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Watermelon Granita,The Recipe

GranitaWhoa, it’s hot! And humid! You know you are on the East Coast in the middle of summer when walking outside causes your glasses or sunglasses to fog over. OK, enough complaining about the heat (did I mention it was hot?). Time to do some thing about it. While perusing the Collingswood Farmers Market last week, we spotted some amazing looking watermelon. They were rather large Sugar Babies but still small enough that they wouldn’t take up the whole fridge. We grabbed one and cut into it as soon as we got home. It was sweet and juicy! We cut half for snacking, but I knew that with just the two of us we would never finish the second half before it went bad. I decided that the rest would be used for my very first attempt at making granita. I was a little concerned that it would be a pain, but it was so easy!

Granita is the fancy Italian way to say shaved ice or fruit slush. But, there is nothing fancy about making granita. I used 2 ingredients in this recipe, watermelon and lime juice. You could probably add some sugar or honey, but this watermelon was so sweet I didn’t need anything else. And, if you want to make this a granita margarita, I won’t mind. Just wait until after the granita is finished and add the alcohol to the serving bowl of granita as alcohol will keep your fruit juice from freezing all the way through.

 

Watermelon Granita,The Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Desert
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • ½ Watermelon, the sweeter the better
  • Juice from 1 lime, add more for more pucker power
Instructions
  1. Cut watermelon into chunks, removing the seeds if it's not seedless
  2. Juice the lime
  3. Add the watermelon and lime juice in batches into the blender and use the liquefy setting to make watermelon juice
  4. Pour the juice mixture into a glass 9x13 pan
  5. Place pan in the freezer
  6. Freeze for 1-2 hours
  7. Take a fork and scrape the frozen areas towards the center, breaking up the chunks
  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 until you have a pan full of ruby red crystals
  9. Scoop into a bowl for your self (and your family if they insist) and the rest into a sealable, freezeable container to be left in the freezer.
  10. The granita will remain in crystal form unless you take it out and leave it on the kitchen counter and let it melt. Enjoy!

 

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Item Spotlight: Blueberries

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So, confession time. Until recently, I have never been a blueberry fan. *GASP* I didn’t dislike them, I  just didn’t seek them out. I have a few reasons for my ho-hum reaction to the little blue fruit. First of all,  I really never even had a real blueberry, at least one that was not in a muffin until I met my husband (who loves them) eight years ago. Second, I lived in Southern California for most of my life, there were not a lot of fresh blueberries growing in that area. Blueberries were always bought at the grocery store and seemed waxy and lacking real flavor. Then, we moved to New Jersey and everything changed.

“It’s blueberry day,” Keith said. Is that a government sanctioned event? Who declares it “Blueberry Day” in the state of Jersey? So, off we went to the Trenton Farmers’ Market to pay homage to fruit. We picked up 4 flats of blueberries, that I had to admit looked plump and juicy and cost us less than 2 from the grocery store. Then as we were driving around looking for farm stands, we happened on Wells’ Blueberry Farm, a pick your own farm.  There were blueberry bushes everywhere! It was a lot of fun and in the end we brought home over 5 pounds of blueberries! After getting them home and washing and drying them, I tried a few. WOW, the flavor was unbelievable! A perfect example of how eating locally and seasonally can change the way you see food.

Interested in picking your own blueberries? Go here.

Where are they grown: Blueberries are native to North America. In the U.S., Maine and Michigan seem to be the highest producing blueberry states. There is also considerable commercial acreage in New Jersey, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. Oregon and Washington also produce a lot of blueberries.

When are they grown:  The season starts in Mid-April for the southern states and moves later as you go north. The season ends in late September.

How to store: Freshly picked blueberries can last up to two weeks in the fridge. Store unwashed in a covered container. Water will cause mold quickly on stored blueberries, so you wash as you are ready to eat. They can also be frozen for up to a year. To freeze, wash and dry thoroughly, spread blueberries out on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Once they are frozen, transfer to a freezer appropriate container (sealed freezer bag or airtight freezer safe jar).

How to prepare:

  • Pop those puppies straight into your mouth!
  • Add to yogurt, cottage cheese, ricotta, or creme fraiche
  • Make jam/ jelly/ preserves
  • Make a blueberry balsamic reduction for meat
  • Pancakes
  • Muffins
  • Dehydrate and add to trail mix
  • Dip in chocolate or yogurt and freeze for a sweet snack in the hot summer months
  • Make a blueberry simple syrup and add to coctails and lemonade
  • Make wine? My grandma used to make a super strong blackberry wine, I bet blueberry wine would be dangerously good!

What do you do with blueberries?

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Item Spotlight: Courgette Flowers

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If you’ve never had Courgette Flowers (aka Zucchini Blossoms) before but you’ve seen them at a farmers’ market, you probably had the same reaction I did. Wow, those are pretty, I wonder what they are, what they taste like and what you do with them! This curiosity usually leads me to purchase and experiment. So a few weeks ago, when I saw them at the Trenton Farmers’ Market that’s exactly what I did. Pineland Farms had a small bowl of them at their corner stand and I couldn’t resist the bright yellow and orange flower. So we grabbed 8 blossoms, a small container of fresh ricotta from a roadside farm stand, some scapes and mushrooms from the Collingswood Farmers’ Market and got to cooking! The recipe is here. We really enjoyed them stuffed. We tried them raw, just to see what they taste like. Bleh, didn’t taste like much, but not in a good way like iceberg lettuce. Definitely something you are gonna want to cook before eating.

What are they: They are the flowers of the zucchini bush. There are both male and female flowers. The female flower is generally attached to the baby zucchini, while the males just have the stem attached. I’ve only ever seen and cooked with the male flowers but have been told that stuffing the female flowers and cooking them still attached to the baby zucchini is really good as well!

When are they “In Season”: Basically anytime the zucchini is in season, the flowers are too. Generally, May to August is the peak season. We have been told by several local farmers that they don’t bring many to the farmers’ markets because people don’t know what to do with them. So, if you don’t see any available for sale at the market, ask at any booth that carries zucchini. They will probably be happy to bring a few bunches with them next week.

How to prepare them: 

  1. Bread and fry the flowers
  2. Stuff the flowers with cheeses and then fry or bake them
  3. Remove them from their stems and chop them into most any Italian dish

How to store them:  They really don’t store well. We’ve had the best success if we prepare them the day we purchase them. If you do need to store them, they should be refrigerated in a sealed container.

Price:  We’ve purchased them for 4-5 for a dollar. Because they don’t store well, we’ve scooped up the farms remaining flowers at the end of the day for an even lower price. I usually use 4 blossoms per person.