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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Oven Dried Roasted Tomatoes

I bought a case of organic, Roma tomatoes from the Collingswood Farmers' Market last weekend, and I'm in the midst of canning and roasting all sorts of tomato goodness.  One quick and easy idea I do every year is to make oven-roasted tomatoes, so that I can utilize the over-abundance of tomatoes that one usually has on hand this time of year.  Slow oven roasting brings out a sweetness in the tomatoes (helped along with a pinch of sugar in my seasoning mixture) that renders these jewels into a candy-like treat.  This is a very simple recipe that uses few ingredients but requires a bit of time to finish.  Read on for a step by step tutorial and by all means, pick those tomatoes out of your garden and start making this immediately!  You can use Cherry and Grape tomatoes too, though you want to roast them for a much shorter amount of time.  

1. Clean the tomatoes, and discard any that are too soft or are sporting bad/rotten spots.  Cut the tops off of the plum or Roma Tomatoes, then using the back of a soup, scoop out the seeds and core of the tomatoes.   I used about 3 dozen tomatoes for this batch.

 2. Discard the seeds, tops and cores or better yet, toss into your compost bin!
  
3. Preheat your oven to 250 to 275 Degrees Fahrenheit
 
4. Use a sheet tray, lined with either a Silpat, parchment paper, or aluminum foil (lightly sprayed with cooking spray) and lay out the tomato halves, cut sides up onto the tray, with a bit of space in between.
5. In a small bowl, mix together your seasonings of choice.  I used a combination of a Teaspoon of each Dried Italian/Mediterranean Seasonings such as Parsley, Basil, Thyme, Tarragon, Oregano, Red Pepper Flakes, Minced Garlic and Onions, Freshly Ground Black Pepper; A Tablespoon of Sugar and A Tablespoon of Kosher Salt.  Mix together to blend well.  The Salt is essential to drying these out and drawing out the water.  I like the sugar because it brings out the tomato sweetness.

6. Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over all the tomato halves, making sure to get enough into each tomato cavity.  Place into the preheated oven, set to a low temperature of 250 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit and bake/roast low and slow for 3 to 4 hours, checking from time to time, making sure the tomatoes don't over-dry. 

7. Medium/Large Roma Tomatoes will take at least 4 hours to oven dry; Grape and Cherry Tomatoes will dry out in about 2 to 3 hours.  Tomatoes are done when they are curled in on themselves, and are dry but not crisp.  If they are too moist, continue to oven dry for about another hour, but lower the oven temperature down to 250 degrees. 

8. To store, lay flat in a container, and place a layer of parchment or plastic wrap in-between layers.  Keep refrigerated and use within 2 weeks.  These will keep frozen for up to 3 to 4 months.  They taste delicious just as they are and will be wonderful in a salad.  Perfect on pizza, great with pasta or as a topping for grilled chicken. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Diner en Blanc Philadelphia

video

My video essay, set to French Pop and Jazz Music, 
to set the mood and tell the story of Diner En Blanc: Philadelphia.

On Thursday, August 23, 2012, 1300 people, all dressed in white, met at various locations throughout Center City Philadelphia, between 6 pm and 6:30 for the first ever, Diner en Blanc.  We came armed with our own tables, chairs, picnic baskets full of sumptuous foods, wine/champagne, dishes, silverware, candles, and all the makings for a spectacular evening dining al fresco. We were heading somewhere, in Philadelphia.  At precisely 6:30, many of the 1300 people were told the final destination although many of us, myself included, were told to board the El Train and that we were to go one stop down to 15th and Market Street - aka City Hall and the famous Claes Oldenburg "Clothes Pin" sculpture.  The mystery of where our dining event in white deepening, fun chaos ensuing...

After a white clad throng of hundreds packed an El Train to Center City, we trudged and bungled our way up many flights of crowded stairs, hauling hand trucks and granny carts loaded with our evenings picnic needs.  We walked up Market Street to 18th, then headed towards Philadelphia's grand and Parisian-inspired Parkway, to Logan Square.  The spectacle that hundreds of people, all grandly dressed in white, made while walking in line towards the parkway had onlookers gasping and gawking, many of whom couldn't understand what our procession meant.  Were were going to a wedding? How did we know to do this? Why? Why not we answered!

Many of us were tired and very over-heated from all the walking and hauling, but we were giddy with excitement.  I didn't figure out that our final destination was Logan Square until we reached 18th and Arch Street, when it dawned on me that we were so close to this most ubiquitous and beautiful spot in Philadelphia.

