by Borderstan.com May 17, 2013 at 11:30 am 0

"Strawberries"

Strawberries are coming and Alejandra has recipes galore. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita and email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com

Last year, the most awful thing happened to me. I was at the grocery store, just weeks after the local strawberry season had ended and I was lamenting the lack of those little red jewels in my life. I was sad. I missed them!

So I bought a pint of the little buggers from The Teet.

Wow, was that a mistake. They were watery, tasteless and mealy. I mean, I didn’t really even understand what mealy felt like in my mouth until that moment. What the heck!? I had been eating grocery store strawberries my whole life (with the rare exception of cartons bought on the side of the road from Mexicans, who crossed the boarder to set up mini market stands — I grew up about 40 minutes from the U.S.-Mexico border) and in that moment, I felt screwed. Had they always tasted like that? Had I elevated myself to the next level of strawberry consciousness with my farmers market shopping ways?

I’m hoping I just landed a bad batch, ’cause as much as I try to shop local and seasonal, there are just moments, there are desserts, that call for strawberries when they’re not in season in like, you know,Pennsylvania!!!

This week’s FreshFarm Markets‘ newsletter mentioned that they would have strawberries from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania this Saturday and I got tres excited. We can throw a strawberry party now, just so we’re ready.

Here are some strawberry recipes to get you started:

What’s on your market list for this weekend? Don’t forget, if you have questions about the market, just tweet me!

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by Borderstan.com July 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm 1,366 1 Comment

"Dupon Circle Farmers Market"

The Dupont Farmers Market. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita and email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com.

For all my resistance of the label “foodie” and the innumerable times I have reminded friends, “I like dirty little street carts just as much as I like five star restaurants!” I realized I had become something I’d so actively avoided.

I very clearly remember the moment I realized I had become a food snob.

It was last fall, just after the Dupont Farmers Market had gone from robust and bustling to lean and limited. The first weekend I made my usual rounds from stand to stand, buying up my staples. Clear Spring Creamery, my milk vendor, was notably not present. I figured they were taking a few weekends off after the hustle and madness of the summer’s market schedule. Two weekends went by and my milk was still gone. Three. Four.

I was desperate. My coffee was desperate. So I went to Cowgirl Creamery, not far from my office, and bought a pint of whole milk. I’ve always been in love with Trickling Springs Creamery’s nostalgic glass bottle packaging. If it’s possible to romantically drink milk, this is how you do it.

The next morning I poured some milk into my coffee and my spidey senses went off like my morning alarm. Something wasn’t right. Did I make my coffee wrong? Was the milk bad? I tasted everything separately, only to conclude everything was fine. The milk tasted different though, it wasn’t what I was used to.

A month in, still using the new milk every morning, I realized what tasted different. Grass. I could taste grass. What the eff? Who tastes the terroir in milk?! Over the last couple years my sense of taste and smell have gone wild. I’d been starting to wonder if I should take wine classes or something.

And just like that I’d finally jumped the shark. I wasn’t snottily selecting wine, angrily discussing the foie gras ban in CA or waxing poetic about a farmers market/locavore diet. I was snotty about my milk. It’s already hard for me to drink grocery store milk – it’s the equivalent of Starbucks’ burnt coffee beans; no taste! But this…local/organic/blah blah milk… I’m being critical of this milk?!

A new low, or a new preference? I’m chalking this up to a case of extreme, and hyper-local brand loyalty.

Be sure to stop by Clear Springs Creamery at the Dupont Farmers Market this Sunday. Not only do they sell fabulously creamy, rich milk, they also sell probiotic yogurt drinks that are irresistible to kids and adults alike.

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by Borderstan.com July 6, 2012 at 10:00 am 1,242 0

"Corn"

Enjoy corn during the season. (Alejandra Owens)

From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita and email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com.

I should start off by saying, I am not the biggest corn fan. It’s seriously in season at the markets right now and a quick skim of all the food blogs shows an abundance of recipes for corn chowder or corn and bean salads or worse…cornbread with corn actually in it. The horror! Nope. I don’t don’t go gaga over the stuff, but for two preparations: popped or grilled. Today, I’m here to share with you my grilled corn recipe, which really is no secret to Paula Deen lovers and those from the South.

