Friday, August 28, 2009

Peach Time in the Garden State

If it's August in South Jersey, it's peach time. My cousins family used to own peach and apple orchards in Mullica Hill. Though those orchards are now sprawling homes the memory of delightful bushels of sweet, fragrant peaches linger on. Peach pie is probably my favorite but cobblers, muffins, jam and ice-cream are much enjoyed too.
Peach recipes abound, but here is a simple not-too-sweet cobbler that just beckons for a scoop of vanilla ice-cream and someone special to share it with.

1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs. cornstarch
4 cups peeled peach slices
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup flour
1 Tbs sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. butter, softened
1/2 cup milk

Heat oven to 400.
Blend 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Stir in peaches and lemon juice. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute. Pour into ungreased 2-qt casserole. Keep fruit mixture hot in oven while preparing biscuit topping.

Measure flour, 1 Tbs. sugar, baking powder and salt into bowl. Add butter and cut through with knives. Add milk and stir just until moistened. Drop by spoonfuls onto hot fruit.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream.

A few Facts about NJ Agriculture
* New Jersey produces five major fruit berry crops. They are apples, blueberries,
cranberries, peaches and strawberries.

* New Jersey ranks 2nd in the nation in blueberry production growing 38 million pounds of berries each year.

*The state is also 3rd in the nation in cranberry production
and 4th in peach production.

*Gloucester County grew 36 million pounds of peaches in 2000. This was 55% of all the peaches grown in the state.

*New Jersey farmers planted 3,600 acres of bell peppers in 2000 and are ranked 3rd in the nation for the production of the vegetable.

*New Jersey also grows potatoes, peaches, tomatoes, corn, hay, and soybeans.

*New Jersey has 832,600 acres in farmland.

*The average size farm is 91 acres.

*The market value of agricultural products sold in the state in 2001 was $697,380,000.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Boardwalk Sketch for Show & Tell Friday

I vividly remember sitting still as the warm evening sea breezes filled the open shop on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. I remember the sound of feet strolling along the boards and the smells that waif from the eateries. An artist worked at his easel, his eyes darting back and forth from me to his paper and his hands moving rapidly with his chalk. Sitting there for what seemed like a very long time for a five year old was not nearly as uncomfortable as what I could feel and see out of the corner of my eye. An ever growing group of people were gathering to watch this man bring life to a blank page with an image of me. The shop became crowded and I was anxious to be finished.

Louis Levine completed his sketch and the crowd acknowledged his talent. And I was ready for cotton candy, still wondering what all the fuss was about.
My mom was so pleased with my sketch that she took my brother to the same shop a few nights later. Levine was not working that night and my brothers sketch did not bear the same strong resemblance as mine did.

Excerpt from an article titled:

Great American Artist Almost Forgotten

Louis Levine was Boardwalk-bred, Depression-tested

By Eric Shumsky

STRIKING COLORIST: This painting by artist Louis Levine hints at the lively interaction of color and form that some have compared to Gauguin. (Oscar Shumsky)
Atlantic City bathers would call, “Hey, little boy, do our family portrait right here.” In just a few minutes, young Louis Levine, painting directly on the beach, would bring forth amazing renditions.

The happy recipients would marvel at his magic and hand him a penny, maybe even a nickel. But the vivid painting would soon disappear—much as our memory of the great artist Louis Levine has.

Louis Levine would eventually graduate from the Philadelphia Art Institute, become admired by gifted American painters like Ben Stahl, and establish himself as the world’s Fastest Sketch Artist. But when he painted in the sand as a boy, he did so because he needed those pennies and nickels.

Born in 1915 in Philadelphia, Louis was the beloved son of a very poor Russian immigrant family. They had barely enough to eat. His younger sister was mentally ill. His mother was forever grieved by her past in pogrom-infested Russia.

Yet Levine had gifts: a huge personality, a handsome face, and a phenomenal talent for making sketches of anything at hand.

