real food right now
Real Food Right Now and How to Cook it (#realfoodrightnow) is our weekly series on the ABCs and 123s of seasonal food.
Fresh apricots are delicate and sweet in season, and worlds apart from the popular leathery, dried apricots you find in stores all year. Bake these flavorful fruits into a sweat or savory dish, whip up some apricot jam or bite into a soft apricot at the farmers' market before their fleeting season passes us by.
There are a great number of species of prickly pear cactus, all of which are native to the Americas. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization explains that the cactus was probably first cultivated in Mesoamerica, and was of particular importance to the Aztec. Fossilized seeds and skins of the fruit over 7,000 years old have been found in Mexico!
When most Americans think of dill, pickles come to mind, but the herb was once prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans for its health benefits and magical properties. A staple in the cuisines of Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, North Africa and Russia, dill is actually an incredibly functional, versatile herb and one of the most nutrient dense, low-calorie foods you can eat.
It's amazing that the giant panda subsists on bamboo almost exclusively - bamboo is not very nutritious, at least not for us. When it comes to munching on this unique and fascinating grass (yes! grass!), it's all about texture and flavor, and knowing how to cook it.
Newsflash -- it's tea, not coffee, that is the world's most popular pick me up. In fact, after water, it's the most consumed beverage worldwide. And why wouldn't it be? Tea has deep cultural roots stretching back thousand years, much longer than coffee - and it was the world's first commodity, fueling fortunes and empires.
Sassafras is kind of a big deal. Without it the whole history of the US might have played out differently. Also, we wouldn't have root beer or filé gumbo. Depending on whom you ask, sassafras is either a folk remedy or a dangerous carcinogen. We'll leave you to decide: bad seed or beneficial buddy?
Vibrant (on the inside), juicy and perfectly scoop-able, the kiwi is just as delicious right off the vine as it is baked into a tart. But, did you know that this sweet fruit can be used to firm pie filling or tenderize meat? We didn't either! Read on to learn the history and uses of this fuzzy fruit.
Spring produce may not be the sexiest; juicy fruits like tomatoes, peaches and watermelons are still way down the road, but the end of winter calls for a strong dose of novelty, and luckily, spring has lots of that.
Whiskey: the water of life and sweet nectar of the gods. It's the stuff of mint juleps, the Wild West and classic cocktails. For something as American as apple pie, whiskey's roots reach back to Ireland and Scotland. Wait - is it whiskey or whisky? We'll get to the bottom of this intoxicating mystery!
Imagine a life without the tingly, peppery, uniquely lovely bite of ginger. No worries - just rejoice in the fact that this prized spice can now be found in every grocery store across the land!
Also known as cassava or tapioca, yuca is the fourth most important starch in the world, prepared in a wide variety of ways from South America to Asia. Fun fact: if you love bubble tea, you may have sucked up the powdered and pearled flesh of this woody root without even realizing it.
We may know that "pancake syrup" is the margarine of maple syrup: the cheap imitator, the industrial substitute. "Pure" syrup is as unadulterated a product as it gets, and is all-American, to boot. Its production is natural, but it requires many steps and much patience to produce, and it only happens once a year. Because maple syrup, you see, is not simply tree sap.
It's cold and snowy out. You haven't seen the sun for days. "Parks and Recreation" has ended. You know what that means? It's the perfect time to "Treat Yourself"! Here are a few relaxing suggestions to help you wash those winter blues away - sustainably.
Butter and lard, two of the most prevalent fats used cooking since the domestication of sheep, goats, cattle and pigs thousands of years ago, are unmatched in flavor and texture. It's actually super easy to make your own butter, and play around with lard for delicious results at home!
Three billion people rely upon rice as their staple food, and it is the primary source of one quarter of the world's per capita energy needs. Rice's captivating history is tied to ancient global trade routes and, eventually, to the slave trade. Read more about and learn how to cook this fascinating grain!
While you may agree with our Food Program director, who said Valentine's Day (the holiday responsible for the sale of 58 million pounds of chocolate) is "mostly a lamentable shakedown perpetuated to promote superfluous consumption," we also know you probably care a lot about chocolate. So here are the details.