Be prepared for mess, or ask, as I did, a dinner companion to “help.” Which is to say, you sprinkle or splarge the ingredients on the corn while they do the spreading or rotating.

Step One: Place one cleaned ear of corn in the middle of a piece of aluminum foil large enough to completely wrap around it.

Step Two: Splarge (a very technical term) 1-2 tablespoons of mayo (yes, I said mayo) onto the corn and evenly spread it over the whole ear of corn.

Step Three: Sprinkle Cholula dry seasoning evenly all over the ear of corn. Sprinkle finely grated parmesan all over the ear of corn, completely coating it in cheese. Feelin’ like something spicy? Add a few dashes of Tabasco sauce!

Step Four: You’ll probably want to wash your hands at this point…then wrap it all up in the foil and place on a hot grill (300-350 degrees) for 15 minutes or so.

Step Five: Unwrap corn and devour.

I mean really, how can this be bad? It can’t. And I’m not even a huge fan of mayo as a condiment! Basically whenever I make this grilled corn I become fixated on it, unable to speak or eat anything else until I’ve consumed the entire ear. True story. The stuff is addictive.

Make a few ears for your BBQ this week and let me know what you think!

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by Borderstan.com July 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm 0

From Namita Koppa. Email her at namita[AT]borderstan.com.

Question: Have you ever seen a sad person at a farmers’ market? Probably not, right? A leisurely weekend morning walk through Dupont’s stands of gorgeous produce and fresh-baked pastries is hardly the type of thing to bring up tears or frustrations. It’s an amazing experience to chat with the person who actually grew that perfect tomato you’re taking home, or to even learn that sweet potato greens exist (a very good thing, I assure you!). In Borderstan, we are very lucky to have multiple farmers’ markets available within walking distance, including the Dupont Farmers Market (Sundays) and the 14 and U Farmers Market (Saturdays).

As the local food movement takes off across the country, increasing research argues that where our food comes from, its environmental effects, and how food is processed affects not only our health, but also our economic well-being. Recently, NPR’s The Salt released this sobering analysis about the impact of meat consumption.

Real Time Farms a Nationwide Food Guide

In 2010, Real Time Farms, a crowd-sourced, nationwide food guide, opened its doors and website. Using data collected by citizens, Real Time Farms maps where, when, and what products are available from farmers, farmers’ markets, food artisans, and restaurants, allowing users to make informed choices about their food consumption.

To learn why Real Time Farms began, check this TED talk delivered by Co-Founder Cara Rosaen. Locally find out what DC Food Warrior Rachel Lupberger is doing this summer.

"Rachel Lupberger"

Rachel Lupberger from Real Time Farms. (Namita Koppa)

Recently, I chatted with Rachel Lupberger, Real Time Farms’ DC Food Warrior. Charged with mapping the DC food landscape, Rachel will spend her summer interviewing, photographing, and filming members of the District’s local food system. Inspired by her childhood in the suburbs of DC and her undergraduate studies at Lewis & Clark College, she has been surprised to learn what the food system is like here.

Speaking of a recent visit to the Dupont Circle Farmers Market, Rachel said, “Finding out the closest farms are an hour, two hours, three hours away…there’s not really easy access to fresh produce in lower-income communities… I still think about it being a more [of a] middle class thing.”

As Rachel moves through her Food Warrior internship this summer, she has graciously agreed to keep us posted on her findings. To read more about her adventures, check out her Food Warrior webpage.

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by Borderstan.com June 29, 2012 at 10:00 am 0

"Peaches"

What you’ll need to make a Sweet and Savory Peach and Barley Salad.
 (Chelsea Rinnig)

From Chelsea Rinnig. Email her at chelsea[AT}borderstan.com

There’s nothing more reminiscent of summer vacation than eating a ripe peach–the kind that bursts as soon as your teeth break into the fuzzy skin, oozing syrupy juice between your fingers.

