Restaurant Interior

“Keeping It Fresh” with chef/host Charles Myers on KCBX Public Radio

In December’s edition of Keeping It Fresh, Charles interviews Carl Hansen, the executive director of SLO Food Bank and then goes out on a gleaning run at SLO Creek Farms to pick apples with dozens of volunteer pickers.  Glean SLO is a newly coordinated project of the Food Bank to collect commercial and residential leftover crops for distribution through our local food bank. Listen to Decembers’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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“Keeping It Fresh” for November on KCBX Radio with chef/host Charles Myers

In November’s edition of Keeping It Fresh, Charles visits with the owner of Chong’s Farm from Fresno; a specialty grower for Asian vegetables and herbs.  Chong is  a new addition to the Saturday morning SLO Farmers Market and shows up with unique, hard-to-find Asian vegetables that have never been offered in our area before. Listen to November’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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Recipes for Asian Vegetables from “Keeping It Fresh”

There’s a new Farmer at the Saturday morning farmers market, Chong’s Farm from Fresno.  He brings exotic Asian produce to our area.  Below are a few recipes that will help introduce some of these vegetables.

Szechuan Braised Eggplant in Garlic Sauce

Super easy recipe that turns out mildly spicy with complexity.

2 medium Chinese or Long Green Eggplant cut the ends, slice lengthwise twice, then dice into 3/4″ cubes

Mix together in a small bowl:

2 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp minced fresh ginger

1 scallion, finely chopped

Mix the sauce together in a small bowl:

1 1/2 Tbsp dark soy sauce (available at Asian markets)

1 1/2 Tbsp light soy sauce (available at Asian markets)

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 Tbs Chinese rice wine, mirin, or dry sherry

1/2 tsp sugar

1/3 Cup chicken broth

Mince 1/4 – 1/2 cup pork shoulder ( or use ground pork)

in a small bowl, mix the pork with:

1/4 tsp cornstarch and season with black pepper

1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce (available at Asian markets)

Heat wok, add 1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil on med/high

Add garlic ginger, scallion mix and stir fry for 10 seconds

Add pork & chili garlic sauce

Stir fry for 1 minute until the pork turns white, break into pieces

Add the eggplant and stir fry for 3 minutes or so

Add the soy sauce mixture and reduce the heat to low/medium and simmer for 10 minutes until the eggplant is tender,

Mix 1 tsp of cornstarch with 1 Tbsp water and pour into the middle of the wok and stir quickly to thicken the sauce.  Serve over rice.

Pork & Noodle Stuffed Mo Qua (fuzzy melon)

Depending on the size, 2 or 3 Mo Qua

2 oz thin rice noodles

Combine 1/2 lb minced pork with:

1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger

2 Tbsp chopped cilantro leaves

1 egg white, slightly beaten

1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp sesame oil

For the sauce combine:

1 Tbsp oyster sauce

1 cup chicken stock

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 cup sliced shitake or other mushrooms

Reconstitute noodles in hot water for about 10 minutes until softened.  Drain & chop coarsely.

Either peel or rub roughly to remove some of the fuzz  on the squash, depending how prominent it is.

Cut into mo qua 1 1/2 inch slices crosswise, then with a melon scooper, scoop out a bit to create a space for the filling in the “bowl”.

Combine the pork mixture with half of the softened noodles.  Spoon into the “bowls” created by the squash slices and press down. Then dip the mo qua slices meat side down in the remain noodles to coat the squash a bit.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add the sauce ingredients.  Add the mo qua slices with the stuffing side up.  Cover and braise for about 15 minutes, spooning sauce over the squash occasionally.

Add sliced mushrooms cook for another 5 minutes.  Remove the squash and reduce the sauce if necessary, then pour over sliced, stuffed mo qua.

Stir Fried Chinese Long Beans

The trick to this recipe is to dry fry the beans until the skin starts to pucker and brown and the beans turn tender

.

1 lb Chinese long beans

(trim long beans, cut into 2 – 3 inch pieces)

1 Tbsp chopped fresh garlic

1 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger

2 scallions, finely chopped (not too much green)

1/2 tsp chili paste

1 Tbsp dark soy sauce

1/2 tsp sugar

salt to taste

pepper to taste

2 Tbsp vegetable oil for stir-frying (or as needed)

Heat wok to medium – add 1 Tbsp oil  Add long beans and stir fry for 7 minutes until they brown and pucker

Remove to a colander

Heat remaining oil in wok, stir fry ginger, garlic, scallions and chile paste briefly until flavors are released

Add beans back with dark soy sauce, sugar, salt & pepper.  Stir for a minute and serve.

