Fresh News



Cal­i­for­nia cit­rus vari­eties are so worth the mar­ket­ing hype. Navel oranges in par­tic­u­lar have been the stead­fast fruit we’ve come to rely on for healthy win­ter snack­ing.

Out­side the navel mar­gins are so many juicy cit­rus hand fruits that excite the food world.

Sat­suma man­darins are a Cal­i­for­nia lovely. Believe it or not, they may have first arrived here 700 years ago from Japan via Jesuits who planted them on the banks of the Mis­sis­sippi River in New Orleans.

Grow­ers in the Golden State took it from there. This loose-​skinned, sub-​acid fruit has a zip­per peel and is seed­less. What more can one ask for except the minia­ture size is per­fect for sin­gle serve snack­ing.

Com­pared to oranges in gen­eral, man­darins tend to be smaller in size, have a looser peel, and are less tart. They orig­i­nated in the Far East and were orig­i­nally exported through North Africa, where they were all tagged with the name “tan­ger­ine,” from the city of Tang­iers.

The name “tan­ger­ine” has become less generic and is now usu­ally applied to only one kind of man­darin orange. Retail­ers have come to mar­ket the dif­fer­ent cul­ti­vars by so called brand names. While all tan­ger­ines are man­darins, not all man­darins are tangerines.

Read more: Sat SUE muh →

Some of us call our­selves cooks. Oth­ers of us are known bak­ers. In most cir­cles, it’s unusual to find some­one highly skilled at both. When the hol­i­days cir­cle around, even those in the “mar­ginal bak­ers’ cat­e­gory find an excuse to break out the rolling pins, cookie cut­ters, bak­ing sheets and cake pans.

Fol­low­ing a recipe for bars, balls or cook­ies shaped like Santa requires atten­tion to detail. Adher­ing to the mea­sure­ments and direc­tions is so dif­fer­ent from just adding a splash of this or a pinch of that.

Restraint and com­pli­ance seem like strong attrib­utes of a good baker. Pre-​chilling the bowl, but­ter and beat­ers is not just a “good idea”. It turns out, this could be the dif­fer­ence in suc­cess or fail­ure. Who knew? Actual bak­ers who take direc­tions seri­ously? Yeah, those guys.

The angst in bak­ing can be linked to the fact that desserts or sweet treats are always the stars of the show. Any cel­e­bra­tion, birth­day or oth­er­wise, has the pres­sure of deliv­er­ing a spec­tac­u­lar some­thing with can­dles or stun­ning dec­o­ra­tions.

Exquis­ite dec­o­rat­ing skills are no acci­dent. Set the stage for achieve­ment by way of invest­ing in some equip­ment that is easy to work with.

Read more: Tal­ent Show →

Hol­i­day meals bring peo­ple together. At least, they bring peo­ple to the table.

What hap­pens after that is either a com­plete sur­prise, or a pre­dictable out­come. Who gets invited to share the meal has some obvi­ous impli­ca­tions of how the table talk may go.

Good com­pany at any gath­er­ing is about enjoy­ing food, drink and pleas­ant con­ver­sa­tion. Safe top­ics revolve around travel, music and lit­er­a­ture. Sports is an all Amer­i­can obses­sion that can dom­i­nate some of the meal­time exchange.

Pol­i­tics and reli­gion have long been the tin­der box of explo­sive dis­course to avoid. At the very least, they give way to polite dis­agree­ment. They both are part of the every­day chat­ter that keeps house­holds choos­ing sides.

Pop cul­ture and sports fig­ures have their share of con­tro­versy these days. Celebrity sta­tus gives a plat­form to speak­ing up and speak­ing out. Like it or not, the micro­phone gets passed.

Read more: Table Talk →

Onions, cel­ery and some­times car­rots. Those sound like rea­son­able ingre­di­ents to start a deli­cious soup.

Gar­lic, leeks, pota­toes, mush­rooms and squash are all viable con­tenders.

Hardly any veg­etable needs to stand down from the win­ter soup pot. There are uncom­pli­cated short­cuts for mak­ing any num­ber of soups come alive and taste bet­ter.

Using home­made broths and stocks are supe­rior to any off-​the-​shelf vari­a­tion. This sin­gle tip will push the fla­vor pro­file of any good recipe. Hav­ing kitchen basics on-​hand will shorten prepa­ra­tion time and give a leg up on the cook­ing process.

