apr 1, 2012

VIDEO: How to Debone Whole Chicken (in less than 4 minutes)

Call me Tom Sawyer.

HB has been bragging that she could debone a chicken in under four minutes.  I told her she needed to prove it.  By the way, we're both responsible for cooking and deboning 3 chickens for our batch cooking day (on Tuesday).  Today she deboned one of my chickens.  :)

Favorite HB quotes from the video:

"I'm feelin' good.  I got some adrenaline going here."
"These are what I call the un-identifyable parts."
"If you're still watching, you're a serious trooper."
"Don't tell Sally Fallon."

Other ideas:
- Use a Kitchen Aid Mixer to help shred the meat once off the bones.
- 5 pound whole chicken yielded 8 cups of meat
- The texture of a whole chicken gross you out?  Close your eyes while deboning.  Your fingers will tell you what is meat and what is not.  Or, wear gloves.
- Cook chicken in crock pot until it is falling apart.  This will make it easier to debone and you'll pick off more meat.

linked to Monday Mania

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Batch Cooking Day Menu

Foods we plan to prepare:

JM = Julie
HB = Holly

- 10 loaves of soaked whole wheat sandwich bread (HB is bread maker)
- marinade for steak/pork chops/chicken x4
falafel x2
- beef tips and rice x4
- 50 burritos (JM seasons and stews ckn for burritos, HB roasts beef for burritos)
chicken spinach stew x3
chicken pot pie x2
- chicken/spinach/mushroom calzone (HB makes dough ahead of time so it will be super tast-a-licious) x2 (makes four big calzones)
- Marlboro Man Sandwiches x1
- red beans and rice x2
- chicken pesto quesadillas (40 dillas)
- pizza sauce
- cheesy mexican chicken (HB makes ahead) x3
- chicken curry (JM makes ahead) x4 as per recipe

If you someone who is nosy likes details, here's the rest written by HB (who is the mastermind Cruise Director behind our cooking days):
Tentative Cooking Schedule
{children are off-site with a sitter - can I hear an Amen?!}

9:00-9:30 HB starts first batch of sandwich bread (use little oven), JM starts red beans and rice and pizza sauce
9:30-10:30 HB beef tips and rice (use big oven), JM chicken pot pie
10:30-11:30 HB assembles burritos, JM packages marlboro man sandwiches
11:30-12:00 lunch...burritos of course! :)
12:00-1:00 HB bread/start second batch (use little oven), JM makes marinades, both work on packaging/clean up, etc.
1:00-2:00 HB chicken pesto dillas, JM ckn spin. stew
2:00-3:00 JM falafel, HB calzones (will help with falafel if I'm done early)
3:00-4:00 HB and JM, clean up, package

Things to chop
(specific quantities are written on a sheet of paper, will label when I chop)
33 cups onions
8 cups celery (already chopped)
14 cups carrots (already chopped)
11 cups bell peppers
9 cups tomatoes
3 jalapenos
56 cloves garlic (8 heads of garlic)

Chicken Portions
4 c. calzones
10 c. dillas
2 whole chickens for curry
7 1/2 c. chicken for mex. ckn.
8 c. for pot pie
7 c. ckn for burritos, stewed
9 c. ckn for ckn. stew
total: 45 cups plus 2 whole chickens so that means 8 chickens overall needed
{we've decided that JM will make curry another day this week}

Grocery List
soy sauce (1 c.)
8 lemons
13 onions
8 c. parsley leaves
17 cups (136 ounces) cream
19 cups (152 ounces) mushrooms, please buy sliced
11 bell peppers
32 cups fresh spinach (JM has greens in her garden)
3 jalapenos
9 cups tomatoes
26 burrito size tortillas
80 fajita or soft taco size torts (pick one or the other, don't buy half and half pls)
4 28 oz. diced tomatoes
2 1/2 cups ready made pesto (Whole Foods has a delish pesto in a jar)
8 c. coconut milk
3 cups brown rice
1/2 c. white wine
tomato paste for pizza sauce
12 deli rolls, no HFCS
9 cups shredded cheddar
16 cups shredded monterey jack

Julie's Jobs
Cook 4 whole chickens and plenty of broth (Sat. night/Sunday)
Make curry (Sat. night soak garbanzos, make Sunday?)
get groceries (Sat. afternoon)
chop the 13 onions from groceries (Monday)
chop all but 3 bell peppers (Monday)
stew 7 cups chicken for burritos (Monday)

Holly's Jobs
Cook 4 whole chickens and plenty of broth (Sat. night/Sunday)
make mexican chicken (Sunday)
chop 20 c. onions (Saturday)
soak 4 c. chick peas (Monday)
slow roast beef for barbacoa burritos (Monday)
soak and boil 32 oz. beans for beans and rice (Saturday)
soak 2 batches bread (Monday)

linked to Monday Mania

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Chicken Pot Pie

This could be one of my favorite comfort foods.  It can be doubled on batch cooking day and some put in the freezer.  It's a crowd pleaser.
- Julie

2 - 9x13 pans
3 - 8x8 pans**

2 cups onions, chopped
2 cups carrots, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
mushrooms, optional
1/2 cup butter (one stick or more)
1/2 cup flour
2-4 cups chicken broth
1 cup cream
4+ cups chicken, cooked & chopped
1 cup frozen peas, green beans, or both
1/4 cup or more white wine, optional
thyme, salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onions, celery and carrots (and later mushrooms if using) in butter in a large skillet over medium heat until tender.  Add flour and stir until smooth.  Cook one minute, stirring constantly.  Slowly add chicken broth then cream. {{Slowly is the key to keep your dish thick and not soupy.}}  Cook, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly.  Stir in chicken, peas, salt and pepper.  Add more broth if it is too thick.

Freezing and Cooking
Cool and divide filling in half.  Freeze in one gallon freezer bags.  Keep frozen pie crusts on hand.  

**Generally, I freeze 4 geneous cups for 8x8 pan and 6 generous cups for 9x13 pans.

The Crust
This recipe makes one crust for the top of a 9x13 pan. I usually use just the top crust.

{Keepin' it real:: For YEARS I bought ready made crusts.  If this is your first time making chicken pot pie, extend some grace to yourself and buy a crust.  You can work on perfecting a homemade crust later.}

In a large bowl, cut one stick of butter into course chuncks, about tablespoon size.  Sprinkle over it 1 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour.  Cut flour into butter.  At first I use a knife then graduate to a fork.  When the flour and butter resemble pea sized pieces, pour over it iced water - a tablespoon at a time.  Do not over work the dough.  Flakey crust comes from larger pieces of butter.  When your dough will stick together just enough to form a ball, it is ready to roll out.

When rolling out the dough, I put a sheet of wax paper on my counter then sprinkle it with flour.  The wax paper aids in transferring the crust to your dish.

To serve
Thaw filling if frozen. Shape bottom pie crust/s if using.  Add filling. Cover with top crust.  Pinch the edges of the two crusts together and then flute or crimp.  Make a few slits in the top crust for the steam to escape. I try to make a heart.

Bake uncovered for 45 minutes at 375° or until the crust is golden.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Many nights this is a one-dish wonder.  However, if guests are coming I might ask them to bring (or I would make) mashed potatoes.  Green beans also go well with this.

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