As we approached Logan Square and found our "spoke" in the park to set up our tables and chairs, many Diner en Blanc participants were waving their white napkins, signaling the official start of the evening and diner.  We arrived, late, the last group to set up.  Many in my group felt that we were seated at the back of the event, but as the evening gracefully moved on, we realized we had a prime location, with space behind us to spread out our belongings, near enough to the action but far away enough to have some quiet serenity.  Parisian Jazz floated over the fountain landing lightly at our table, enlivening the evening but never over-taking the conversations.

Diner, drinking champagne, conversing with friends and strangers who became new friends.  Sparklers were lit at 8:45, then the dancing commenced, with party goers making their way around the Square to check out everyones' tables and set ups.  Photos, compliments, laughter were shared freely all night long.  Then people began wading and dancing in the famous Swan Fountain, making the evening have a gentle debauched feel, like a scene from a 1940's Gene Kelly movie, innocent and merry.

The party was to end at 11 pm, diners taking their belongings and leaving Logan Square as we found it.  We left by 10:30, like two Cinderellas leaving the ball before midnight; before our white ensembles turned back into our everyday clothes and the beauty and magic of the evening ended.  It was a fairy tale evening, not quite perfect but marvelous and magical in every way.

If for some reason, you cannot view the video embedded in this post, I have it on my YouTube Channel, along with several other videos I've created.  You can always search under my name: deninegorniak   Here's the link:

 http://youtu.be/qZ7uVhdB294 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Batter UP! One Batter + 2 Muffins = Home Run!

I'm experimenting with a low fat, low sugar whole wheat muffin batter.  I've had multiple recipe posts for my banana muffins as well as blueberry muffins.  After remaking a lemon and blueberry whole wheat muffin a few weeks ago, I realized that if I tweaked the main batter ingredients, I could use one batter to make a variety of recipes.  This past Sunday, Nate, my little Sous Chef, and I made two dozen muffins, one batch as the lemon and blueberry and the other into banana with chocolate and peanut butter chips.  Voila! We/I hit upon a versatile recipe that will now become The Bicycle-Chef's standby  muffin recipe. 

The recipe basics use brown sugar, non-fat Greek yogurt, whole wheat flour, a pureed or mashed fruit, baking soda/powders, egg, and non-fat milk.  I think I've hit upon the right combination of main ingredients to make this work with a variety of fruit purees.  I plan to do other interpretations such as using pumpkin, apple butter or other fruity-luscious flavors.  I'd love suggestions and comments.  Let me know what you want to try/use or what's worked for you!

Silicone Muffin Wrappers - use round ones only and spray the insides!
Version 1 with Blueberries & Lemon Zest

Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffin Ingredients:

  • Non-stick cooking spray or 12 Muffin/cupcake liners
  • 1/2 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup (or 1 small container) Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce (or 1 individual sized container 3.9 to 4.2 ounces)
  • 1 Large Egg - lightly beaten
  • Zest of 1 Lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 Cup Non-Fat Milk
  • 2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour (King Arthur is best, or use a quality, low-gluten whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/4 Cup Quick Cook Oatmeal
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Blueberries - fresh or frozen (if frozen, keep frozen)
 Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 12 -cup muffin tin with the cooking spray or line with the cupcake liners; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the light brown sugar and yogurt.  Mix in the applesauce and the beaten egg.  Whisk to combine, then add in the lemon zest and non-fat milk.
  3. In another bowl, sift together the dry ingredients - whole wheat flour, oatmeal, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Whisk to combine the dry ingredients.  
  4. Slowly incorporated the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, folding in the dry in 3 batches.  Fold the first batch in, then add in 1/4 cup of the blueberries.  Fold in the next mixture of flour, adding in more blueberries, reserving some blueberries for topping the muffins.  Fold in the last of the dry ingredients.  Don't over-mix the batter, it should be lumpy.
  5. Scoop out the batter using an ice cream scoop and divide among the 12 muffin cups.  Top each muffin with remaining blueberries, submerging them slightly but allowing the blueberries to remain almost on top of the muffin batter.
  6. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until the muffins are slightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the muffin tin, then turn them out and cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. Makes 1 dozen muffins.  These will keep for 3 to 4 days in a covered container in the refrigerator, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Banana Muffins with Chocolate and Peanut butter Chips - YUMMY!
Version 2 w/Bananas & Chocolate and Peanut butter Chips

