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Posts tagged ‘Farmers Market’

Bruschetta In Eleven Minutes Tops!

Bruschetta landscape

A favorite in our home because we love Italian food anything, it’s healthy and a snap to make.

Bruschetta in the making

When my daughter was four she came in from munching sweet cherry tomatoes and basil in the garden and exclaimed ” We have a grocery store in our backyard!”  Then she asked…”can we grow a mozzarella plant?” She asked the proper question; can we? If only that were possible. “I wish we could.” was my answer. However, these questions did open the door to researching how mozzarella is made, and where it comes from. I’ve not yet ventured to make it myself, but I hear Mozzarella is pretty easy to produce, so I’ll have to try it and get back to you about that.

Until then, here’s our favorite bruschetta recipe:


1 Local baguette sliced (I love the Mazama Store’s because it has a wee bit of salt on top)
2-3 Red, preferably heirloom, garden tomatoes (however with snow still on the ground, organic vine-ripened tomatoes have the most flavor)
15 Basil leaves or as many as you have slices of bread
Fresh mozzarella (you can find the pre-sliced kind at some stores) to top the slices of bread
salt for sprinkling
Olive oil (Italian) to drizzle
Balsamic Vinegar (aged has a sweeter flavor, but any will do) to drizzle

Bruschetta olive oil drip drop bottle


1. Toast the slices of bread, or if you have time put them over the grill or gas burner, to toast
2. Add sliced mozzarella
3. Add Basil face up to catch some of the oil and balsamic drizzle
4. Add sliced tomatoes to each
5. Sprinkle with salt
6. Drizzle with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

Bruschetta Ready To Eat!

Buon Appetito!

* Thank you to Diane, Geof, Linda, Marc, Hannah and Eva for patiently waiting to devour these tasty bites while E.A did his photo dance to capture the bruschetta when freshest.

Head Shot RachelleRachelle @ Caramelize Life

“making life a little sweeter, through food, travel and community”



We at Caramelize Life wish you a wonderful Valentine’s Day filled will all that matters most to you.


Head Shot Rachelle Rachelle @ Caramelize Life
“Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community”

Sweet Ambrosia: Canning Apricot Nectar

One of the simplest and most rewarding canning recipes, apricot nectar is true ambrosia.  Ambrosia refers to the mythical “food of the gods,” a heavenly honey-sweet nectar akin to “mana.”  Apricot nectar fits the bill with it’s nearly divine status in the pantry and it’s massive nutrient content for the body.

To our family’s great satisfaction, the garden is lush at summer’s end and brimful of harvestable fruits and vegetables.  At this time in the season, writing goes by the wayside while I preserve our bounty for winter.  Many of us reflect at this time that if production recipes aren’t happening every day, we’re getting behind.  So, beginning with this canning recipe, I will share as much as possible the delectable preserve recipes that are going up now from garden to pantry.

I learned to make this recipe growing up (and steal it from the cellar) from my dear friend’s mother, Beautiful-Betts.  It never fails to please and includes the wonderful necessity of a hand crank food mill.

Betsy was one of those rare super-moms of the ’70s.  Raising four children miles from any town in the north woods of Okanogan County, she prided herself on completely home-grown, self sufficient living ~ from dispensing with running water and electricity to canning meats raised on their farm.  Meals at Betsy’s house might consist of giant buckwheat pancakes with straight molasses for breakfast or a gooseberry pie for a treat.  Everything eaten was grown in the yard or gathered from a friend.

I asked her once why she did it.  Her response: “to prove to myself that I could.”   She’s the mountain mama I look up to as I preserve apricots each year.

Fresh picked apricots

Now a professional chef and baking professor at Edmonds College, Betsy Buford has been a pastry chef at fine Seattle restaurants including Falling Waters, Ray’s Boathouse, and Campagne as well as at Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop.  Betsy taught me about the spirituality of food as a kid.  Grow it, harvest it, can it or cook it, and feed it to your family without apologies but with loving appreciation ~ that’s the joy of cooking.  And, cooking without devices to cook for you is not only an accomplishment in self-sufficiency, it is immensely satisfying for the soul.  This recipe captures all of those spiritual aspects of cooking.

