Lincoln Land Community College - Green Center
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Cooking with Local Food







 Seeking out food from your local farmers is a patriotic thing to do.  Fresh fruits and vegetables connect us in a literal and visceral way to our land, and buying them is good for our local farmers and local economy. And they taste great, and are good for you, too.

So this year, declare your independence from high-fat, high-sugar crackers, chips, dips, cookies, and other processed foods. Swap them out for low-calorie, high-nutrition fruits and vegetables from local farms, and this will be your best Fourth ever!

From cool drinks to grilled vegetable side dishes to grilled peaches for desert, here are four ways to add fresh local foods to your celebration.


Cool Mint Soda
Mint is an all-time favorite for keeping cool in the summer, but chamomile, or lemon verbena, or any herb that strikes your fancy will also work in this recipe.  Double it if you're expecting a crowd.


1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped

Mint sprigs for garnishing

Sparkling water


1. Make simple syrup by dissolving the sugar in the water in a saucepan over medium heat.

2. Turn the heat off and stir in the chopped mint leaves. Let sit for a couple of minutes. When the mixture is cool, strain the mint leaves out.

3. Add two to four tablespoons (to taste) of the mint syrup to a glass of sparkling water. Add a mint sprig as a garnish.

 Grilled Stuffed Peppers

Use red, yellow, or green bell peppers, or Italian or Hungarian sweet peppers.


3 sweet peppers, halved

8 oz mozzarella cheese (sliced)

1 large tomato, chopped

6 sprigs basil

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive Oil


1. Cut each pepper in half and remove seeds.  Fill each pepper with the chopped tomato, and drizzle olive oil over the top of the tomatoes.

2. Add a slice of mozzarella on top of the tomatoes, and then add a dash of salt and pepper and a sprig of basil.

3. Place the filled pepper halves on a hot grill, but not directly over the flame.  Cover and grill for about 30 minutes, or until the pepper is soft.

Parsley Pesto Potatoes, Grilled

Herb pesto is quick and easy to make in a food processor. Make a double batch, and use the extra on crackers or sandwiches.


1 cup fresh parsley, removed from the stems

1 cup pecans (you can substitute walnuts or pine nuts)

¼ cup hard cheese such as romano, grated

¼ cup olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt, to taste

1 to 2 pounds small new potatoes (or large potatoes cut into chunks)


1. To make the parsley pesto, put all the ingredients, except the potatoes, into a food processor and blend until well mixed.

2. In a large mixing bowl, toss the potatoes with the pesto.

3. Place the potatoes on a piece of foil on a hot grill, away from the direct flame. Cover the grill and cook until tender, about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes.  When you can easily pierce them with a fork, they're done.

Grilled Peaches with Tart Cherries

While the grill is still hot, make this quick, easy, and delicious dessert.  If you have a big group, slice up some local watermelons, muskmelons, and honeydew melons on the dessert table alongside these peaches.


3 peaches

1 cup tart cherries, pitted

½ cup honey

Olive oil


1. Cut the peaches in half and remove the pits. Coat the peaches in olive oil.  If you have a citrus-infused olive oil, that is particularly nice!

2. Fill each peach half with some cherries, and drizzle with honey.

3. Place the peaches on the medium-hot grill for 10 to 15 minutes, or until soft.

Seasonal Cook's Notes: Let food freedom ring! What are you cooking up with local foods for the Fourth? Send us your photos and links to the recipes you used, and we'll share them with our 1,000+ Facebook followers.  If you'd like to include your name, location, and a caption for your photo, we'll share that as well.  Send to

The best way to enjoy healthy, seasonal produce is to buy it from your local community farmer. To locate the farmers' market or CSA nearest you, or visit

Farm Fresh Now! is a project of The Land Connection, an educational nonprofit that preserves farmland, trains new farmers, and connects people with great locally-grown foods. This series is made possible with generous support from the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Article by Terra Brockman; photo by Cara Cummings.









If you stroll through just about any farmers market, you'll see signs announcing leafy greens you've probably never heard of: Tuscan black kale, mizuna, komatsuna, mustard greens, turnip greens, even wrinkled, crinkled, crumpled cress. The odd names and odd look of these greens put some people off, but don't let them deter you! 

