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Sustainable Living and The Future of Our Food

2017 Farfa

Hello everyone!

Today I want to share with you the amazing experience I had a the 2017 Farm and Food Leadership conference in McKinney, Texas, hosted by Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA). FARFA is a national organization that supports independent family farmers and is working to protect the food supply for American consumers.

It was two full days of exciting information which appealed to chefs, farmers and food lovers but really can apply to everyone. In the conference we touched on a variety of topics like climate change, farmer’s markets, living a farm to table lifestyle, genetically modified organisms (GMO) but the overall theme was consistent throughout: getting better connected to our food and learning where it comes from will lead us to more delicious and healthy future.

I’m excited to share some of the information with you because I believe that we can help make a positive change. Farmers are part of the backbone of America but their jobs do not come without challenges? The conference spotlighted the incredible work of our local farmers and their great contributions to the economy but also to our lives through every meal we eat. So if these farmers are so important to us what do we need to know to help them?

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  • Awareness of the crazy weather patters can help manage our expectations of what local food is available. We are accustomed to seeing anything that we want at the grocery store but much of that produce is trucked in from thousands of miles away and just is not as fresh or nutrient dense.
  • Each season in our area has a variety of produce that grows naturally and when we plan our menus using those ingredients we will see an immediate improvement in our health and the quality of our cooking. Remember the first key to cooking a good dish is using the best ingredients!
  • Culture is making eating healthy and local easier all the time. Most cities now have at least one farmers market to visit and visiting that farmers market will get you connected with your community and give you a great insight into where your food really comes from and begin to understand what challenges your local farmers encounter.
  • Farming is hard labor and our farmers do it with great pride. When we see prices at farmers markets that are a little more it might be easy to ask yourself why is that ingredient so expensive but a better question might be how and why are the supermarkets selling them so cheap.
  • Talking to the vendors at the farmers markets on how to prepare the food they are selling is a great resource! There are also so many books out there that will inspire you to use the ingredients you find in season at your market. I love “Cooking from the Farmers’ Market” by Jodi Liano & Tasha DeSerio
  • Challenge yourself and I will challenge myself to know where my food is coming from. You will find that learning where you food comes from will help you create amazing food but you’ll also end up cultivating wonderful friendships within your community too!

I strongly believe if we all take action as consumers to understand more about the food we are eating and sharing with our family and friends, we will create a ripple that will impact our community and our environment in incredible ways. Eating local and getting to know our neighbors, teaching our children about food and setting examples on a healthy relationship with food is going to put us on a path to LOVING food and experiencing the joy of food again.

 

Spicy Summer Salsa with Canary Melon

Last weekend at the Farmers Market I was given a canary melon, and I will be honest with you, even though I am a chef, I have never tasted it. So I was really curious about that melon I haven’t eaten before; I was curious about the texture, flavor, and health benefits of it. I got to work to see how I could incorporate this new ingredient into my menu for the week. I really like the idea of mixing sweet and spicy so I decided to make a spicy melon salsa to top my flaky pan seared blackened cod. I really enjoyed the way the sweetness of the melon played off of the spice from the Serrano pepper in the salsa and the melon had a fresh, cooling effect next to the piquant blackened cod!

Here are the highlights that I found out about the melon:
  • The name comes from its bright yellow color, which resembles that of the Canary Islands. You will find that this melon is often marketed as the Juan Canary melon and can be found in various sizes and shapes. This melon is commonly found in parts of Asia, Japan, South Korea, and Morocco.
  • Canary melons are an excellent source of fiber, with 10 grams per 1/2-cup serving.
  • Canary melons are high in vitamin C, meeting 50 percent of the daily value.
  • In addition to being a good source of vitamin C, canary melons are also rich in vitamin A. A 1/2-cup serving meets 50 percent of the daily value for vitamin A. You need adequate intake of vitamin A for eye health.

It’s amazing all the cool ingredients that you can find at your local farmers market to create a seasonal meal. With a little bit more research, you can find out the fun facts about that specific ingredient and be surprised of all the natural ways you are nourishing your body by just eating what’s in season.

