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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Hani Khouri and his ice cream scooper ready to go!

I first met Hani Khouri at a farmers market set up in a parking lot in front of a grocery store off US1. The market was a motley bunch of tents and vendors selling all manner of locally grown produce, flowers and treats. Hani had his table set up next to Bee Heaven Farm’s sprawling tent, and he was offering tastes of his artisanal farmer’s cheese made from goat milk. He was enthusiastic about the health benefits of goat milk, how it differs from cow’s milk, and how his cheese was the best. I was reluctant to try, because I had never liked the tang of soft goat cheese, and have problems with cow’s milk.

 

Hani invited me to try a bite, and cautiously, I did. The farmers cheese was firm, a lttle crumbly, and sweet. No goaty tang. It was delicious! I asked him his secret, and he told me, but now as I write this, I can’t remember what it was. I do recall that he had a cooler loaded with containers of cheese and milk on ice. For some time he didn’t have a tent for market, and relied on shade from his trademark Panama hat.

 

Hani expanded sales to other farmers markets, and provided cheese to several local restaurants. He created goat milk ice cream – yes, ice cream! It had some of that traditional goat cheese funk and tang, and was flavored with tropical fruits and fresh sugar from local growers. All local, all organic. It was hard to choose a favorite. They were all very good, including the one made with tart cas guava.

 

Hani expanded into preparing various Lebanese dishes, and hosted several dinners around the Redland area. The food was tasty and the dinners were popular. Of course Hani teamed up with Margie Pikarsky to provide his cooked food and cheese as add-on shares for her weekly CSA veggie boxes. Occassionally he would drop off something different for Margie to try. This is how I learned about ful mudamas (fava bean dish) and namoura (sweet semolina cake). It was all scrumptious, and again, hard to choose my favorite.

 

Hani also introduced me to his kids – his Nubian goats’ offspring, that is. I visited a few weeks after they were born. The front yard had been transformed into a goats’ playground, as the young kids bounced, leaped, trotted, skipped and climbed on top of anything. They were in constant motion and very entertaining to watch. Hani explained that goats like to climb on top of things. One kid would climb on top of an old stump, then the next would push him off and climb up. They also liked to climb on top of an old white plastic toy igloo then leap off, or nap inside it. The older goats were friendly, and came up to the fence to nibble on my clothes.

 

Years later, Hani and I were sitting on a log at a bonfire one evening at Bee Heaven Farm. His wife Mary Lee and two of his children were there, along with a number of Margie’s friends and neighbors. Occasionally she would have a fire, usually on a cold night, and would invite people over. Hani and I were watching the flames, and chatting about life. My heart had been broken recently, and I was feeling blue. “How do you know it’s the one?” I asked Hani. “You just know,” he told me. “I married my best friend.” His one true love Mary Lee smiled at him across the flickering fire. Hani would do anything for her. He moved heaven and earth to buy goats and a farm so she could have good milk and cheese; and he went through great lengths to find and prepare organic, clean, fresh food so she could recover her health. And she thrived for many years from his loving care. Hani’s entrepreneurship began because of love, and he made his food with love. You could taste it in every bite.

 

Further reading about Hani Khouri:

 

Obituary published in Edible South Florida

https://ediblesouthflorida.ediblecommunities.com/food-thought/memoriam-hani-khouri-businessman-chef-goatherd

 

GoFundMe fundraiser for the Khouri family

https://www.gofundme.com/f/hanikhouristroke

 

Best cheese 2013

https://www.miaminewtimes.com/best-of/2013/food-and-drink/best-cheese-6403651

Goatherd and cheesemaker Hani Khouri rolls a bale of alfalfa to the goat’s pen at dinner time.

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DATES: October 15 and 16, 2016, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Fruit & Spice Park, 24801 SW 187 Avenue, Redland, FL
ADMISSION:  $10 cash per person at the gate.
Advance tickets $8 online until Oct. 12 at Brown Paper Tickets .
Children under 12 get in free.
Military families can get free tickets at www.VetTix.org .