Greens come in just about every flavor, from sweet and mild (choy, chard, lettuce) to earthy and peppery (arugula, mizuna, cress), but all are amazingly delicious and nutritious. If you need more reasons to give them a try, here are my top five:

Top Five Reasons to Eat Your Greens

 5 - Nutrition Powerhouse. Greens are rich in essential vitamins, vital minerals, cancer-fighting phyto-chemicals, and overall food value. The highest nutrition bang for your buck are greens in the Brassica family, such as kale, cabbage, collards, arugula, mustard greens, turnip greens, and all the chois.

 4 - Calcium. Greens are high in calcium, which helps maintain healthy bones and teeth, and prevents osteoporosis.  One serving of turnip greens has three times as much calcium as a glass of milk, so if you're going vegan or dairy-free, go green!

 3 - Fat-free and Guilt-free. Greens are fat-free and naturally low in calories. Unlike manufactured no-cal or low-cal drinks or foods, they leave you satisfied because of all the nutrients and fiber they provide. But because many of the vitamins greens contain are fat-soluble, you should cook them in butter or olive oil to absorb all their goodness.

 2 - In-season all season. Greens of one sort or another are are in-season from April through November - and all winter, too, if your local farmer grows them in a hoophouse.

  1 - Greens are delicious! Considering the huge variety of greens that local farmers are now growing, you're sure to find ones that suit your taste buds.

 Quick and Easy Sauteed Any Green

 When someone asks me what to do with an unusual leafy green, I invariably answer, "Sautee with a little garlic or onion." It really is that simple--and delicious. And it works for any kind of green-from spinach to collards to wrinkled, crinkled, crumpled cress.

 Eat Your Greens

 Sauteed Greens

Be sure to use the stems from your greens as well as the leaves--if they're from a local farmer they will almost always be as tender as the greens. If not, add them to the pan first and cook for a few minutes before adding the leaves.


 1 bunch of any green (about a pound)
2 garlic cloves or 1 small onion or shallot
2 Tb olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Wash the greens and chop them roughly.
  2. Peel and chop the garlic, onion, or shallot.
  3. Put the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat, add the onion or garlic, and cook until just soft, not browned.
  4. Add the greens and salt and pepper, cook, stirring occasionally, until they turn bright green and begin to soften. This will take from about 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the green, so keep watching and tasting.
  5. When done, transfer your greens to a serving plate or bowl. If you want to get fancy, dress up your greens by tossing with pine nuts or raisins, adding a few drops of hot sauce, or grating some cheese on top before serving. You can also garnish with the flowers of your late season greens!


 Seasonal Cook's Notes: If you have leftovers, put them on a piece of bread with a little cheese on top, and put in the toaster oven for a quick and healthy snack.






Chard will always be there for you. Like a reliable friend, it is one of the greatest, and often least appreciated, of all the gifts from your local farmer.  

Not only is chard giving, it's forgiving too. It's much more heat-resistant than spinach, grows well under most weather and soil conditions, and is disease resistant and bug resistant too.  After harvesting, the inner leaves come back quickly, so you'll see chard at farmers markets from early June clear through Thanksgiving.  Because it's always there, you might take it for granted, but, as with a good friend, you shouldn't. 

Chard is as close to perfect as a vegetable can get-a low-calorie, high-nutrition green with a mildly sweet, clean taste. It's also a fast food.  Tender young chard leaves can be eaten raw, adding a beet-like flavor to salads and sandwiches.  Larger stalks and leaves can be blanched in boiling water, or sauteed up in a matter of minutes, quick and easy.  Then toss the cooked chard  into pasta with olive oil and garlic, add to omelets and frittatas, or use instead of spinach in your favorite recipe. 

Swiss Chard Italian Style

Chard stalks and leaves are delicious, and there is no reason to discard the stems as many American recipes instruct. French or Italian recipes, on the other hand, often tell you to use just the stems and reserve the leaves for another purpose. That "other purpose" was revealed by the great food writer Richard Olney who wrote in Simple French Food (1977) that "the green leafy parts . . . are usually fed to the rabbits and the ducks." I'm sure they make a fine treat for rabbits and ducks, but I recommend the obvious - eat the stems, leaves, and all! 


