Jan Norris: Food and Florida

Food, Restaurants, Recipes and Pre-Disney Florida

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Florida Food & Farm – My New Venture

March 17th, 2015 · 4 Comments

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I’ve been away from this blog a while – too long for fans.

I have a great excuse that I’m quite proud of: it’s Florida Food & Farm, a new magazine that I edit. The first issue debuted in late January in 15 counties in and around South Florida.

It’s a magazine and directory focused on the local food movement. With articles on innovative farmers, ranchers, aquaculture entrepreneurs and artisans producing local food, as well as a directory of all of those plus markets and restaurants where consumers can get their share of Florida-grown food, it has quickly become a resource for all who’ve found it.

Weaver

CEO Daphne Weaver, herself a farm owner, had a vision for connecting local farms to all consumers, and getting fresher foods to those who need them. She found a magazine in Arkansas that served as a model, Arkansas Food & Farm. It became our template, and staffers there helped produce our inaugural issue.

Since it hit stands, we have been overwhelmed by the positive response from all corners. The farmers are excited to find markets for their produce and meats; chefs are happy to know of new resources for buying local food, and the everyday cook and food lover has learned just what specialties Florida farms produce.

Just getting started

With the first issue, as in any start-up, we merely scratched the surface of all the sources we want to feature and connections we want to make.

But already readers have sent notes and emails thrilled to have the magazine available to guide them to U-pick farms, or fresh farm eggs, or grass-fed beef. Others have located farmers markets, or restaurants like those in the Fontainebleu in Miami Beach with fresh fish tanks in the basement they didn’t know existed.

Farmers are happy to share their knowledge; we’ve tapped a great resource for all growers – even backyard gardeners wanting to grow a tub of tomatoes. Culinary students at Johnson & Wales in Miami have exotic fruits growing right outside their labs. We are learning of groups passionate about the new urban farming going mainstream in every city, with community gardens, edible landscapes, and innovative ways to get fresh food to those living in food “deserts.”

Bleufish

The Fontainebleu’s fresh fish tanks with chef Thomas Connell. /courtesy photo

It’s all a noble pursuit – but can’t happen without support. We are grateful that the Dept. of Agriculture’s Fresh From Florida campaign to showcase Florida-grown foods is among our supporters, and artisans like Old School Bakery in Delray and farming friends at Kai-Kai Farm in Indiantown and Got Sprouts? in Riviera Beach took a chance on our unknown first issue.

Of course, a magazine’s audience is its foundation. The reception has been beyond our expectations. Though we’ve been asked to move throughout the state – baby steps! We are a very small staff wanting to grow slowly and sturdily.

Meanwhile, I hope you’ll look for our magazine and read about forager Rod Smith, Localecopia, chefs Tim Andriola and Daniel Boulud, a shrimp farm in Fellsmere, farm dinners, and much more. Visit our web page, floridafoodandfarm.com, where you can find the virtual copy and search the directory.

Pick up your free Florida Food & Farm at Whole Foods Markets, select Publix Markets, Tunie’s, at farm-to-table events, Johnson & Wales University in North Miami, area green markets, or at our offices on Lake Avenue in downtown Lake Worth.

Above all, learn where your food comes from – and support those who make it possible to buy local.

→ 4 CommentsTags: Florida! · What's Happening Here

Did You Miss the Pillsbury Bake-Off Winner? Peanutty Pie Crust Clusters Won $1 Million

December 22nd, 2014 · 1 Comment

Peanutty Pie Crust Clusters/ photo courtesy Pillsbury

Peanutty Pie Crust Clusters/ photo courtesy Pillsbury

The 47th Pillsbury Bake-Off, reformatted from decades of traditions to allow America at large to judge the winner, announced the million-dollar winner Dec. 3. The contest, held in Nashville this year, culminated with the four finalists chosen at the event, and the $1 million winner announced on TV’s The Chew.

Beth Royals of Virginia won for her Peanutty Pie Crust Clusters. Officials says its sweet, salty and crunchy profile made it a taste favorite with the Ameircan public, who voted online to choose the winner. It beat out Cuban-style sandwich pockets, Creamy corn-filled sweet peppers and Chocolate doughnut poppers – the other finalists in the four main categories.

This year’s contest restricted cooks to seven ingredients or fewer, chosen from a list of product brands that fall under the Pillsbury family, such as Jif peanut butter or Crisco shortening or Green Giant vegetables.

The candy is made with vanilla baking chips, peanut butter, peanuts, toffee bits and baked pie crust dough. It’s done in the microwave; and testers say it’s smart to know your microwave wattage before cooking. Overcooking the vanilla baking chips results in a liquid goo that doesn’t set up properly.

Here’s the recipe, including tester’s notes.

Peanutty Pie Crust Clusters

  • 1 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box
  • 1 12-ounce bag white vanilla baking chips (2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon Crisco Baking Sticks vegetable shortening – butter flavor
  • 1 tablespoon Jif Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1 cup salted cocktail peanuts
  • 2/3 cup toffee bits

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with waxed paper and set aside.

Unroll pie crust on work surface. With a pizza cutter or knife, cut into 16 rows by 16 rows to make small squares. (They will not be uniform in size at edges of dough.) Arrange the pieces in a single layer on a large ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove squares from pan to a cooking rack and cool completely – 5 minutes.

In a large microwaveable glass bowl, microwave the baking chips, shortening and peanut butter on High power for 1 minute to 90 seconds, stirring once at around 30 seconds, until mixture can be stirred smooth. The chips will not all lose their shape as they melt – do not go by appearance alone. (Start at lowest time needed – do not overcook.)

Add pie crust squares, peanuts and tofee bits; stir gently until evenly coated.

Immediately drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the waxed paper-lined sheets. Note: If mixture becomes too thick, microwave on High for 15 seconds and stir again.

Refrigerate 15 minutes or until candies are set. Store in airtight container – these will last 2 weeks. Can also be frozen.

Makes approximately 30 candies.

For past Bake-Off winners, go to Pillsbury.com/recipes/bake-off to get the recipes.

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→ 1 CommentTags: Holiday cooking · Recipes: What's Cooking!

Thanksgiving Dinner – Plan It Out to Pull It Off

November 21st, 2014 · 1 Comment

kid-tday-letter

 

Here’s a 3-year-old’s idea of how easy Thanksgiving dinner is. If only!

Actually, the dinner isn’t that hard. If you break it down into the individual dishes, it’s really quite easy, once you know How to Cook A Turkey.  There are enough recipes around the web that teach you how to make every part of the meal succssfully.

But it’s all that planning and timing. There be the dragons of Thanksgiving dinners everywhere.

Just consider: You’re doing what hotel banquet chefs (PLURAL) do every day, but without all the help! It’s a heroic thing to make this dinner with maybe only one helper – let alone do it by yourself. And guess what – most pro cooks get into trouble and have looked like this at one time:

 

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Things go smoothly at first, then the clock seems to do this:

clock

Slow down and don’t panic

No worries! I’ve got you covered – here’s my pretty much fail-proof planner.

It covers everything from tablecloths, to how much to cook, to when to put the rolls in the oven. I can’t help you with dear evil Aunt Rose, who insists on smiling as she asks why you’re not married – especially since “even Charles Manson is!”

Print this out!

Click on the link below and print out my master plan tonight – hoping it’s Friday before Thanksgiving as I write it, you have most of a week to get going.

Sit down with your recipe box and a glass of wine. Get a pen and paper and get to work. The planning you do now will make you feel like this, the day of:

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CHEERS!

GO HERE for the Thanksgiving Day Planner!

 

 

 

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→ 1 CommentTags: Holiday cooking