In my humble opinion, if you have to pick and choose what to buy, put down that bundle of kale for the umpteenth month in a row and go ahead and buy a pound (or five) of peaches. Stone fruits are just coming into their peak at the market, be it in the sour June cherries or the abundance of peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots that will be around for the next couple of months.

The peaches at market right now are so fragrant and ripe that it’s a challenge to resist eating them right on the spot. I hardly had the patience as a child and certainly don’t all these years later (*see recent blotchy orange stains in my laundry).

However, if you manage to get some home, I personally recommend trying out your peaches in a savory dish.  They are wonderful roasted–on top of salads or pizza–and this time I put mine into a healthy, barley-based grain salad that utilizes the sweet juice of the peaches in place of any dressing whatsoever. You will be the envy of all your coworkers when you bring leftovers in for lunch. All of the ingredients in this recipe can be found at the Dupont Farmers Market on Sundays!

Sweet and Savory Peach and Barley Salad

Serves 3 as an appetizer or 2 for lunch

Ingredients

  • 1 large, ripe peach
  • 2 sweet red onions
  • ½ cup uncooked, hulled barley
  • 1 bunch purple basil (though green works too)
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Oil of your preference (I used flaxseed oil)
  • A couple handfuls of greens such as spinach or chopped romaine lettuce

Preparation 

  1. Rinse and drain the uncooked barley under cold water. Bring three parts water to one part barley to a boil and reduce to a simmer. It will take about an hour for the barley to fully absorb the water.
  2. Wash and pat dry basil. Finely chop onions and basil. Combine with oil, salt, pepper and cooked barley.
  3. Cup peach away from the pit into chunks.
  4. Serve grain mixture over bed of greens and top with peaches, serve and revel!

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by Borderstan.com June 22, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1,674 1 Comment

From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita and email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com.

"Cherries at the Farmers Market"

Just waiting to be made into Cherry Almond Cake. (Alejandra Owens)

Cherries are, by far, my favorite summer fruit. Mostly because they’re a fruit that doubles as interactive sport. Uncouth as it may be, I’m a pro cherry pit spitter. Slam dunks into trash cans, spot on target practice with unwitting victims (usually our dogs back at home)…I say screw it with that pseudo-sexual cherry stem tying shit and go right for the pit spitting.

But I also enjoy cherries and their robust flavor for baking. Last summer I had procured, per usual, too many pints of cherries and had to do something with them. (Why am I always baking at the last possible ripened minute?) After watching some Cooking Chanel, I decided to play around with one of my favorite cherry pairings, almonds, and a cake a recipe that seemed nice enough, but really dull.

The result was my cherry almond cake. It was moist, fluffy and had a nice crumb to it. It’s a perfect breakfast cake or light dessert, you need only brave the pain of pitting all the cherries because this particular cake is so damn easy to pull together!

What will you be making with cherries this season? Anyone making ice creams sans an ice cream maker lately? I’d love some tips and recipes if you’d like to share!

Cherry Almond Cake

Inspired by Laura Calder’s Angel Cakeand the cherry almond scones at Dolcezza in Dupont Circle.

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1-1 1/2c pitted, rough chopped cherries (very rough, cut each half in half)
  • 1/4c ground almonds, 1 tbsp sliced almonds
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease and line a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Beat the whites to stiff peaks in a bowl. Beat in the yolks, one by one. Continuing to beat, add the sugar and vanilla, and finally the flour. You should have a very high, moussy batter. Gently fold in the cherries and ground almonds.
  3. Pour the batter into the pan and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake until golden on top, risen high, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let the cake cool 15 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan and let cool completely. Transfer the cake to a serving platter.
  4. Serve with whipped cream, creme fraiche, parfait, or ice cream. Ideally I would have eaten this, I mean, served this, with creme fraiche…but it was just me. And I didn’t have time to make creme fraiche. I wanted to eat it all. Now. But for you guys, who might take this to a party, serve it with creme fraiche!

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by Borderstan.com June 22, 2012 at 6:00 am 0

"Strawberries"

“Strawberries” is by ekelly80 from the Borderstan flickr pool.

Photos of the Day are pulled from the Borderstan Reader Photos pool on Flickr.