2 pounds chard (2 or 3 bunches), rinsed and coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic
Sea salt and hot red pepper flakes4 tablespoons olive oil, or 2 Tb butter and 2 Tb olive oil


1.     Place the chard in a large stockpot with plenty of water still clinging to it and set on medium-high heat. When it begins to sizzle, stir and cover. Reduce heat to medium and cook until chard is wilted but still has texture and the leaves have turned dark green, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

2.      Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until  golden, about 5 minutes. 

3.     Add the chard to the skillet after squeezing out some of the liquid. Cook, stirring, until the chard has wilted and the garlic is cooked, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4.     Transfer to a warmed platter and drizzle with the remaining olive oil or dot with butter and serve.  

Serves 4

The best way to enjoy healthy, seasonal produce is to buy it from your local farmer. To locate the nearest farmers' market or farm CSA near you, search for "Local Harvest" online.  

Farm Fresh Now! is a project of The Land Connection, an educational nonprofit that preserves farmland, trains farmers in resilient and restorative farming techniques, and connects people with great locally-grown foods. This series is made possible with generous support from the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Article by Terra Brockman, photo by Cara Cummings.



PEAS: Sugar Snap and Snow  

There is nothing quite so graceful as trellised pea plants in full swing. And nothing quite so tasteful as a crunchy sugar snap pea eaten straight off the vine. And nothing that so captures the essence of spring as peas--all kinds of peas.

Peas love cool, wet weather, and so are often only in season for a few weeks, when you will find local farmers bringing in the irresistible sugar snap pea, the Chinese or snow pea, and the good old fashioned shell (or English) peas.

Snow Peas: Healthy and Cosmopolitan

Snow peas are long, thin, nearly flat pea pods, with teensy proto-peas inside. But you're not after the peas in this case; it's the tender pod itself you'll love. Traditionally found in Chinese and other Asian cuisines, they now appear in all sorts of dishes from salads to pastas to stir-fries.

Some say the name snow pea comes from the slight whitish tint reflected from the pods in bright sunlight. Others say it's because they are a cool weather crop-best in the early spring or late fall, when they just might be covered with light frost or even snow. But no matter the name, or where it comes from, snow peas are sweet and crisp and delicious-and an excellent source of fiber, iron, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Snow peas are also among the most venerable of vegetables, with evidence of their cultivation going back more than 12,000 years along the Thai-Burma border.

Sugar Snaps: The Back Story

Way on the other end of the pea timeline, one of the newest pea cultivars is the sugar snap pea. Calvin Lamborn of Twin Falls, Idaho began crossing snow peas with shell peas in the 1960s. He was going after a pea that would have the edible, non-fibrous pod of the snow pea, plus the full-size interior peas of English peas. His hybrid was finally perfected in 1979, and has become a favorite of gardeners and market farmers ever since.

Both the pod and the peas are plump, succulent, and sweetly irresistible. The French call them mange-tout, which tells you what to do, "eat the whole thing," preferably on the way home from market for maximum nutrition and enjoyment. As with all legumes, peas host beneficial bacteria in their root nodules, which make nitrogen in the air available as a fertilizer in the soil for themselves and whatever crop is planted there next. They are one of the true heroes of our fields and tables-so enjoy!

Article © Terra Brockman
Photo © Cara Cummings

Quick Snow Peas with Lemon Herb Butter

Fresh peas cook really fast, so keep an eye on them, and take them off the heat as soon as they turn bright green.


2 tablespoons butter at room temperature
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
2 teaspoons finely chopped herbs of your choice (suggest half and half finely chopped tarragon and flat-leaf parsley)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound snow peas, trimmed

1. Stir together butter, zest, herbs, salt, and pepper.|
2. Cook peas in boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Drain well.|
3. Transfer hot peas to a bowl, then add lemon herb butter and toss to coat. 

Seasonal Cook's Notes:

Snow Peas and Sugar Snap Peas can be used interchangeably in just about any recipe. Sugar Snaps are also great raw as part of a vegetable tray or a box lunch.

The best way to enjoy healthy, seasonal produce is to buy it from your local farmer. To locate the nearest farmers' market or farm CSA near you, search for "Local Harvest" online. 