“Keeping It Fresh” on KCBX Public Radio with chef/host Charles Myers

In October’s edition of Keeping It Fresh, Charles finds out about the new oral history project at Kennedy Library on the Cal Poly campus regarding area Farmers Markets.  They wish to collect stories from local organizers, early supporters & farmers to enhance our historical understanding of the people of the central coast. Listen to October’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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“Keeping It Fresh” on KCBX Public Radio with host/chef Charles Myers

In September’s edition of Keeping It Fresh, Charles visits with Steve Burns, one of the organizers of Savor the Central Coast with Sunset Magazine.  This 4 day event runs from Sept. 29th thru Oct. 2nd throughout San Luis Obispo County.  It includes a California Mission Heritage dinner at the SLO Mission Plaza, a dinner on the square in downtown Paso Robles, a giant wine tasting on the Pismo Pier with all of Sunset Magazines new award winners and two days at the Santa Margarita Ranch with celebrity chef’s, gardeners and winemakers.  Listen to September’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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“Keeping It Fresh” on KCBX Public Radio with host Charles Myers: August 2011

In August’s edition of Keeping It Fresh, Charles visits the new “restaurant row” at the Saturday morning SLO Farmers Market.  A dozen local restaurants now offer prepared dishes to eat at the market or take home for meal preparation later.  Many of these restaurants are long-time users and supporters of Farmers Markets, like Neon Carrot, Luna Red, Buona Tavola, Full of Life Flatbread, Saffron Indian Cuisine, the Crushed Grape, Mezze, and more.  Listen to August’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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“Keeping It Fresh” with chef/host Charles Myers on KCBX Public Radio

In June’s edition of Keeping It Fresh, Charles visits the Templeton Saturday morning farmers market.  The 6-8 week cherry season is here and this visit inspires a couple of seasonal cherry recipes: Rustic French Cherry Clafoutis & Pennsylvania Dutch Cherry Soup.  Then Charles interviews Antonio Varia from Buena Tavola Restaurants who is just getting underway with a new project; Allesina Fine Cured Meats.  His first offerings are several varieties of artisan, small batch salamis.  Soon to come from this project are chicken and turkey sausages, proscuitto and pancetta.  They are available at the Templeton farmers market and soon at the Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo markets. Listen to June’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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Cherry recipes from Keeping It Fresh

Cherry season comes and goes quickly, so here are some ideas for celebrating the peak of the season. Any variety of cherry will do, like Chelan or Brooks (I like to mix them for the cherry tart)

Quick Rustic Cherry Clafoutis (French Whole Cherry Tart)

1 generous pint basket of cherries – any varietal, cleaned, stemmed, unpitted (The pits are a little awkward, but the cherries taste better with the pits – but pit them if you must)

2 Tblsp butter

1/3 cup sugar (plus 3 Tblsp)

a pinch of ground cinnamon

fine zest of 1/2 lemon

2 eggs, separated

3 Tblsp flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp almond extract

1/3 cup non-fat yogurt (traditional ingredient – heavy cream)

powdered sugar as garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Melt the butter on medium heat and add the whole cherries with 1/3 cup sugar, the cinnamon & lemon zest. Stir and stew the cherries for about 5 – 7 minutes until softened and caramelized. Pour into a 9″ pie plate.

Meanwhile beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt to form stiff peaks. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with 3 Tblsp of sugar until light and pale yellow. To the yolks add the flour, vanilla, almond extract and yogurt (cream) and beat until well blended. Fold in the egg whites gently until just incorporated. Pour this batter over the cherries, smoothing to cover. Bake in the upper half of the oven for 20 minutes until browned. Let cool and dust with powdered sugar. Cool until you can handle the pie plate. Cut carefully around the edge of the clafoutis and invert a plate on top. Flip onto the plate. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve as dessert, or for a light sweet breakfast.

Pennsylvania Dutch Hot or Cold Cherry Soup

2 1/2 lbs pitted cherries (Save the juice from the cherries as you pit them)

1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup)

2 Tblsp all purpose flour

6 Tblsp sugar

2 cups red wine (sirah, zinfandel, merlot)

fine zest of 1 lemon

1/4 tsp ground clove

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

sour cream/creme fraiche for garnish

Rough chop the cherries (a food processor is fine – do not puree) combine with the reserved juice.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add the flour and stir until the “roux” is straw colored. Add the cherries and sugar, stirring thoroughly to cover the cherries with the roux. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add 2 cups of water, the dry red wine, lemon zest spices and salt. Bring slowly to a boil. Remove from heat. Cool for cold soup or serve immediately garnished with creme fraiche.