Con­sider sav­ing pieces and bits (dis­carded por­tions of cel­ery stalks, onion ends and car­rot tops and ends). Toss them in a freezer bag and keep adding to the bag.

Read more: Soup Season →

In the realm of fresh food prod­ucts, either retail or food­ser­vice, prod­uct recalls are not par­tic­u­larly unusual.

A recall is the action or method of remov­ing or cor­rect­ing prod­ucts that are in vio­la­tion of laws admin­is­tered by the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion (FDA).

A food recall occurs when there is rea­son to believe that a food may cause con­sumers to become ill. A food pro­ducer ini­ti­ates the recall to take foods off the mar­ket. In some sit­u­a­tions, food recalls are requested by gov­ern­ment agen­cies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion (FDA) and the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture (USDA). Obvi­ously, prod­uct can be recalled for many rea­sons. This can include (but not be lim­ited to), the dis­cov­ery of organ­isms such as bac­te­ria like Sal­mo­nella or for­eign objects like bro­ken glass or metal. It can be due to a major aller­gen (dairy or nuts) not being dis­closed on a label.

Most prod­uct recalls are char­ac­ter­ized as being “vol­un­tary”. This term is some­what ambigu­ous and may lead indi­vid­u­als to believe that a vol­un­tary recall is optional. That is def­i­nitely not true.

A vol­un­tary recall is an indi­ca­tion that the man­u­fac­turer, grower or ship­per of the poten­tially harm­ful pro­duce has been in com­mu­ni­ca­tion and coop­er­a­tion with the fed­eral agency.

Read more: “Voluntary“ →

Cold and flu sea­son is on the hori­zon. Some work places have already seen the unwanted viral spread of germs, coughs and sore throats.

This is a good time of year to refresh the fun­da­men­tals of pre­ven­tion. Invest­ing in healthy habits is a good jump start to ward­ing off a lousy cold or flu bug.

Flu vac­ci­na­tions are avail­able at nearly every phar­macy, gro­cery store and clinic in town. Dou­ble down on pro­tec­tion by boost­ing your immunity.

The Cal­i­for­nia cit­rus sea­son is just under­way. Some of the best sources of vit­a­min C are cit­rus fruits. Juic­ing up with new crop navel oranges, grape­fruits, tan­ger­ines, man­darins and lemons gives the body a lift and sup­ports the body’s nat­ural defenses.

A well-​balanced diet, rich in veg­eta­bles and fruits– leafy greens, cau­li­flower, mush­rooms and cit­rus fruits– pro­vides the nutri­ents to resist pathogens. Atten­tion to what goes on the plate is par­tic­u­larly impor­tant when fight­ing sea­sonal bugs.

Read more: Flu Shots →

Cul­ti­vated mush­rooms have become an expected “in-​stock 24÷7” pro­duce item for con­sumers. White but­ton vari­ety leads the way in sales, fol­lowed by organic and brown mush­rooms.

Increas­ing pop­u­lar­ity has put mush­room grow­ers in a mush­room pickle.

Faced with ris­ing costs and mul­ti­ple pro­duc­tion chal­lenges, mush­rooms look to be headed for stormy weather. Prod­uct short­ages, higher prices and cus­tomer pro­rates for the upcom­ing hol­i­day sea­son are a for­gone con­clu­sion.

Mush­room har­vest­ing is highly labor-​intensive. Work­ing with an almost always too light labor force (by 25 per­cent), it is not unusual for grow­ers to have to leave mush­room beds un-​harvested due to no pickers.

Read more: Mush­room Storm →

This won’t be the last time we get to sing the praises of win­ter squash this sea­son.

New on the scene, are the very curi­ous and cool vari­eties that we don’t see through­out the course of the year.

Red kuri squash, which also goes by the name orange Hokkaido pump­kin, has smooth flesh and a rich, sweet fla­vor that shines through in pies, soups, and side dishes.

A recent work­place recipe chal­lenge high­lighted a num­ber of hard squashes. From savory soups, stews and chilies to spicy squash salad with lentils and then on to a mix of sweet squash desserts, ver­sa­til­ity burned brightly.

