You either love em or you hate em. That seems to be the reputation with beets. I was a hate em kind of person, then when I got older and suddenly loved them. I must have swapped out taste buds and the new ones were not told to hate beets. Maybe it was because they became a trendy vegetable. It seems every restaurant in America has a salad with beets and goat cheese these days. Little Rusted Ladle is all about being trendy (slight chuckle), so I thought I’d do my part and give them another try. Low and behold, I liked them. Of course, when paired with goat cheese, greens and nuts, it takes the pressure off the beets to be yummy on their own.
There are many health benefits to beets that may sway some of you beet haters, who shall remain nameless, into giving them another go. For one, beets are great at detoxifying the body and purifying the blood, which is a great way to battle those pesky hangovers. They are also a really great source of naturally occurring nitrates, which help lower blood pressure. Beets also help increase stamina, and have been considered an aphrodisiac for centuries because of this fact. They also help fight inflammation and have cancer fighting properties, so in a way, beets can’t be beat.
There are many ways of preparing beets. Beets can be boiled, steamed, baked, roasted, grilled or sautéed. One of our favorite ways to prepare them, like corn on the cob, is to simply cook them in simmering hot water, peel them and cut them into pieces and toss them with some butter and salt and pepper. However, another very basic way of preparing them is to make beet chips. Thinly slice them on a mandolin, but make sure to use a safety guard, or you’ll end up with shorter fingers. Toss the slices with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place them single layer on cookie sheets lined with foil and bake them for about 40 minutes or until crisp. Sprinkle them with some chopped fresh dill and you’re good to go. The end result will be a beautiful pile of tasty chips that are tasty and good for you. Enjoy and remember to cook with love and live to cook.
Sweet corn season may be coming to an end soon, but football season is just getting started. That means chips and salsa. Oh sure, you could go with the standard pre-made stuff in the jar, or be fancy and make fresh pico with tomatoes, peppers, onions and cilantro. Either way isn’t bad. However, if you want to jazz up football Sunday a little and impress your guests as well, try our famous sweet corn and blueberry salsa recipe(famous?) Alright, so it isn’t famous…yet, but make it enough times, and it just might be. At least with those closest to you like friends and family. When it comes right down to it, does anyone else really matter? Skelly’s sweet corn, as I described in our last article, is so tender and sweet, we thought it needed a recipe to let it shine on it’s own. With a few other ingredients to help it out of course.
These other ingredients act like teammates of a football team that give your stud quarterback, like our Packers very own Aaron Rodgers, time to complete touchdown after touchdown. The additional teammates, known as ingredients, add dimension to the superstar (the sweet corn), giving it the ability to be the hero. In this recipe, the blueberries give sweetness and color like a quick running back or wide receiver. The mint, adds freshness like a productive new draft pick. The lime adds a touch of acidity like a coach in charge. The roasted poblano adds a little heat like a solid defense. The pistachios add crunch like a hard hitting secondary, and the olive oil adds a little fat like, well, the offensive line. All together, they add up to a solid salsa that’s loaded with flavor. As for the chip, which is similar to the fans, in that they are always supportive and necessary, we went with a newcomer. An incredibly full flavored organic blue corn tortilla chip made by a company called Food Should Taste Good.
What’s great about Food Should Taste Good Tortilla Chips are that they are all natural, gluten free, non-GMO, certified kosher, cholesterol free, low sodium, and certified vegan. How’s that for fan support? The best part is they taste great and have an unusual shape, which makes them fun to throw on a table with your star salsa. We hope you enjoy our fresh sweet corn and blueberry salsa at your next tailgate or football watching party. For those of you who hate football, you can enjoy this wonderful salsa as a salad by adding fresh arugula(optional) while reading a book on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Until next time, cook with love and live to cook.
This flavorful corn salsa recipe combines fresh sweet corn with blueberries, mint, lime juice and pistachios to produce a knock your socks off appetizer that, when added to fresh greens like arugula, makes a wonderful salad as well.
Author: Little Rusted Ladle
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American, southwest
Serves: 8 servings
4 ears of fresh sweet corn, kernels removed (2 cups)
The perfectly lined up rows of golden kernels shimmer in the afternoon sunshine like pearls, as I peel back the squeaky green husks exposing the ever familiar site of sweet corn. Hidden behind the green husks and silk that gives these golden gems life are more than just small nuggets of sunshine. They’re a reminder to me of everything that is good. Childhood memories of eating ear after ear of fresh picked sweet corn at the family dinner table with my mom, dad, sister, aunt and uncle, invade my thoughts like a kid waiting for summer break. You see, sweet corn season was not just another vegetable that we ate during it’s peak, it was usually the main course.
My dad would get 4 or 5 dozen ears of corn picked early in the morning from the field. He would cook them in a large kettle of boiling water, then pile them high on a huge platter in the center of the table much like a turkey on Thanksgiving Day. Everyone would look at the platter, visually picking out the ear they most wanted. This was usually the same for all of us. We wanted the ears with the smallest kernels. These young ears tend to be the sweetest. Many people overlook these small-eared gems, instead, going for those with the big kernels. Amateurs!
