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SUMMER SALADS WITH WHOLE GRAINS: Summer is the perfect time to wed whole grains to fresh
herbs, vegetables and fruits for a hearty lunch or quick dinner. Take them
to potlucks, deliver one to a sick friend or pack for a picnic. Whole grains
stand up to time, are fast to assemble and accompany nearly any other menu
item. Here is a blueprint for making a variety of whole grain salads that match
a cuisine you love.
-- For light
fare, soufflés spin their golden web around most crops
in season: asparagus, chard, spinach, zucchini or eggplant. A spoonful of
ratatouille folded into a soufflé transforms whipped egg whites into a
sophisticated main dish. And, a soufflé is far faster and easier to make
than you may believe.
pseudo grain rapidly gaining popularity in the United States, requires
cool nights and warm days below 90 degrees to set seed. Although the high
San Luis Valley of Colorado is one of the few areas in North America that
can support quinoa, the end result was far different from the original
seed that was introduced. Secrets to cooking this nutrient-rich food.
THE TRAIL OF ANCIENT BEANS -- When
archaeologists discovered dried beans stored in a pottery bowl dating to
thousands of years in an Anasazi dig, it clinched their theory. Beans were a staple in the diet of those ancient people. "I’ve
seen those small brown beans," says agricultural extension agent Dan
Fernandez, of Dolores County in the Four Corners area of Colorado, "and while they wouldn’t have viability to germinate now, they’re
an example of why beans grow so well around here today." Ancient
beans are still alive in Dove Creek.
SALADS -- On a
bright, not too cold Colorado day, you can almost hear the lettuce growing—the
tiny sword-shaped leaves standing at attention. But it’s only the imagination
at work. Winter is locked in and the leaves of foxglove and sweet William
lie hunched, hugging the earth.
ROASTING OF THE GREEN -- A haze
of smoke hangs in the air in southern Colorado after the harvest. On street corners and in parking lots the pop of
the gas torch signals the season of roasting. Vendors twirl wire
baskets to sear the thin skins of Anaheim or Pueblo green chilies. Men wearing cowboy hats and boots stride to their trucks laden
with boxes of the roasted chilies that will be frozen for winter stews and
AUTUMN WINDFALL OF APPLES, PEARS AND SOUR CHERRIES -- The word windfall is associated with sudden, unexpected bounty--the image of
ripe fruit blown from trees. Windfall is the perfect word for autumn when there’s
a chill at night. Apples, pears and sour cherries show up in the farmers markets
as if a cool gust has blown them in from the Western Slope.
THE WILD MUSHROOM -- Wild mushrooms may be the jewels of the forest, but with shitake, oyster,
woodear and portabello mushrooms in the stores, it’s hard to judge the
difference between a wild and cultivated mushroom. Here's the definition: wild
mushrooms must be collected from the forest and cannot be cultivated on a
mushroom farm. The exquisite, tender chanterelles or the robust, meaty boletus
rarely are found fresh in stores. They're discovered in the mountains of
HARNESSING THE SUN -- The road east to
Wiggins, Colorado, is straight and narrow--slicing through wheat, corn
and sunflower fields. Surely this isn't tomato and sweet pepper
territory. Or is it? Russell and Cindy Shoemaker are growing spectacular
vine-ripened tomatoes and pulpy giant sweet peppers in greenhouses. The
brilliance of the Colorado sun makes it all possible, they say.
IS KING in the summer. Even confirmed vegetable haters will drool over
fresh sweet corn slathered with butter, salt and pepper. It's a beloved seasonal past time—what truffles are to the French and mussels to the Belgians.
We'll visit the Western
Slope, which is home to Olathe Sweet corn.
CHERRIES AND APRICOTS -- As a prelude to Western
Slope peaches, sweet cherries and apricots open the season for fruit
desserts. David and Mary Morton from Morton's Orchards in Palisade are two
you'll meet in the farmers markets. Their organic cherries are picked at
the peak of ripeness when fruit is sweetest. Recipes include sweet cherries in whipped cream with chocolate shavings.
Then try a rustic cherry and apricot pie.
OVERLOOKED SPRING VEGETABLES -- We're
in a gardening lull when it comes to vegetables. Chard and spinach,
scallions, peas, broccoli and lettuce will make way soon for corn, tomatoes, peppers
and squash. But before we overlook this spring bounty, let's celebrate a
forgotten beauty, the humble beet.
PLIGHT OF THE HONEYBEE -- The world's busiest creature is essential
for pollinating our
flowering and fruiting crops. That's why beekeeper Tom Theobald is alarmed
that their numbers are declining in Colorado and elsewhere.
isn't just a substitute for sugar. It's a delicacy in its own right.
Honey caramelized peppery walnuts spice up a winter greens salad with blue
cheese. Combine honey and brown sugar to caramelize salmon, or honey and
lemon for Cornish hens. Classic honey butters complete the recipes for
roasted carrots, sweet potatoes and onions.