Apricots are bountiful mid- to end of summer.  Many trees in the Methow Valley’s semi-arid, high mountain climate are ancient and laden with fruit.  Huge, knarly branches bend under the weight of apricots, dripping golden, pink and crimson orange hues in a variety of flavors.  Some cots can be subtle in taste yet substantial in size, while others are tiny (1 ½ in. diameter) but pack so much flavor that they are more than worth the effort of picking and processing.  I have two such trees in our yard, but I’ve found that any cots will work well for nectar.  If you do not have a tree immediately near, try your farmer’s market for fresh organic cots.  One or our favorite local growers for purchase is Smallwood Farms.

Nectar complete: not to be opened until the snow falls.

One beauty of this recipe is that it is entirely malleable to your taste; no sugar or sweetener is needed, but the recipe is very responsive to added acidity or sugar depending on your cot.  I choose to cook the fruit down, but Betsy also made a raw pack version of the nectar that is excellent.  The water bath boil time of 25 minutes makes either a hot or raw pack possible.

But the most satisfying part of this recipe?  Taking a swig in winter is like a mouthful of fresh picked apricots in the heat of summer.  Enjoy!

NOTE:  A word or two about hand-crank food mills.  There are a couple varieties on the market and many work well, however, my favorite for efficiency is the old fashioned cone shaped food mill.

~ Apricot Nectar ~

Fresh apricots​​​

​​​Hand-crank food mill


6-7 quart size mason jars

New sealing lids, bands

Sugar or honey, to taste

Fresh lemon juice, to taste

~ Your apricots need not be perfect.  After rinsing them, pit and cut any brown bits or buggy parts inside the cot.  Don’t worry about marks on the skin as they will be pressed and discarded.  In this way, the recipe maximizes as much of the fruit as possible, capturing all pulp and flavor for maximum nutrition.

~ Fill your largest sauce pot to the brim with apricots and add enough water (at least 1/3 of the pot) to account for moisture loss and to prevent sticking; Cook on medium heat until all fruit is softened.

~ Place your food mill over a large bowl and have a couple other bowls on hand.  Fill the mill with cooked apricots, cranking both clockwise and counter clockwise and repeat until all juice is extracted and you’ve pressed down the pulp as much as possible.  Return all to the sauce pot.

~ Add honey or sugar and lemon juice to taste.  Traditionally I have not added water, but prefer the pure thick nectar, however most people do prefer it watered down somewhat.  Experiment to your liking, then bring the nectar to a simmer and can your nectar.  (The less the fruit is cooked, the more nutrients are retained.)

~ Preserving Nectar ~

~ While you are processing the apricots, start your boiling water canner on high and boil quart jars to sanitize for 10 minutes.

~ Pour boiling water over new lids and bands and let sit.

~ Remove jars from hot water bath.  Fill each jar with nectar to within ½ in head space.  In case of splatter, wipe jar rims clean with a wet, hot towel and lid them, screwing bands to finger tip tightness.

~ Process in hot water bath at a full boil for 25 minutes.  Remove from water and tighten bands.  Let stand untouched for 12+ hours to set.

~ Put up in the pantry for yumminess all year long.

Love from our pantry to yours!  Georgina @ Caramelize Life

Pantry goodness: (top left to bottom right) Tomatillo-Jalepeno Salsa, Honey, Plum Jam, Apricot Nectar, Apricot-Date Chutney, Apple Butter.

Garden Love: Kids & Carrot Soup

Kids love to garden ~ as long as we elders help that love along:)

How can we as parents hook kids on growing their own food for life?

The main ingredient for kids of any age ~ FUN!

This spring, my daughter was given a single bean to plant inside.  She named the beloved bean–ready for this–“Beanie,” much to our great shock.  She labeled Beanie, watered her and put her in a sunny window.  She invested much in Beanie, singing to her, fanning her, telling her stories.  Now Beanie is about 5 inches tall and needed a home, so a bean teepee was built for Beanie (methods below).  Now, one of her favorite places to be is camped out, making “salad” in the bean teepee.