Red Kuri squash seemed to pose the most threat to prospec­tive cooks, chefs and bak­ers. Not know­ing what this cute lit­tle tear-​drop shaped pump­kin tastes like was the first hur­dle. How to pre­pare it was the next obstacle.

Read more: Red Kuri Curry →

No one likes to get pushed around. Some­how, the early retail pres­ence of all things Thanks­giv­ing, Christ­mas and Hanukkah in Octo­ber feels like we are get­ting nudged. Stop the push­ing.

In the orbit of fresh pro­duce, we take our cues from truly sea­sonal veg­eta­bles and fruits.

Import pur­chases make eat­ing avo­ca­dos, corn and toma­toes a year-​round culi­nary pos­si­bil­ity. There are still a few Amer­i­can grown items that com­pletely set a tone for “here today, gone tomor­row” enjoy­ment. Fresh cran­ber­ries are indeed a sea­sonal har­bin­ger.

Native to North Amer­ica, cran­ber­ries are a pow­er­house of nutri­tion with sub­stan­tial health ben­e­fits. Antioxidant-​rich, they hold the magic for a mul­ti­tude of con­di­tions from pre­ven­tion to rem­edy.

This fall fruit dar­ling is har­vested begin­ning in Sep­tem­ber and goes through mid-​November in states like Wash­ing­ton, Ore­gon and Michi­gan. Wis­con­sin and Mass­a­chu­setts are the two largest pro­duc­ers in the United States.

Cran­ber­ries grow on low-​lying vines in imper­me­able beds lay­ered with sand, peat, gravel and clay. These beds are known as “bogs” or “marshes” and were orig­i­nally cre­ated by glacial deposits.

Com­mer­cial bogs use a sys­tem of wet­lands, uplands, ditches, flumes, ponds and other water bod­ies that pro­vide a nat­ural habi­tat for a vari­ety of plant and ani­mal life.

Most cran­ber­ries are wet har­vested when grow­ers flood their bogs. They then use har­vest­ing machines that loosen the cran­ber­ries from the vines. Air cham­bers in the cranberry’s cen­ter allows it to float to the water’s sur­face. The berries are then cor­ralled and trans­ferred to a truck for transporting.

Read more: Eat, Drink & Be Cran Merry →

There is some­thing dis­tinctly fall-​like when it comes to egg­plants. Maybe it’s their aubergine shades, or sexy shapes and curves that resem­ble fall gourds and squash.

Mov­ing back to heartier cook­ing meth­ods in fall makes egg­plant a can­di­date for ideal roast­ing, bak­ing, stuff­ing and grilling prepa­ra­tions.

Although the dark pur­ple ver­sion is really the best known and read­ily found in most gro­cery mar­kets, the shape, size, and color can vary. From small and oblong to long and thin, look for shades rang­ing of dark to pale pur­ple to white green and even yel­low ver­sions.

Those dif­fer­ent shapes, sizes, and fla­vors are uniquely suited for dif­fer­ent uses in the kitchen. The long skinny ones tend to be “meatier”, mak­ing them great for stir-​fry appli­ca­tions. The baby sized ones are ten­der and mild, and can be eaten whole, skins and all. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, the white and yel­low vari­eties are sweeter.

Graf­fiti egg­plant come in both large and small sizes. Their name comes from the inter­est­ing and pat­terned striped mark­ings on the fruit. They have small seeds and a thin peel, mak­ing them great to eat whole — no peel­ing nec­es­sary. They are per­fect for bak­ing, roast­ing and stew­ing. Names like Pur­ple Rain or Shoot­ing Stars attract attention.

Read more: Egg­plant Revisited →

We read that how Amer­i­cans eat has def­i­nitely changed. Most con­sumers still believe in and aspire to an ideal — a healthy meal, made from scratch, and enjoyed with oth­ers.

This ideal meal was born of a time when three square meals a day was pre­pared at home on a rou­tine basis.

Home cook­ing was typ­i­cally done by mom, right? That was at least two gen­er­a­tions ago and times have changed, along with what we eat, how we eat and who we eat with.

To grow up in a cook­ing house­hold, meant that moms, aun­ties, grands and greats shared kitchen secrets and meth­ods to favorite fam­ily recipes.

