Carrots, Eggs, or Coffee; “Which are you?”

[This beautiful story has been circulating on Facebook. Unfortunately we cannot trace who wrote such a touching and insightful piece. Nevertheless, we are sharing it to those of who have not read it yet.]  Thanks to Reiza Panes for the FB share.

Grandmother Says… Carrots, Eggs, or Coffee; “Which are you?”

A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, “Tell me what do you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft.She then asked her to take an egg and break it.

After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked. “What’s the point,grandmother?”

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity–boiling water–but each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter.

“When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Think of this: Which am I?

Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff?

Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level?


4 Questions You Should Never Ask at Farmers Market

Reblogged from: Smith Meadows | By on April 10, 2013

Forrest Pritchard  Forrest has been farming professionally since 1996. His book Gaining Ground: A Story Of Farmers Markets, Local Food & Saving The Family Farm will be published by Lyons Press in Spring 2013. Click HERE to order.

I’ve spent over 1,000 Saturdays and Sundays selling at farmers markets, and even after all this time I still love to answer questions. Farmers markets are one of the few places where customers can directly connect with their food, meeting face-to-face with the people who grew it. Questions are expected at market, and even encouraged. From livestock breeds to production practices, organic certification to chemical usage, I’ve been asked just about every food-related question under the sun.

Though most farmers will happily answer all inquiries, there are a handful of questions that make even the friendliest farmers want to choke a carrot. If you don’t want your farmer to turn three shades of beet red, here’s the reasoning behind 4 questions every customer should avoid.

1) Was this picked fresh this morning?

So what’s wrong with this question… you just want to know if it’s fresh, right? That’s totally understandable. But let’s take a moment to think about how a farm really works.

Imagine market has just opened, and it’s 8 a.m. For the last hour and a half, the farmer has been setting up his booth. Before that, he drove two hours to get to market. Sometime earlier he brushed his teeth, make a pot of coffee, and—with any luck at all—put on his pants. At what point this morning would he have had time to pick 20 bushels of tomatoes, 100 pints of blueberries, or gather 50 dozen eggs?

Truckloads of fresh food don’t magically load themselves in fifteen minutes. It takes many hands many hours to pick basketfuls of green beans or apples. This doesn’t even count moving the harvest from the field to the packing shed, or loading it onto the truck itself.

So when should the harvesting happen… at 2 a.m.? I’m picturing a bleary-eyed farmer with a headlamp, picking corn with one hand and drinking coffee with the other. As Rachel Bynum of Waterpenny Vegetable Farm explained to me, most market produce is picked a day or so before (depending on the fruit or vegetable), then loaded onto the truck in the cool of the evening before market day.

If you want it any fresher than that, you’re probably going have to grow it yourself. In the meantime, let those farmers get a good night’s sleep! Which leads me to my next question…

2) What time do you get up?

This one’s a classic, something I’ve been asked hundreds of times. Farmers are famous for being early risers, so it’s understandable if people are curious about a specific hour. So why add this question to my list? Because—as I’ve learned from years of experience—there’s never a satisfactory answer.

For instance, if I say, “Oh, about 6 o’clock,” the questioner’s face turns thoughtful for a moment. “That seems kind of late, doesn’t it? I mean, I get up at 5:45 myself.” If I say “A little before 3,” their eyes go suddenly wide. “Why do you have to get up so early? To milk the cows or something?”

One day, I realized there’s only one correct answer for this question: 4:30 on the dot. Not too late, and not too early. Not too lazy, and not too crazy. 4:30 a.m. is the Goldilocks of responses.

So in case you were wondering, all farmers—everywhere—get up at precisely 4:30 (although I sometimes hit the snooze button on my rooster). Any more questions?

3) I know you’re not open yet, but I’m in a hurry… could you sell me something before the bell?

Hello, Starbucks? Sorry to call so early, but your door is locked and I really need a latte. Could you open up early just for me? I’m in such a rush, and it’ll only take a second!

Where else in the world could someone get away with this question? Despite how it might appear at first glance, it takes farmers a long time to set up their booth each morning. Trucks must be unloaded, tents erected and produce arranged. If farmers opened early for even one person (and I’m talking to you, Latte Lady), they’d never be ready for the opening bell of market. Which is a perfect segue to my last question…

Order Forrest’s Book now.

farmer book

4) Since it’s the end of market, can I get a special deal on what you’ve got left?

This one’s a little trickier. I once asked my friend John Hyde, a baker for 25 years, what he thought about discounting leftovers at the end of market. His face lost all expression as he gave me this advice: “Forrest, that path leads to madness.”

He elaborated. “If we gave discounts at the end, then people would simply wait till the last ten minutes of market to shop. And what about the loyal customers who paid the normal price? They’d be insulted to learn they got charged more for showing up on time. It’s always better to donate it to a food bank than to discount things at the closing bell.”

Markets must never become or GroupOn, where last-minute deals and discounts are the norm. In order to stay in business year after year, farmers must get the price they ask for. Discounting at the end of market might seem harmless and even logical, but it’s an unsustainable practice for the farmers themselves.

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Farmers markets are a place where customers should expect to have all of their food questions answered. But just like anyone else, we farmers get a little grouchy from time to time (it’s probably because we get up at 4:30). So bring your shopping list, your cloth bag and your farming questions, but leave these four at home. You’ll be a ‘market insider,’ and your local producer will love you for it.



Coffee talk: 4 amazing iced coffee drinks

Iced coffee drinks: Thai Iced Coffee

With temperatures reaching 80 degrees in New York City in April, it’s officially time to make the switch from hot coffee to iced. I’ve got to be honest, though, in the legendary words of Coffee Talk” host Linda Richman, bidding farewell to my warm morning cup of joe makes me a little verklempt.