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SPINACH: The Prince of Vegetables 

For many baby-boomers, the constant refrain of "Eat your spinach, it's good for you!" and the olive green glop of canned vegetable that accompanied the words, led to life-long spinach avoidance. Well now is the time, if you haven't already, to overcome your spinach phobia. One nibble of a local farmer's sweet and vibrant fresh spinach will do the trick. 

The first spinach you see every spring is most likely from seeds that your farmer planted late last fall. Those seeds germinate and barely start to put down roots before the frigid weather descends and they go into dormancy under the ice and snow. At the first hint of spring, however, they start growing like mad, and soon the leaves are huge, thick, juicy and sweet--unbelievably rich and meaty. You really have to taste it to believe it. 

If great taste alone is not enough, remember that spinach is high in vitamins A and C, and in iron and folic acid. It's also a good source of fiber and magnesium, and is very low in calories.   

And if you're still not convinced, wine fortified with spinach juice was the healing elixir traditionally given to injured French soldiers. And the Persians, who cultivated the leafy green from at least the 6th century, recognized spinach's sophistication and called it "the prince of vegetables." Spinach

Article © Terra Brockman
Photo © Cara Cummings 

Spinach Salade Lyonnaise

The best thing to do with any fresh vegetable is almost nothing. But I confess that I have become dangerously enamored of this Fresh Spinach Salade Lyonnaise. It is quick and easy to make, yet fit for a king with the combination of meaty-leaved spinach, crisp bacon, barely cooked eggs, and warm, sharp Dijon vinaigrette. (If you want to go vegetarian or vegan, just leave out the bacon and egg, adding another few tablespoons of olive oil to the dressing.) Keep this salad in mind when fall greens like frisee, escarole, and radicchio roll around because the hot dressing will soften and sweeten those sturdy leaves.

4 cups torn spinach, or a mixture of spinach, lettuce, escarole, and other greens
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
About 1/4 pound (or less) good bacon or ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 to 4 tablespoons sherry or wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 eggs
Black pepper 

1. Put greens in a large salad bowl. Put olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the bacon and cook slowly until crisp all over, about 10 minutes. Add vinegar and mustard to the skillet and bring just to a boil, stirring, then turn off heat.

2. Meanwhile, bring a couple inches of salted water to a boil in a small pan, then lower heat to barely bubbling. One at a time, break eggs into a shallow bowl and slip them into the bubbling water. Poach the eggs for 2 minutes, until the white is set but the yolk is still runny. Remove each egg with a slotted spoon, and place onto the greens.

3. Pour the bacon dressing over the greens (they'll wilt a bit). Toss the salad, breaking the yolks of the poached eggs and distributing them evenly over the spinach. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, with croutons or toast if you like.

Serves 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a main course.

The best way to enjoy healthy, seasonal produce is to buy it from your local farmer. To locate the nearest farmers' market or farm CSA near you, search for "Local Harvest" online.  

Farm Fresh Now! is a project of The Land Connection, an educational nonprofit that preserves farmland, trains farmers in resilient and restorative farming techniques, and connects people with great locally-grown foods. This series is made possible with generous support from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

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The LLCC Culinary Arts department partnered with our local WSEC PBS station to produce two local food-focused cooking shows.

Learn About the Shows
Canned Salsa Instructions
Canned Salsa Recipe
Cooking with Local Food Recipes

Learn about the shows

The first show focuses on organic farming and cooking with the harvest at Oak Tree Organics in Ashland, Illinois. Appearing in the video are LLCC culinary instructors Charlyn Fargo, RD, and Chef Denise Perry. Click here to watch the video.

The second show focuses on canning and preserving local foods. It was filmed at MJ Kellner in Springfield and stars culinary instructor Randy Williams and assistants Chef Denise Perry and Jolene Adams. Click here to watch the video.

Production of both videos was coordinated by Jay Kitterman. The videos were funded by a grant from the Illinois Community College Board and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

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Canned Salsa Instructions

Salsa can be a fun and easy way to preserve tomatoes to enjoy all year.

Most salsa recipes mix low-acid foods, such as onions and peppers, with acid foods, such as tomatoes. These salsa recipes have been tested to ensure that they contain enough acid to be processed safely in a boiling water canner.




Use only high-quality tomatoes for canning salsa or any other tomato product. Canning is not a way to use overripe or damaged tomatoes, nor tomatoes from dead or frost-killed vines. Poor quality or overripe tomatoes will yield a very poor salsa that may spoil and be unsafe to consume.

