We are getting close to the opening of outdoor farmer's markets. Over the winter months, we are fortunate enough to have farms that provide cold storage produce over the winter like root veggies and apples. Some have green houses and provide our area with greens and herbs. Now in the spring (I think that is the season we are in) asparagus and strawberries are right around the corner. We love picking fresh strawberries, but the season is quick so be sure to get out there when they open. We go out to Mandigo Farms in Lawerence / Paw Paw area where they have great fields for the kids to pick. Also a variety of greens will be out soon.
But what about those unique produce items? There are so many things out there that many grocery stores just don't carry because they are not that high in demand or they are special produce that small farms can grow. This past week, we featured celery root from Crisp Country Acres. A softball sized root that is a little bumpy. Like celery, but a root vegetable. We used it in our roasted vegetable with lemon dressing. You can slice it thin and use it in salads and cube it for soups. Just scrub it and peel.
Other unique produce may not be grown locally, but they are sold by a local small business. Pacific Rim, located on Whites Road behind the Oakwood Shopping Center sells some amazing and unique items. Tons of mushrooms, sprouts, greens that I haven't seen at the markets as well as big knobs of ginger. We used the shiitake mushrooms and baby bok choi this week. Next week we have a soup and lettuce wrap using again the mushrooms, ginger, sprouts and whatever else looks good!
There are also many 'new' trendy grains that people have caught on to. If you haven't heard of them, give them a try! This week we featured Dough Chicks pancake mix which used flax, teff and chia. Flax is a seed and can be found ground or whole. Ground flax is something we use with a little water in place of eggs in recipes. (not in place of scrambled eggs) It acts just like an egg and when you let it sit for a few minutes, it gets gelatinous just like an egg! 1 T of flax meal to 3-5 T of water. Add it to cookies, cakes and even batter for french toast.
Chia is another healthy and interesting seed. It is not just for smearing on a clay head or animal to watch it grow hair. (Remember those? Chi chi chi chiapet) You can throw them in anything, but again this seed can thicken things. This past week we made chia pudding with the Power Brinner. You can just add chia seeds to a liquid like milk, but we made a sugar free / dairy free cream to go with it. Let it sit for a bit or overnight and it thickens like pudding! Check out these and other unique items at PFC - People's Food Co-op downtown Kalamazoo. The bulk section is great place to start especially if you just want to try a little out.
These are just some of the ingredients we have been using and will feature in future meal kits. It's a great way to try out something new!