Chop­ping, mix­ing, stuff­ing, fold­ing– all actions over­seen by the seniors in the room. Cab­bage rolls, stuffed pep­pers or squash, ravi­o­lis, pot­stick­ers, Baklava, no mat­ter the eth­nic back­ground, foods that we love required prepa­ra­tion scrutiny by those who came before us.

This teach­ing work­shop allowed for learn­ing other life skills along the way, but cook­ing and bak­ing were para­mount. Cher­ish­ing a miss­ing loved one who has passed on is as sim­ple as mak­ing one of their sig­na­ture dishes.

Read more: Wax­ing Nostalgic →

There is no deny­ing the visual cues of Autumn. Trees and leaves are turn­ing color. Darker morn­ings greet us with fewer day­light hours left for leisure. Farewell sum­mer.

Crisper, cooler night­time and morn­ing tem­per­a­tures are just what is needed to bring on our most favorite fall fruits.

A wide array of veg­eta­bles, décor items and flo­ral selec­tions vie for atten­tion this time of year. Think about col­or­ful and tasty first fall bites.

Crunchy and crisp, juicy and sweet are descrip­tive words for the Hol­i­day Seed­less grapes that are just on the scene. They make grape fans of those look­ing for a sweet tooth solu­tion.

Eat­ing pat­terns and cook­ing meth­ods fol­low the steady pro­gres­sion into fall food choices. Bak­ing, broil­ing and brais­ing, segue nicely from out­door bar­be­cu­ing and grilling. Cal­i­for­ni­ans will con­tinue to cook out­doors year-​round.

Glide back into the kitchen with new crop apples, Brus­sels sprouts, pump­kins, per­sim­mons, hard squashes and pomegranates.

Read more: Fall Forward →

Cal­i­for­nia farm­ers have been cul­ti­vat­ing grapes for well over two cen­turies. The fresh grape boom struck the golden state in 1839 when a for­mer trap­per from Ken­tucky, William Wolf­skill, planted the state’s first table grape vine­yard in the once Mex­i­can colo­nial pueblo now known as Los Ange­les.

An agri­cul­tural entre­pre­neur, Wolf­skill was the first farmer to ship fresh grapes to North­ern Cal­i­for­nia. From there, the idea was expanded and the first twenty two pound box of Cal­i­for­nia grapes shipped to Chicago in 1869, via the then “new” transcon­ti­nen­tal rail­road.

The gold rush may have ended, but the grape rush con­tin­ues. Today, over 99 per­cent of com­mer­cially grown grapes in the United States come from Cal­i­for­nia.

With over 70 vari­eties grown, and more on the way, these vari­eties include seed­less and seeded grapes in the green, red and blue-​black color cat­e­gories.

The Cal­i­for­nia table grape har­vest sea­son typ­i­cally begins in May, but more than half the crop is shipped from Sep­tem­ber and after­wards. Out of the 65+ com­mer­cial vari­eties of fresh table grapes, 49 of them are avail­able dur­ing the September-​through-​December time period, includ­ing 14 major vari­eties. That’s a lot of late, great grapes.

Read more: Late, Great, Grapes! →

Chili pep­pers are a sta­ple of most Mex­i­can food recipes. The sheer pop­u­lar­ity of Mex­i­can cui­sine and the ever grow­ing His­panic pop­u­la­tion in the United States make chili pep­pers an essen­tial daily ingre­di­ent.

Fresh chili pep­pers are gen­er­ally avail­able year round. They are grown in Cal­i­for­nia, New Mex­ico, Texas, and Mex­ico. Dried chili ver­sions are also avail­able year-​round.
California’s extreme sum­mer tem­per­a­tures are con­ducive to grow­ing a wide vari­ety of mild to very hot spec­i­mens. Cul­ti­vated in a full range of sizes, shapes, and degrees of hot­ness, the num­ber of vari­eties is impres­sive.

The head-​scratching comes with try­ing to prop­erly iden­tify the var­i­ous pep­pers by name and fla­vor pro­file. It gets com­pli­cated when the name of a pep­per may vary from region to region. The name changes again when the pep­per goes from being fresh to being dried.

With a vari­ety of heat lev­els and fla­vor pro­files, ver­sa­til­ity is a key attribute of both fresh and dried chili pep­pers.

Har­vested through­out the sum­mer, some green chili pep­pers are left on the plants until autumn. They will go from bright green in color to their final hue of yel­low, orange, pur­ple or red, depend­ing on the variety.

