Peaches

native to: northwest China
in season here: July-August
DSCF1929_700
Peaches are a member of the stone fruit family, related to cherries, apricots, plums, and nectarines. While they come in colors from nearly white to deep orange, they’re not divided by color; they’re categorized as clingstone (“clings”) or freestone. The first peaches to ripen are usually clings, and everyone’s so happy to see them they don’t care about having to gnaw the flesh from the firmly-attached pit. Some apparently prefer clings for canning, but everyone I know waits for the easier freestone varieties.

Peaches are first mentioned in Chinese writings of the 10th century. Chinese culture regards the peach tree as the tree of life and peaches symbolize immortality and unity. China is still the largest peach producer in the world, followed by Italy, California, and Georgia.

Stone fruits such as peaches have anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce LDL cholesterol. They’re an excellent source of vitamins A, C, E, K, and six kinds of B vitamin, as well as beta-carotene and fiber. They’re good for the skin and the digestion, and can even help your blood sugar levels. They also have a fair amount of potassium, which supports the heart and kidneys, and other minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. On top of that, fruits in general are good for the eyes.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for raw peaches
label-style nutrition information for canned peaches in light syrup
Medical News Today
Medical Daily

Index to all blog posts.

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Gingered pork and peaches

1 lb. pork tenderloin (or pork stir-fry meat)
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. finely chopped ginger, or 1 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. corn starch.
pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, or 1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup slivered almonds (optional)
3 medium peaches, pared and sliced, or 16 oz. frozen peaches, thawed & drained, or a can of sliced peaches, drained
6 green onions cut into 1-inch pieces (optional)
cooked rice or noodles for serving

Trim fat from tenderloin and cut thinly across grain as for stir-fry. Cut any large slices in half. In a skillet or wok, mix soy sauce, ginger, cornstarch, pepper, and garlic. If not using a non-stick pan, you may want to add a little oil as well. Add pork and almonds and toss to coat. Turn on heat and stir-fry until pork is done, 6-8 minutes. It will probably look a little dry at this point. Add peaches and stir-fry for another few minutes until peaches are hot. Garnish with onions and serve over rice or wide egg noodles.

Makes two dinners and a lunch, or one dinner and three lunches (about 4 cups)

Source unknown.

Index to all blog posts.

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Gingerbread Waffles with Peach Sauce

2 cups buttermilk baking mix, such as Bisquick
1 cup milk
1 egg (chicken or duck)
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

peach sauce (recipes below)

Combine all ingredients. Pour 1/2 cup of batter in preheated waffle iron and cook. Repeat with remaining batter. The finished waffles will be cake-like rather than crisp. Do not overcook, they will burn. Top with peach sauce. Makes about 6 waffles

Source unknown.

Peach sauces:

— Peach sauce from canned peaches
The original recipe used this recipe, which is a good version to use in the winter.

16 oz. can sliced peaches in heavy syrup
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Drain liquid from peaches into a saucepan. Stir in cornstarch mixed with lemon juice. Heat on medium until mixture thickens. Cut peach slices into pieces and add to sauce.

Source still unknown.

— Peach sauce from fresh peaches
‘Cause if you’ve got fresh peaches, you might as well use them.

4 fresh peaches, washed, pitted, and sliced
1/4 cup lemon juice (juice of about 2 lemons)
3 cups sugar
1 cup boiling water

In a microwave:
Place peaches in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add lemon juice and sugar; do not stir. Cover very tightly with plastic wrap (wrap all the way around the bowl to seal in the steam). Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Remove from microwave and remove plastic, being careful of the steam. Stir well. Re-cover and repeat until all sugar has dissolved. Whisk in boiling water and pour over waffles.

On the stove:
Place peaches, lemon juice, and water in a saucepan. Add sugar; do not stir. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover and cook at a low simmer for 30 minutes. Do not stir while cooking, as this will break up the peaches. Remove from heat and pour over waffles.

Adapted from The Peach Truck

Index to all blog posts.

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Quail eggs

DSCF1911_700
Quail eggs, ounce for ounce, are slightly higher than chicken eggs in fats, proteins, B vitamins, and other nutrients, probably because the yolks are proportionally larger (much like duck eggs, in fact, which makes me wonder if chicken eggs have small yolks, as eggs go). They’re also less likely to trigger allergies, and the ovomucoid protein in them even helps fight allergy symptoms (the usual cautions apply, of course). They’re also said to fight stomach ulcers, support the immune system, stabilize the nervous system, and remove toxins and heavy metals. They also have anti-inflammatory qualities.

