Author Archives: Kate Adamick

About Kate Adamick

Kate Adamick is a photographer, chef, lawyer, author, Co-Founder of Cook for America®, and Principal of Food Systems Solutions® LLC. Kate lives in New York City. Her full bio can be found at www.CookForAmerica.com.

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Lima Beans . . . Yum?

When I was about 8 or 9 years old, my Nana told me that she loved lima beans when she was my age.  Then she paused briefly before going on to say, “But they just don’t taste the same anymore.” 

No wonder.  The lima beans of my Nana’s adulthood — and for all of my childhood —  were either the salty canned variety or the insipid frozen kind. 

While I never turned my nose up at lima beans, I never really embraced them, either.  That is, until, I found them at my farmers market, fresh and still in their pods. 

Now I finally understand why Nana once loved lima beans.

Lima Beans . . . Yum?

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Everything Old is New Again

There seems to be a renewed interest in “ancient” grains.  Spelt, emmer (a/k/a farro), and barley are all experiencing a resurgence of popularity.  And for good reason.  Ancient grains are high in fiber and protein and, perhaps more important, they have a delicious and intense flavor that just can’t be replicated by your mother’s box of rice.

One of my favorite ancient grains is freekah, a green wheat that originated in the Middle East, and which is sun-dried and roasted during the production process.  It has a nutty flavor and a slightly chewy texture, and it’s delicious whether served hot or turned into a cold salad.  Moreover, it’s as easy to cook as that box of rice I mentioned earlier.  So give it a try and take delight in both the taste and the fact that everything old is new again.

Everything Old is New Again

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Ground Cherries

About a month ago, I became obsessed with ground cherries, members of the nightshade family.  Looking like tiny golden cherry tomatoes wrapped in the papery husks of tomatillos, these tasty little bites have a flavor profile reminiscent of pineapple and other tropical fruits.   Ground cherries are a good source of Vitamins A and C, and a cup contains only about 75 calories.  Some people turn them into pie or jam.  I prefer just to turn them inside out and pop them in my mouth.

Ground Cherries

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Hold the Sauce

During the cold winter months, we make homemade pizza almost every Sunday evening.  This time of year, however, the heat of summer generally keeps us from cranking up the oven to the necessary 550 degrees Fahrenheit.  Of course, there’s an exception to every rule, and the surplus of ripe, miniature tomatoes at the farmers market these days triggers the exception to our No-Homemade-Pizza-in-Summer rule.  Fresh mozzarella, sharp garlic, sweet onion, and minty basil are almost mystical compliments to the sweet and savory little tomatoes.  But, please, hold the sauce.  With tomatoes like these, sauce would only interfere with the magic.

Hold the Sauce

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Summer Isn’t Over Yet!

The passing of Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer.  And though that means that most of us will have to wait until 2015 for our next day at the beach, picnic in the park, or weekend away at the lake, the news is not all bad.  The farmers markets are still filled with summer fruits and vegetables, and it only takes a knife and a blender to turn tomatillos into salsa and cantaloupe into juice.  With flavors and colors like those, summer isn’t over yet!

Summer Isn't Over Yet

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Smile!

The fact that I can get locally grown peanuts in New York City never ceases to amaze me.  I had to go without them last year because of an exceptionally wet spring.  But this year, fresh local peanuts are back in my farmers market, thanks to organic farmers Zaid and Haifa Kurdieh of Norwich Meadows Farm.  And that makes me SMILE!

SMILE!

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Eating Garbage

A couple of years ago I learned that 40 percent of the food in the United States goes uneaten — more than 20 pounds per person every month.  According to the NRDC, reducing that waste by just 15 percent could feed more than 25 million Americans every year, no small feat when one in six Americans is unsure of where their next meal is coming from.

With that in mind, I have challenged myself to eat what I may previously have tossed in the trash or composting buckets.  Beet greens now get sautéed, mushroom stems get turned into soup stock, and squash seeds get dried and toasted. 

A few weeks ago, as I was enjoying the first watermelon of the season, I recalled eating watermelon rind pickles as a child.  They came from the grocery store in tall, skinny glass bottles and, because they were expensive, they were a once or twice a year treat.  I loved them.

This resurrected memory prompted me to ask myself why I was throwing out the rind.  Why wasn’t I turning it into the beloved pickles of my childhood?  After trying a recipe sent to me by a friend, I know I’ll never make that mistake again.   Eating “garbage” can be indescribably delicious!

Eating Garbage

 

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Size Doesn’t Matter

New York and New Jersey farmers are seem to be geniuses when it comes to growing foods that one doesn’t associate with the northern half of the East Coast.  One of those foods is artichokes.  Native to the Mediterranean region and climate, most artichokes grown in the United States come from California.  The East Coast variety are much smaller than those grown on the West Coast, but they’re every bit as delicious.  In fact, because their chokes — the fuzzy, inedible part at the top of the heart — is underdeveloped, they’re far easier to clean and eat than their western cousins . . . proving once again, perhaps, that size doesn’t matter.