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chips Ingredients:
  • Non-stick cooking spray or 12 Muffin/cupcake liners
  • 1/2 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup (or one 5 or 6 ounce small container) Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 Cup to 1 1/2 cups (about 3 medium/large) Ripe Bananas - mashed
  • 1 Large Egg - lightly beaten
  • 1/2 Cup Non-Fat Milk
  • 2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour (King Arthur is best, or use a quality, low-gluten whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/4 Cup Quick Cook Oatmeal
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Cup Each Chocolate Chip and Peanut butter Chips (optional/if desired)
 Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 12 -cup muffin tin with the cooking spray or line with the cupcake liners; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the light brown sugar and yogurt.  Mix in the mashed bananas  and the beaten egg.  Whisk to combine, then add in the  non-fat milk.
  3. In another bowl, sift together the dry ingredients - whole wheat flour, oatmeal, baking soda and powders, salt and cinnamon.  Whisk to combine the dry ingredients.  
  4. Slowly incorporated the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, folding in the dry in 3 batches.  Don't over-mix the batter, it should be a bit lumpy. If the mixture is too thick, add in a bit more non-fat milk, 1/4 cup at a time.
  5. If using, stir in the chocolate and peanut butter chips, reserving some to stud the top of the muffin batter.
  6. Scoop out the batter using an ice cream scoop and divide among the 12 muffin cups.  Top each muffin with reserved chips, submerging them slightly but allowing the chocolate/peanut butter  chips to remain almost on top of the muffin batter.
  7. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until the muffins are slightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the muffin tin, then turn them out and cool completely on a wire rack.
  9. Makes 1 dozen muffins.  These will keep for 3 to 4 days in a covered container in the refrigerator, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Irish Pub Tour De Shore Ride 2012 and Video

Carol Jackson, a new friend I met during the Irish Pub Tour De Shore Ride
video

A few weeks ago I got to participate in the Irish Pub Philadelphia's 25th Annual, Tour De Shore Ride.  It's a bicycle charity ride that raises money for children's charities in the Greater Philadelphia Region.  Specifically, it raises a lot of money for PAL, The Police Survivors Fund and the Daniel Faulkner Scholarship Fund.  I've known about this ride for a few years and always thought it would be a lot of fun to do.  The entry fee isn't too high, the minimum amount to raise is less than $200 and it's under 65 miles from the Irish Pub at 20th and Walnut Streets to the Irish Pub in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  Add in a bunch of fun loving police and other non-serious cyclists and you have a fun group ride.  This year's ride raised over $518,000. 
Yep, he rode most of the trip bare chested.

Group Photo Time before the start of the ride
I signed up thinking I'd maybe find one of my cycling friends but knowing full well that I'd be riding solo and meet people along the way.  I prefer to do these larger group rides alone, there are a lot of people you can meet and chat with along the way, so I never feel alone or lacking in company.  Plus I don't have to worry about keeping any of my faster cycling friends held back, or annoy anyone I'm with because I want to talk and take a lot of photos.  I like the chance encounters, the fast friendships you make because you are doing a sport that you both love.  There's also something about the psychology of biking and using both your right and left brain.  I find that I can bond very quickly with strangers while we are engaged in our sport and talk at the same time.  It's the spirit of adventure.
Carol, on her cool triathlon bike
This ride did not disappoint!  I met lots of people and talked with cyclists all throughout the day.  I never worried that I'd be doing this ride alone, how could I be alone with over 1,500 riders?  I may have pedaled off as a solo rider but within 15 minutes I talked to over a dozen people.  After 20 miles, I met a woman named Carol Jackson, who came in from Ohio to do the ride! I noticed her very cool bicycle, a highly unusual triathlon bike with no down tube for the seat post to the bicycle frame.  I took a few photos of her and the bike even before we spoke.  

As I passed by her I started to talk to her about her bike, asking her what kind of bike it was, how old it is, and other bicycle related questions.  Carol was an easy going cyclist and talking with her felt natural and familiar.  She told me that she was with a group of riders who were much faster than her.  One of two of the riders in her crew had gotten flat tires at the start of the ride and were eager to make up time, leaving her to ride alone.  Since I didn't have a partner or crew, I said she was welcome to ride along with me, unless I kept her back!  She thought I was a faster rider and I was thinking that she was the more fit/fast rider!  We were a good matched pair.