Today’s photo, “Try One” was taken by ekelly80 on May 21 at the Dupont Circle Farmers Market.

If you don’t already have a Flickr account, you will need to sign up for one, and then join the Borderstan Reader Photos group. Already a Flickr member? Join the group! You can submit up to five photos per day in the Borderstan reader pool. We are looking for photos from D.C.’s Dupont, Logan and U Street neighborhoods.

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by Borderstan.com June 15, 2012 at 1:00 pm 1,238 0

"Garlic Scapes"

Garlic Scapes. (Chelsea Rinnig)

From Chelsea Rinnig. Email her at chelsea[AT}borderstan.com

Did I mention I work at the farmers market? Yep, and as I check folks out with all their bounty, many are baffled by the relatives of traditional, bolder garlic and onions: garlic scapes. Shallots, leeks and chives, once relatively uncommon, have been popularized and are regulars on our plates.

But my new favorite of the bunch that has solicited the most questioning and bug-eyed stares are the sprawling garlic scapes. Twisting like vines out of boxes at many of the market’s vegetable stands, they’re up there with kohlrabi in the weird factor.

Most will pick up a bunch as an impulse purchase, but few realize how powerful these tall-stemmed garlic really are. I find that one strand is enough to compensate for three or four cloves of garlic, and certainly leaves the same potent fragrance as its cousin. One advantage the scape has, though, is that it is much easier to deal with.

Garlic scapes require no peeling or crushing and can simply be chopped from the stem to the base of the small bulb (which, though edible, can be a bit more bitter than stalk).

Include garlic scapes in place of normal garlic and reduce your prep time (and meticulous mincing frustrations) dramatically. If you’re at all like me, you totally splurged, went for the bundle of garlic scapes and now have more than you know what to do with. I took this as an opportunity to make a new pesto — garlic scape pesto is bold, bright and flavorful, and can use the entire stalk of the scape without waste.

This recipe can easily adapt for various food allergies by omitting nuts and/or substituting with sunflower seeds. I have seen a few recipes include vegan cheeses or ricotta as an option as well. For those looking to play around a bit, try adding a few basil leaves, parsley or any other fresh herb and see how the flavor profile changes.

Pesto is great to have on hand for those nights when you just don’t have the energy to do more than boil pasta. I even put my pesto on top of brown rice or quinoa, chill it for cold pasta salads or spread it over toast on an egg sandwich. What did you do with your garlic scapes? Let me know and I’ll give it a shot too!

Ingredients and Prep

  • 1/2 lb. garlic scapes (about 15 scapes)
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • juice from half a lemon
  1. Roughly chop the garlic scapes before combining all ingredients into a food processor or blender.
  2. I also like to add a little zest for the lemon before I juice it as well.
  3. Serve immediately over cooked pasta or store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

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by Borderstan.com June 8, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,442 0

"Raspberries"

Raspberries: roast them! (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita and email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com.

Little orbs of red lip stain. Or little orbs of why-do-I-ever-wear-white stain. That’s two ways of looking at raspberries, regardless, they’re making their debut at the farmers markets. Last week, you could find them at 14th and U Street market!

While a half pint of these little summer jewels can set you back $4 or more, I think they’re worth the price. And at that price, you’ll want to get every last juicy dribble of flavor out of them. May I introduce you to the idea of low and slow, roasted berries? Oh, hello Ina Garten, fancy seeing you here! What’s a gal like you doing in a blog like this!? Combine all the summer berries you like, or maybe go mono-berry, combine them with sugar and vanilla (maybe throw a tablespoon or two of rum or bourbon in there) and what you’ll get the most intense berry juice and compote-like topping for ice cream, pound cake, angel food cake or even as a filler for a galette! Brunch tip: drizzle 2 teaspoons in the bottom of a champagne glass filled to the brim with your favorite bubbly!

Brunch tip: drizzle 2 teaspoons in the bottom of a champagne glass filled to the brim with your favorite bubbly!

Of course raspberries would be perfect in scones, biscuits, and tarts too! What is your favorite thing to do with summer berries?

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by Borderstan.com May 25, 2012 at 9:00 am 1,120 0

From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita and email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com.

