Cooking locally this summer

As July heats up, cooking with fresh produce from local farmers and farmers markets can be a way to keep things cool in your kitchen.

IMG_7728“I personally love summer,” said Susan Baier in an email interview. Baier is a chef and instructor through Oakland Community College and the Culinary Studies Institute.

Fresh seasonal produce in the mitten is one of this chef’s favorites because you get “the best flavor as it is harvested ripe from the vine,” she said. “Not to mention, the farmers are a great group of people.”

Some of the in-season vegetables and fruits she is passionate about cooking with include asparagus, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and eggplant.

Grilling veggies

Starting in late spring, “I love to grill vegetables,” Baier said.

It can be an easy way to find new flavors.

Her go-to season oil for grilling vegetables is a concoction of fresh garlic, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes and occasionally an herb.

“I lightly brush the vegetables and sear quickly on my outdoor grill,” she said.

She suggests adding the finishing touches with “a drizzle of balsamic and crumbled sharp cheese such as feta or chevre.”

Here is one of Baier’s well-loved grilled veggie recipes that anyone can try.

Grilled veg platter

 

Salads

When the July-August heat won’t let up, appetites are squelched and a simple way to grab the nutrients you and your family need without feeling sluggish from a huge meal can be found in salads

Salad possibilities are endless,” Baier said, “with arugula in vogue, you can add it to a pasta salad for a zippy flavor twist.”

Here is one of her easy-to-follow salad recipes she recommends.

Broccoli and sunflower seeds salad

 

Fresh pasta sauce

Try your hand at a fresh pasta sauce made from tomatoes straight from the garden or maybe an appetizer of pesto.

Baier makes a fresh, uncooked past sauce by seeding tomatoes, finely dicing these tomatoes and seasoning with fresh basil. You can top a bowl of plain pasta with this sauce or mix in ricotta and parmesan cheese to satisfy your Italian craving.

“You could add some balsamic and splash of olive oil to that as well for some flavor depth,” she said.

When it comes to produce shopping, Baier’s rule of thumb—“Go to the farm market if you want to know what tomatoes really taste like,” she said.

Rochester Farmers Market welcomes healthy eating booth this Saturday

This weekend, the Rochester Farmers Market will welcome an Oakland County Healthy Eating booth with more ways on how you can use locally grown produce in your meals.

Here’s what you need to know:

What: The Oakland County Health Division will host an educational booth at the Rochester Farmers Market this Saturday with beaucoup free information and resources on healthy eating. This is the first season the organization has hosted booths at farmers markets, said Jennifer Kirby, a health education supervisor for the Oakland County Health Division.

Insider info: There will be a segment centered on sugar and “the amount of sugar present in common items many people eat on a daily basis,” Kirby said.

The health educator will also demonstrate how to convert grams of sugar to teaspoons; show just how much sugar is in a product; teach guests how to read grocery labels and how to shop with your health in mind.

“This will hopefully bring awareness about limiting sugar intake,” Kirby said. “It is important because many people do not realize that they eat (more than) four times as much sugar than they should in a given day.”

Kirby explains that the average consumer finds it difficult to quantify the amount of sugar in a product when they don’t know how to convert it from grams to teaspoon or tablespoon sizes.

“This demonstration makes it easy to show people just how much sugar they are actually eating,” she said.

Interested in more?

The Oakland County Health Division will also host displays through August.

Here are some nearby markets and dates:

Oakland County Farmer’s Market July 18, Aug 1 and 15.

Rochester Farmer’s Market on July 20 and Aug 3.

Lake Orion Farmer’s Market July 31 and Aug 7.

Check out http://www.ahealthiermichigan.org/2011/06/19/pick-from-these-52-fruits-and-veggies-that-are-in-season-this-summer/ A Healthier Michigan for more information on what produce is in season in the mitten.

You can also learn more about The Oakland County Health Division here. LINK>> http://www.oakgov.com/health/Pages/default.aspx

About Jen Bucciarelli

Veggie lover and aspiring word chef, reporter Jen Bucciarelli covers all things health and medicine for Rochester Media and The Community Edge. She is always on the hunt for local experts who can help improve the lives of our readers. Send her a note at [email protected].com.

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