“Keeping It Fresh” May 2011, with host/chef Charles Myers

In this month’s edition of Keeping It Fresh, we chat with Dr. Tom Newhaus, Cal Poly Professor & Fair Trade activist.  Charles and Tom discuss the upcoming fundraising dinner for the Fair Trade Club at Cal Poly and Project Hope & Fairness at the Monday Club, Tuesday May 17th.  Tom is raising money with an elegant multi-course French dinner to assist student participation in his upcoming trip to the cocoa growing region of Africa.  For eight years Tom has spent his summers in Africa building economic tools for cocoa growers to increase the viability and sustainability of farming  and growing the bean that brings us chocolate.  Hear more in the program and visit “Sweet Earth Chocolates” or Project Hope and Fairness. Listen to May’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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“Keeping It Fresh” with host, Charles Myers, on KCBX Public Radio

In this month’s edition of Keeping It Fresh, Charles discovers the first releases of local olive oil at area Farmers Markets.  Join him as he visits Lone Oak Olive Oil’s grove and hears about the intricate details involved in growing, harvesting and pressing olive oil from Arroyo Grande with owner Phil Langston. Listen to March’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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“Keeping It Fresh” with host, Charles Myers, on KCBX Public Radio

In this month’s edition of Keeping It Fresh, Charles visits with the owners of the new Meze Market and Wine Cafe’ in Railroad Square in downtown San Luis Obispo.  The owners, Jason and Carry, are both from the local wine industry and bring their experiences living in Europe as inspiration for the meze and charcouterie served at their new cafe’.  Authenticity is at the heart of their efforts to bring hard-to-find European meats, cheeses and wines to SLO. Listen to January’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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Goat Cheese & Hazelnut Gratin with Butternut Squash

2 Tblsp olive oil

3 lbs hard winter squash (butternut squash or Kobocha) peeled, seed and cubed

4 medium leeks, sliced up to the tough dark green parts, submerged in water and drained to remove all the sand.

salt & pepper

1 Tblsp fresh sage leaves, chopped

6 oz fresh chevre (soft goat cheese)

1 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to moderate (400)  In this case toss the cubed squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast for 30 – 40 minutes until starting to brown.

In the mean time, sauté the sliced leeks in olive oil until thoroughly wilted.

Grease a suitable casserole dish and layer the dish with leeks first, squash next, and then crumbled cheese.  Repeat until the ingredients are used up.  You can store this casserole at this point for use later.  Otherwise, pour cream over the whole thing and top with chopped hazelnuts.  Bake until the cream is bubbling and setting up – start checking at 30 minutes.

 

Winter Squash Gratin with fresh herb breadcrumbs

1/4 stick butter

1/8 cup olive oil

1 medium onion sliced thin

2 – 3 lbs hard winter squash (butternut squash or Kobocha) peeled, seed and cubed

1 tsp sugar

salt & pepper

1 cup chicken stock

topping:

mix together 2 cups bread crumbs

1-2 cups grated sharp cheddar (or sub blue cheese mixed with something milder like mozzarella)

a generous Tblsp fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley) whatever aromatic, savory fresh herbs you have on hand


Preheat the oven to moderate (350) Sauté the onions in the butter and olive oil until golden, add the diced squash and continue to sauté. After a few minutes season the two with sugar, salt and pepper and continue to sauté until they caramelize.


Transfer to a greased casserole and pour the chicken stock over . Cover and bake for 30 – 45 minutes. At this point you can put it away to finish later if you wish. Otherwise, jump the oven up to 400 and sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over it and back uncovered until browned.