The type of tomato you use affects salsa quality. Paste or Italian tomatoes, such as Roma, Debaro, Italian Gold, Sheriff, or Viva Italia, have firmer flesh and produce thicker salsas than large slicing tomatoes, such as Beef Steak, Big Boy, Better Boy, or Husky Gold (yellow).

Although both types make good salsas, slicing tomatoes usually yield a thinner, moist, watery salsa than paste tomatoes. You can thicken these salsas by adding tomato paste or by draining off some of the liquid after you chop the tomatoes.  But use the quantity of chopped tomatoes listed in the recipe. 

Where recipes call for peeled tomatoes, remove the skin by dipping tomatoes in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds, or until skins split.  Dip in cold water, then slip off skins and remove cores and seeds.

You may substitute green tomatoes or tomatillos for tomatoes in any of these recipes.


Salsa is preserved by adding acid, in the form of commercially bottled vinegar, lemon juice, or lime juice. Use only vinegar that is at least 5% acidity and only bottled lemon or lime juice (never freshly squeezed). Do not use homemade vinegar as the level of acidity can vary.


Use only high-quality peppers. Do not increase the total amount of peppers in any recipe. But you may substitute one type of pepper for another or use canned chilies in place of fresh.

Peppers range from mild to fiery in taste. Mild peppers are usually big – 4 to 10 inches long. Mild pepper varieties that grow in the Midwest are bell types such a Big Bertha, Early Cal Wonder, Yankee Bell or Gypsy (yellow), and others. Choose a mild pepper when the recipe calls for long green chilies, or substitute bell peppers for some or all. For descriptions of various peppers used in salsa, see the chart at right.

There are many different types of peppers grown in the United States. Peppers can be classified based on their relative hotness. The Scoville heat unit (SHU) is a measure of pepper pungency. The chemical substance that makes some peppers hot is capsaicin. Pure capsaicin is approximately 16,000,000 Scoville units.

Habanero type peppers are the hottest with up to 300,000 Scoville units. The units will vary for each type of pepper based on variety, maturity, and whether the pepper is fresh or dried. Typically, pungent peppers require hot, dry conditions to fully develop their flavor and may not produce a suitable harvest in cool, wet summers. 

Very hot peppers are usually small – 1 to 3 inches long – except for Hungarian Yellow Wax. They provide a distinct taste to salsas.  Jalapeno is the most popular. Other varieties that grow in Illinois include: Super Cayenne, Super Chili, Habanero, Anaheim College and Ancho 101.*  Hot peppers usually need longer growing seasons than mild varieties, and thus do best in the southern half of the state.

Hot peppers such as jalapeno do not need to be peeled, but seeds are often removed. Finely chopped mild peppers do not usually need to be skinned.

If you want to remove the tough skin from peppers, such as long, green chilies, first slit each pepper along the side to allow steam to escape when you heat them.  Next, peel using one of these two methods:

  • Oven or broiler – Place peppers in a hot oven (400° F) or broiler for 6 to 8 minutes until skins blister.
  • Range top – Cover hot gas or electric burner with heavy wire mesh.

Place peppers over the burner for several minutes, until skins blister.

After heating, place peppers in a Zip-Lock bag.  Allow to steam for 5 to 10 minutes. 

Slip off skins, discard seeds, and chop.



For safe canning:

  • If you use any other recipe or adapt one of these:  Freeze the salsa or refrigerate it and use within several weeks.

  • If you want thicker salsas:

Before canning – Add commercial tomato paste to thicken before canning.  Do not thicken salsas with flour or cornstarch.

After canning – After you open a jar, you may pour off some liquid or thicken the salsa with cornstarch before serving.

Filling jars

Follow the manufacturer’s directions for pre-treating two-piece vacuum seal lids.  Fill hot, clean pint jars with hot salsa, leaving ½ inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust head-space if needed.  Wipe jar rims with a clean, damp paper towel.  Put on pre-treated lids and screw on metal rings until you begin to feel resistance, and then turn the band until it is lightly tightened.

