Recently, Charles LaPradd, the county agriculture manager, stopped by Bee Heaven Farm with a special delivery. He unloaded several boxes of Redland’s latest crop — “Local Flavor: Recipes Raised in the Florida Redland” — a very special cookbook two and a half years in the making.
It’s filled with recipes for local produce gathered from growers and cooks. The list of contributors is a who’s who of area growers and cooks. Farmer Margie Pikarsky has three of her own recipes: Avocado Salad (or Chunky Guacamole), Calabaza & Watercress Salad, and Strawberry Black Satin Pudding. “Veronique,” a Sea Grape Martini, was originally concocted with Margie’s sea grapes for a Slow Food Miami event.
If it grows in Redland, there’s a mouthwatering recipe for it, and almost all look quick and easy to make. Carambola is coming into season now, and Star Fruit Chicken Salad caught my eye. A useful chart in the back lists what’s growing when. This is a great book for CSA members to have in their kitchen.
The book is beautifully produced, with luscious pictures of produce and and lovely countryside. Yes, that’s what Miami-Dade County’s back yard looks like! If there is one disappointment, there are no pictures of the finished dishes. The book is thoughtfully designed to be used in a kitchen, with glossy, heavy pages to stand up to drips and spills, and a spiral binding that lets pages lay flat. There’s plenty of white space to scribble comments.
Charles delivered 100 copies, which Margie is selling on her summer web store for $16 each (including tax). You can also buy it from the Dade County Farm Bureau. The book will also be available at the Homestead Book Fair on October 5th. Three thousand copies have been printed. “There’s no room to move in my office,” LaPradd said, laughing. Help him free up some floor space and buy a book!
The cookbook was published so that people can learn about the area, and how to use its products, LaPradd explained. Proceeds from its sales will go toward raising money to pay for colorful produce stickers with the Redland Raised logo.
Starting this October, those stickers plus in-store displays should be in Publix stores so shoppers can clearly identify what’s locally grown. Some of the local produce to look for (as it comes into season) is green beans, yellow squash, zucchini, boniato, okra and avocados. And if you don’t find those displays, or if they’re on produce that clearly isn’t from here, complain to the store’s produce manager. This is information that LaPradd’s office provides free to stores.
If Redland Raised sounds vaguely familiar, the brand was launched with great hope and promise on October 29, 2009. Various dignitaries including LaPradd, county mayor Carlos Alvarez, several commissioners, a bunch of Redland growers, and store execs gathered in the produce department of a Publix near Tropical Park for the kickoff. But a cold winter freeze that damaged a lot of crops caused a setback, and both local veggies and signage disappeared from stores. Now the program is rallying a comeback, and hopefully sales of the new “eat local” cookbook will revive interest from both cooks and retailers.
The Redland Raised brand was LaPradd’s brainchild, and it was designed to be used in conjunction with the state ag department’s Fresh From Florida brand. Only Redland growers who are members of the Florida Agricultural Promotional Campaign (FAPC) can use the Redland Raised logo to promote their produce as grown in Redland.