June means Fathers Day, graduations and preparations for summer activities. By the this time of the year everyone is tired of cooking indoors and making the transition to outside. Whether you are using a fancy grill, an outdoor oven or even just over an open fire, cooking outdoors can be a great opportunity to enjoy fresh local ingredients while spending quality time with family and friends.
According to local farmers, this has been an ideal Northwest spring. The Executive Director of the Washington State Farmers Market Association, Karen Kinney, says farmers markets in the area are beginning to show the true glory of the season. “In the Puget Sound area,” Kinney says, the greens are really lovely this time of year. There are so many options to choose from. The mizuna, lettuce and baby bok choy are tender and flavorful now.”
According to John Eizuka, 21 Acres farm manager, even the wettest farms are producing. He says, “I’ve already noticed a sign of abundance looking at seedlings. They are growing much better than this time last year.”
This bounty gives the chef in your house a wealth of ingredients to explore new ideas that can be particularly delicious outside. For example, most people know that asparagus is good broiled in the oven with a little bit of sea salt and olive oil but place it in a grill pan and it gets that fantastic, smokey flavor. Many people however, have yet to experiment with smoking their own meats or making dessert outside. Trends show that grilled pizzas are becoming more popular as an outside alternative to hotdogs, hamburgers and steaks. It is not difficult to learn how to be creative cooking outside. 21 Acres upcoming class “Smoking Farm Raised Meats in the Wood-Fired Oven” on Saturday June 29 at 10:30 a.m. with Chef Emily Moore, brings together the adventurous combination of smoking meats with ingredients from the farm, fresh picked produce and a Northwest inspired pizza. More info at 21acres.org/school.
Students will be able to take advantage of the outdoor oven at 21 Acres, but the techniques and skills shared will apply to all types of outdoor cooking and grilling.
. Space fills quickly, class size is limited. Fee is $49, $39 for 21 Acres members.
21 Acres Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living is a comprehensive campus with a farm, school, commercial kitchen, market and green-built facility located at 13701 NE 171st Street, Woodinville, WA 98072. All the programming and services offered through 21 Acres focus on the areas of Growing,
Eating and Living. Click or call for more information; 21acres.org, 425-481-1500.
This class will focus on main courses, but if you’re inspired to try dessert outside, consider this easy recipe:
Outdoor Grilled Strawberries and Hazelnuts
Organic Powdered Sugar
Organic Whip Cream/Honey optional
Place chopped local raw hazelnuts in a grill pan (or use aluminum foil) to toast until lightly browned
Skewer local, organic strawberries
Dip skewered strawberries into powdered sugar and turn to coat
Grill over fire next to hazelnuts turning often to heat evenly
Place skewers strawberries on plate.
Serve, topped with local fresh whip cream or drizzle with honey, finished with a sprinkle of the hazelnuts.
Tip: Get the kids to make the whip cream while the strawberries and hazelnuts are on the grill. Place cream in a mason jar and shake until thickened; add vanilla and sugar (or honey) to taste.
The summer solstice brings additional hours to the 21 Acres Farm Market. Beginning June 19th, new market hours are Wed., Thurs. Fri., 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.