Our corn eating ritual was unique. We would each have a paper bag next to us on the floor to drop the empty ears into. The sound of an ear falling into the bag was a reminder to the rest of us that someone would be grabbing another prime ear of sweet summer. It was not uncommon for us to go through six to eight ears of corn a piece. My personal best was 11 – not as impressive as my aunt Cille’s record of 13, but not bad for a teenager.
Of course, there also were those other wonders of summer at the table, but when there was fresh sweet corn, everything else was viewed as a “side.” Brats, burgers or sliced round steak made their way to our plates, along with fresh sliced tomatoes from the garden and cucumber salad. No store-bought deli items found their way onto a table in our house. Summer meant enjoying the bounties from our own garden. Corn was the exception, because we were not able to grow it, but it didn’t come from a grocery store.
As I grew up and started raising my own kids, I often wondered where was I going to get corn as good as dad got every year. Then, on a trip back home to visit my parents, I got my answer. The sign by the side of the road said “Skelly’s”, with the words “sweet corn” next to it. I had friends tell me it was good, but being a pro corn eater, I knew what “good corn” was really like. Much to my amazement, it was actually better than I remembered as a child. The flavor was so sweet and the kernels were so tender. Plus, unlike my memories as a child who had to “shuck” his fair share of corn, there were no worms on the ends. There was nothing worse then opening up an ear of corn and finding worms crawling around the kernels. It often would ruin the mood so to speak.
Recently, Jena and I took a trip to Skelly’s and talked to Scott Skelly about what makes their sweet corn so good. Scott’s family has been farming in the Rock County area since the mid 1850’s. Their venture into growing sweet corn started by planting a few rows near their farm house as a way for the kids to make a little extra money for college. The corn was sold at a vegetable stand out front like many rural farms do. However, it sold so well, they needed to plant more each year. The sweet corn business is so successful today that their corn crop alone takes up over 100 acres of land. That’s a lot of corn. To see where Skelly’s corn, as well as their other wonderful produce are sold, check out their website Here. They also have killer products like apple cider doughnuts and cider coming up soon.
Skelly’s test plants dozens of varieties every year. From these test plants, the family chooses the best ones. What’s really great about Skelly’s corn and many small local farms like them, is that they don’t skimp on quality. They would rather grow the most tender and sweet varieties instead of choosing varieties that stay fresh longer, but lack tenderness. Much of the sweet corn you find in the grocery stores, especially corn found in the offseason, comes from distant farms, and has a tougher kernel. How tender is Skelly’s corn? Well, the blueberry corn salad we’ll be posting next week is made with uncooked corn. It’s so sweet you don’t need to cook it.
I think what I enjoy so much about sweet corn season, is the fact that you need to get your hands into the action when preparing it. Grabbing a bag and husking a dozen ears of corn reminds me of where it came from. A plant, grown on a family farm much like Skelly’s. Notice how peeling back the husks entices your sense of smell. Feel the bumpy kernels as you peel off the layers. See and appreciate the perfect yellow and white rows. Listen to the sound of the corn hitting the grill or the boiling water as the ears are lowered into the pot. All these sensory stimuli prepare us for the final experience; eating it. I envision my ancestors from generations past doing the same thing. It’s a good feeling.
The recipe shown in the video is pretty tasty for an occasional change, but my favorite way to enjoy corn on the cob is probably the simplest way…with butter and a touch of salt…just like back in the day.
As always, remember to cook with love and live to cook.
Sweet corn gets a major overhaul with this recipe with the addition of a flavored butter, bacon, tomatoes, beets micro greens and a drizzle of pistachio oil. You may not look at corn the same way.
Author: Little Rusted Ladle
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 7 ears
7 ears sweet corn, most of husks and silk removed then tied closed with string.
½ cup sweet blue butter (see recipe below), partially melted
¼ cup smoked blue cheese crumbles(may substitute plain blue crumbles for smoked
¼ cup crumbled bacon
½ cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 whole cooked beet, cut into small dice
¼ cup micro greens(may substitute alfalfa sprouts
1 tsp. pistachio oil, optional
fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Soak tied corn in a large pail or pot of cold water for 1-2 hours. Meanwhile, make sweet blue butter by following directions in the recipe below.
Drain corn well and pat dry. Place on preheated grill, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes over medium heat, turning every 5-7 minutes. When husks are charred and corn is cooked, remove from grill, and carefully pull back husks and tie with string. You may want to use gloves because the corn will be hot.
Transfer corn to a platter or tray and sprinkle remaining ingredients over the corn. Serve.
Corn husks can be removed after cooking if desired.
Swirl, drip, squiggle, smudge, fling, splatter… What is better then finger paint? Edible baby-safe finger paint you can make at home with this simple recipe! Six month old baby Austin created his first abstract expressionistic masterpiece! Here’s how we did it.
To make the paint mix equal parts baby rice cereal and water. Then add one drop food coloring. Add more drops of the same color to richen it or mix other colors to get your desired color. Add white to make it lighter and more opaque. We chose the colors of Austin’s nursery; red, white and shades of teal. The white really didn’t work that well in the painting. The teals were vibrant! We decided not to use the red in case it mixed together with the teals to create brown. The red would have been nice to use after the first layer dried but I was so impressed with Austin’s first go at it I left it alone sprayed it with a fixative and hung it up. An additional option that I thought would be fun is adding a flavor of some sort. I was a little concerned about encouraging him to eat paint so I left it out this time.
