Monterey Mushrooms — The Fungus Among Us
RECIPES: Balsamic Roasted Portobello Mushrooms, Cheese and Spinach Stuffed Portobellos, Basic Balsamic Marinated Mushrooms, Roasted Cremini Muhsrooms and Asparagus, Braised Boy Choy with Shiitake Mushrooms, Braised Greens with Shiitake Mushrooms topped with Baked Fennel and Parmesan
Did you know the Monterey Bay area is the second largest producer of mushrooms in the US and third in the world? Pennsylvania, where mushroom farming was pioneered, ranks first in the US for mushroom production. The Chinese learned mushroom farming in Pennsylvania for shiitake production and are the number one producer in the world.
What were once exotic are now commonplace — shiitakes, oysters, cremini, and Portobellos. And they can all be found at the Aptos Farmer’s Market. New Natives offers shiitake and oyster mushrooms, and Blanca at Global Mushroom carries Portobello, cremini and white button mushrooms.
What’s in a name? Cremini, button, white, Portobello—these are all types of button mushrooms, or Agaricus bisporus – the domesticated version of Agaricus campestris, the “field” mushroom. Although there are some differences in texture and depth of flavor, they all have the same flavor profile. And regardless of the names, creminis, the coffee colored button, given the right conditions, grow into Portobellos.
American Extra-Virgin Olive Oil? Yes!
In 1997, Ridgely Everss DaVero extra-virgin olive oil, produced in northern California, won a blind tasting in Italy. This triumph was a result of a revival of the American olive oil industry that began in the 1980s. Producers started reviving old trees they found on their properties, imported new trees from Italy, and began to focus on producing olive oil that would be world class. Each year, more acreage is planted in olive orchards and more oil produced. The California Olive Oil Council, a trade organization started in 1992, developed a seal certification program to set standards for extra-virgin olive oil. If an oil passes certain laboratory tests and is deemed defect free and fruity by a panel that tastes the oil blind, the producer can affix a seal to the bottles stating that it is extra-virgin. This helps the shopper, who is confronted by numerous bottles of olive oil on store shelves, make a choice.
Power Up Your Diet with Microgreens!
RECIPES: Microgreens with Curry Vinaigrette, New Native's Bean Dip, Spicy Asian Pea Shoot Stir-Fry, and Seared Ahi and Microgreens Salad with Lemon Infused Daikon Red Onion Slaw, Stacked Beet, Avocado, and Mixed Microgreens Salad
Here's an easy way to improve your diet – add microgreens.
Ounce for ounce, microgreens provide more nutrients than any other natural food known. Microgreens are seedlings (young plants) between seven and ten days old that have sprouted from seed, but don't yet have true leaves.
These super-food seedlings are naturally high in quality protein, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes, and anti-oxidants, and have few calories and no cholesterol.
We are fortunate to have New Natives at the Aptos Farmers Market year-round, selling a wide variety of organic microgreens – a true living food.
Meatless in Santa Cruz
RECIPES: Alsation Onion Cake, Braised Eggplant with Garlic Sauce, Dandelion Fritatta, Eggplant and Tomato Gratin, Eggplant Curry, Indian Cauliflower and Potato Curry, Mediterranean Tart, Papa O's Eggplant Parmesan with Fresh Mozzarella, Squash Blossom Quesadillas, Egyptian Edamame Stew, Indian Vegetarian Stew, Chickpea Burgers with Tahini Sauce, Cheese and Spinach Stuffed Portobellos, Spicy Black Bean Filled Pita with Chipotle Sauce, Stir Fried Kabocha with Tofu and Basil, Tomato Mozzarella Tart with Basil Garlic Crust
Resolved to eat less meat this year? Going “meatless” doesn’t have to be a deprivation exercise – not only is it healthier for the environment, meatless meals significantly lower your caloric and fat intake. Replacing meat in dishes with veggies or grains can mean eating one third less fat (and 80% less saturated fat) while beneficially increasing your fiber intake. My husband likes to joke that he’s an “econotarian” when asked about his meat or veggie diet preference, but it’s true: replacing a few meat-based meals each month may have some rewarding financial benefits for the budget, too!
Let the Good Times Roll!
RECIPES: Red Beans and Rice, Beignets, Pain Perdu, Baked Cajun Shrimp, Shrimp Étoufée, Bayou Stew with Chicken, Sausage and Rice, Shrimp Rémoulade, Lemon Ice Box Pie, Croissant Bread Pudding with Bon Ton Sauce, Bananas Foster, Banana Pudding, Southern Pecan Pie
I admit – I’m not a football fan and Super Bowl Sunday has always had little meaning to me. However, this year the New Orleans Saints were playing and if there was ever a city that needed a victory, this was it. My husband enticed me further with, “Hey, The Who will be playing at half time!” (Ugh – what a painful reality check — who, indeed, were those old guys? I immediately felt ancient myself.) He watched the rest of the game, with intermittent loud shouts and cheers.