It’s in this–determining what is really fun for your child–that hooks them on gardening.  Here are some other ideas.

Grow What They Eat

The first vegetable my daughter wanted to eat out of the garden was a sweet pea.  Imagine that.  A sweet pea wanting to eat something as sweet as she!

She proclaimed “these pea pods are just little sacks of sugar!”

She told all her friends in case they hadn’t discovered that definition:)

The first veggie my son loved was the carrot.  We looked up different carrot varieties and he got attached to the type called “short and sweet.”  From 4 years old to the present, he is in charge of the carrot patch:)

Carrots! Easy to grow with children, wonderfully sweet to eat fresh.

Read for Inspiration

Books about families gardening self sufficiently are wonderful introductions as well.  My all time favorite is Oxcart Man.  It teaches about the cycle of the seasons and all the family does to make their own food all year.  Here is how the beautiful tale begins:

Ox-Cart Man, a beautiful description of self-sufficient living in poetry.

“In October he backed his ox into his cart

and he and his family filled it up

with everything they made or grew all year long

that was left over.”

Another great one for kids is Carrot Soup.  Not only is it a hilarious, creative story of a carrot obsessed bunny and his collective of gardener friends, it has a good carrot soup recipe for you and kids to try at the end.

A bean teepee for Beanie:)

Make a Space that Kids Love

If you set aside a corner or two for your little ones, they will love taking ownership of it.  Even a 1 x 3 ” plot is enough for a child to grow food they’ll eat through the summer.

Give them a choice of seeds, and help them decide by thinking about what they like to eat.  Consider an edible flower to enhance the experience ~ my kids are fascinated by any pretty flower to safely consume.

Consider a bean pole teepee.  It sets apart a space that can be just for kids.  They will learn to be careful of planted beds and delicate seedlings, and know that they have a sanctuary where they can also creatively play.  After all, encouraging kids to love the garden through work is not going to be the most effective ~ that comes later!

Include play space in the garden and your kids will join you:)

A bean teepee can be anything you like, but we like to use skinny lodgepole downed in the forest.  Dried river wood offers some wonderful shapes.  The teepee itself can be a work of art in your garden.

One thing I did this year that I will now do every year is to save and dry our sunflower stalks for the following year.  Those long fibrous stocks dry to rock solid by spring.  I leaned them against the garden fence so they wouldn’t rot and let them stand all winter.  In spring they were hard as can be and I cut them to make a criss-cross trellis around the teepee.  (Beans need stalks smaller than lodgepole to climb:)

We planted three varieties of beans and my daughter took up immediate residence in the teepee.  She even asked to sleep there.

Pick the Fruits of Your Labor ~ Together

No matter what, involve your kids in the harvest!  The satisfaction of eating off the vine or picking the fruits of your labor is tough to beat.

Encourage the chillins to set up a little veggie stand if your family has extra, and show them the value of home grown food–for belly and pocketbook.  Rachelle has a great post about involving kids in local farmer’s markets, FIND YOUR MARKET.

I’ve found that the single most powerful way to encourage your kids to love to garden is simple: eat what you love, and grow what you eat!

Carrot Soup

At many farmer’s markets across the country you will find carrots ~ possibly the most kid friendly veggie.

Known to granola crunching vegetarians everywhere, The Moosewood Cookbook (1977 edition by Molly Katzen) is a fabulous addition to any chef’s library.  The carrot soup here is a modification from the Moosewood.

2 lbs peeled or scrubbed, chopped carrots
4 c stock
1 1/2 t salt
1 medium potato, chopped (optional)
4 T butter
1 c chopped onion

Moosewood Cookbook

2 cloves crushed garlic
1/3 c toasted nuts (pumpkin seeds, cashews or almonds)

1/2 pint heavy cream, or 3/4 c sour cream or plain yogurt

Season with:
~ 2 pinches of nutmeg, a dash of cinnamon and 1 t grated ginger.

1.  Place carrots, stock, salt and potato in a medium sized soup pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer it for 12-15 minutes. Let it cool to room temp.

