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Archive for the ‘The Cook's Garden’ Category

 

ENJOY CAROLINA TOMATOES!

 

The first annual PALMETTO TASTY TOMATO FESTIVAL will debut in the capital city on Sunday evening, August 8, 2010, from 6PM to 9PM. Continue reading for all the juicy details……..

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Columbia farmers' market tomatoes

 

Fresh vegetables are the jewels of summer. Farmers’ markets are usually the best place to find colorful vine-ripened tomatoes and the sweetest corn. I found  the beautiful produce in these photos at Sandhill Farmers’ Market off Clemson Road across from Village at Sandhill.  I used them to make the recipes in this post including the Corn Fritters and Corn & Tomato Bake. Stop by your local  farmers’ market and pick up the some of best produce you will ever taste. 

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 THE HARVEST

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The first plump, red tomato picked from our first-ever, annual country garden was a time of celebration and fresh tomato sandwiches. By August, we were drowning in tomatoes.  My husband took up gardening as a serious hobby this summer, and the results, while still in the trial-and-error stage, have been nothing short of spectacular.  In spite of a hoard of pesky critters and garden wars,  the project  has yielded enough produce to feed half the neighborhood.

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Harmony Hills Farm Blueberries

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Blueberries are one of the three fruits native to North America.  The other two are cranberries and Concord grapes.  Botanists estimate that blueberries have been around for more than 13,000 years. The early native Americans dried blueberries in the sun for food.  They introduced the Pilgrims to the delicious berry, which helped them survive those first harsh winters in America. Blueberries were first cultivated in the early 20th century. Peak blueberry season is mid-June to mid-August. The earliest harvest is in the Southern states.

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Basil in the GardenSweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a tender, annual herb that captures the essence of a long, hot summer.  A member of the mint family, basil has a distinctive spicy flavor with overtones  of anise (a bit like licorice) and cloves.  It is one of the most popular culinary herbs and one of the easiest to grow.

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Whimsical garden chair 

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On Saturday, April 26th, the Richland County Master Gardeners held their annual plant sale at the Sparkleberry County Fair at Sandhill Research and Educational Center. The huge assortment of annuals, perennials, herbs, vines, shrubs and trees were grown and gathered by the Master Gardeners for the event.

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The Sparkleberry County Fair was formed 13 years ago at the Research and Educational Center and grew out of the former Scrub Oak Festival of the early 80’s.  The mission of the fair has been to foster a sense of community in the growing Northeast area and to raise money to help area students with scholarships and grants.

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Last week several friends came to lunch to help celebrate the arrival of spring. One dish that I served was a colorful Sugar Pea and Shrimp Salad with Creamy Strawberry Vinaigrette. It is a favorite recipe, plucked from a cookbook I wrote called, Fondues & Hot Pots  (Penguin Putnam Books). 

 Sugar Pea and Shrimp Salad

In the book, I recommend this salad as a refreshing side dish for various types of broth-based fondues such as Chicken and Tortellini Fondue. Or Fondue Bourguignonne, a hearty dish which features fondue ingredients cooked in hot oil. The salad is equally delicious with other kinds of entrees.

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