Quail eggs can be used just like chicken eggs, although you’ll want 5-6 of them per egg in recipes. Most commonly they’re boiled, though, because the whole point of quail eggs is that they’re cute little things. Some claim they taste the same, others find them to have a richer, fuller flavor. In Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, a hard-boiled quail egg is a common garnish for hot dogs and hamburgers, often attached with a toothpick. Philippine street vendors offer soft-boiled eggs battered and deep-fried. Elsewhere in Asia, plain hard-boiled quail eggs appear as snacks. In the U.S., deviled quail eggs seem to be the way to startle dinner guests, although individual fried or coddled eggs are also a novelty and they pickle well. They also show up raw in sushi bars, with some sources claiming they’re safer to eat raw than chicken eggs.

For soft-boiled quail eggs, cook them 2 1/2 minutes; for hard-boiled, 4-5 minutes.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for raw quail eggs
Living Healthy
Live Strong

Index to all blog posts.

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Peas

native to: central Asia and the Middle East
in season here: July, with a possible second crop in the fall
DSCF1904_700
Botanically speaking, peas are a fruit. Green peas, also called shelling peas, garden peas, or English peas, are the immature seed of dried peas, also called field peas and most often seen as split peas. Dried peas have been around for at least 5000 years, but fresh green peas didn’t come into vogue until the 16th century. Edible pod peas, often divided into snow peas (with a flat pod and very small peas) and snap peas (similar in appearance to shelling peas, being a cross between snow and shelling peas), are a more recent development. Snow peas were developed in Holland in the 16th century; snap peas were developed in 1979. All are varieties of Pisum sativum and members of the Fabaceae or pulse family, related to garbanzos, lentils, and beans.

They’re best fresh, especially since commercial processing of peas involves immersing them in a salt brine to separate the younger, sweeter peas from the older, starchier ones. Also, canned peas are preserved in a sugar solution, instead of the salt brine most canned vegetables get. The natural sugars in peas convert to starch fairly readily, so even frozen or canned peas should be used soon and fresh peas should be eaten as soon after picking as possible.

Peas are also environmentally friendly. They’re nitrogen fixers, converting nitrogen gas to natural fertilizers, and the plants break down readily, moving that fertilizer into the soil. They’re also drought-tolerant and their shallow roots help prevent erosion.

Peas are high in protein, fiber, anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatories, B-complex vitamins, vitamins C, E, and K, zinc, omega-3s, carotenoids, and niacin. They’re good for the eyes and can help lower the bad kind of cholesterol, improve heart health, reverse insulin resistance, support the immune system, and prevent constipation, osteoporosis, wrinkles, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, bronchitis, and stomach cancer.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for raw green peas
label-style nutrition information for raw snap and snow peas
World’s Healthiest Foods
Healthy Eating
Pea Shoots

Index to all blog posts.

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Angelica (Angelica archangelica)

  • Biennial plant (though may live up to 3 years if not allowed to flower).
  • Semi-shade plant that grows 5-6 feet tall and produces gorgeous yellow/green pom pom clusters of flowers in a round head.
  • Historically used as a confectionery plant. The seeds and hollow stems were used in baking since the 10th century in Europe. The stems were candied and sometimes made into a jelly. Benedictine monks used the plant in their wines and liqueurs, most notably Chartreuse.
  • Medicinally, the plant was historically used as a digestive and in respiratory concoctions.
  • The fragrant root used to be used by hunters and fishermen to attract their prey.

Candied Angelica Stalks

2 cups angelica roots and young stems
1/2 cup salt
2 cups boiling water
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Place angelica in a bowl and cover with the salt and boiling water. Let sit about 24 hours. Drain, peel, and wash in cold water.

Cook the sugar in the water to 238 degrees F. Add angelica and lemon juice, and cook 20 minutes. Drain angelica and put syrup aside.

Place angelica on a rack in cool, dark place for 4 days and refrigerate the syrup. Then combine the syrup and roots and cook to 238 degrees F 20 minutes or until candied. Drain on a rack until thoroughly dry. Store in a tightly covered container. (from “Herbs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia” by Kathi Keville)

Post by Colleen Gondolfi of The Blooming Artichoke Herbary.
———————————————————–

Index to all blog posts.

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Easy Creamy Peas

2 cups fresh green peas
1/4 cup light tahini
1/4-1/2 cup water, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Steam peas about 10 minutes, until tender. Mix tahini with enough water to make a thick sauce and mix with peas. Adjust seasonings.

Adapted from Real Food for Life

Index to all blog posts.

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.