Quick Pickled Veggies

I’ve been enjoying all the farm fresh items in my Loo Loo Farms box each week. It is fun to find new ways to enjoy the ingredients.

A recent box included tri-colored carrots, cucumber, asparagus, onions, garlic, edible flowers, and fresh herbs. The beautiful range of colors at first had me thinking of a salad or grilled veggies, then I remembered how easy it is to create pickled veggies.

Basically all you need to do is mix equal parts of vinegar and water with the salt and herbs/spices (can be fresh or dried). I bring the water to a boil first to dissolve the salt and any other dried herbs/spices then mix in the water and fresh herbs. Pour the liquid over the items to pickle and wait 48 hours before enjoying. You can get very creative and make some unique pickles.

Here is what I created using mostly ingredients from my Loo Loo Farms box:

Sliced cucumbers, with sliced onions and fresh dill in a distilled vinegar/water/salt mix.

Carrot sticks with fresh oregano, coriander seeds in an apple cider vinegar/water/smoked salt mix.

Red carrot slices with ground ginger/white wine vinegar/water/sea salt. (Note the red/purple carrots color bleeds so you will want to do those in a batch without other vegetables).

Asparagus, garlic cloves, red wine vinegar/water/sea salt. I did place the asparagus in boiling water for 1 minute and then immediately placed in a ice water bath to cool the spears and keep the gorgeous green color. I would suggest doing the same for green beans and other similar vegetables.

If you have mason jars, they work great; however, since these quick pickles do not need to be canned, you can use any glass container that you have with a tight fitting lid. They are perfect after 2 days in the refrigerator and will keep for at least 2 weeks.

I enjoy them as an appetizer or afternoon snack. They certainly make a lovely presentation!

The quick pickles are also a nice addition to a salad (I especially enjoy the cucumbers in a salad with canned tuna, romaine lettuce and a little olive oil). One of my friends say they are perfect for a Blood Mary bar – I may have to try that at a future get together with friends!

Strawberry Season

Ice Cream with strawberries and edible flowers
Farm fresh berries with ice cream!

Spring means BERRIES!

Spring is an exciting time for ingredients from the farm and garden. A popular item in almost every household is strawberries (although berries of all forms are welcome in my home).

I’ve sampled a few different berries from local growers and I have to say my hands down favorite this season have come from Loo Loo Farms. This small family farm tends to deliver interesting ingredients that are not easy to find in your grocery store or the large farms. Their produce boxes the past few weeks have include a basket of small strawberries that have more flavor than any I can ever remember.

What to do with Strawberries?

Clearly simply washing them and eating them without any effort or fuss is an ideal option.

For some reason when I think strawberries I automatically think ice cream — either a vanilla or chocolate from the store with chopped berries and other fun toppings (the photo above includes edible flowers, herbs and honeycomb — all from Loo Loo Farms). Homemade ice cream is a special treat — and a strawberry cream version is at the top of my list.

Pies, cakes, cupcakes — these little gems are perfect for baking.

Get fancy and dip them in chocolate.

If you find yourself with more strawberries than you can eat right away, they freeze well and if you have canning skills, strawberry jam is a great way to capture the flavor and enjoy later.

Cocktail Prep Time

Cocktail Time

Farm fresh berries and herbs can take your bar tending skills to the next level. I decided to create a few different cocktails with my strawberry basket and had some friends taste test. They were all a hit!

Mocktail: For those who are not into the adult beverages, a few squished up berries, berry slices, squeeze of lime and club soda make a fun, sunny day drink.

Gin Based: Turn your gin and tonic into a refreshing colorful drink with a few chopped berries

Rum Based: Strawberry Daiquiris always seem fancy to me — even though they are simple to make. I was going to go with a blended icey version but my friend who was once a bartender wasn’t keen on the idea (you know I’ll be doing that soon when she isn’t around and the temperatures spike). For now I went with an on the rocks version with berries roughly chopped and a few broken down with a fork so more juice blended in with the rum, lime juice and club soda (I skip the sugar but adjust to your own taste).

Tequila Based: Margarita time! Add a few slice berries to your favorite maragrita recipe and your done. I actually cheated on this one and bought a margarita mix from the store — so just a little tequila (ok maybe it was double shot) with the mix, berries and some fresh squeezed lime and I had a cocktail ready to serve.

There you have it – get creative with your strawberries!