“Keeping It Fresh” with chef/host Charles Myers on KCBX Public Radio

In this month’s edition of Keeping It Fresh, Charles visits the new Sunday morning certified Farmers Market in the parking lot of Kennedy fitness on Tank Farm Road in SLO. It runs from 10am to 1pm and features several growers who don’t attend other local markets.  Also, the market was full of winter squash, so Charles shares some new recipes for butternut squash gratins. Listen to December’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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“Keeping It Fresh” on KCBX Public Radio with host/chef Charles Myers

In this month’s edition of Keeping It Fresh, Charles visits with the Morro Bay Farmers Market manager to find out about all the new food vendors in their “cuisine court”.  This expanded list is part of their effort to offer more than just fresh, local produce.  It includes prepared foods and raw milk, cheeses, lamb, chicken, rabbit, beef, Alaskan salmon and more.  Also in this episode Charles visits Windrose Market in Templeton to investigate what is being offered from this premium organic grower at their new 6-day-a-week farmstand. Listen to November’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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“Keeping It Fresh” on KCBX Public Radio with host/chef Charles Myers

In this month’s edition of Keeping It Fresh on Public Radio, KCBX, chef/ host Charles Myers discusses the upcoming weekend of events centering around the Sustainability Center at the Cal Poly Agriculture School.  On Friday the 22nd of Oct. there is an afternoon symposium on obesity with three national recognized figures covering different aspects of this problem.  This is followed by a Friday night reception.  Also Saturday night the 23rd at the Hearst Ranch Dairy Farm, is “A Taste of the Future” – a localvore extravaganza – led by chef Megan Loring of the Neon Carrot.  More information at www.cfs.calpoly.edu. Listen to October’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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“Keeping It Fresh” on KCBX Public Radio with chef/host Charles Myers

In this month’s edition of Keeping It Fresh on Public Radio, KCBX, chef/ host Charles Myers chats with Christine Hance, organizer of Savor the Central Coast- a celebration of the culinary & agricultural bounty of the central coast sponsored by Sunset Magazine.  Hear about the various dinners, tastings and events throughout the county as well as the exhibition “kitchen garden” installed at Santa Margarita Ranch.  The event lasts from Thursday Sept 30th through Sunday October 3rd. Listen to September’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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“Keeping It Fresh” August 2010 with chef/host Charles Myers on KCBX radio

In this month’s edition of Keeping It Fresh on Public Radio, KCBX, chef/ host Charles Myers visits with Jean Pierre Wolff from Wolff vineyards, a leader in sustainable vineyard and winemaking practices.  Jean Pierre fills us in on the status of labeling certification for sustainability throughout the wine industry.  He addresses state, national and international certifications as well as our own local program called “SIP Certification” (sustainability in practice) spearheaded by the Vineyard Team and Central Coast Grown.  You’ll find “SIP” certification prominently displayed on some local wine labels. Listen to August’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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“Keeping It Fresh” July edition with chef/host Charles Myers

In this month’s edition of Keeping It Fresh on Public Radio, KCBX, chef/ host Charles Myers visits with Neal Maloney of the Morro Bay Oyster Company.  Neal farms 134 acres in the middle of Estero Bay in Morro Bay and delivers his fresh, local oysters to area restaurants and farmers markets.  He has 5 years experience raising oysters out in the bay, but has only owned the Morro Bay Oyster Company for the last year and a half. Neal shares his daily experiences of aquaculture and gives insight into the local seafood industry. Listen to July’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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Morro Bay Oyster Recipes from “Keeping It Fresh”

The following recipes were all inspired by my conversations on “Keeping It Fresh” with Neal Maloney of the Morro Bay Oyster Company. You can find him selling his local oysters at the Thursday night SLO Farmers Market or daily on the dock at the embarcadero, across the street from the kite store in Morro Bay.

To Barbecue Oysters

Heat the grill. Scrub the oysters in clear, cold water. Place on the grill and close the lid. When the oysters pop open (10 – 15 minutes) they are done. Carefully remove the top shell with an oyster knife or bottle opener at the hinged end. Season in any manner you like, salt & pepper, garlic butter, hot sauce, etc.

Macho Beer Roasted Indoor Oysters

Preheat oven to 450 degrees with a roasting pan inside.

Scrub oysters in clean, cold water.

Saturate two clean kitchen towels with dark beer by soaking in a bowl.

When the pan is hot, add a bottle of dark beer, 2 dozen unopened oysters, salt & pepper and cover with the beer soaked towels.

Roast for about 10 minutes until the oysters open.

Serve with home made hot sauce

Hot sauce

1 cup red wine vinegar

2 Tbsp whole grain mustard

1 Tbsp honey

salt

1 Tbsp chipotle chile pepper puree (chipotles in adobo, pureed) or harissa or other chile pepper puree

Mix together thoroughly

Warm Buttered Oysters on Young Greens

5 Tbsp butter

1/2 a loaf French Bread (for crostini)

Enough mixed young salad greens for 4 salads

1 minced shallot

3 Tbsp sherry vinegar

2 dozen fresh oysters – scrubbed & shucked

Make crostini in any manner you like (brush with seasoned olive oil and toast, broil, bbq or bake.