Over time, Levine moved up from the beach (directly below the boardwalk) to the famous Atlantic City boardwalk. People were amazed by the young man’s prowess with the pencil, brush, or pastels. Prices for sketches moving steadily higher—10 to 20 cents a sketch now for paintings that did not disappear!

He became an attraction in Atlantic City, in that quasi-carnival setting with its share of curiosity seekers and con artists. The Levine family had now found roots and support.

to read the article in its entirety follow this link.

Show and Tell
Visit Kelli for more Show and Tell Friday by clicking on the above button.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summer Harvest ~ Eggplant Parmesan Light

Satisfying and delicious and made from produce fresh from the garden. This recipe was featured in our local newspaper last year and is very good.beginning with beautiful eggplant...
gathering the other ingredients...
lightly oiling the baking sheet...
combining the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt and pepper...
1/2-inch eggplant slices...
dipped in egg and breadcrumb mixture and ready for the oven...
basil stirred into the marinara...
1/2 cup marinara sauce on bottom of prepared baking dish...
baked until golden and tender...
layering in baking dish...
back into the oven...

ready to enjoy!

An eggplant Parmesan your waistline will love


A healthier eggplant Parmesan really is possible.

It may seem dubious. After all, this Sicilian comfort dish traditionally is made with breaded eggplant that's fried in a lot of oil, then smothered in a blend of mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and tomato sauce.

But by using a healthy oven "frying" technique and making a few other modifications, you can make an eggplant Parmesan that's rich with flavor without using any oil at all.

In this lighter version of the classic, instead of being fried in oil, eggplant slices are dipped in egg whites and coated with a breadcrumb-cheese mixture before being baked until they are golden and tender.

Next, part-skim mozzarella cheese is used in place of whole milk mozzarella and the overall amount of cheese is reduced from about a pound to about 4 ounces.

The amount of the Parmesan cheese is cut as well, by about half. Make sure to use a high-quality cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano. It costs more, but its flavor is incomparable, so you'll get the most bang for your buck (and calories).

Remember, fat equals flavor, so when you're making lighter versions of a dish you'll want to make sure all of your ingredients taste as good as possible.

This recipe calls for jarred marinara, but using homemade only improves the results.

Eggplant Parmesan Light is melt-in-your mouth good with about a tenth of the fat of the original. To complete the meal, add a green salad simply dressed with extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar, plus a piece of crusty Italian bread.

Eggplant Parmesan Light

Start to finish: 1 hour 25 minutes (55 minutes active)

Servings: 6

2 eggplants (about 2 pounds total)

3 large egg whites

3 tablespoons water

1 cup plain fine dry bread crumbs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided (1 ounce)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 1/2 cups prepared marinara sauce

1/3 cup slivered fresh basil leavers or 1 tablespoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 cup grated part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided (4 ounces)

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly oil two large baking sheets and a 7-by-11-inch baking dish. Set aside.

2. Slice the eggplants crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. There is no need to peel them. Set aside.

3. In a bowl, whisk the egg whites and water until frothy. Set aside.

4. In a shallow dish, combine the breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

5. One at a time, dip the eggplant slices into the egg-white mixture, then coat both sides with the breadcrumbs. Arrange the slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and very tender when pierced with a knife.

6. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the marinara, basil and red pepper flakes. Spread about 1/2 cup of the sauce over the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

7. When the eggplant are done, arrange half of the slices over the sauce, overlapping them slightly. Spoon 1 cup of the remaining sauce over the eggplant, then top with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella.

8. Arrange the remaining eggplant slices on top, pressing them down into an even layer. Top with the remaining sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Bake, uncovered, until the sauce bubbles and the top is browned, 25 to 30 minutes.

Nutrition information per serving: 291 calories; 11 g fat (4 g saturated); 14 mg cholesterol; 38 g carbohydrate; 13 g protein; 4 g fiber; 862 mg sodium.


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