Freeze some corn! Now!
Glorious cobs of corn will still be around at the farmers' markets for a couple of weeks.  Sweet, meltingly tender, golden or pearly white, they are never better (or cheaper) than right now.  We eat it with dinner nearly every night for the month when it is at it's best, just barely cooking it, as it doesn't need much more, and then say farewell for another eleven months. However, we also religiously freeze corn to use in meals in the months ahead.  Pulling out and defrosting a bag of farmer's market kernels feels so luxurious in the depths of winter--not to mention a tremendous vitamin-packed time and money saver.  Great for chowders, soups and chili, I'll also combine the corn with my frozen peppers for a tex-mex-y topper for eggs, or a perfect start for fajitas and burritos.  Slowly saute some onions along with them, and add a little cumin, chili powder, ground corriander, and epazote for a colorful, sweet, base for a meal.

How to Freeze Corn





Market Watch: Basil


Basil has definitely arrived at the party.  Bunch upon fragrant bunch are cramming tables at the markets.  Not surprisingly we mostly think green and the same familiar scent and flavor when basil comes to mind.  But there are loads of heirloom varieties that are becoming much easier to track down.  (and grow yourself!)

Try a new one on your next trip to the market.  What's old will be a little newer again.


Genovese Basil:  The traditional Italian large-leafed sweet basil that we all know and love.  Ideal for all things pesto, but best when the leaves are small.  If the leaves are huge, blanch them quickly to remove some of the (too) strong flavor, making them more suitable for a delicately balanced pesto sauce.

Holy Basil:  Becoming more and more popular on menus with chefs, it is called holy basil primarily because it is used as an offering in South Asia in Hindu temples.  Generally eaten raw, it has a bright, sweet smell, that is strikingly like Juicy Fruit gum.

Thai Basil:  This is those big fragrant sprigs strewn across your Thai green curry noodles, or tucked inside a Vietnamese summer roll.  A deep magenta stem with small green leaves, it is much spicier than Italian basil.  Heavy anise and clove flavors compliment Southeast Asian cuisines perfectly.

Dark Purple Opal Basil:  There are several purple basil varieties out there, and I always love to have at least one plant in my garden.  Very similar in flavor to traditional Italian basil, it is a gorgeous way to add unexpected color to a dish.  Thinly slice with green basil for instant edible confetti.

Lemon Basil:  Smaller leaves with a deep citrus smell and taste.  A great compliment to seafood dishes, cocktails, and summer salads.

A walk in our woods today very pleasantly revealed that these ramps...

which we dug up from friends' woods last spring, which is overrun with them, and attempted to transplant to our woods...have successfully made it through this relentless winter and have become these ramps...

having successfully taken root and are now growing for us here!

If you haven't seen them already, ramps will be out in all their garlicy-oniony-wild leeky glory at the farmers' markets and on menu specials very shortly.  Here's a piece I did on them just a year ago, with a lot more rampalicious information.  And here are two recipes to start the drool:

Spicy-Tart Pickled Ramps

Ramp and Potato Tortilla

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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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