It’s August, the kids have been home for two months now, and all you’re hearing is “I’m bored!” Tell the kids to put the video game controllers down; I have a solution! Check out the Buy Fresh Buy Local Farm Tour Treasure Map, available on our website: www.buylocalhamptonroads.org. This map of eight farms in Virginia Beach takes elementary-aged kids on a tour where they will sample a fresh, local product at each stop, and get a stamp on their map. After they’ve gotten four or more stamps, they get a free kid-sized ice cream cone at Gilly’s Creamery at the Virginia Beach Farmers Market.
What better way is there to introduce your kids to the Hampton Roads farming community than to get them to eat something fresh and healthy and kick boredom to the curb at the same time? Stamps can be collected over a longer period of time: you don’t have to hit up every farm in one day. The project does end on August 31, though, so start your treasure hunting as soon as you can.
So what will you be finding at local farms and what to make with them? Well, August in Hampton Roads is a time of plenty. Tomatoes, squash, zucchini, potatoes, cucumbers, onions, corn, and more are still available. You may even be able to score some late-season peaches and berries. Since we’re in the midst of corn season, the bean and corn salad recipe below is perfect for a late summer barbeque. Grilling the corn adds so much flavor, and zesty lime, jalapeno, and cilantro are a perfect pairing for sweet, creamy corn. People will be begging you for this recipe. I know this because I begged this recipe off a friend at a barbeque last month.
Finally, since summer must come to an end, let’s talk preservation. Now is the perfect time to be stocking up on all those great fruits and veggies and freezing, canning, jarring, or saucing them. My favorite thing to do with the end of season tomatoes is to make huge batches of tomato sauce, which I portion out into one-cup servings and freeze flat in zip lock bags. All winter long, I have access to the taste of fresh tomatoes, and this simple sauce can be used as the base for spaghetti or pizza sauce or can be used on its own. My recipe is spicy, but cut out the chili powder and red pepper if spicy isn’t your style.
To freeze veggies, simply blanch them for a few minutes, drain and dry them, and then freeze them, spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once they’re frozen, toss them into a large zip lock bag and store in the freezer; then pull out what you need when you need it. This method works best for snap beans, squashes, zucchini, and peas. You can also “flat freeze” and bag fresh blue and black berries, raspberries, peaches, and nectarines. Use them in cobblers, smoothies or cakes and muffins all year long. Lastly, it doesn’t take a pantry full of jarring devices to preserve my favorite summer snack: cucumbers. The recipe for refrigerator pickles just requires a few ingredients you probably already have on hand and a glass container. While these pickles won’t last you all winter, they will stay good in your fridge for up to a month. But don’t worry—they won’t last that long.
Pinto, Black, and Red Bean Salad with Grilled Corn and Avocado
1 cup halved heirloom or cherry tomatoes
1 tsp salt, divided
3 ears of shucked corn
1 medium white onion, cut into ¼’’ thick slices
1 jalapeno pepper
1 T. olive oil
1/3 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 (15oz) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15oz) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 diced, peeled avocados
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Place the tomatoes in a large bowl, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let stand 10 minutes. Brush corn, onion, and jalapeño evenly with oil. Place vegetables on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill corn for 12 minutes or until lightly charred, turning after 6 minutes. Grill onion slices and jalapeño 8 minutes or until lightly charred, turning after 4 minutes. Let vegetables stand 5 minutes.
Cut kernels from cobs. Coarsely chop onion. Finely chop jalapeño; discard stem. Add corn, onion, and jalapeño to tomato mixture; toss well. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, cilantro, and next 4 ingredients (through kidney beans) to corn mixture; toss well. Top with avocado.
David Bonom, Cooking Light, June 2012
Spicy Tomato Sauce
7 lbs of fresh medium-sized tomatoes
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ T. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp chili powder (optional)
1 tsp salt
1 T. minced onion
4 T. fresh oregano, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp sugar
Dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
• On the bottom of each tomato, make an X in the skin with a paring knife. Bring a pot of water to boil and drop each tomato into the water for 1-2 minutes until the skin at the X starts to peel. Take the tomatoes out of the water with a slotted spoon and let cool. Do this to all the tomatoes.
• Peel the skin off each tomato, starting with the skin at the X. Roughly cut all the tomatoes and drop them into a large stock pot.
• Put the stockpot over low heat; combine the tomatoes with the rest of the ingredients. Let simmer 1-2 hours. Let cool, then portion out into Tupperware or zip lock bags and freeze. For a smoother sauce, use a stick blender and blend the sauce in the stock pot after it has cooled, or portion the sauce out into a blender and blend in batches.
6 cups thinly sliced pickling cucumbers (about 2 lbs)
2 cups thinly sliced onion
1 ½ cups white vinegar
½ cup sugar
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp celery seeds
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp crushed red pepper
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Place 3 cups cucumber in a medium glass bowl; top with 1 cup onion. Repeat procedure with the remaining 3 cups cucumber and remaining 1 cup onion. Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan; stir well. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute. Pour over cucumber mixture; let cool. Cover and chill at least 4 days.
Note: these can also be assembled in several large mason jars
Kathleen Kanen, Cooking Light, August 2007
Rachel Burns is the owner at The Content Chop Shop, a small shop providing content marketing services to small businesses, designers and nonprofits. She is also the co-owner of Burn Both Ends, which develops and presents educational opportunities and resources for small businesses looking to grow. She is a local to Hampton Roads and a vocal spokesperson for all its myriad advantages, her favorites of which is the Atlantic Ocean. She has been published in The Virginian Pilot, Tidewater Women, and AltDaily, among others. She lives in the Hickory section of Chesapeake with her husband, two pugs and several feral cats.