Tiny Artichoke

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Breakfast Outside the Box

Compared to much of the rest of the world, most Americans eat a fairly limited variety of breakfast foods.  Cold cereal or a bagel on weekdays, and eggs and bacon on the weekends, seem to be typical breakfast menus for most of us — if, that is, we bother to eat breakfast at all.

We recently found ourselves breaking our own breakfast rut by expanding our repertoire to include earthy truffled pecorino cheese, spicy capicola cured meat, and cured tomatoes, all from our friends Jody and Luisa Somers of Dancing Ewe Farm in upstate New York.  It was absolutely delicious, and we weren’t hungry again until dinner.

Of course, we kept the coffee on the menu.  It’s irreplaceable.

Breakfast Outside the Box

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Surprise!

I was away from home last week, working on the other side of the country.  When I returned, a visit to my farmers market was very near the top of my “To Do” list.  Once there, I found the summer produce season at its peak, and amaranth, corn, lemon cucumbers, sweet onions, green garlic, chilis of every variety, baby eggplant, carrots, zucchini, okra, edamame, sugar snap peas, English shell peas, cranberry beans, watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, cherries, blueberries, and countless varieties of tomatoes, all found their way into my cart.

I still have no idea what I will do with most of it, but I can hardly wait to find out.  I love a surprise!

Surprise!

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Jerusalem Peace Beans

One of the gifts I received this past holiday season was a copy of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s cookbook, “Jerusalem.”  Both Ottolenghi and Tamimi grew up in the city of Jerusalem, and, though Ottolenghi is Jewish and Tamimi is Arab, they became — in their own words — “close friends and then business partners.”

When string bean season started here in New York a couple weeks ago, I turned to Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s book for ideas.  There I found a wonderful recipe using a variety of string beans, garlic, onion, fresh herbs, cumin, and coriander seeds.  When tossed together, this hodgepodge of flavors create a beautiful and harmonious dish. 

With the conflict rearing its ugly head in Israel again, I can only dream that Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s friendship will become as inspirational  for the world as their cookbook has become for me.

Peace Beans

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A Thrilling Local Beer

Like a lot of cities, New York is home to many local craft breweries.  But only New York is home to the original Coney Island, a residential neighborhood in the borough of Brooklyn, which is known worldwide for its amusement parks dating back to the 1880s. 

For those fearless souls who find thrills in going higher and higher, faster and faster, and arounder and arounder, there are more rides than you can shake a sick stomach at.  The Cyclone, the Wonder Wheel, the Electro Spin, the Sling Shot, and the brand new Thunderbolt roller coaster are just a few.

For the rest of us, who prefer to simply walk the boardwalk, take in the views, and listen to the screams that somehow encompass both glee and terror, Coney Island offers its own craft beer, refreshingly named, Coney Island Beer.  And you can’t get more local than that.  Just looking at the colorful labels of Coney Island Brewing Company’s various brews helps brings to life the nineteenth century carnival atmosphere that’s still alive today.

Maybe I’ll buy you one this Fourth of July if I run into you on the midway . . . unless, that is, you’re one of those people high above the ground screaming.

Coney Island Brewing Co

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Ostrich Summer Sausage

While most of my father’s ancestors emigrated from Poland many decades before he was born, he still embraced some of the dietary customs his relatives had brought with them from their homeland.  Among them was a deep love of sausage, both hot and cold.  As a result, I grew up eating various types of fresh and smoked kielbasa, duck’s blood sausage, and — my favorite — a delicious pork summer sausage made in a Polish butcher shop near the Chicago neighborhood where my grandmother lived all of her life. 

Throughout my own adulthood, sausage has played only a minor role in my diet.  Nonetheless, when I recently spotted a rancher at my farmers market selling ostrich summer sausage, I couldn’t resist buying it.  I brought it home, sliced off a respectable chunk, and popped it in my mouth.  The memories of the countless, delicious summer sausages of my childhood came flooding back to me, and I wondered whether my Polish ancestors had ever had the opportunity to eat an ostrich.

Ostrich Summer Sausage

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Only the Biggest Ones

One summer morning, when I was about 10 years old, my mother  — before she left for work  — gave me instructions for the day.

“Keep an eye on your sister, and make her lunch,” she said hurriedly.  ”Oh, and I bought some blueberries last night; they’re in the refrigerator.  Please wash them so they’re ready for dessert tonight.  You can have a few, but don’t eat too many.”

Then off she went to her job, and off I went to my “work” washing the berries.  My sister, four years my junior, was soon on my heels, so I pulled a chair up to the sink and told her to help me.

“Can we eat some?” she asked.

“Mom said not to eat too many,” I replied. 

“Okay, let’s only eat the biggest ones,” came my little sister’s response.

So we ate only the biggest berries, happily discovering that other berries — which only moments earlier had not been big enough to eat — were now the new biggest ones in the bowl.  So we ate those, too.  

That evening, when my mother returned home from work to discover that we’d eaten all the blueberries, I defended myself and my sister by describing exactly how we’d eaten only the biggest ones.  It was an exasperatingly logical and convincing defense when I explained it just so, and my winning argument not only won us a reprieve from punishment, but it reinforced my newly burgeoning dream of becoming a lawyer. 

It was a long, long time, however, before I was again permitted to wash berries unsupervised.

Blueberry