Processing in a boiling water canner


  • Use a rack to keep jars from touching the canner bottom and to allow heat to reach all sides of the filled pint jars.
  • Put jars into a canner that contains simmering water.
  • Add boiling water if needed to bring water 1 to 2 inches above jar tops. Do not pour water directly on the jars. Place a tight-fitting cover on the canner. If you use a pressure canner for boiling water canning, leave the cover unfastened and the petcock open to prevent pressure buildup.
  • Bring water to a rolling boil. Once the water is actively boiling, set a timer for the required processing time, adjusting for elevation if needed. Water must cover jars and actively boil throughout the processing time. Add boiling water, if necessary to keep jars covered.
  • At the end of the processing time turn off the heat and wait 5 minutes before removing jars from the canner. 


Red, yellow, or white like Walla Walla onions may be substituted for each other.  Do not increase the total amount of onions in any recipe.

Spices and herbs

Spices and herbs add characteristic flavors to salsas. The amount of dried spices and herbs (black pepper, salt, dried oregano leaves, and ground cumin) in the recipes in this publication may be altered or left out. Do not increase the amount of fresh herbs or garlic, however. Fresh herbs will lose flavor during heat processing. For a stronger, fresher flavor, add fresh herbs such as cilantro just before serving.

Cooling jars


Put jars on a rack or cloth so air can circulate freely around them. Do not use a fan to cool jars and avoid cold drafts. Do not re-tighten screw bands after processing.

Testing for seal


Once each jar cools, test for a seal.  Jars with flat metal lids are sealed if:

  •          Lid has popped down in the center.
  •          Lid does not move when pressed down.

If a jar is not sealed, refrigerate it and use within a few weeks or re-process within 24 hours. Jars of salsa that do not seal may be safely re-processed within 24 hours.

To re-process

Remove lids and empty salsa into a pan. Since all of these recipes require a hot pack, heat salsa to boiling. Place hot salsa in clean, hot jars.  Wipe jar rims and put on new lids. Process again for the full-time. The quality of twice-processed salsa may be lower, but it will be safe.

Spoilage has occurred if jars of salsa seal at first then unseal some time later. Signs of spoilage may include bubbling in the jars, bulging lids, or the appearance of mold under the lid or on the top layer of food in the jar.  Sometimes the salsa is spoiled even without obvious signs of spoilage.

Never use salsa where the jar seal has broken or where there are obvious signs of spoilage such as bulging lids, bubbling or frothing of jar contents, or a strong sour smell when you lift the jar lid.

Do not taste spoiled food. Safely discard jars of salsa that are spoiled or that become unsealed. Place the jars and their contents in a heavy garbage bag. Close and place the bag in a regular trash container, or bury it in a nearby landfill away form humans and animals.

Storing canned salsa

Wipe jars. Label with the date and contents of the jar. Remove the screw bands to avoid rust.

Store jars in a cool, dark place. For best eating quality and nutritive value, use within one year. Heat, freezing temperatures, light, or dampness will decrease the quality and shelf life of home preserved salsa.

Happy Canning!

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Canned Salsa Recipe

Tomato salsa – using sliced tomatoes

4 cups slicing tomatoes, peeled, cored and chopped
2 cups green chilies, peeled, seeded and chopped
½ cup jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped (2 whole)
¾ cup onions, chopped (1 medium)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups vinegar (5% acetic acid)
1 tsp. ground cumin (optional)
2 tbsp. oregano leaves (optional)
1 tbsp. fresh cilantro (optional)
Yield:  4 to 6 pints

Jalapeno peppers do not need to be peeled. Peel and prepare chili peppers. To peel tomatoes, dip in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until skins split, then dip in cold water and remove skins. Core and chop tomatoes.

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle hot salsa into clean, hot pint jars, leaving ½ inch head-space. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe jar rims and cap with properly pre-treated lids. Process in a boiling water canner. 

