Thursday, May 24, 2007

Evert Fresh Bags

OK, So I know you’re looking at that insert in your delivery this week wondering, “ Timber Creek going in a new direction or something?” and the answer is YES and NO.

It’s really true that TCF Members have been calling me over the last several months singing the praises of EvertFresh Bags. They’ve all suggested that we sell them because what’s better than TCF Organic food? TCF Organic food that lasts longer, is the answer!

Since organic food isn’t sprayed with fungicides and other chemicals when it is harvested, it can go bad more quickly. Even though for the most part our produce comes directly from the grower and is barely a week old when you receive it, the life of organic produce will always be shorter than the life of conventional produce.

The solution IS the Evert Fresh Bag. I drove to Whole Foods and bought a package of 10 large bags for $7.99. I followed the directions, and even my husband could tell that the food was fresher! I was hooked, and Timber Creek jumped onboard.

So, here’s how to use them: Wash your produce and dry it well. Even though it’s been dried, it will still have a little water clinging to it, so wrap it all up in paper towels. Then, label the paper towel and put a mark on the top of the Evert Fresh Bag to count the uses. These bags have a special clay from remote caves in Japan worked into the plastic. This clay absorbs the ethylene gas that ripening food gives off, and this keeps the food fresher. However, the clay will reach its maximum absorption capacity after 6-8 uses, so it’s good to keep track. After the clay has been maxed-out, you can still use the bags as just….well….bags!

Now, expel as much air as possible, and store your produce. You can store items in the fridge, or in the case of bananas, for example, you can leave them on the counter. You can also use Evert Fresh Bags to keep your flowers fresher, longer. I treat flowers and herbs such as parsley and cilantro the same way: put a fresh cut on the bottom, set them in a glass of water, put an Evert Fresh Bag over the whole thing, and set it in the fridge. You will be amazed!

Now you don’t have to make it a point to eat up all the more delicate foods you receive such as lettuce, first. Lettuce and spinach last incredibly long in these bags, and you’ll be able to use them more spontaneously.

No one can beat our price, not even Home Shopping Network (!), so give them a try. Just add them to your next order.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Photo Friday

On Tuesday. Because I'll be out of town for a few days. This is an Indigo Bunting I photographed in my front yard last week.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Kung Pao Chicken 101

I LOVE Kung Pao Chicken! This is a dish for which you spend all your time in prep, and almost none actually cooking. And because all the ingredients can be delivered by Timber Creek, you won't spend any time shopping, either! (You can get the grocery items from our Wholesale Buying Club: Natural Farms.) Dishes like this are good because you can do the prep in short bursts throughout the day instead of all at once.

You’ll need 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts. From TCF, I usually get 1 package of split breasts on the bone and bone them myself – it’s less expensive, and not very difficult, but that’s another post.

If you have a wok, this recipe will go easily. If not, use your largest skillet and consider using two turning utensils instead of one to keep the food moving over the heat. My wok is 35 years old and made of spun steel. It’s developed a little patina over the years, so don’t let that throw you in the pictures.

You can refrigerate the leftover Kung Pao on top of the leftover rice, and it is a great chicken salad eaten cold or room temp…if it lasts that long! The usual caveats stand about using sherry. NEVER use “cooking sherry”. Always use something that is at least drinkable…and “cream sherry” is not for cooking. I use Christian Brothers Dry Sherry. Inexpensive and it does the trick.

The bottled ingredients are also available in almost any grocery store. (...and you can click all the pictures for a larger view...)

Kung Pao Chicken (or Shrimp)

In a bowl, mix:

1 Tb. each, dry sherry and cornstarch
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper (white is preferred, but not necessary)

1 ½ lb. skinned, boned chicken breasts cut into bit-sized pieces (or 1 ½ lb. shelled & deveined medium shrimp)

Mix the ingredients in the bowl. Add the chicken and coat well. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 min.

4 Tb. peanut oil
1 C roasted, salted peanuts, shelled
1 ½ Tb. each: minced garlic and minced ginger
1 – 1 ½ bunches scallions, sliced

Cooking Sauce Recipe:

4 Tb. soy sauce
1 Tb. Thai chili sauce (or other hot sauce)
2 Tb. each: white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar and dry sherry
6 Tb. chicken broth
4 Tb. sugar (optional)
3 Tb. cornstarch

While the chicken is marinating, shell the peanuts. I shell them on a dish towel. Then I gather up the towel and rub the outside well – that loosens the paper covers. I take a small handful over the sink and very lightly blow away any remaining paper, then put them into the measuring cup.

You can prepare the garlic, ginger and scallions just before you start cooking.

When it’s time for dinner:

Start the rice. I often use jasmine rice cooked in chicken stock – 2 C stock to 1 C rice. Bring the stock to a boil, add the rice and stir. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 min.

While the rice is cooking, heat your wok over high heat. When it’s hot, add 3 Tb. of the peanut oil. Add the peanuts and stir constantly. When they are just beginning to brown, start removing them from the pan to paper towels to drain. If any burn, throw them out. This step flavors the oil.

Remove the chicken from the fridge and add 1 Tb. of peanut oil – mix well. Add the ginger and garlic to the wok, stir twice, then add the chicken and stir constantly until it is no longer pink. Add ¾ of the scallions, allow them to cook about 2 min, and then pour in the cooking sauce. The dish will come together immediately. Remove the wok from the heat and stir in the peanuts. Spoon some rice into a bowl. Spoon the Kung Pao Chicken on top. Sprinkle with scallions. Dinner is served.