We pedaled together for 2/3rds of the trip, sharing water, Advil, snacks and lots of stories. We had a comfortable and easy pace, cycling and talking.  During the ride and especially after, I knew that the this was how the day was meant to play out for me.  I'm not sure which one of us enjoyed the company more, I think it was mutual.  I loved the casual camaraderie and the way we could just share stories.  In someways I think it was an adventure and a mitzvah for the both of us.  
George, aka Guy Smiley
I met other riders along the way too, exchange a few moments pleasantries about the scenery, our bikes, jerseys and other cycling topics.  One guy along the ride kept riding past me and making small, cheeky conversation, such as, he likes rides like this because he can meet cute girls.  My response was, "I'm sure you can!"  Little did I realize that he was one of my "Morning Biking Regulars" that I see when I do my morning loops around the Schuylkill River.  I was wearing a very recognizable and unique bike jersey, that has on the back of it, "Petroleum is Satan's Energy Drink"  It's not a sentiment that I'd necessarily seek to emblazon across my back, I like the jersey because it was inexpensive, fits well, and feels comfortable.  So, I was recognizable to George, who we call Guy Smiley.  I didn't recognize him until the third rest stop when he stopped me, shook my and asked me to tell him my name again.  Every time I see George, he's wearing a different kit (shirt/helmet) and glasses and he rides a lot of different bikes.  He's not as recognizable in his different garb each morning; he sure wasn't someone I'd expected to see on this charity ride but I sure am glad he recognized me and made the point to talk to me several times until I responded to him!

This was the best group and the best charity organized ride I've done.  I'm looking forward to doing it again next year and I hope that I can raise more than the $300 my generous friends and family contributed to making this event happen for me.  More than the fun, I genuinely believe in the charities that the money supports.  I'm always a bit hesitant to ask people to give to these sorts of events, having heard once you are asking your friends to help pay for your hobby.  Yes, that may be true to some degree, but if the charity event is near and dear to your heart, then the money is being well spent for a worthwhile cause.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Gazpacho made Easy - Take II


Gazpacho in Cucumber Cups
Updated Saturday, August 11, 2012:  I made this again, for a cooking demonstration at the Collingswood Farmers' Market.  I realized that it had a few mistakes and that it could use some improvements and better photos!

Timing is everything. Just about a year ago, I posted a Garden Medley Gazpacho soup; a quick, no-cook recipe that is chockablock full of garden goodness. It's the perfect summer meal, cool and easy to make utilizing the bounty of the summer harvest. With a small heat wave upon us over this past weekend it was the perfect time again to pull out the blender and whiz up a batch of summer soup. Since I needed to get in my daily veggie intake and I did not want to cook, this gazpacho fit the bill. We have a plethora of tomatoes from our weekly CSA Share in addition to a refrigerator full of peppers, cucs and jalapenos. TwoSixQuick I had blended up a beat-the-heat summer soup for Liz and I that satisfied our tummies and cooled us down a few degrees.

You only need a handful of ingredients and a blender or food processor. The soup can be made in a blender but it is easier over-all to pulse the ingredients in a food processor. You have to stop and start and stir the veggies more often in a blender since the shape is not as conducive to whizzing the firmer/dryer ingredients around easily. I choose to use garlic and I blanched it to tame its bite. Having vampire defending garlic breath is not always how I want to breathe. If you don't mind the bite of raw garlic - throw it into the blender or food processor. The jalapeno is optional. I wanted a bit of heat but not too much so I removed the seeds and ribs of the jalapeno, carefully. There's a bit more fire there than you might imagine.

Each vegetable was pulsed/pureed individually before adding to the finished soup
One other note - it's important to pulse puree each ingredient separate and in small batches. Once each one is done and you should leave each one a bit on the chunky side, pour each into a large mixing bowl, layers at a time. You can blend them together after everything is done. I used a blender for this version, though it would have been just as much time to pull out the food processor and used that instead. Oh well, live, learn and clean up the same mess!  Vary the added ingredients, zucchini and squash aren't necessary, but carrots, cucs, and peppers are! Enjoy and make soup!


