Tag Archives: cookbooks

Endless Summer Produce

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It may be time for back to school for lots of families nationwide, but summer is still in full swing in farmer’s markets and the supermarket produce section.  Peaches, berries, summer squash and melons – all kinds of melons are ripe for the picking and deliciously nutritious.  I’ve shared a couple of recipes from The Slim Down South Cookbook below.

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Back to work after summer vacation often means busy weeknights. But that doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to the fresh tastes of summer produce. Why not celebrate the fabulously fresh with the wonderfully easy to prepare microwavable frozen entrees such as Lean Cuisine Sweet & Spicy Korean-Style Beef? It comes with brown rice and vegetables and I added a cup of snow peas to balance the plate. The Lean Cuisine website is beautiful with lots of nutrition information to explore. “Freshly made, simply frozen” is a great way to describe the variety of entrees inspired by global cuisines and close to home comfort foods.

Nestle’s Balance Your Plate campaign provides great information on nutrition, portion control and creative combos for satisfying meals.  I added a parfait of fresh berries and a cup of steamed summer squash and zucchini with onions to a plate starring Lean Cuisine Roasted Turkey and Vegetables.

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You can add your own creativity to the table too. Lean Cuisine’s Vermont Cheddar Mac n Cheese is beautiful when you add broccoli florets. Or even if it’s a weeknight why not enjoy Lobster Mac n Cheese?  I bought a lobster tail for $6.99, boiled it in water (with some lemon juice added) for about six minutes until the shell turns bright red and the meat is translucent. Plunge the lobster tail in ice water to cool. Remove the meat from the tail by slicing through the center of the shell longwise and pull out the meat. Chop it up and add to the mac n cheese! Fancy but soooo easy.

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SUMMER PRODUCE RECIPES from The Slim Down South Cookbook: As seen on NBC Atlanta & Company with host Christine Pulara! 

Here’s the link to the TV Segment: CLICK HERE

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Grilled Watermelon with Balsamic Glaze

Adding a bit of savory blue cheese and salty prosciutto (optional) to sweet watermelon makes for a wonderful combination. Brush the watermelon wedges with a bit of oil to keep them from sticking to the grill.

Makes 12 servings

Hands-On 20 min.

Total 20 min.

3 (½-inch-thick) watermelon rounds, quartered

1 Tbsp. olive oil

⅛ tsp. kosher salt

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto

2 oz. blue cheese, crumbled

Fresh basil leaves

2 tsp. bottled balsamic glaze

  1. Preheat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high) heat. Brush both sides of each watermelon quarter with olive oil, and season with desired amount of salt and pepper. Cut prosciutto into thin strips.2. Grill watermelon quarters, without grill lid, 1 minute on each side or until grill marks appear.3. Transfer watermelon to a serving plate; top with blue cheese, prosciutto strips, and fresh basil. Drizzle watermelon with balsamic glaze. Serve immediately.Serving size 1 wedge CALORIES 44; FAT 3g (sat 1.2g, mono 1.2g, poly 0.2g); PROTEIN 7g; CARB 2g; FIBER 0.1g; CHOL 7mg; IRON 0.2mg; SODIUM 213mg; CALC 28mg

 

Tipsy Melon Salad

Cantaloupe is packed with vitamins A & C for eye and skin healthy, plus it’s is a good source of the B vitamin folate, which is critical for pregnant women. It’s high water content also makes it super hydrating for hot summer months.

Raspberry liqueur and vodka give this colorful spiked fruit salad its lighthearted moniker. Liven up a weeknight dinner party, or skip the booze if it’s a ‘school night’.

Makes 6 servings

Hands-On 16 min.

Total 1 hour, 16 min.

2 cups cubed honeydew

2 cups cubed cantaloupe

1.3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)

⅔ cup sugar

½ cup vodka ( optional)

⅓ cup black raspberry liqueur (optional)

¹/₁₆ tsp. fine sea salt

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint

Garnish: fresh mint sprigs

1. Place melon cubes in a large bowl.

2. Whisk together lemon juice and next 4 ingredients in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Pour lemon juice mixture over watermelon balls; stir gently to coat. Cover and chill 1 to 2 hours.

3. Gently toss melon. Sprinkle with chopped fresh mint. Serve immediately with a slotted spoon.

Serving size about 1 cup CALORIES 228; FAT 0.1g (sat 0g, mono 0g, poly 0g); PROTEIN 0.7g; CARB 41.5g; FIBER 0.7g; CHOL 0mg; IRON 0.5mg; SODIUM 25mg; CALC 14m

Many thanks to Nestle and Lean Cuisine. It’s a pleasure working with you to help happy, healthy folks learn to Balance Your Plate!