2.  Saute the onion and garlic in the butter until the onions are clear. You can sprinkle in a little salt to help draw the moisture out of the onions. Towards the end of cooking, stir in the seasoning combo you choose.

3.  Puree everything together in a food processor or blender until smooth.

4.  Whisk in cream or yogurt just before serving.

5.  Garnish with toasted seeds, nuts or toasted croutons and serve.

Happy Gardening from Georgina @ Caramelize Life

Find more carrot soup recipes on

Read more:

The Barb is On

Rhubarb: how we love thee.  You are full of the zing of spring, yet you are humble and hearty.

And how underestimated you have been in years past!

From early childhood, my mother always made rhubarb sauce (recipe herein), pie, crisps, cobblers and froze whatever was left over for winter delights.

Farmer’s Markets right now have an abundance of Rhubarb, and likely your neighbor does too.  Our last article, Find Your Market has links to markets across the country and rhubarb is one of the most common items sold at this time.

Harvesting rhubarb is easy for kids ~ and produces tasty treats they love

I’ve often heard folks describe rhubarb as a weed or make comments like, ‘what would I do with it?’ To which I respond, ‘I’d be happy to take that off your hands so it’s not in your way.’ I’ll never say no to free barb.

Rhubarb sauce over yogurt was a staple growing up as it is in our home now. We regularly harvest, beginning now, and make sauces for breakfast dishes, lunches and snacks. If the seed stalk is kept cut back, and you trim your barb as it ripens, you can keep a plant producing all summer long.

Bring on the barb!

Kid Friendly Harvest & Recipe

This week, my son Phoenix worked the entire process, garden to table.

He harvested the rhubarb, washed it, cut it and cooked the sauce, all himself.  (Well, I did the taste testing for sugar ratio, otherwise it would have come out heavy on the sweets:).

This is a wonderful recipe to use as a tool to get your kids into gardening and cooking.  The resulting food is something kids love ~ a sweet and tangy sauce that goes well over yogurt, ice cream or, my favorite, breakfast waffles and pancakes.

Rhubarb Sauce

Fresh Rhubarb



~ Chop washed rhubarb into 1 inch chunks and fill a quart sauce pot.  Add enough water to cover the bottom with at least 2 inches.

~ Bring to a simmer on medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  Once the fruit starts to break down, reduce heat to medium-low.

~ Add sugar and continue stirring; once the sauce is simmering again, turn to low.  You may add your sugar to taste, but for a quart pot full of fruit, I generally use about 5 cups sugar.

~ Eat fresh on yogurt, waffles, over ice cream, or jar in Masons and freeze.

Guest Food Blogger Recipe:

Check out a delicious way to use fresh rhubarb in a fruit crisp ~ fellow foodie, Mary Miller shared this great recipe for Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp.  We recommend giving it a try:)

Mary shares good food on her blog, A Passionate Plate.  

NOTES on Rhubarb

Breakfast Treat: waffles, yogurt and sweet rhubarb sauce.

~For planting, try finding an existing plant to cut from.  The root of the barb is like one solid mass.  You can cut right through it to divide the plant.  Don’t worry about damage–this root is hard to kill.  It will grow almost anywhere.

~Water Rhubarb liberally.  I made the mistake years ago of thinking the wild plant on the side of the house didn’t need tending.  Not so–the barb takes a lot of water in spring and through the summer if you want to harvest repeatedly.

~ Save it for later!  If you don’t want to make sauce out of all your barb, wash it, cut it in one inch chunks and bag in the freezer.  It is just as good taken out months later for pies, sauce, chutney or crisps.

~ In the Methow Valley, purchasing rhubarb plants is possible at the Local 98856.  They also have great advice on the plant and others.

Love from Our Kitchen to Yours!  Georgina @ Caramelize Life


Spring has sprung literally in the last week, here in the Methow Valley.

We’ve enjoyed the first couple of Farmers Markets held each Saturday 9am to noon. Our early spring heat wave has been kind to all the vendors and welcomed shoppers with a warm embrace.