Gazpacho Ingredients:
  • 2 Celery Stalks - cut into large chunks
  • 2 Medium Carrots - peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 Large Cucumber or 1 Medium Cucumber- peeled and seeded & cut into large dice
  • 1/2 Red or Green Bell Pepper - seeds and ribs removed & cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 Jalapeno - seeds and ribs removed & cut into 2 pieces
  • 4 - 6 Medium/Large Tomatoes - seeds removed and cut into large chunks - or 2 Pints of Mixed Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Each Yellow Squash and Zucchini - cut into large chunks (OPTIONAL! not necessary but if you have them on hand, it does add a nice bit of body)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves - blanched in boiling water for 2 minutes
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper - to taste
  • Juice of 1 Lemon or 2 Tablespoons of Red, White or Sherry Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Directions:
Ying and Yang, Thick and Liquidy
  1. Wash and prepare each vegetable as indicated. Have a large mixing bowl ready, a wooden spoon for stirring and a spatula for scraping out the blender or food processor.
  2. A blender is fine but a food processor works better!
  3. Add the celery to the blender and blend/pulse just until the celery is moderately pureed but still slightly chunky. Tamp down the celery with the end of a wooden spoon if all of it has not been pureed. Scrap out the celery and add it to the mixing bowl.
  4. Puree the carrots until they are finely minced in the blender - but don't turn them into carrot juice! Keep the carrots on the finely diced side. Scrap them out and add to the celery in the bowl.
  5. Puree the cucumbers. These will turn to liquid, don't be alarmed, this is a good thing.  Add the cucumber "water" to the bowl.
  6. Next, add in the bell pepper and jalapeno and blend until moderately pureed - about six pulses. Tamp down the peppers if needed and pulse again. The peppers will liquefy too.  Pour the mixture out and add to the celery/carrot and cucumbers.
  7. Add in the tomatoes and blanched garlic (blanch the garlic in a small sauce pot of water, bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes). Puree the tomatoes until they are completely smooth and liquefied. Add the now tomato juice to the vegetable mixture.
  8. If using, pulse the squash/zucchini, just until they are finely diced.  Don't over process, keep them on the textured side and not liquefied.
  9. Stir well to incorporate all the vegetables and season to taste with salt, freshly ground black pepper, lemon juice or vinegar and the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. 
  10. If the mixture is too thick and chunky, puree/pulse 1/2 of it back in the blender or food processor to liquefy, then pour this mixture back into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.  I like my gazpacho on the thicker side but I want to have some fluidity to it!
  11.  Chill for at least 30 minutes and serve cold. Makes 4 servings and will hold, refrigerated for up to 3 days.  Drizzle with a bit of good olive oil and garnish with chopped cilantro, basil or parsley if you want.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Watermelon and Vodka Cocktails

During our 2 week vacation at the Jersey Shore, I made a splendid cocktail with watermelon, limes, lemons, vodka and Triple Sec.   Most of the drinks that I make, when I make cocktails, utilize vodka.  I don't like gin and rum makes me feel mean.  Tequila is best done as a shot, preferably when you are young and dumb and don't know any better.  For the most part, I'm a beer lady through and through with the occasional glass of wine thrown back for good heart health.  

This drink concoction was born out of needing to use a bunch of stuff we had on hand and wanting to use a very large watermelon before it spoiled.  We had a lot of spirits in the house because two of our vacations mates were moving across country and had the last of their Philly house's belongings, provisions and party paraphernalia to take with them in their car.  No need to cart bottles of booze to the heartland when we could easily imbibe in it on the East Coast! Voila! A new drink was created.


The "recipe" as it were is a step by step pictorial.  Here's what I used and what you may wish to use as well:

Watermelon and Vodka Cocktail Ingredients:
  • 4 Cups Watermelon - Chopped (about 1 small sugar baby seedless melon or 1/2 of a small bowling ball sized watermelon!)
  • 2 Cups Good Vodka - we had Tito's Handmade Vodka, from Austin, Texas
  • 1 Cup Triple Sec
  • Freshly Squeezed Juice of 3 Lemons and 3 Limes
  • 3 to 4 Dashes of Orange Bitters or Regular Bitters if you have them
  • 1 Litter Bottle of Seltzer/Club Soda
  • Ice for Cocktail Glasses
  • Blender, Pitcher, Cocktail Glasses, Spoon for Stirring

1. Chop the Watermelon into large 2 inch chunks and put them into a large pitcher. Pour the Vodka, Triple Sec and Bitters into the pitcher.


2. Work in batches if your blender is small, and add in the watermelon and liquid.  Put the lid on the blender, cover with a clean kitchen towel and hold the towel on top of the lid while you puree the  melon and alcohol on high.

