Fall is the traditional time to harvest fruits and vegetables. If you have your own vegetable garden, you may already know this. However, if you’re new to the in-season-produce game,trying to figure out the ins and outs of eating seasonally may be a little intimidating. Fear not! Here’s a step-by-step guide to seasonal produce.
What Does “In Season” Mean?
Simply put, “in season” refers to food that’s harvested at a particular time of year. This ensures that you’re getting produce when it’s at its very best. This produce will have all the nutrients needed for a healthy diet. Also, your produce won’t be treated with harmful chemicals, so it’s even more healthy for your family.
What’s “Peak Season”?
“Peak season” is the time of the season when buying a particular fruit or veggie is most beneficial. First off, it’s when the produce is most available. Next, since it’s in abundance during peak season, the produce is far cheaper than any other time of year. Another benefit is that the produce has the most flavor during this time because it’s been allowed to fully ripen. However, perhaps the most important reason to buy produce in peak season is that it also has the maximum amount of nutrients.
Why Buy Local?
Buying locally grown produce ensures that there are little to no chemicals used as preservatives. If you were to buy seasonal produce from a farm out West and you live in the South, it’s highly probable that the farm will treat the produce with preservatives. Also, local produce doesn’t have to be shipped from another location, cutting down on pollutants like carbon dioxide gas. You can either purchase produce directly from the farmer at a farmer’s market or from a nearby farm.As an added bonus, buying locally stimulates the economy in your area, which is good for everyone in the long run.
Not in the mood to shop and cook for produce? Here at Market Table, we partner with local farms and food distributors to make sure we use locally grown and responsibly farmed produce whenever possible.
Finding Out What’s in Season
The best way to find out what’s in season in your area is to visit your state’s Department of Agriculture website. They will have a list of produce with information on when the season for something starts and when it ends. The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture also offers convenient seasonality charts. On Alabama Farmers Market Authority’s website, you’ll find a list of seasonal produce and information about when it’s in peak season. This Alabama Cooperative Extension System guide, put together by Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities, lists seasonal produce and ideas for preparing it.
What’s in Season Now?
Here’s a list of what’s in season this fall and winter in the Southeast:
Text by Amber Pope
Making dinner doesn’t have to be a task you dread at the end of a long day. Letting your kids join you in the kitchen turns cooking into an exciting bonding time for your whole family. Kids can learn and practice valuable skills through age-appropriate cooking tasks. Here are seven safe and fun ways your kids can help make dinner.
Read the recipe
This is a great job for a kid who needs to work on their reading skills. Recipes contain a variety of ingredients, directions, and measurements. The variety in language will challenge your child and help their vocabulary grow.
Get the ingredients
Depending on which ingredients you want your child to gather, this job can be for almost any age. Younger kids can fetch familiar ingredients like fruits and vegetables. Older kids can fetch heavier things, things that could spill, and ingredients that might require them to read the label.
Crack the eggs
Cracking eggs can be tough, but it’s a very rewarding accomplishment if you get it right. For kids, the idea of perfecting their cracking skills will make them want to continue helping in the kitchen. For your older kitchen helpers, this is a job they’ll enjoy.
Rinse off the produce
Kids love playing in water, and rinsing off the produce is no exception. Kids at the youngest of ages can hop up on the counter to wash the vegetables and fruits you’ll need for your dish. This is also a great opportunity to teach your kids the importance of rinsing off their produce and making sure it’s clean.
This is another task that works for children of almost any age. Older kids can stir things on the stove with close adult supervision. Younger kids can stir the necessary ingredients together. Either way, mixing things together is a great job for kitchen beginners.
Watch the timer
This is a great job for a kid that knows or is learning how to tell time. Set a timer on your phone or stove and have them watch the clock. It’ll seem like a very important job to your young ones, especially since timing is key to a great dish.
Set the table
While they’re waiting for the food to cook, have your kids set the table for dinner. This is a great job for older kids in case something is breakable. Don’t stop at putting out the plates and silverware, though. The kids can even proudly serve the food they helped make.
Text by Kendal Harris
What Is Wine Pairing?
As old as civilization itself, wine has been a staple to the diets of many cultures. In some parts of the world, it was even considered safer to drink than the water. In modern times, we tend to focus on the actual experience of dining and drinking wine itself. This experience can be amplified by finding a delicious wine that pairs well with the flavor profile of the foods served.