GrowFest!
A celebration of all local things edible, green, and growing

Redland GrowFest! returns for the fifth year to the Fruit & Spice Park October 15 & 16, 2016. This annual event celebrates all local things edible, green, and growing. Growers offer a bonanza of seedlings, starter plants and native and tropical fruit trees for home or school gardens and food forest projects. Food and artisan vendors feature products made with Redland-Raised ingredients, like the festival’s signature jackfruit curry.

Bee Aware! is this year’s festival theme, highlighting our pollinators, so essential for many crops. The Tropical Beekeepers Association, this year’s event beneficiary, will be on hand to share information about beekeeping from the hobby to the professional level and their educational projects. The club meets the second Tuesday of each month at the Redlands Community Church.

Organic grower and festival organizer Margie Pikarsky, owner of Bee Heaven Farm, believes it’s important for folks in the South Florida area to be aware of our diverse local agricultural resources, and learn how to take advantage of the unique possibilities our tropical climate offers.

The Chefs’ Local Cookoff Challenge on Sunday, joined this year by a similar Students’ Local Cookoff Challenge on Saturday, asks renowned local chefs and students to get creative with a Mystery Box full of Redland-Raised seasonal crops. Awesome deliciousness results from their inspired dishes!

Lectures and demos throughout the weekend by UF/IFAS/Miami-Dade County Extension agents, 4-H, Master Gardeners, and other local experts will inform growers at all levels – from balcony to backyard growers, urban, small and large farmers.

Event sponsors include Dade County Farm Bureau, Edible South Florida, District 8 Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, UF/IFAS Miami-Dade County Extension, Homestead Hospital, FIU Agroecology Program, Slow Food Miami, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, Fresh From Florida/Redland Raised, Bee Heaven Farm and the Fruit & Spice Park.

For more information and schedule of activities, visit the Redland GrowFest! web site.

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GrowFest-logo-2

Chefs’ Local Cookoff Challenge: Sunday, 1:30 pm

The Chefs
Sean Brasel – Meat Market
Michael Reidt – Pilgrim
Samantha Narvaez – PG Bakery
Chef Pablo Zitzmann – Trust and Company
Simon Stojanovik – Swank Farm/ Swank Table

The Judges
Galena Moscovitch – Herald and Zagat writer
Sarah Liss – Writer/Saffron Supper Club
Eleanor Hoh – Wok Star cooking teacher, Blogger

The Ingredients
• a mystery box of locally-grown seasonal food
• a limited pantry with locally-grown ingredients plus a few basic staples
• 3 ingredients of their choosing

The Result
Awesomely creative deliciousness!

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GrowFest-logo-2
FEATURED SPEAKER: Jim Ewing, former president of the Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, will be presenting on two topics:
 
Creating an Edible Forest on a Permaculture Model. Jim outlines various layouts and strategies for incorporating perennials into a traditional growing layout, providing a more natural, stress-free food production area. Human beings have been doing this — prior to modern industrial agriculture — for millennia, from the birth of human kind on the savannahs of Africa.
Sunday, October 18 at 10:00 am
 
Selling Your Crop: Tips for Small Producers. Calling his techniques “guerilla marketing,” Jim gives tips for small producers to increase sales through various strategies — cheaply! — using social media, targeting markets and objectively weighing and maximizing options for one’s unique situation.
Sunday, October 18 at 1:00 pm
 
 A former organic farmer, Jim serves or has served with numerous ag, food system and environmental organizations, and is currently on the administrative council and a member of the executive committee of the 15-state Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE USDA) program that serves Florida. He is the author of seven books, including Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating.