3. Puree until the mixture is frothy and all the watermelon is liquefied.   Pour the mixture into cocktail glasses filled with ice and top with seltzer or club soda.
4. Stir the cocktail with a stirrer or cocktail spoon to keep the mixture from separating.  Enjoy!  Makes 1 to 1 1/2 quarts of beverage.  Best served chilled immediately.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Food Finds: Shore and Farmers' Markets Part 2

Tomato Pie with Fresh Ricotta
Part 2 of my Shore Food Finds - at the Ocean City Farmers' Market.

I could seriously write a whole blog just about the wonderful farmers' markets all over the country.  Hmmm, maybe that will be a side-line project for my future books - Market Travels: In Search of People, Pie and America's Forgotten Farmers.  But I digress.  The Ocean City (and Sea Isle, Avalon, Stone Harbor, Margate and Ventnor) Farmers' Market is/are a great big wonderful party every week during the summer.  What stood out for me this particular summer, in addition to finding Cat Gleason, The Pie Girl's pies, were the other local purveyors and vendors that had ready to eat products.  The farmers' produce was fresh and tender but the products we purchased from vendors with whom spoke  truly stood out this year.  

Jill and Michael of Tony Baloney's Farm to Table Truck

Rocket Foccacia
Homemade Pretzels
The Farm to Table Truck
Tony Baloney's of Ventnor, New Jersey brought their huge truck, called the Farm to Table Truck.  Each week they bring racks and racks filled with sheet trays loaded with foccacia flat bread pizzas, all topped with the freshest local ingredients.  Simple tomato pie topped with fresh ricotta, roasted brussels sprouts,  arugula/rocket, and portobella mushroom.  In addition there were loaves of breads, strombollis and hand-made pretzels.

 The brussel sprout flat bread barely made it out of the bag to the car, I devoured it so quickly.  The roasted brussel spouts were so sweet they tasted as though they were caramelized in sugar and maple syrup!

Miss Daisy Smith and her son, Lamont
Apple Garlic Hot Wing Sauce
Good enough to drink from the spoon!
Momma's Homemade  Applesauce and Apple Garlic Hot Wing Sauces were another fabulous find.  Miss Daisy and her son, Lamont hail from nearer to my end of New Jersey - operating out of Chesilhurst, New Jersey.  I've seen, read and heard about Momma's Homemade before.  Their applesauce, which tastes just like apple pie, is sold at Whole Foods Markets and at The Reading Terminal Market.  Miss Daisy and Lamont are the nicest, warmest people, offering samples and witticisms to everyone who stops by their stand.  We had to buy a jar of apple-pie-in-a-jar sauce, it was too good to turn down. The apple and garlic hot wing sauce is just the right combination of heat and sweet - good enough to slurp right off of a spoon!  I asked The Smith's if they could be enticed to bring their products up to Collingswood and Miss Daisy told me she had just submitted an application this season.  They are about 2 miles away at the Westmont Farmers' Market on Wednesdays from 3 to 6 pm.   Hopefully their burgeoning business will be one I can frequent more often and a bit more locally.   You can find their applesauces and marinades at the Whole Foods Market on South Street and at the Callowhill Store in Philadelphia; on Saturdays at the Reading Terminal Market;  or at the many farmers' markets down the shore, from Seaside to The Cape May Villas.

Smoothie Time!
The last find of the week was at a smoothie stand.  Talk N Coffee sells coffee, tea, iced beverages and really good smoothies.  They were flavorful, cold and made from 100% puree fruit and ice, no other faux ingredients.  The smoothies are high in sugar but since it's all fruit, it's not so terrible.  This is a sometimes treat, way better than a Jamba Juice that's loaded with fat and sugars.
Talk n Coffee Truck - Ice, Bring Us ICE!
To say they were doing a brisk business during our two visits is an understatement.  It was a sweltering hot day on our 2nd visit so the line for iced drinks was longer at this stand than at any other vendor.  I think their entire truck was packed with ice and the three or four people working were going non-stop, barely able to look up their customers lest they melt in the unrelenting heat of the late morning summer sun.

Farmers' Markets in any area are a welcome relief to the unknown produce provenance one finds in a chain supermarket.  The vegetables and fruit were most likely picked within a day of your purchase and may well be from within 50 miles of where you made the purchase.  Keep your dollars as local as you can! Support, shop and eat great each week at any of the many farmers' markets sprouting up along a sidewalk or park in your town!