Read more: Dial It Up! →

Sweet­Stem Cau­li­flower is a bras­sica veg­etable, like broc­coli, cau­li­flower, and Broc­col­ini.

“Caulilini”, as it is named by pro­duc­ers Mann Pack­ing, is visu­ally quite sim­i­lar to Broc­col­ini. It has an open flo­ret struc­ture and long edi­ble stem.

There are still a few dis­tinc­tions worth not­ing. Unlike BROC­COL­INI® baby broc­coli, which is a hybrid of broc­coli and Chi­nese kale (gai lan), CAULILINI® baby cau­li­flower is 100 per­cent cau­li­flower.

Another dif­fer­ence is that it also grows in heads, not sin­gle stalks. The result­ing flo­rets offer vari­a­tion in shape and size that also set it apart from Broc­col­ini.

With its sweet, slightly nutty fla­vor and ombre col­or­ing (the stem turns bright green when cooked while the flo­rets stay light), CAULILINI® baby cau­li­flower brings a “wow” fac­tor to the plate.

A favorite cook­ing method is grilling. It’s also deli­cious sautéed with plenty of gar­lic, roasted, or even raw as a unique addi­tion to a cru­dité platter.

Read more: The “Lini” Cousins →

Hav­ing the crunch and a shape sim­i­lar to an apple, Asian pears make their debut start­ing in July and stick around until early fall.

The grainy tex­ture and sweet, juicy inte­rior is a wel­comed mar­ket addi­tion as we tran­si­tion out of sum­mer stone fruits.

A rel­a­tive of Euro­pean pear vari­eties like Bartlett and Anjou, Asian pears are native to Japan and China where they have been grown for over 3000 years.

Their first appear­ance in the United States was recorded in 1820 when a Chi­nese sand pear was imported to New York. In the mid-1800’s Asian pears made their way to the west coast via Chi­nese and Japan­ese immi­grants relo­cat­ing to Cal­i­for­nia after the Gold Rush.

Most com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion in the United States is in Cal­i­for­nia and Ore­gon. Wash­ing­ton state fol­lows behind and then Ken­tucky and Alabama.

Read more: Asian Pears →

Tech­ni­cally, August is still very much a part of sum­mer. Tem­per­a­tures are high and we are still enjoy­ing dips in the pool and leisurely meals.

A cue sig­nal­ing that sum­mer might be fad­ing is when we notice new crop Cal­i­for­nia Bartlett pears and Gala apples in the mar­ket­place. They’re here.

Noth­ing against peaches, plums and nec­tarines. See­ing the pears come into the mar­ket­place reminds us to get after those stone fruits while the get­ting is good. They are still at peak of eat­ing for fla­vor, tex­ture and juici­ness.

If we plan to bake, can or freeze summer’s fruit, time is wast­ing. Cap­ture the fleet­ing oppor­tu­nity now. Cher­ries undoubt­edly had an abbre­vi­ated sea­son. Mother Nature dis­rupted what was meant to be a ban­ner cherry crop.

Back to apples and pears join­ing the bounty. The tran­si­tion from late sum­mer to early fall pro­duce is a famil­iar annual change that pre­pares us for eat­ing and cook­ing a bit differently.

Read more: Switch­ing Gears →

“Back to school”. Three words that push fam­i­lies into tem­po­rary mad­ness.

New back­pack, book and sup­ply pur­chases tax fam­ily bud­gets. Clothes shop­ping adds another bur­den on already stressed out par­ents.

The last demand for launch­ing kids back to school might be the sin­gle most sig­nif­i­cant one in terms of A+ per­for­mance.

Appeal­ing break­fast and lunch meals are impor­tant for get­ting stu­dents on track to a good year of learn­ing. How we approach these meals has a broad range of tac­tics.

Past gen­er­a­tions of school kids (ages 612) ate what was put in front of them. The “take it or leave it” mes­sage was enforced to the baby boomers.

Today’s young peo­ple are far more exposed to a vari­ety of foods with vary­ing degrees of nutri­tional value. Many life-​long food habits are formed dur­ing these crit­i­cal years.

Read more: Kid Friendly →

Sum­mer wed­dings take on a spe­cial glow given the venue selected. The happy cou­ple go together like peas and car­rots.

