published Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Pierce: Local cookbook 'Eat Up' offers quick ways to use up summer veggies

COOKING DEMOS

Gaining Ground staff will give demonstrations of some recipes from the summer issue of "Eat Up" at these markets.

Thursday: Signal Mountain Farmers Market, 2815 Anderson Pike, 4-6:30 p.m.

Aug. 4: St. Alban's Farmers Market, 7514 Hixson Pike, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Aug. 5: Chattanooga Market, First Tennessee Pavilion, 1826 Reggie White Blvd., 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

GET THE BOOKS

"Eat Up" cookbooks are available at these markets as well as at Main Street Farmers Market, 325 Main St.; and Brainerd Farmers Market, 20 Belvoir Road.

Rarely do you find a recipe endorsement like "one of my favorites after a long day in the field," but that's part of the beauty of the "Eat Up" cookbook series.

"Eat Up's" recipes, and the ingredients they require, all come from local farmers.

The "Eat Up" series is a collection of four, free, 5-inch by 7-inch paperback cookbooks published by local nonprofit Gaining Ground to promote area agriculture. More than 5,000 copies of the spring issue were picked up, according to Lacie Stone of Gaining Ground.

A booklet will be published each season that contains a listing of seasonal vegetables, farmers markets where they can be found locally and recipes using that produce or meat.

The cookbooks include lovely color photos of the prepared dishes, made by Ruth Kerr and Ann Keener.

The premise is: Collect all four books, and you'll have a year-round body of recipes using local products. The summer issue is just out, and you can pick one up at local farmers markets.

I got an overwhelming response from folks interested in "Eat Up" after my column about the inaugural issue. But a large number of callers were elderly citizens who wanted a copy but lacked transportation to the markets.

Stone said homebound elderly who can't get to the local markets may call 531-7640 to receive a copy.

What I really like about this summer issue is that the recipes use favorite veggies in dishes that are quick and easy. It's too hot to cook! And several choices in this issue require little to no cooking.

My former mother-in-law was an excellent cook. She prepared dishes the "right" way -- and by that, you cooks know, I mean that when she made a dish such as chicken potpie, she cut her own fresh vegetables. No frozen mixed-veggie packages for her.

I, on the other hand, have never been a good cook. My mother never taught me, and by the time I was grown and needed to know, it was too late to teach an old dog new tricks. More than five ingredients, and I wouldn't give a recipe a second glance.

But one dish Mrs. Pierce did teach me -- and I learned to make without burning after only a couple of tries -- was her fried corn.

Imagine my surprise to find that recipe in this issue of "Eat Up," only it's listed as Creamed Corn. I'm reprinting it along with two other quick, easy ideas for those of us who believe summer's heat is a good excuse not to cook.

Creamed Corn

4-6 ears fresh corn, shucked

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon paprika, optional

Black pepper, to taste

Cut kernels off corn no more than one hour before preparing dish. (The longer the corn sits, the starchier it becomes.)

Combine corn, cream and seasonings in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir about 5 minutes or until mixture has thickened.

Note: For a less-fattening version, substitute 2 tablespoons margarine and 1/4 cup milk for the cream.


Baked Okra

2 pounds okra (about 6 cups), stems removed, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces

1/2 to 1 cup cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon salt

Black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)

4-6 tablespoons olive oil

Heat oven to 375 F.

Place sliced okra in medium bowl. It will feel slimy, but that's normal; it will go away with cooking. Toss okra with cornmeal, salt and other seasonings to coat. More cornmeal may be added if deemed necessary. Toss with olive oil.

Spread coated okra on baking sheet and cook, stirring occasionally until okra begins to brown (15-20 minutes). Cook until okra reaches preferred crispiness.

Serve warm with fresh sliced tomatoes and corn on the cob.

Note: Keep close eye on okra in oven as it can burn quickly.


Summer Pasta

4 servings pasta (your choice)

1-2 ripe tomatoes, chopped

4 basil leaves, cut into ribbons

2 small garlic cloves, minced

1 baby summer squash, sliced

2 teaspoons olive oil

Salt, to taste

Cook pasta in salted water, according to package directions. Drain, leaving a little salted water in the pot.

Pour pasta back into pot. Place all ingredients directly in pot with the pasta and toss.

Source: Letty Curtis, Circle S Farms

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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