Process time in a boiling water canner for hot pack pint jars at the following elevations:

0 – 1,000 feet              15 minutes

1,001 – 6,000 feet       20 minutes

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Cooking with Local Foods Recipes

Vegetable Kabobs
Dill Dip
Squash and Blueberry Muffins
Cantaloupe and Cucumber Salad
Classic Gazpacho
Brown Ale-Braised Sausages with Apples, Pears & Cranberries
Parsley-Garlic Chimichurri
Kale Caeser Salad
Pumpkin and Black Bean Chili
Grilled Potato, Corn and Bell Pepper Salad

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(from the Illinois Cooperative Extension Service)

2 large green peppers, cut into 1” squares
2 medium onions, quartered, separated into sections
4 small zucchini cut into 1” pieces
4 small yellow squash, cut into 1” pieces
12 whole mushrooms
12 cherry tomatoes
1 bottle fat-free Italian salad dressing

Place vegetables in a non-metal dish, pour Italian salad dressing over all, and mix. Marinate vegetables in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Drain vegetables and thread alternately on skewers. Grill kabobs 15-20 minutes, turning to brown on all sides.

Makes about 6 large kabobs.

Nutrient Analysis Per Serving: 99 calories, 5 grams protein, 19 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 1 gram fat, 0 cholesterol, 36 milligrams calcium, 662 milligrams sodium.

Exchanges: 2 ½ vegetables.

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1 cup lite sour cream
1 cup lite mayonnaise
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 tablespoon dried dill weed

Combine ingredients in medium mixing bowl until well blended. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Best if refrigerated overnight to blend flavors. Makes 24 servings, 2 tablespoon per serving.

Nutrition analysis per serving: 51 calories, 1 gram protein, 2 grams carbohydrates, less than 1 gram fiber, 4 grams fat, 7 milligrams cholesterol, 36 milligrams calcium, 92 milligrams calcium. Exchanges: 1 fat.

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(from the Old Farmer’s Almanac Garden-Fresh Cookbook)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
1 ¼ cups yellow cornmeal
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup melted butter
2 eggs
¾ cup mashed squash or pumpkin
2/3 cup milk
1 cup blueberries
½ cup coarsely chopped sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin pan or line with paper baking cups. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, cornmeal, nutmeg and cinnamon. Put the melted butter, eggs, squash and milk into a medium bowl and stir to blend. Ad these ingredients to the flour mixture and stir until blended. Do not overmix. Gently stir in the blueberries and almonds. Pour into the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center o f a muffin comes out clean. Makes 12 muffins.

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(from the Old Farmer’s Almanac Garden-Fresh Cookbook)

2 cantaloupes, peeled and seeded
2 cucumbers, peeled

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
6 tablespoons safflower oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chives
½ cup sour cream
Crisp lettuce leaves

For salad: Cut the cantaloupes into bite-size pieces. Slice the cucumbers into thin rounds.

For dressing: In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, safflower oil, salt, mint, chives and sour cream; mix well.

Combine the cantaloupes and cucumbers and gently toss the dressing. Serve on a bed of lettuce. Makes 6 servings.

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(from the Old Farmer’s Almanac Garden-Fresh Cookbook)

3 pounds tomatoes, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 large or 2 small green bell peppers, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or other vinegar
1 slice white bread, crust cut off, saturated with cold water
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ tablespoon hot-pepper sauce
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

In a blender or food processor, puree the tomatoes, onion and peppers (each separately) until smooth. In a large bowl, combine the processed vegetables , add the remaining ingredients, and stir to blend. Set the soup aside for 30 minutes to an hour to allow the flavors to marry. Serve cold. Makes 6 servings.

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4 large sausage links (I used Jones Boys in Ashland, IL)
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 medium or large yellow onions, sliced
2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced
2 tart  apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 pint fresh cranberries
1 12 oz. bottle of your favorite Brown Ale

Preheat the oven to 350°. Set a large, heavy pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once it’s hot, add the onions and saute for 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add the sausages and brown on each side, turning them continuously to prevent sticking, about 5 – 7 minutes.

Add the apples, pears, cranberries and stout. Give everything a good mix and pop in the oven (uncovered) for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. When the hour and half is up, turn on the broiler and brown the top for about 5 minutes. This adds a nice color and makes for a prettier presentation.

Serve with a loaf or two of crusty bread.

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2 large bunches of fresh flat leaf parsley
8 cloves, garlic minced 3 tablespoons minced onion
4 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
5 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Chop up the parsley a bit. This will make processing easier. Add parsley and garlic to food processor and hit the pulse button a few times to mince. Add remaining ingredients and pulse some more. Slowly pour oil through the chute, while tapping the pulse button. Pulse just enough to where everything is mixed properly.