I challenge you this month to go to your local farmer market and create at least one meal a week with your local seasonal ingredients.

 

Keep your vegetable scraps to make stock!

Hello everyone,
I hope you are having a wonderful month of July.
This week I want to share with you a basic kitchen tip that I do in my house and saves me money, and helps me avoid  wasting food.
Most of the times when we cook, we use basic ingredients as onion, carrots, celery, parsley, garlic, shallots, tomatoes just to mention a few. Normally, when we peel a carrot, onion or garlic the skin ends up in the trash. Right? Well it doesn’t have to because I’ll share a tip that makes good use out of those little pieces of flavor gold!

After you read this (or right now if you are on your phone)  grab a gallon Ziploc bag and write “Stock” with a Sharpe permanent marker and keep that Ziploc bag it in the freezer. Now every single time you uses vegetables while cooking put your scraps that Ziploc bag.

 

When the Ziploc bag has reached its maximum capacity you can make a vegetable stock!

If you want to take your veggie stock to the next level, then read on. I normally buy a whole chicken and break it down for two different meals. So I keep the carcass in a separate Ziploc bag for making chicken stock as well. Just place the bones and the veggies in a stock pot, cover with water and simmer on low for a few hours. If you don’t have chicken bones just simmer the veggies. You won’t be disappointed. I have a stock recipe below for you but don’t overthink the ratios, a bag of your scraps will produce a more delicious stock then what you can buy on aisle 3 😉

Chicken stock nutritional benefits

Chicken stock is rich in nutrients that support a healthy digestion. Bone broths contain minerals in forms that your body can easily absorb like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus,  and others. Chicken stock or broth can also boost your immune system. There’s a reason that chicken soups are recommended by you grandmother when you’re feeling under the weather because bone broths are nutrient-dense, rich in flavor and they boost the healing process, now you know grandma its right ;). You can easily incorporate chicken stock instead of water in soups, rice, and stews.

Chicken stock is rich in flavors, nutrients that support healthy digestion, and boost your immune system.

So what’s yuca and how can I use it?

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I grow up eating yuca most of the time during my childhood. In Panama, yuca grows all year round and is very accessible. yuca its so delicious and it gives you the opportunity to be creative due to their mild flavor. I have to be honest with you I’m Panamanian so I love fried food and my favorite is yuca fries. If you are going to give yuca a try for the first time you won’t be disappointed with yuca fries.

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What is yuca?

Yuca,  is pronounced YOO-ka and is also referred to as Cassava. The starchy flesh of the Yuca root is a light white or cream color with a grainy texture similar to potatoes. The meaty flesh is mild, sweet flavor that has a somewhat nutty taste.

Yuca nutrition value:

This starchy tuber is high in calcium, dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamins B6 and C. Yuca has relatively no protein, but does contain high levels of essential fatty acids and twice the calories of potatoes.  Yuca root is gluten-free and the starch made from it is easily digested by anyone with dietary sensitivities.

How to peel the root?

Don’t let the yuca intimidate you, I remember the face of my lovely husband when he saw the yuca root for the first time. He looked like he was in front of something that came from out of space 🙂 but cleaning and cutting the yuca is actually very simple.

cut both pointy ends of the yuca.
then cut the yuca in half.
start peeling the skin off don’t be scare the yuca skin it’s very thick.

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*please just make sure you have a very Sharpe knife for this work.

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In a large pot cover the yuca with water, add salt and bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and cook about 15 to 20 minutes or until is tender.Remove the yuca from the water an

 

Thai Iced Tea for The Summer Thirst

HELLO Summer!

Since summer has officially started, it’s been hot around here, BUT that’s all right because I started to see it as a great opportunity to go swimming a little more and make some more delicious summer drinks.

So today I want to share with you this delicious iced tea recipe that will refresh you during those hot days and at the same time will impress your family and friends.

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Black tea leaves 

I normally use Tazo organic black tea and heavy cream in my recipe but you can go with half & half, sweet condensed milk, vanilla almond milk or coconut milk. 😉

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Buen Provecho,

Chef Daisy