It’s no secret that rosemary can amp up your chicken or that cilantro transforms tomatoes and onions from vegetable salad to salsa. But did you know that herbs can zsush up your salad or even a cocktail? They’re so much more than you thought, and I promise you, fresh is WAY better than the dried stuff you’re buying in plastic bottles at the grocery store.

While I usually give you a list of recipes to try out with an ingredient, this time I’m gonna drop a kitchen basics bomb on you. Some of the most simple things to do with herbs are the best — highlighting the subtlety of their flavors and complimenting the flavors or textures around them. My top list of herbs to buy at the market include:

"Borderstan" "Herbs"

Herbs at the farmers markets. (Alejandra Owens)

  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Lemon thyme
  • Tarragon
  • Oregano
  • Mint
  • Dill
  • Chives
  • Basil/Purple Basil
  • Cilantro

And the best things to do with them?

  • Tear, smash or roll herbs in your palms then add them to a bowl of salad greens and give them a good toss with a light dressing.
  • Bundle a variety of herbs, no matter which ones, with a bit of string or twine and throw them into a pot of soup, a braise, or with a roast/chicken.
  • Smash or roll herbs in your palm and put them in a bottle of olive oil for a flavorful infusion.
  • Finely chop any herb you like, stir into softened butter, reshape into a log using parchment paper and you have compound butter.
  • Finely chop any herb and mix it with a soft, spreadable cheese like goat cheese or quark for an infused spread.
  • Roughly chop a few herbs and throw them into a basic marinade for grilling meats

Bam! I just gave you about 9,847,598,734 different dishes or things you can do with all the herbs that are out in force at the markets right now! Seriously, don’t be afraid to pick up a bundle of herbs at the market and just throw them in with something.

While, yes, some herbs traditionally pair well with certain things, there’s no hard and fast rule that applies to pairing herbs with proteins or dips or anything like that. Just go with the flow and give it a try, maybe cilantro with some shredded cucumbers and yogurt would make a fabulous dip!

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by Borderstan.com May 23, 2012 at 10:00 am 1 Comment

From Creative Comforts

From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita and email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com.

I love Twitter. Yesterday as I was perusing my feed I noticed that fellow blogger buddies Jenn of Dear Heart and Nikki Rappaport of Cupcakes for Breakfast were tweeting about the hashtag #thingsimafraidtotellyou. After clicking through on a number of the posts these folks were talking about I learned about this, sometimes heart wrenching, movement.

Basically, it was born of style and design bloggers saying, “Hey! We like to keep it all positive and pretty on our blogs and social media, but life isn’t always positive and pretty…and it’s okay.” And so, they began sharing things that they might have been afraid to share in the past. Deep secrets, things they thought they’d be judged for, things they only tell their closest friends…and things that are just silly!

I appreciate raw honesty. Because if you’re thinking it, there’s probably someone else in the world thinking it too. Also, I’ve always been that person in the room that says what everyone else is thinking but is too afraid to say.

I think it’s important to note here that I’m not doing this for sympathy, affirmation or some kind of narcissistic drive for compliments. The idea is more that – in this idyllic world, where everything is Instagram’d, organic, local and all that hoo-hah, things aren’t perfect and it’s okay. But more importantly, you are definitely not the only one noticing that things are less than perfect.

A quick story to exemplify what I’m getting at. I was recently at a food event with one of my favorite food bloggers. We were chatting about how busy we’d been recently – between life and work and trying to work out and get some of that coveted quiet time, cooking beautiful meals isn’t always a priority. She commented on her favorite cereal, and how sometimes that’s what’s for dinner and it’s exactly what she needs. I retorted, “You should post that on your blog! I wonder what your readers would think!” The truth is, you’ll never see a post about the nights food bloggers eat ice cream, cheese and crackers or a huge bowl of cereal. Because that’s not what a food blog is. But you know what a huge bowl of cereal for dinner is? Life.

What are some things you’d be afraid to share with your friends? To see my full list of Things I’m Afraid To Tell You, check out the full post over on my blog.