Those two veg­eta­bles aren’t exactly known for being sum­mer pair­ings, though For­rest Gump thinks they are still a match made in heaven.

Corn and toma­toes, toma­toes and cucum­bers, cucum­bers with sweet red onions make solid sum­mer mar­riages.

As chefs and cooks look to step up their weekly menu offer­ings, the best inspi­ra­tions come from avail­able, local, in-​season ingre­di­ents. Recipes, new and revived, get updated as more vari­eties of breads, cheese, oils and spices get our atten­tion.

Suited to sum­mer pair­ings are the fruits and veg­eta­bles we see grouped together on farm­ers mar­ket tables. Green beans, sum­mer squashes, toma­toes, sweet and hot pep­pers, egg­plants, basil, mint and chives piled high tickle the cook­ing gene.

Cre­ative ideas swirl around flat­breads and pizza, gaz­pa­cho and cold chow­ders, grilled veg­gie med­leys and chilled herbal potato sal­ads. Allow regional or global cuisines to push the direc­tion on even the most mun­dane mid­week din­ner plans. Bring sum­mer travel back to the table.

Read more: Wed­ded Bliss →

Doesn’t it seem like we all know some­one who has recently had or is about to have a surgery of some kind?

Besides “Get Well” card greet­ings, feel­ing bet­ter and quick recov­ery depends on the right post surgery meals.

Eat­ing the right foods after surgery can pro­mote faster heal­ing and min­i­mize the swelling, bruis­ing and the inflam­ma­tion that often accom­pany any type of sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure.

Cer­tain foods can also min­i­mize diges­tive upset caused by antibi­otics and pre­vent con­sti­pa­tion caused by pain med­i­cines. Prop­erly fuel­ing the body sup­plies the energy needed to get back to nor­mal rou­tines.

Whole, unprocessed foods are the best way to approach post op meals. Lean pro­teins, fiber filled foods and fer­mented dairy (pro­bi­otics) assist in get­ting things on track diges­tively and heal­ing wise.

Read more: Quick Recovery →

Bril­liant food ideas that save some kitchen time, improve taste or ele­vate pre­sen­ta­tion are those which get adopted and are used over and over again.

Youtube is full of amus­ing video con­tent that show the magic of every­thing from using ice cube trays to den­tal floss in the kitchen.

Tips for mak­ing the per­fect poached egg or sin­gle serve gua­camole are not exactly life-​altering. They can be enter­tain­ing and maybe even make us feel smarter.

The tricks of putting a microwave oven to good use are fas­ci­nat­ing. Dry­ing fresh herbs or effort­lessly peel­ing gar­lic and toma­toes put heat­ing water or broth on the bot­tom rung.

Other brain­storms are fun and make impres­sive food theatre.

Read more: Food Hacks →

Sum­mer eat­ing occa­sions are inher­ently more for­giv­ing. Many foods are hand held, eaten out­doors and have a cer­tain casual put-​together-​look about them.

No need for name call­ing or sham­ing, but sloppy look­ing foods get by this time of year out of sheer good­ness.

Less for­mal pre­sen­ta­tions give us more time pool­side or on the patio. We’re more inter­ested in less meal prep and more face time with our peeps.

A Cap­rese salad of rough cut toma­toes, torn basil leaves and ran­dom Buf­falo moz­zarella pieces is quite suit­able. Pep­pered and oiled, this sum­mer cold plate rivals any pris­tine sliced and shin­gled ver­sion.

Sum­mer fruits and veg­eta­bles are well groomed for a quick toss with herbs, dress­ings and light sea­son­ings. A squeeze of lime, lemon or grape­fruit may be all chopped and sliced mel­ons need.

Grilled corn is a stand out and stand alone messy food to rav­ish over bar­be­cues and cam­pouts. Shaved from the cob, the cooked ker­nels pro­vide a back­drop for wickedly good sal­sas, sal­ads or relishes.

Read more: Shrink Control →

Sum­mer eat­ing occa­sions are inher­ently more for­giv­ing. Many foods are hand held, eaten out­doors and have a cer­tain casual put-​together-​look about them.

No need for name call­ing or sham­ing, but sloppy look­ing foods get by this time of year out of sheer good­ness.

Less for­mal pre­sen­ta­tions give us more time pool­side or on the patio. We’re more inter­ested in less meal prep and more face time with our peeps.