Melt some of the butter in a skillet and sauté the shallot until it begins to brown. Add the vinegar and reduce by half. Add the remaining butter and the oysters, stirring and tossing until the oysters are plump and firmed and the butter is incorporated into the beurre blanc.

Serve by creating a salad with the greens and crostini and top the greens with the oysters and the butter “dressing”. Season with fresh ground pepper and salt. The salad will be enhanced with interesting greens, like perslane or arrugula. This recipe is a side salad for 4 with 6 oysters per person.

Spinach Fennel Baked Oysters “Rockefeller”

2 dozen fresh oysters

1 lb fresh spinach

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 cup finely chopped fennel bulb

3 Tbsp butter

Coarse salt to hold the oysters

Wash spinach and place in a glass microwaveable bowl with the fennel seeds. Microwave on high for 3 minutes covered and let sit to finish wilting. Squeeze dry. Puree in a food processor with 1 Tbsp of the butter.

Sauté the fennel with the remaining butter until softened. Stir into the spinach mixture and season with salt and white pepper.

Shuck the oysters and arrange on a baking pan nestled in the coarse salt so they don’t tip. Spoon spinach-fennel mixture onto each one. Bake at a preheated 400 degrees for about 10 minutes until the oysters are plumped and cooked through.

Variations: top with hollandaise before baking. Add a whipped egg or a little mayonnaise to the spinach mix so that it sets up firmer – broil at the end if necessary. Garnish with caramelized shallots or another crispy-oniony garnish.

“Keeping It Fresh” on KCBX with chef/host Charles Myers

In this month’s edition of Keeping It Fresh on Public Radio, KCBX, Chef/ host Charles Myers tours the Templeton Saturday Morning Farmers’ Market with chef Greg Winnogard of Mirosal Restaurant at the Lido Resort.  They survey the June arrivals and talk about some of the menu items inspired by these seasonal items.  Then he continues on to several other market vendors to discuss the real beginning of the farmers’ market season. Listen to June’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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“Keeping It Fresh” on KCBX with chef/host Charles Myers

Keeping It Fresh, March 2010.  This month’s edition of Keeping It Fresh features an interview with Mike Broadhust, a farmer and the manager of the Cambria Friday afternoon farmers market. I asked Mike to fill us in on some of the issues and history behind the controversy with the San Luis Obispo Thursday market conflict between the farmers market association and the Downtown Association.  He is on the fringes of the heated battle for control of the farmers market, but has some interesting perspectives on keeping farmers markets healthy and effective parts of the community.  Listen to March’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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“Keeping It Fresh” on KCBX with chef/host Charles Myers

Keeping It Fresh, February 2010. This month’s edition of Keeping It Fresh features an interview with local winemaker, vineyard owner and environmental activist, Jean-Pierre Wolff, of Wolff Vineyards.  He has been a pioneer of forward-thinking vineyard practices since he took over Wolff vineyards ten years ago.  Hear about some of the many projects he’s initiated on this month’s “Keeping It Fresh” with Big Sky Cafe’owner, Charles Myers.  Listen to February’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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“Keeping It Fresh” with chef/host Charles Myers

Keeping It Fresh, January 2010. This month’s edition of Keeping It Fresh features a tour around the county to see what local chefs are offering for San Luis Obispo Restaurant Month.  This promotion is a great way to sample local restaurants with their restaurant month menus offering 3 courses for $30 – sometimes with wine included!  Listen to January’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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“Keeping It Fresh” with chef/host Charles Myers

Keeping It Fresh, November 2009. This month’s edition of Keeping It Fresh features a visit with Pepper Creek Farms and their many different varietals of pumpkins, each with it’s own characteristics and flavors.  Then we check out the newest restaurant in Atascadero – the farm centric Fig Good Food and spend some time with the owner, Christine Dillow discussing her plans for this little “from scratch” effort.  Listen to November’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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“Keeping It Fresh” with host/chef Charles Myers

Keeping It Fresh October 7, 2009 This month’s edition of Keeping It Fresh features a survey of local farmers to see what we can expect at farmers’ markets for the month of October.  Then Charles interviews the editor and publisher of “Edible San Luis Obispo”, a new quarterly magazine devoted to local, sustainable foods and farming.  This magazine is part of a national movement of local magazines exploring their own regional food sources. Listen to October’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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“Keeping It Fresh” with host, chef/owner Charles Myers