At its core, wine functions best as a palate cleanser. This means that pairing wines with certain foods will make eating the food itself a more worthwhile experience. But how do you know what wine pairs well with what food? And how can someone pair wines with food when they can’t even tell the difference in wine varieties? These five tips will have you pairing food and wines like a sommelier in no time!
You may not be entirely familiar with the flavor profiles for different wines. Never to fear: the flavor profiles for food are already familiar to most food enthusiasts. Though there may be as many as twenty different kinds of tastes on the tongue, they can be boiled down to a list of six. These are the flavors fatty, salty, acidic, sweet, bitter, and spicy. When it comes to pairing, your first step is to decide which flavor is most prominent in the dish you’re serving. For example, bacon would chiefly have a salty taste, whereas bread pudding would be sweet.
Similarities Shine, Opposites Attract
Where wine pairings shine is in the balance of flavors between the wine and food. A congruence pairing brings together a wine and food with similar flavors, creating balance. On the contrary, a complementary pairing brings together a food and wine with flavors that contradict each other. Once you’ve determined the primary flavor of the food and what kind of pairing you’re looking for, it’s time to find wine with the right flavor profile.
The flavor profiles for different varieties of wine are simple to understand. This is because wine only has three types: bitter, acidic and sweet. Most red wines have a bitter flavor profile. Next, sparkling, white, and rosé wines all have a pronounced acidic flavor profile. Finally, sweet wines obviously have large notes of sweetness in their flavor profile.
For the pairing beginner, there are a couple of staple rules that can help your wine pairing. First, one should always make sure the wine is more acidic than the food. When you don’t know what goes well with a flavor of food, you can also base it on regional pairing. For example, Italian food can go well with an Italian wine like Bianco or Rosso. Also, red wines pair best with bold meats like steak. In contrast, white wines pair well with light meats like chicken or fish.
Now that you understand the basics of wine and food flavors, how does you choose the right wine with the right food? It all goes back to congruent or complementary pairings. For example, if trying a complementary pairing, chicken pairs well with many different kinds of wine. Although it pairs well with wines like rosé, the best one to choose is a light white wine. The high acidity of the wine creates a complementary pairing with the chicken by cleansing the palate. On the other hand, a congruent pairing would be like pairing a chardonnay with a salad with vinaigrette dressing. Both of these flavors have high acidity, which similarly complement each other.
Ready to create your own pairings? Market Table stocks a wide variety of wines — you’re sure to find one suited for any meal you put on your table. Our Girl’s Night Out (Thursday, September 20th from 6:00 – 8:00 PM) gives you the perfect chance to test your pairing skills. We’ll taste five of our fine new wines and you’ll also get to enjoy two full glasses of the wine of your choosing. Plus, we’ll serve up an array of delicious appetizers. Tickets are only $20 and can be purchased here. Any time you need a little help with wine pairing, we’re always here with palates that can help you find the right wine to pair with your guests’ heaping plates.
Text by Jonathon Page
Do you find yourself struggling to find a recipe at the last minute? Never seem to have what you need from the grocery store? Have no fear! Creating a weekly meal plan can make after-school evenings run much more smoothly!
Choose the Meals Your Family Loves
Start by making a list of all the meals and snacks your family likes to eat on a regular basis. Pro-tip: get some sticky tabs or magnets and write the name of each meal on a tab. Place them all in a notebook or on your refrigerator, spread out so that they’re easily accounted for. These meals will be the building blocks of a weekly meal plan for your family.
Chart It Up
If you went with sticky tabs, create a chart with a column for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Add rows for each day of the week. This layout allows you to easily account for each meal and snack you’ll be responsible for throughout the week. Although there are often occasions where you’ll go out to eat, it’s always better to have a plan that you stray from than to have no plan at all.
Organize the Days
Now, decide which meals should fall into which slot. When this process is completed, you should have a planned dish for every meal and snack throughout the week. When you get home from work, it’ll be so easy to just check the meal chart and start cooking. You also won’t have to worry about changing the meal halfway through preparation, as your family can see the meal plan. You can even collaborate on the plan before the week begins to avoid any arguments. As a bonus, this is an excellent way to teach the kids about balance and nutrition!
Check the Diet
Ever wondered if you’ve been giving your kids enough nutrients? This meal planning system makes it easy to keep your family’s diet (or, more often, diets) in check. You can easily outline and implement your family’s dietary needs with a structured meal plan. Also, seeing the meal plan spread out before you will make it easy to find places where leafy greens can be best disguised.