A Cap­rese salad of rough cut toma­toes, torn basil leaves and ran­dom Buf­falo moz­zarella pieces is quite suit­able. Pep­pered and oiled, this sum­mer cold plate rivals any pris­tine sliced and shin­gled ver­sion.

Sum­mer fruits and veg­eta­bles are well groomed for a quick toss with herbs, dress­ings and light sea­son­ings. A squeeze of lime, lemon or grape­fruit may be all chopped and sliced mel­ons need.

Read more: Sloppy Good →

Stay­ing prop­erly hydrated is impor­tant year round but espe­cially crit­i­cal dur­ing hot sum­mer days.

Summer’s heat and humid­ity increases hydra­tion needs because our bod­ies are per­spir­ing more. Increased humid­ity pre­vents per­spi­ra­tion from evap­o­rat­ing or low­er­ing our body tem­per­a­tures.

Dehy­dra­tion can lead to exces­sive thirst, fatigue, cramp­ing, nau­sea, heat exhaus­tion or even stroke. To pre­vent dehy­dra­tion, drink water reg­u­larly and replace lost elec­trolytes with nat­ural sports drinks that don’t con­tain too much sugar.

Fruits and veg­eta­bles with high water con­tent can improve hydra­tion and effec­tively reg­u­late an active human body. Take notice of some sea­sonal favorites that can act as nour­ish­ment and also aid in fluid replen­ish­ment.

There are lots of foods that nat­u­rally aide hydra­tion. Most fruits are very hydrat­ing. Water­melon is an obvi­ous easy choice. Rich in vit­a­min C, beta carotene and lycopene, the appro­pri­ately named water­melon is about 92 per­cent water.

Read more: Drink Up! →

Sure­fire sea­sonal items are the things we antic­i­pate with glee and giddy. The dev­as­tat­ing losses of the Cal­i­for­nia cherry crop this year make the 2019 North­west fruit even more desir­able.

Cher­ries are one of the fresh­est pro­duce items avail­able for a very short dura­tion in the sum­mer.

Tree-​ripened, they are gen­er­ally har­vested, packed and shipped within two days, start to fin­ish.

North­west grow­ing regions are scat­tered through­out Wash­ing­ton, Ore­gon, Idaho, Utah, and Mon­tana. Small dif­fer­ences in the micro­cli­mates allow cher­ries through­out the region to ripen at dif­fer­ent times through the sea­son.

As har­vests win­dows depend on weather, Mother Nature had a heavy hand in this year’s late start. The sea­son has finally arrived. Now through August, we expect to enjoy scrump­tious North­west cherry varieties.

Read more: Cherries! →

The beauty of sum­mer pro­duce is that meal options become more abun­dant with very lit­tle effort. Life activ­i­ties rule. Exces­sive time in the kitchen is counter to the casual vibe we all desire.

Lucky then that fresh herbs, toma­toes, squashes, corn, avo­ca­dos, and let­tuces lay a foun­da­tion for sat­is­fy­ing one bowl or one plate meals.

Pro­tein addi­tions (eggs, poul­try, meat, fish, tofu or grains) enhance an already quick fix ensem­ble of col­or­ful and tasty veg­eta­bles.

Grilled or roasted arti­chokes, egg­plant or sweet pota­toes boost inher­ently good char­ac­ter­is­tics. Their smoky or earth­i­ness traits stand up to any culi­nary scrutiny.

Secret weapons like a very good Bal­samic vine­gar or honey-​whiskey glaze build more depth and dis­tinc­tion. Hardly any prepa­ra­tion is due when sim­ple and high qual­ity ingre­di­ents are in the bag.

Read more: Keep­ing It Simple →

In the land of fresh mar­ket sum­mer pro­duce, size does mat­ter. We can quan­tify cases by weights and by piece counts.

Cal­i­for­nia sum­mer stone fruits and mel­ons are poised to spoil con­sumers this sea­son. It’s impor­tant to know the value of size and how to pur­chase.

With an abun­dance of rain in most major grow­ing areas, we’re see­ing a larger-​size pro­file on early apri­cot, cherry, peach and nec­tarine har­vests. The plea­sure of eat­ing a nine or ten row cherry over, let’s say a twelve row, is super obvi­ous.

