This series on Farm to Table posts with McCormick Gourmet Spices (last month we chatted about our favorite gardening tips and this awesome tomato gratin) has been so much fun for us to do as it’s how we live in our own home, so it’s so fun to share our passion. This month we are really getting into my family history with fried potatoes and 5 tips for using produce.
These potatoes are really simple and all about using what you have on hand all winter versus buying expensive, out of season produce at the store. My grandpa served in World War II while my grandma held down things back home. Both were from Idaho and we all know what Idaho grows a lot of, potatoes! Well they were clearly a staple that were kept in cellars to eat all winter long, but they have taken on a little more meaning for my family. Grandpa was honored for the work he did in the Czech Republic after he had passed and Grandma went and learned how to make these potatoes there. They are simple, fried potatoes with smoked paprika and salt and pepper, though occasionally we throw a little garlic powder in there as well. Now whenever we make them we think them and our history.
But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. My parents either grew up on and worked on a farm growing up and their parents both came from farming so using produce properly has been taught to every generation. It’s something people don’t know a lot about of now because the grocery stores ship so much in but we believe that every adult should know about the food they eat so here are our top 5 tips that will keep your grocery bill down and help you support your locals!
1. Find out what’s in season~
Well that seems like a no brainer doesn’t it! Except, most people have no idea when things are in season. In fact, I bet most would be surprised to learn that depending on where they live they could just be harvesting peaches while other states have been done for months (Arizona versus Utah for example). Knowing what’s in season will help you to be better prepared to shop smart and plan out better dinners.
2. Freeze it~
In case you have missed it, we are big believers in freezing produce. Check out our freezing corn and fruit posts. Freezing seasonal produce is awesome because it traps in the flavor and texture much more than canning, it’s faster and easier and it helps us to make our produce last longer. We don’t just want tomatoes in August or September, we want roasted tomato soup all year long!
3. Store produce properly~
The trickiest part about using in season produce can be to avoid wasting it. Raise your hand if you’ve had broccoli go bad and stink up the fridge, or tomatoes go wilty before you’ve had even one! Winter months are harder on your produce so you need to be smart. Even if you’re getting your produce from a csa you can still look to a good grocery store for proper storage. If it’s being chilled at the store you should do the same thing. Potatoes want to be dry and cool while lettuce likes to be chilled etc. For example, lettuces, carrots, and zucchini like that chilled box in the fridge, whereas onions, acorn squash, and apples prefer to be in darker, dry places.
4. Summer is to grilling as Winter is to Roasting~
Winter doesn’t mean you have to steam everything just because it’s snowing outside. Bust out the cookie sheet and roast away. Roasting your seasonal produce is a fantastic way to bring out flavor and break down the veggies so they are soft and delicious to eat. Practically everything agrees with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Even tomatoes roasted are fabulous!
5. Smell the produce with spices~
Yes, your neighbor would think you weird if they walked in on you sniffing thins, but as you’re roasting your acorn squash, open the door and then grab some seasonings like, Saigon Cinnamon and smell it with the food. If it smells good together it will probably taste good together. For example, brussel sprouts and cayenne, or saigon cinnamon with that squash and a little brown sugar, or carrots and ginger! The possibilities are endless which is why we are big fans of leaving off the goopy sauces and instead bringing out the natural flavors of the produce in roasting and pairing with a McCormick spice. With more than 130 premium herbs, spices and blends, McCormick’s Gourmet line includes everything from ancho chile and smoked paprika to Thai red curry blend and Chinese 5 spice so trust me, you have got options!