(Talk amongst yourselves.)
Thankfully, I’ve found 4 delicious iced coffee recipes will help us make a yummy transition to spring.
Thai Iced Coffee (at top): sound fancy? Please. Our good friend Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen makes it no big whoop to make. Her exotic recipe calls for coffee, cream, sugar, cardamom and almond extract. Combine, drink, repeat.
Iced coffee drinks: Magical Coffee
The masterminds at Food52 selected this Magical Coffee recipe to be included in the first Food52 cookbook. They also say that you take a sip and “die of happiness.” All it takes is great coffee, cinnamon and brown sugar.
Iced coffee drinks: Coconut Cowboy Coffee
Combine coffee, coconut milk and chocolate syrup to make this Coconut Cowboy Coffee from lovely food blog Kumquat. Pour over ice and it’s (put on your best NY accent) to die for!
Iced coffee drinks: Mexican Iced Coffee
If you’ve got your own magic iced coffee recipe, by all means, take it away. Just do me one favor: start with cold brewed coffee. It’s less acidic than coffee prepared other ways and stays clear of the bitterness. Learn how with this cold brew coffee tutorial at Simple Bites. Thank me later.

So go ahead and make your own iced coffee goodness because, well, at that big coffee chain you get neither stars nor bucks. Discuss. -Stacie


Reblog from: Coolmompicks


Cooking for Spring in Green and White

There’s this period somewhere between winter and spring: the sun is out, weather is getting warmer, tulips are shyly showing their first leaves, but mounds of snow are still melting slowly. You feel for lighter, fresher food but can’t let go of comfort dishes yet.

With spring coming more than a month early in Quebec, some of my friends are already barbecuing away. Mine is still hidden in the shed so I turned to ethnic foods, dishes with flavors infused by the sun.

One of my favorite go-to snack foods is hummus. I have bought too many containers of this creamy dip to count, gradually personalizing it by adding a bit of lemon zest, a dash of spicy olive oil – until my parents gave me a shiny new food processor (I had managed everything with a hand mixer until then) and I figured I could whip up my own.

The first quality of a successful homemade hummus is its creaminess. After researching a while to find out how to achieve this, I discovered two steps are essential: peeling the chick peas and emulsifying the tahini with the lemon juice before adding the rest of the ingredients (more about this last tip in the recipe below). Peeling the chick peas? Yes, I admit I hadn’t noticed preserved chick peas are all wrapped in a very thin translucent peel that’s in fact easy to remove. I read about this a bit doubtfully, opened a can, and lightly squeezed a chick pea between my fingers: it slipped right out of its peel. When you peel one, you think – how is this making a difference? But when you see the mountain of empty skins after you’ve removed them all, you understand that it can really just help to avoid a grainy hummus.

Let me be clear: you can just pour your chickpeas out of the can and into your food processor (after rinsing them of course), it will still be pretty creamy. But really, it only takes a few minutes to remove the skins and it makes a big difference. Try it once and you can tell me about it afterwards.

So my hummus would be our appetizer, and for the main course, I flipped through my saved to-try recipes and found one which not only fitted my green and white spring color scheme, but was a twist on a Mexican classic: a White Turkey Chili. A chili is a pretty heavy and flavorful dish I love to devour in the heart of winter (a bit ironic considering the Mexicans created this recipe without ever seeing any snow falling from the sky), so this “lightened up” version would be a perfect way to end our first 20 degrees spring day (that’s about 68°F, not bad huh?).

I saved the original recipe from Everyday Food magazine and adapted it to our tastes: swapped chicken for turkey, added a bit of spice and a lot of lime. We ate it with oven-baked scoop-shaped tortillas and a refreshing white beer. Delicious and sunny indeed!

The Creamiest Hummus

Makes about 3.5 cups

1 19-oz can (about 2.5 cups) of organic chickpeas, skins removed
1/3 cup organic tahini
Juice from 2 lemons
2 tbsp water
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp freshly ground white pepper (or black pepper)
1 or 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
More water to taste

To serve:
More olive oil
Roughly chopped rocket leaves or flat-leaf parsley
Black pepper
A sprinkling of fleur de sel
Home made pita chips, sliced veggies

Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Peel the skins off by lightly squeezing the chickpeas between your fingers – it’s really easy. Discard the skins.

Combine the tahini, lemon juice and first 2 tablespoons of water in your food processor. This will emulsify (or cream) your tahini, making it smoother and lighter. This is one of the key secrets to a creamy hummus, you have to blend these ingredients together very well before adding anything else. Add the garlic, salt, cumin and white pepper and give it a couple more pulses.

Add in the chickpeas 1/3 at a time and blend well between each addition. Scrape down the sides of your bowl as needed. Once all the chickpeas are blended in, add the olive oil and let it run for a few minutes. At first your hummus will seem grainy but it’ll get right. Add in a little water until you reach your favorite consistency.

Once I get my big batch of hummus done, I put it in an airtight container and when we eat it, I take out just the amount I need and season it a bit more. My favorite thing is to add a small bunch of chopped rocket leaves – I know this is not traditional and maybe a bit weird but the peppery rocket leaves really add an interesting depth to the hummus. I pour some really good extra-virgin olive oil (the one you keep for special occasions) on top and freshen the flavor by sprinkling freshly ground black pepper and a bit of fleur de sel.

Serve with pita chips, oven-baked chips, pretzels, chopped vegetables with celery or zucchini, or even big green olives. Drink with a refreshing New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a locally brewed white beer.


This is a reblog from Food Noveau by Marie Asselin