The row count, sim­ply put, is how many of the same sized cher­ries will fit lined up in a row across the car­ton. Nine across the box is a nine row cherry. Cher­ries mar­keted as “Nine Rows” mean that not more than 5 per­cent of the cher­ries may be smaller than 7564 of an inch. That is a very large bite of juicy cherry flesh.

Think of the visual impact of a large, plump cherry, glow­ing in gar­net, ver­sus a smaller, not even a mouth­ful (dare we say puny?) piece of fruit. Larger fruit implies higher qual­ity and typ­i­cally com­mands a higher price. Stone fruits like peaches and nec­tarines, will run the full gamut of sizes. Case weights reveal the net weight of the box. Fruit will be tray packed or vol­ume filled.

Sprouts are those skinny lit­tle veg­etable threads that are high on nutri­tion­als. They begin as seeds. When those seeds are exposed to the right tem­per­a­ture and mois­ture, they ger­mi­nate into very young plants. These ten­der young ten­drils are the edi­ble sprouts.

Com­mon sprout vari­eties include grains, beans or leafy sprouts. Three of the most pop­u­lar bean selec­tions are alfalfa, soy and mung bean sprouts. They can be served raw or lightly cooked.

The crunchy, tasty good­ness of bean sprouts can be incred­i­bly ben­e­fi­cial to over­all health. They are packed with plant pro­tein, con­tain no fat, and are very low in calo­ries.

While sprouts have been a part of East Asian, Indian sub­con­ti­nent and Mid­dle East­ern cui­sine for thou­sands of years, they’ve only recently become pop­u­lar in the rest of the world, includ­ing the West.

Edu­cated fans know that eat­ing sprouts can help pro­mote good health. At the same time, there is quite a bit of debate and dis­agree­ment regard­ing the safety of bean sprouts.

Like any fresh pro­duce that is con­sumed raw or lightly cooked, sprouts carry a risk of food­borne ill­ness. Unlike other fresh pro­duce, seeds and beans need warm and humid con­di­tions to sprout and grow. These con­di­tions are also ideal for the growth of bac­te­ria, includ­ing Sal­mo­nella, Lis­te­ria, and E. coli.

Read more: The “S” Word →

Memo­r­ial Day was orig­i­nally known as Dec­o­ra­tion Day.

After the Civil War, it was des­ig­nated as a time to dec­o­rate the graves of fallen sol­diers with flow­ers. By the 20th cen­tury, the day became known as Memo­r­ial Day and was extended to honor all Amer­i­cans who have died in mil­i­tary ser­vice.

As we com­mem­o­rate the coura­geous men and women who’ve paid the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice, let’s look for mind­ful ways to show our respect.

There are many mil­i­tary memo­ri­als, muse­ums, and mon­u­ments through­out the United States. As sum­mer vaca­tions and trips are writ­ten on the cal­en­dar, plan a visit to one of these extra­or­di­nary des­ti­na­tions.

Learn about our mil­i­tary his­tory and get an up-​close– and-​personal per­spec­tive of what our com­bat men and women expe­ri­enced. Pow­er­fully mov­ing, each memo­r­ial has a nar­ra­tive unique to time and place.

Read more: Honor & Respect →

Humans have been pick­ling and pre­serv­ing food for nearly 5000 years.

Queen Cleopa­tra attrib­uted her good health and remark­able looks to her indul­gent diet of pick­les.

The United States gov­ern­ment rationed pick­les in the 1940’s, dur­ing World War II. Forty per­cent of the nation’s pro­duc­tion went to our armed forces.

Aunt Bee (the fic­tional tele­vi­sion char­ac­ter of the 1960’s Andy Grif­fith Show) entered her home­made pick­les in a local con­test, cre­at­ing angst in the fam­ily over her “kerosene cucum­bers”.

Over cen­turies, the love affair for pick­led foods has only grown stronger. Cur­rent pickle trends move well past a cucum­bers only rule. A wave of “DIY” pick­les of fruits and veg­eta­bles in acidic baths or brines keeps us inter­ested.

Sweet, sour, salty, spicy or hot cre­ative and com­plex com­bi­na­tions make us pickle happy. Cus­tomized blends of vine­gars, salts and spices are the for­mula to win­ning secret recipes.

Read more: Pickle Pantry →