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Southern Vegetables Celebrated at Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

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Rebecca Lang, author of Southern Living’s The Southern Vegetable Cookbook

 

“The larger the radish, the spicier it is. Who here is afraid of radishes?” asked Rebecca Lang, author of The Southern Vegetable Cookbook. Leading a sold out class on ‘Vegetable Versatility” at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, Lang saw there were no hands in the air. This was a room full of enthusiastic food fans eager to taste and learn veggie-centric cooking tips from chef Todd Richards of Atlanta’s White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails restaurant and visiting chef Digby Stridiron of the U.S. Virgin Islands. While Stridiron sliced into plantains and advised, “Buy the green ones in the market and let them ripen at home”, Richards passed samples of his English pea soup garnished with fresh pea tendrils and shared, “We try to use as much of the whole vegetable together.”

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In its sixth year, the four-day festival features chefs from the southern region and entertains guests with lavish southern themed dinners, cooking classes and wine, beer and spirits tastings.

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Cold beer and hot chicken!

Please note my food festival balancing act skills as I carried a Honeysuckle cocktail made with Cathead Vodka and chicken liver pate with a cup of ice in the middle to keep things cool!

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How it’s done.

Sure there’s plenty of BBQ pig and peach cobbler to please, but there’s a sizable celebration of the lighter side of the south, too.

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Golden Lentil Salad, Odette

 

“Everyone things of pork first, but vegetables are the surprising foundation of southern foods, said chef Linton Hopkins of Atlanta’s Holman & Finch Public House, Restaurant Eugene and newly opened Linton’s in the Atlanta Botanical Garden. “I love vegetables and right now I’m excited about the in-season peas, especially lady peas.”

 

Even the Grilling Terrace at the Loews Atlanta Hotel -home base for the festival classes- put vegetables in the spotlight. Chef Rob McDaniel of the Spring House on Alabama’s Lake Martin smoked whole beets in a Big Green Egg to build a beet sandwich with celery and blue cheese slaw. “You can substitute eggplant or zucchini. Grilling is a great way to enhance vegetables because earthy and smoky flavors go really well together,” said McDaniel.

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New Southern Styles

No longer destined to be ‘cooked to death’ and coated in bacon fat, vegetables are elegantly prepared by southern chefs today. Instead of ham hocks, McDaniel prepares greens and beans with smoked turkey or chicken legs. The crisp and refreshing golden lentil salad served up in the tasting tents by chef Josh Quick of Odette in Florence, Alabama was garnished with a Gulf shrimp relish and tiny touch of ham.

 

Salt and sugar are still part of the recipe when cooking a ‘mess of greens’ but Arkansas chef Mark Abernathy of Red Door restaurant in Little Rock cautioned, “You can always add more salt and more sugar later. You can’t take it out. The sweet and salty flavors will concentrate as the greens cook, so have a lighter touch.”

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Chef Mark Abernathy gets excited about greens!

 

 

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Happy Healthy Thanksgiving!

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Whether you’re doing the cooking at home, taking a dish to a gathering or making restaurant reservations for Thanksgiving dinner Atlanta area chefs offer some inventive ideas to add a deliciously healthy twist to menu traditions.
While Thanksgiving is not a day for dieting, it’s certainly smart to up the flavor appeal of holiday favorites with creative recipes that help keep the calories down. That way you have room for a bigger slice of pumpkin pie. Yes, you can indulge without the bulge.

Here’s the How to Indulge without the Bulge segment for #HealthyThanksgiving I did for WGN TV with Chicago food stylist Connie Pikulas.

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Enjoy Winter Salads

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Look at these beautiful Brussels sprouts!

The very first Thanksgiving’s mission was to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. Chefs turn to the season’s harvest for culinary inspiration. Salads are often overlooked in the parade of roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy.
At newly opened Paces & Vine, chef Ian Winslade’s Tuscan kale salad with mandarin orange dressing, crystalized ginger and local radishes, is a great winter produce idea. The Thanksgiving to-go menu at Murphy’s, also under Winslade’s direction, features a winter salad of mixed greens, pears and walnuts as well as butternut squash soup with the flavors of apple and ginger cream.
Sweet New Ideas
What Thanksgiving spread would be complete without sweet potatoes? Sweet potatoes are rich in healthy fiber, potassium and beta-carotene. Chef Carvel Gould suggests roasting sweet potato wedges and tossing them together with parsnips and rutabaga wedges cooked in a non stick pan with some garlic and shallots for about four minutes until their tender but still have some texture.

Chefs at Seasons 52 restaurants, who specialize in creating just-as-tasty but lighter, lower calorie dishes are serving maple-glazed roasted butternut squash with their Thanksgiving menu this year.