If you like the fresh flavor of parsley, use immediately. Letting it rest overnight will mellow out the flavors.

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2 heads of kale (dinosaur or curly)
Sea Salt

Dressing Ingredients:

1 large egg
Juice of half a lemon

6 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or 3 tablespoons olive oil and 3 table spoons canola oil)
¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1 large clove of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon diced anchovies
Grated Parmesan cheese to taste

Toasted pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and croutons for garnish

Rinse and clean kale leaves in cold water, removing dirt from center stem where it tends to get caught, and dry thoroughly For the majority of each kale leaf, Rip leaves of kale off of the center stem(the stem tends to be fiberous and unpalatable)  Rough chop kale into bite size pieces and sprinkle with a little sea salt , and let rest for 30 minutes to allow the kale to soften. 

Mix Dijon mustard, sea salt, fresh pepper, minced garlic, diced anchovy,  lemon juice, and oil in a bowl. Add egg and whisk vigorously until dressing emulsifies. Whisk in grated or shredded Parmesan cheese. In salad bowl add dressing in stages while tossing.  Add croutons and finish with a flurry of Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts.

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1 small pie pumpkin or butternut squash
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (28 oz) plum tomatoes, chopped
2 cans (19 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 qt vegetable stock
2 tbsp brown sugar or maple syrup
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp each cinnamon and oregano
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

To make the pumpkin easier to cut, pierce with a fork a few times and microwave on high for 1 minute. Set aside to cool.

Once pumpkin is cool enough to handle, cut in half. Scoop out and discard the seeds (or save them to make toasted pepitas), then cut each half into six wedges. Using a sharp paring knife, cut the peel from each wedge, then chop into 1/2" cubes.

Pour the olive oil into a large heavy-bottomed pot set over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and squash, and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, or until onion is golden. Stir in tomatoes, beans, stock, brown sugar, and spices.

Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender. Stir in red pepper and corn, and continue simmering for another 5-10 minutes or until corn is bright yellow and peppers are soft.

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2 bunches of fresh parsley (1 1/2 cup chopped, with stems discarded)
2 tablespoons of fresh mint, chopped
I small red onion, finely chopped
6 medium tomatoes, finely diced
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup quick cook bulgur (Bob’s Red Mill)
juice of three lemons
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Rinse bulgur in water and add to a large mixing bowl. Combine all chopped ingredients, salt, pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, and stir. Cover and let sit for 1-2 hours or until bulgur is tender.

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1.5 lbs. small potatoes (I used small redskin or new potatoes)
2 ears corn
2 bell peppers (I used red), cut in half
1 large vidalia or red onion, cut in half or in quarters (thick slices)
olive oil
salt and pepper
1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley

2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
3 Tbsp. good quality balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Grill all the vegetables. Scrub the potatoes and add them (whole) with cold water in a saucepan/pot. Bring to a boil, add some salt, and cook until just tender. A fork should be able to go into the potato, but it should still take a little effort. Cool them slightly and then slice them in half lengthwise.

Toss or lightly brush all the vegetables with a little  bit of olive oil and salt and pepper. Then, start grilling. You’ll want to start the corn first, followed by the peppers and onions. Since the potatoes are pretty much cooked, they can go on last. Grill until there are noticeable char marks on the vegetables and the peppers and onions are tender.

Cut the corn off the ears, and slice the peppers and onions into strips. Combine all of that with the potatoes and the parsley.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. Whisk together the garlic and the balsamic vinegar. Slowly drizzle the oil in, while continuing to whisk. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Lightly toss the vegetables with the dressing.

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Pepper Quantity Guide

Use the following chart to guide you in mixing different peppers.  The hotness of salsa depends on the kind and amount of peppers used.  For a very mild salsa, substitute bell peppers for hot peppers.  The mix of peppers can be varied as long as the total amount stays the same.

Remember:  Always measure the amount of chopped peppers listed in the recipe.  Do not rely on this chart for exact quantities.

Amount                      Amount
whole                         chopped


 Bell pepper,               About 1 cup
 1 medium                  chopped


Bell pepper,              About 2 cups
1 large                     chopped


 Jalapeno,                  About ¼ cup
 1 medium                 chopped


 Long green chili,      About 1/3 cup
 1 pepper                 chopped