 

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Pepper #30, by Edward Weston

Pepper #30, by Edward Weston

Many years ago, I came across the famous photo of a bell pepper taken by Edward Weston. The pepper was sensuous and and appeared to have a satiny skin. I was transfixed and flummoxed. Where did Weston find such a thing? Turns out he grew the pepper himself. But that didn’t keep me from scouring bins of bell peppers at the grocery stores. Nope, no luck. They were all the same plain boxy shape. No quirks, no twists, no character. Let’s face it, veggies at the supermarket are just plain dull.

Page 42 of the Spring issue, Edible South Florida

Page 42 of the Spring issue, Edible South Florida

It wasn’t until I started hanging out at Bee Heaven Farm taking photos of CSA shares that I came across produce with character. Hallelujah! Of course, I started photographing them! And now, a small part of my collection of wacky veggie pictures has been published on the inside back page of the spring issue of Edible South Florida. Thanks to editor Gretchen Schmidt for selecting the pictures!

Ohhhh myyyyy!!!

Ohhhh myyyyy!!!

Large heirloom tomatoes like to morph various shapes. Carrots get naughty. Daikon are more elegant and like to twist and twine. Eggplants grow noses. And bell peppers tend to grow lobes and knobs. (I still haven’t found one as elegant as Weston’s but that won’t keep me from looking.) Mother Nature is coloring outside the lines.

One man, Jordan Figueiredo, is on a mission to get supermarkets to sell veggies with character, because creating consumer demand for misshapen produce is a good way of reducing food waste. Growers and wholesalers prefer uniformly shaped, blandly “perfect” produce for supermarket sales — and us shoppers have come to expect bland as normal. We lose out on nature’s riotous creativity, which gets wasted, rotten, thrown away.

You can read more about Figueiredo and his mission in the article next to my pictures. His web site lists links for grocery chains, where you can be an ugly veggie activist too. Shoot an email to corporate. Or, ask the produce manager at your favorite grocery store, and remember to keep asking. With enough demand, “uglies” can and will start showing up routinely in grocery stores.

Don’t forget, “uglies” are fun. Over at the farmers market, I’ve seen kids reach first for eggplants with noses, and moms get a giggle at risque carrots. And of course you can start your own collection of produce pictures. Maybe you’ll be the one who finds a pepper as memorable as Weston’s #30.

Dancing daikon

Dancing daikon

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Plethora of peppers

One pound of red jalapeno peppers.

One pound of red jalapeno peppers.

Are you perplexed and puzzled by the plethora of peppers that presented themselves in your prodigious CSA box a couple weeks ago? Ponder no more! Pickle them! I made two different pickles, or ferments, with the peppers. One ferment is with honey, and the other with salt and vinegar.

Three large chopped jalapenos in about a cup of raw wildflower honey. The ferment is about two weeks old.

Three large chopped jalapenos in about a cup of raw wildflower honey. The ferment is about two weeks old.

Hot peppers fermented in honey is simple and fairly quick. Honey is anti-biotic and anti-fungal, and and it makes sense to use it to preserve food. I chopped up three jalapeños, one with seeds and two without, put them in a small jar, and covered them with raw wildflower honey from Bee Heaven Farm. I filled the jar to the shoulder, screwed on the lid. Within a day, the honey grew liquid and syrupy, and by the second day, small bubbles appeared among the chunks of peppers. They were fermenting! I burped the lid every day for a week until the ferment settled.

I started tasting teaspoons of honey on the third day. It was sweet fire! I made a sweet-hot-sour vinaigrette with apple cider vinegar and it was delicious on a green salad. The dressing would be good on a fruit salad too. The hot honey could be used to make a sweet and sour sauce, or simply drizzled on BBQ ribs — or chocolate ice cream. Holy mole! And still-crunchy chunks of sweet pepper could be added to salsa or stir fry for a mellow kick.

Sriracha, day one of fermentation. On the right are seeds saved from five peppers.

Sriracha, day one of fermentation. On the right are seeds saved from five peppers.

That done, I still had three-quarters of a pound of peppers left. It’s too much to eat before they go bad. Time to make hot sauce! And not just any sauce, but sriracha. I found two versions online, one fermented, and one a quick pickle in vinegar. The fermented one caught my imagination.