For years I’ve been a patron to any farmers markets I can find either at home or abroad.  The market can be a unique window into local communities health and its products.  Market atmospheres are lively and festive. They celebrate our earth and what it can produce. Markets highlight and strengthen our ties to how and where our foods are processed and originate. Not everyone can live on a farm and learn from family traditions handed down each generation but most everyone can find a farmers market and take the opportunity to meet and learn from the farmers themselves.

Markets move with the seasons from the beginning seedlings in the early spring to the mounds of apples, spices, jams and jellies in the late summer harvest times.  This seasonal reminder of what our local land provides is something that becomes forgotten in the long outer isles of the mega supermarkets. I know, I love bananas in my smoothies and pineapple too.  I am not ready for a strict change but I do appreciate the fresh reminder to clean out the cob webs in my brain and love the fact that I can challenge myself to finding Saturday night’s dinner at the market.

So tempting…but no she didn’t…really.

If you would like a little help in the area of spring cleaning of the cerebral spider webs there’s an app for that! Ok, not really but if you are tech savvy and have an iPhone, sorry Blackberry and Android, you can download an App to find out what’s in season it’s called NRDC Eat Local.
Wendy Gorden of the Huffington post described the app perfectly in her blog   New App Answers: What’s in Season Near You?  it is worth the read.

I also adore the life lessons the market imparts to our children. They learn from example and experiencing the arts and local agricultural producers at a personal level is such a gift. Taken a little further and the market is inclusive allowing children to try their hand at their own entrepreneurial endeavors. Read my post life lessons a budding entrepreneur at the farmer’s market  to learn more on this topic.

Each Market has it’s own structure and set of guidelines to help it run smoothly so check in with yours before you jump in feet first.

Market Dinner or Breakfast Challenge:

Simple Scramble with Chevre and Spring Greens


4 eggs
1 Tbsp oil (your choice; coconut oil gives a nice change in flavor, olive or grape seed oil or butter)
1 Tbsp chevre we used organic chevre from sunny pine farms
1 cup spring greens (washed, torn or chopped and stems removed) For a fun you could forage and use Dandelion greens! (remember to properly identify the plant, make sure it hasn’t been sprayed and pick young fresh leaves. Their bitterness will mellow and blend nicely with the eggs).
1 Tbsp chopped fresh seasonal herbs (your choice; chives, rosemary, thyme, parsley, cilantro etc)
salt and pepper to taste

A slice from a fresh baguette or rosemary bread to toast.

Each market is unique to its region and what it can offer, when in France, I love to add olives to this scramble or capers.


~Wash, tear or chop spring greens and herbs and set aside
~Pre-warm two serving bowels
~Slice bread and put in the toaster
~Crack eggs in a medium-sized bowel and beat with a fork until mixed. Then add half of your seasonal herbs, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
~In a preheated nonstick or cast iron saute’ pan add oil, and then the egg and herb mix. Scramble the eggs turning from the outside in.  Right before eggs are fully cooked add the chevre  and remove from heat. Then, divide into equal portions (or as much as you are hungry for)and place in your warmed bowel.
~Next, add a tablespoon or so of water and wilt greens in your saute’ pan turning constantly until wilted and then pour over chevre and egg scramble.
~Sprinkle with the second half of the fresh herbs.
~Add salt and pepper to taste

~ enjoy!

Find your Farmers Market!

Here in the Methow we are lucky to have a few:

Methow Valley Farmers Market Saturdays 9am to noon, April through October
Winthrop Market Sundays 10am to 2pm, Memorial Day to Labor Day
Mazama Market Wednesday afternoons, during the growing season

The folks at Local Harvest. Org make it easy to do just that. Click on the link and enter your zip code or state and they will point you in the right direction. It is a great tool to use especially if you are traveling.

Here are a few more links to help you find a market near you:

The USDA Farmers Markets, Food and Wine articles on the Worlds Best Food Markets, Open Air’s market list, and the Huffington Post Photo’s of the worlds largest farmers markets.

See you at the Market!
Rachelle @ Caramelizelife


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