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by Borderstan.com May 18, 2012 at 10:30 am 0

"Strawberries and asparagus" "Borderstan"

Look for strawberries and asparagus at the markets. (Luis Gomez Photos and Alejandra Owens)

From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita and email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com.

I never thought I’d say produce could be a bully, but asparagus and strawberries continue to completely dominate the markets! Not that you won’t see other things out there, but strawberries and asparagus are kinda the stars of the show right now. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to remind you of a couple great recipe round ups we already did AND share a cool tip.

First, we shared six irresistible strawberry recipes – including a cocktail from Todd Thrasher!

Then we gave you five recipes that showcased asparagus in all its green glory.

And now for the tip, which had not even crossed my mind. Today’s tip comes from Robin Schuster, our fearless leader over at the 14th & U Street farmers market:

“… today I want to remind you: never throw away the ends of the asparagus because they make great soup.  In fact, every single asparagus stalk you buy is a two fer.  And the less tender third or half of the stalk makes very flavorful soup.”

Well, duh! How could I have not thought of that! Truth be told, asparagus is prone to creating plenty of waste…and I always have a little memorial for it in my head when I toss it out. No mas! Thanks, Robin, for making me less wasteful but also giving me an excuse to eat even more asparagus while it’s in season!

Do you have a question for me about the markets? Some odd produce? Or maybe a cooking question? Just email me at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com and I’ll answer them in next week’s column! (Oh! And share your best cooking tips too!)

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by Borderstan.com May 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1,254 0

From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita and email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com.

asparagus

Look for asparagus at the markets. (Alejandra Owens)

Dear lord! I finally get to hit up the 14 & U Farmers Market this weekend! And I have my two girls in town so I get to show them the glory that is a brownie cookie sandwich from Whisked!.

Even still, what I’m here to talk about this week is: asparagus. Firm and crunchy, they smell and taste like spring.

And stinky pee be damned, I consume the stuff in great quantities when they’re in season! From what I can tell, the green sticks are going for about $4/lb at the markets right now — and if you’re cooking for more than one person you’ll likely need two bunches — so budget and plan your market trip accordingly.

Before I give you five wonderful recipes to try, I’m going to arm you with an essential tip: how to properly trim asparagus. If you’re lazy and don’t want to click through to the tip, here it goes:

“… take the end of the asparagus between your thumb and forefinger and bend until it breaks.”

Oh *snap* (ha! I couldn’t resist!) that was easy. Now, what to make with all that asparagus you’re going to procure this weekend.

What’s your favorite asparagus recipe? OR, maybe I should ask: what restaurant has your favorite asparagus dish?

Happy eating, Borderstanis! Don’t forget, you can always ask me questions on Twitterabout the markets, food, cooking and more!

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by Borderstan.com April 27, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,277 0

"Borderstan""Sparragus"

Asparagus at the farmers markets. (Alejandra Owens)

From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita and email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com.

Do you ever wonder where foodie types get all their inspiration? It’s true, there are some among us who walk the stalls of the farmers markets every Sunday positively oozing with culinary inspiration. Some can reach back into the recesses of their minds and pull out recipes, recalling their time at culinary school or a cooking class or some recipe they saw in Gourmet magazine in 1997.

And then there’s the rest of us. Who might need a little prodding, some inspiration and likely a kick in the rear to set us off on our adventures. Having a bit of an insider’s view as to how this cadre of the culinary mafia develops recipes, I’m here to offer you a few tips for where we get our inspiration.