Shop and Prep
No more opening the fridge on a Wednesday night to find an empty milk carton! When you know what dishes you’ll be preparing a week ahead, you can easily buy everything you need from the grocery store in one go. Go through your meal chart and make a grocery list of all the items you’ll need for the week. After purchasing them, you can even prep for the meals ahead of time. Maybe a lot of your meals require chopped veggies or peeled fruit. Maybe you have to soak some lentils for another dish. Finishing the prep work for multiple meals once or twice a week is a huge time saver.
Of course, not everyone has time to meal prep or plan. That’s where Market Table comes in! Our freezer meals and prepared dishes offer options for the whole family — just pop them in the oven and have a healthy, delicious meal in no time. Stumped when it comes to lunch? We’ve got you covered there, too: you can pre-order and pick up our Light Lunchboxes, saving you time and sanity.
Fourth of July cookouts are one of the best ways to make fun out of the summer heat. There’s no better way to bring people together than with food. Whether you’re at the beach, the pool, or in your own backyard, consider incorporating these elements into your 4th of July cookout party.
Cook on the Grill
There’s a certain smoky aroma associated with the 4th of July, and it isn’t the smell of your uncle burning his eyebrows with cheap fireworks. Nothing beats being outside while the air is filled with the fragrence of food grilling over a fire. Cooking on the grill is key to throwing the best 4th of July party. The menu wouldn’t be the same without authentically grilled hot dogs and burgers.
If you are throwing a party with both kids and adults, you might want to try splitting up the menu accordingly. Kids love burgers and hot dogs, but the adults might prefer something a bit more special. One great idea is to light a fire pit for the kids. Give them skewers so that they can grill their own hot dogs. While this does require supervision, your kids will have a blast — and learn a little about cooking, too.
Branch Out with Your Menu
For the adults, you might want to try one of our premium cuts of steak. We also offer a variety of prepared sides, including summer BBQ classics like potato salad and pasta salad. Best of all, our pre-prepared meals give you more time to spend with your family. You could also consider adding in a shrimp boil. These are fun, tasty and they look amazing spread out on tables! Add a personal flare to your menu with different 4th of July recipe ideas.
Don’t Forget the Sweets
The most important sweet treat of this holiday isn’t a dessert at all—it’s watermelon! Watermelon is the best summer fruit. Its slight sweetness is not too overpowering for the summer heat, making it perfect for your cookout. Another key sweet treat you must include in your cookout is banana pudding. This classic dish is served cold, which makes it apt for the hot summer months. It’s also a fan favorite amongst the kids.
Make Your Own Ice Cream
As if banana pudding and watermelon aren’t enough, we have one more dessert option for you. There’s something special about the taste of homemade vanilla ice cream. Buying an affordable ice cream machine and putting your kids to work is a great way to enjoy this great taste while keeping your kids occupied and having a blast. To top it off, set up a topping bar so that guests can customize their homemade ice cream bowls.
Text by Martha Kendall Custard
Looking for something to replace the classic margarita this summer? Want to go beyond the average strawberry daiquiri? These five cocktails are the perfect fix to spice up your life while keeping you cool this summer.
Boozy Sour Watermelon Slushies
Are you a fan of Sour Patch Watermelons? If so, this is the drink for you. With the mixture of Sour Patch Watermelons soaked in vodka, lemonade and sprite, these booze-filled slushies are sure to be a hit at your next cookout.
This sunset-themed drink puts a spin on the classic Tequila Sunrise with a little bit of rum. The beautiful combination of lime garnishes and an orange juice mixture will make you feel like you’re looking at a sunset.
By adding blackberries to the mix, this sweet yet tarty drink adds a fruitful twist to your average mojito. The extra step required of this drink is to muddle blackberries in a bowl and add them on top of your mojito at the end.
A fan favorite, Bahama Mamas are a must have this summer. The mixture of various tropical juices and flavored rums will make you feel like you’re in paradise in the comfort of your own backyard.
This frozen strawberry drink is sure to be your go-to for the summer. Blending rosé, strawberries, vodka and ice, this slushy is sure to keep you cool and hydrated while lounging out by the pool.
With these delicious cocktails, there’s no need to resort to your average wine coolers this summer. Keep cool and relaxed this summer with these quick-and-easy cocktail recipes. They are sure to be a hit at your cookouts or by the pool.