We choose a 10×10 inch pre-stretched canvas with a neutral color for Austin to paint on. Watercolor paper would be a great option as well! Avoid any thin paper that will bubble or rip when wet.
If you have older children they will know what to do but if you have a baby at three months you can set them up in a tummy-time manner and set the painting in front of them. Austin at six months sat up and I helped him dip his hands in each color. I also held him, dipped his feet in and let him kick around on the canvas. It sure was entertaining helping my Blooming Jackson Pollock create his first finger painting. However, when it was all said and done Austin may have preferred the brewer game that was on over finger painting… Daddy’s boy 😉
*Amounts very per project, desired color, and consistency.
To make the paint mix equal parts baby rice cereal and water. Then add one drop food coloring. Add more drops of the same color to richen it or mix other colors to get your desired color. Add white to make it lighter and more opaque.
Rhubarb is one of those weird plants that shows up every year in the spring, and lasts a few months, then it’s gone. It’s often paired with strawberries to make pie, but is ignored for anything else. When you think about it though, it makes sense. Strawberries are sweet, beautiful and their flavor is endlessly used as inspiration for all kinds of products at the grocery store. Rhubarb however, goes largely unnoticed in the food world. When was the last time you drank an ice cold rhubarb margarita or fizzy rhubarb and rosemary gin fizz? Well, Jena and I thought we would shed a little light on this tangy vegetable and show some wonderful ways to infuse your booze with the flavor of natures first sour vegetable, rhubarb. Yes, it is a vegetable, but strangely became a fruit by a New York court in the 40’s because a judge decided that since it was used in this country as a fruit, it should be labeled as one. I’m guessing science had nothing to do with that decision. Anyway, with summer officially here, Jena and I thought it was time to get a new summer drink in the mix. Last year I was into the Moscow mule in all it’s various forms. This year however, needs to be a little more interesting. What better way to pump some fun into the summer season than with an easy rhubarb syrup to flavor our various libations while soaking up the sun?
Rhubarb, for those of you who have not tried it, is a long, firm, red stalk with huge leaves, which happen to be poisonous, so don’t eat them! I have fond memories as a kid of dipping stalks of rhubarb in a custard cup of granulated sugar while deciding what adventure me and my buds were going to go on that day. We’d simply lick the end of the stalk to give the sugar something to cling to, then dip the stalk in the sugar and take a bite. Our mouths would first taste the sweet sugar, but then feel the tartness of the rhubarb, making our faces contort into what we called the sour puss face. Jena also has memories of eating the sour stalks as well, but hers didn’t involve sugar. I guess that’s what hardcore country girls did on the farm.
There are many different uses for rhubarb. It can be used in pies, salads, sauces, jams and jellies. But in drinks? Hell yes. After spending some time recently in the windy city enjoying trendy drinks in trendy restaurants, I realized that rhubarb is starting to make it’s way into the millennium crowd. One particular craft cocktail I had, contained a rhubarb shrub. A shrubbery? you say. No, not the kind found in a Monty Python movie, but the 1800’s version that is a combination of fruit syrup mixed with vinegar. Shrubs were used as a way of preserving beverages before refrigeration and carbonation took center stage. They had gone almost extinct until recently with the resurrection of the craft cocktail. It may sound weird, but is pretty tasty. The added vinegar has a thirst quenching element that is great during those hot summer months. Add booze and it will not only quench your thirst, but knock you on your ass.
The basis for all our rhubarb cocktails is simple, combine fresh(or frozen) rhubarb with sugar in a bowl and refrigerate it for 5 days. Strain it and you’ll have a syrup that goes great with many kinds of alcohol including bourbon, vodka and gin. Oh sure, you can simply add it to fresh lemonade or soda or tonic water, but doesn’t adding a little vodka and calling it a rhubarb vodka cooler sound better?
The three drinks we chose, were a classic bourbon old fashioned made with rhubarb, a rhubarb lemon martini and a rhubarb rosemary gin fizz using a homemade rhubarb shrub. They are all distinctly different and very refreshing. Try them this summer when you want something new. As an added treat, use that tasty rhubarb syrup as a glaze on macadamia nuts, or in a vinaigrette for salads. The options are endless. Then next time you see rhubarb at the farmers market, take it home, and dip it in some sugar. You just might uncover your inner child and understand why kids love sour candy so much. If not, stick to the cocktails or there’s always the strawberry rhubarb pie. Whatever your fancy, remember to always cook with love and live to cook.
In a large bowl, combine rhubarb and sugar. Toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate up to 5 days, stirring once a day. Strain juice into a container. Reserve strained rhubarb for another use such as rhubarb bourbon old fashioned. Refrigerate syrup up to 2 weeks. or freeze until needed. Use as a mixer for cocktails like rhubarb bourbon old fashioned, rhubarb martini, rhubarb rosemary gin fizz and rhubarb shrub.