On September’s episode of “Keeping It Fresh” chef/owner of Big Sky Cafe, Charles Myers,  visits with Phil Langston of SLO Grown Produce about his new venture, Lone Oak Olive Oil.  Phil and Charles visit the Lone Oak Olive orchard and discuss the numerous elements that go into choosing olive tree varietals and refining the methods of production for a hand-crafted, Tuscan-style olive oil.  This episode was aired on KCBX Public Radio September 2nd, 2009.  Listen to September’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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“Keeping It Fresh” with host, chef/owner Charles Myers

Keeping It Fresh with host Charles Myers Aug/09 On August’s episode of “Keeping It Fresh” Charles visits with Jeff Jackson, chef of the Range Restaurant in Santa Margarita, and Stephanie Simonin, owner of  Happy Acres Goat Cheese Dairy.   Both are participating in Pallet to Palate, the county-wide Farm to Table promotion this month at various restaurants and venues.  Sandra Diamond, an organizer of the event, also fills us in with all the details.  Listen to August’s Keeping It Fresh:

 

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Jam Recipes from the Keeping It Fresh Radio Show

Blackberry Plum Jam

Ingredients

2 pounds firm plums, pitted andcut into eighths

2 pints crushed blackberries, ollaliberries or lingenberries

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

7  cups sugar

1 (3-ounce) package commercial pectin

Directions

In large non-aluminum kettle, combine plums, water and lemon juice. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, 10 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile stir 1 cup of sugar into crushed berries, let sit.

Add sugar and berries and heat mixture to full, rapid boiling over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin; return to full, rapid boiling and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Let sit for 1 minute and skim off any foam that has formed.

Divide jam among 8 washed, warmed half-pint jars or jelly glasses and the necessary lids, and bands  leaving 1/8-inch space at top of jar. (Some sterilize the jars and lids in the water bath to warm them.) Wipe rims of jars to remove any jam and seal with lids and bands.

Set jars on a rack in  a pan of boiling water about three quarters covered for 5 minutes. Remove jars and let cool – the lids should pop in as they cool if they’ve been sealed correctly. When fully cool (overnight), check the lids by removing the screw-on band. Those that don’t seal properly can be stored in the refrigerator for use, otherwise, store in cool, dry place.

Variations: use all plums (5 lbs) with a little fresh ginger.  Add lavender sprigs in the last minute of cooking or divide them among the jars as you portion out the jam.  Substitute zinfandel or a dessert wine for the water.

Colleen Childers’s No Pectin Quick Microwave Jam

Ingredients

2 cups crushed, lightly washed berries (blackberries, ollaliberries or lingenberries or a mixture)

1/2 tsp. butter

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 1/2 cups sugar

MIx all the ingredients in a 3 Qt. glass or ceramic casserole dish.  Allow to stand for 30 minutes.  Cook, uncovered in the microwave on high power for 15 minutes, stirring after 6 minutes then every 3 minutes until done.  Refrigerate to cool down and transfer to jam jars.  Store in the refrigerator.

Apricot, Thyme and Serrano Chili Jam

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups pitted, chopped fresh apricots (approx 2 lbs)

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

4  cups sugar

8 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 small serrano or jalapeno chili, seeded and sliced very thin

1 (3-ounce) package commercial pectin

Directions

In large non-aluminum sauce pan combine apricots and pecitn, stir together. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Quickly stir in all of the premeasured sugar. Return to full, rapid boiling and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Let sit for 1 minute and skim off any foam that has formed.

Divide jam among 8 washed, warmed half-pint jars or jelly glasses and the necessary lids, and bands  leaving 1/8-inch space at top of jar. (Some sterilize the jars and lids in the water bath to warm them.) Wipe rims of jars to remove any jam and seal with lids and bands.

Set jars on a rack in  a pan of boiling water about three quarters covered for 5 minutes. Remove jars and let cool – the lids should pop in as they cool if they’ve been sealed correctly. When fully cool (overnight), check the lids by removing the screw-on band. Those that don’t seal properly can be stored in the refrigerator for use, otherwise, store in cool, dry place.

Strawberry Preserves with black pepper and balsamic vinegar

Ingredients

2 cups strawberries (about 1 pint), trimmed and quartered

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Directions

In a small heavy saucepan bring all ingredients to a boil while stirring. Simmer  the mixture, stirring and skimming foam occasionally until thickened and translucent – about 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat and cool preserves completely. Transfer to glass containers and keep covered and chilled.  Keeps for a month or more refrigerated.