  1. Blogs – There are big national blogs to follow, but I prefer reading DC’s finest first. If you need a list to start with, take a look at our archive of weekly farmers market posts! We try to feature local food blogger’s recipes as often as we can. Don’t just read what they wrote this week though, look back to this month last year, or the year before. Most folks are blogging about seasonal trends, whether they’re from the farmers market or dishes featured in restaurants.
  2. Cookbooks – One of my favorite cookbooks is Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food. The reason I love this book so much is for its no muss, no fuss approach to ingredients. When I’m walking around the market, sometimes all I see are ingredients and I need an idea for how I can include them in a larger dish. Waters will help you do just that.
  3. Magazines Online – Gourmet is out of print, Saveur can be expensive or seem out of reach and subscribing to Bon Appetit sounds like a nice idea but you’re probably not going to use it as often as you should. Don’t fret, all these mags have superb online search functions. My first spot for searching recipes online is often Saveur.com. Saveur does a fabulous job of mixing their own articles/recipes with recipes from like-minded bloggers across the country. Also, their recipes are much more accessible and simple than you would think.
  4. Eating Out – Chefs are an artistic lot, so why not leech a little creativity off them? When dining out it’s important to be adventurous – whatever your definition of adventurous is. Even if it’s “not ordering chicken,” it’s important to try something new so you can try new flavors, a new herb or protein and see how one of the pros does it! Don’t be afraid to ask what’s in a dish, or even for the recipe. The truth is, these are aren’t state secrets and most chefs realize you will never make it as well as they do so many are willing to share.
  5. Traveling – My #1 rule for eating when I travel is this: if I can get it at home, I’m not getting it here. Why waste your money when you’re traveling on a chain or eating the same old stuff you get at home? If you’re in Chicago, go look for Chicago-style pizza! If you’re in Tucson, seek out the littlest hole in the wall Mexican food joint you can find. It takes some effort, but I promise, the internet is here to help. And you know, foodie types love telling stories about “that moussaka they had on a tiny island in Greece made by a little old lady” they’re always trying to replicate.
  6. Pinterest – Oh it’s just alllll the rage right now! You’re too cool for Pinterest! I know, you’re a hipster who’s already looking for the next Pinterest. But for the rest of us, this is a wonderful source of ideas and inspiration. Follow your friends, follow your favorite bloggers, search “kale” — there’s a bazillion ways to find new and interesting dishes to make. Heed these warnings though: things will look far more perfect and beautiful on Pinterest than they will in real life, and you do not have to put every dish you make in a mason jar.

I think it goes without saying that inspiration can be found just about anywhere — maybe in some art or from your mom or friends. Sometimes we forget an idea is likely just a tweet, phone call or Google search away.

Where do you guys get your cooking inspiration from? I’m always looking for new places to poke around for recipes and ideas, so please share in the comments! And don’t forget, if you have cooking or market questions, ping me on Twitter — I’m @frijolita.

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by Borderstan.com April 20, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,180 0

"Borderstan""Onions"

Onions are ready for the season. (Alejandra Owens)

From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita and email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com.

Judging from the FreshFarm Markets email newsletter, this would be the week to buy anything and everything green. Arugula, asparagus, kale, salad greens, spinach, stinging nettles, swiss chard, green onions and watercress are all out in abundance. And turnips. They’re not green. They’re white. But they’re awesome.

Aside from the usual “lightly dressed” green salad, there’s a ton of stuff you can make with all the fresh greens popping up at the market. And while I love a good salad – I’m going to ask you all to stretch yourselves some and think beyond the ranch dressing and salad bowl.

You’re gonna get some asparagus and make this Spring Pad Thai, because it’s good to know how to make pad thai. You shouldn’t really be paying for the stuff. Really.

Are you feeling dangerous? Cause I’m feelin’ dangerous. Say it with me now: stinging nettles. If consuming ghost peppers is the sky diving of food, stinging nettles are like rock wall climbing. You feel bad ass when you make and eat them, but really, the risk was minimal all along. Make this lasagna. Brag to your friends on Monday morning.

I kind of hate that kale chips have become this odd dieters’ substitution for potato chips. I love kale chips. I love potato chips. They are totally different. Neither can satisfy a craving for the other, and both require a delicate touch and technique to making the perfect batch. Now is the time to start working on your perfect kale chip.

Finally, what goes better on a bunch of green things than a fried egg? Saute some swiss chard (all that rainbow-veined velvety leafed stuff), spinach, green onions, maybe ramps (throw in some mushrooms maybe), and top with a fried egg, the yolk still all soft and creamy. Add in some rice or quinoa into the mix if you must, but this is the good stuff!

So, who’s hitting the market this Sunday? Want to meet up? We can buy canvas bags full of leafy green things and talk about how we’re going to make it all. Hit me up on Twitter and I’ll see you there!

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