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April McGreger's Posts

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How Hurricane Katrina turned me into a citrus fanatic and marmalade maker

Jewels of winter: Kumquats from L’Hoste Organic Citrus Farm in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. Photo: April McGreger For a long time, I never really saw citrus fruits. Lemon, limes, oranges, and even grapefruits were just fruits I often had in my fridge--nice, but unremarkable. All of that changed in 2005. That's when I realized that, like so much else, the citrus varieties we have available to us are the dull tip of a spectacular iceberg of biodiversity and deliciousness. Like the red delicious apple, I learned, most supermarket citrus, both conventional and organic, offers but a shadow of the fruit's true …

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Winter cold no match for spicy kimchi stew

Kimchi: king of condiments. Photo: April McGreger I love how my cooking business binds me to the seasons. The seasons change, and I fall in line. August provides me more work than I can complete in a day; late January cuts me some slack. Every year I seem to overdo it as the busy harvest season runs right into the busy holiday season, and I end the year utterly exhausted and frazzled. And then, at last, January brings the cold and darkness t that I have come to crave. Winter is also the season for comfort food, but all too …

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Can delicious crepes create a buckwheat revival?

Just add Paris: buckwheat crepes in their glory.April McGregerMy love for buckwheat first blossomed in the Soba-ya shops of Japan. Years later, that love was rekindled on the sidewalks of Paris eating Galletes de Sarrasin, or Breton-style savory buckwheat crepes, washed down with hard apple cider in stoneware cups. I found the deep, pleasantly bitter, and earthy flavor of buckwheat satisfying and nourishing. The soba noodles were delicate and wholesome; the crepes were lacy yet substantial. Buckwheat is a curious and misunderstood food. It's not a grain, but is treated like one. It's actually a shrub, related to rhubarb, and …

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Turn your turkey carcass into a spectacular gumbo

Turkey gumbo: the Thanksgiving centerpiece finds its true calling. All photos by April McGreger Before accepting a Thanksgiving dinner invitation, I ask my host two questions: Will you be roasting a turkey and may I have the leftover carcass? The best part of the Thanksgiving turkey has long been about leftovers for me, but a few years ago I upgraded from mundane turkey sandwiches to the exceptional turkey bone gumbo. I have long been a fan of wild-duck gumbo, but the first that I heard of turkey bone gumbo was from my friend Sara Roahen, who devotes a whole chapter …

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This Halloween, have your pumpkin–and eat it, too

Try April's White Bean and Pumpkin Chili recipe (below).Photo: April McGreger Halloween has pagan roots in the Celtic Samhain, a festival of the harvest and the dead.  The Celts saw the end of October as the "end of lightness" or the end of summer, and the "beginning of darkness," or the long, cruel winter ahead. At this time of year, harvests were complete, livestock were slaughtered, and community bonfires were started. During this transformation from light to dark, the ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the spirit world became thin, allowing spirits to pass through. Some …

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Apples with a sense of place

One lovely evening a couple of weeks ago, I watched the documentary Food Fight in an outdoor theater in my downtown. The documentary focuses on how the 1960s counterculture -- specifically the Berkeley crew of which Alice Waters was a member -- led to the current sustainable agriculture boom. The documentary champions the sensual pleasures and health promotion of fresh, locally grown food, but I couldn't help noticing one glaring omission.   In my personal experience the single most rewarding aspect of eating locally has been exploring my own region in depth. I think of it as seeking the wisdom of …

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Home pickles made easy–and delicious

Yes, you can (preserve your own peppers). All photos by April McGreger Judging from the first canning-equipment display I've ever seen at my local health-food store, home canning is undergoing a revival. Let us not forget, though, that long before Ball and Kerr were churning out jars, food preservation was a common practice.  Traditional cultures all over the world preserved much of the food needed for the winter through lactic-acid fermentation.  Sauerkraut, kimchi, grape leaves, cucumbers, turnips, green tomatoes, peppers, corn, and many, many more vegetables were commonly preserved through this process.      Of all methods of preserving, lacto-fermentation is the …

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Beat the August heat with an easy veggie supper

The sweet sizzle of summer. Photo: April McGreger Try as I might, I cannot hate on August. I half-heartedly complain in solidarity with the masses about the stifling heat and humidity, as well as my scratchy, ragweed-irritated eyes. But in truth, this is the time of year I long for. August means watermelons, okra, fresh corn, peppers, tomatoes, and the seasons' first figs. I am obsessed with these sun-drenched summer vegetables. They form the basis of my food identity, shaped by the geography of my Mississppi birthplace and my family's particular affinities. These heat-loving vegetables are what the South grows …

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Simple summer salads for staying cool and well-nourished

It's getting hot in here ....It's happening again. It's gotten so damn hot that I fear the heat of the stove. I want to be at the beach, tubing down a river, napping in a hammock under a big shade tree. The problem is I still get hungry. Convenience foods abound to solve that problem if I let my guard down. Luckily, we have other, tastier alternatives. This is the time of year when the produce at the farmer's market is so perfect and so abundant, that with little more than a drizzle of vinaigrette you can create refreshing salads, …

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Reveling in the season’s tomato bounty, from pasta sauce to easy preserving

The jewels of summer, in their glory. Photo: April McGreger Would a summer without garden-grown tomatoes really be summer at all? For me, summer is: tomatoes ripening on the windowsill; picking the hornworms off the tomato plants; a huge bowl of tomatoes on the kitchen counter; tomatoes at every single meal; farmer's markets so packed with dazzling tomato colors and sensual shapes, they outshine the fresh-cut flowers. I relish the first tomatoes of the season in their purest, raw form: tomato sandwiches, BLTs; cucumber-tomato salads; classic panzanella salad of tomato-drenched crusty bread, scented with intoxicating fresh basil and briny with …

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