Out of the 10 peppers left, I seeded half (saved the seeds to grow my own) and cut all of them into chunks. They went into the food processor along with two garlic cloves, some brown sugar and salt. The finely chopped mixture was spooned into a jar and pushed down so its juices would cover as much as possible. It will sit on the kitchen counter for 3 days to ferment. Then the recipe calls for heating the ferment with vinegar, and straining to make the finished sauce. (You could also add a dash of fish sauce for a bit of umami, and maybe a tablespoon of honey to mellow the fire.) Click on the link to get detailed instructions for both versions of sriracha, fermented and vinegar based.

Happy pickling, hot heads!

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Saucy Kohlrabi

White (actually light green) kohlrabi

White (actually light green) kohlrabi

Kohlrabi, that crazy looking bulbous vegetable with large drapey leaves, is at its peak right now. It tastes like a blend of cabbage and turnip, and its name means precisely that — Kohl = cabbage and Rabi = turnip. You can throw it in a salad, or cook it like you would turnips or cabbage. The greens are similar to collards and can be prepared the same way. For those on an ultra-low carb or paleo diet, you can blanch the leaves to soften them, and then use them for wraps.

Kohlrabi started getting harvested in mid-November. It was the mystery dish at farmer Margie Pikarsky’s Thanksgiving Day dinner at the barn. Guests were trying to identify the light colored chunks, covered with sauce and chopped greens. Potatoes? Nein. Kohlrabi? Ja! Give thanks for  that unusual German brassica that was a favorite of Emperor Charlemagne.

Kohlrabi with white sauce

Kohlrabi with white sauce

At Thanksgiving dinner, Margie recounted the tale of when she and her family were traveling in Germany one summer a few years ago. Late in June, they found themselves in the southwestern corner of the country somewhere near Weisbaden. “Imagine a small urban, self-contained neighborhood about six blocks wide, surrounded by farm fields,”  she described. She didn’t remember the name of the town, but she did recall the name of the B&B — the Black Eagle — where they stayed the night. For dinner at the restaurant down the street, they ate farm fresh food.

“I don’t remember the main course,” Margie said, “but they were just starting to harvest peas, so there were baby peas, and baby carrots. They had kohlrabi served with a white sauce made with milk, like scalloped potatoes.” The tour guide they were traveling with said they were eating a typical German farm meal. “Here’s a vegetable you don’t know,” he told the hungry travelers, pointing to the saucy dish. “Nobody from America knows this.” He was expecting to stump Margie, who took a bite and said, “Know this? I grow this!”

In the version of this dish served at Thanksgiving, Margie chopped up the kohlrabi tops, sautéed them until tender, and served them with the bulbs. Mmmm tasty, enjoy!

If you want more kohlrabi and didn’t make it to Pinecrest Market on Sunday, you can go online and order some at the Bee Heaven Farm web store.

Lots of kohlrabi at market.

Lots of kohlrabi at market.

 

Kohlrabi with White Sauce

Ingredients:

4 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled and cubed
Kohlrabi greens, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
oil for sautéing greens

Directions:

1. Place the kohlrabi and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a saucepan. Cover with water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until kohlrabi can be pierced with a fork, but remains firm, about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking water. Place kohlrabi in a bowl, and cover.

2. Place the butter into the same saucepan, and melt over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, and stir until the mixture becomes paste-like and golden brown. Gradually whisk the milk and reserved cooking water from the kohlrabi into the flour mixture, stirring until thick and smooth. Stir in the cream, 1 teaspoon salt, and nutmeg until well blended. Continue whisking until sauce thickens, then cook 10 minutes more. Stir in the kohlrabi, tossing to coat evenly with sauce.

3. Heat oil in another saucepan. Add chopped kohlrabi greens. Cook until tender, and serve with the sauced bulbs.

Serves 8.

Based on the recipe here.

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