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Modern Family Menus
From the head of the table to the kids’ table, there are bound to be a few folks at Thanksgiving gatherings this year who have unique diet needs including a nut allergy, a gluten intolerance or are vegetarian or vegan. No doubt whoever’s cooking the meal will feel a bit challenged. Sous chef Cooper Miller of JCT Kitchen says, “We are used to special diet requests so we create a bunch of sides that anyone can enjoy without nuts, bacon or breadcrumbs. Then we throw in a few dishes loaded with all of those ingredients for those who want to splurge.” An easy idea for home entertaining: create a condiment platter of ingredients so each guest can customize their plates depending on allergies or food preferences.

Everybody’s happy on Thanksgiving.

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How Not to Get Over Stuffed on Thanksgiving

• Fill your plate with your personal holiday favorites first. Don’t waste your calories on foods you can eat all year long.
• Turkey and all the trimmings may be the draw, but remember the main event should be sharing time with family and friends.
• Start a new tradition by taking a walk with family and friends after the big meal and serving dessert after the stroll. You’ll feel better and dessert will taste even better.
• Give thanks that even dietitians believe Thanksgiving is not a day to diet. You may not lose any pounds over the holidays, but if you maintain your weight you’re doing great.

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Oscars of the Food World

A Winning Weekend in New York with Top Foodies
Monday night at Thomas Keller’s Per Se James Beard Awards After Party with the legendary Jacques Pepin 

What a thrill to wine and dine and chat with the top chefs, cookbook authors, TV food show stars and writers who tell us who’s cooking what, where, why and how to cook it up yourself – or try!

Thank you Marion Laney for this fab photo of Gotham Hall glam! 

The annual James Beard Foundation Awards, held in NYC are a must for moi! Traveling with Atlanta gal pals, Gina Christman and Anne Marsden and my daughter Katie as an early graduation present – we took the town by storm with shopping sprees and the goal of dining in just about every ‘hood in NYC.

It’s easy to make new friends in NYC. Balthazar drinking rose Champagne Saturday while Anne and Katie shopped.

I am on the James Beard Foundation Awards National Broadcast Media committee so there’s a lot of work leading up to the big announcements, but the weekend is a magical ride of Manhattan fun.

Friday kick-off lunch at Harry Cipriani. Vanilla cake.  We sat next to Robert Wagner. 

The big night is Friday for the Journalism Awards and the tables were set with pretty pink peonies as the wine flowed.  There’s Martha Stewart with her entourage over there. Of course, I said hello to her!
Chef Marcus Samuelson at the table next to us and he won for his autobio book, Yes Chef!

Chef Marcus Samuelson of Red Rooster tweets out his news: Winner!

Martha Teichner of CBS Sunday Morning near us too. She won in the Best TV Food Program, in studio or fixed location. Congrats to her and the CBS Sunday Morning Team.

Martha Teichner accepts the JBF Award for CBS Sunday Morning’s annual food themed show.

The South won big in Yankee territory. Nathalie Dupree and co-author Cynthia Graubert won a big prize, Best American Cookbook for their six pound cookbook, “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking” Nathalie accepted the award saying, “The South is the new Italy!”

A photo from the big screen of Nathalie and Cynthia accepting the James Beard Award !

More love! Martha Teichner and Nathalie Dupree congratulate each other on their James Beard Awards.
Both live in Charleston, SC.
We had dinner at Del Posto restaurant on Sunday night. 
Del Posto is my favorite restaurant in New York. The service is elegant but relaxed.
We sat down at 7:30pm and finished dinner at 11pm. I felt as if I’d been there 11 minutes.
A beautiful experience that began with flutes of 2006 Pierre Gimonnet Brut Cuvee Fleuron Champagne and the prettiest salad I’ve ever tasted or seen. Congrats to Del Posto for winning Best Service and Best Pastry JBF Awards and nomination for Best Chef NYC. As my daughter texted a friend, “I’ve just had dinner in first class on the Titanic.”
Shhhhhh….this lunch is a secret. 

The “Southern Mafia Lunch” is an annual sort of secret invite only gathering on Monday before the Gala JB Awards at Avery Fisher Hall.  Top chef nominees from the South and Southeast categories gather along with Southern food writers, food producers and enthusiastic “southern-aires” at Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli’s beautiful little Butter Restaurant.

Butter colored buttercup flowers on the tables at the Southern Mafia Luncheon.
Lots of fun – Andrew Zimmern sneaks into the photo with Gina Christman,
Publisher of Atlanta Homes & Lifstyle Magazine and Mary Reynolds, of The Reynolds Group, Atlanta

Here’s a link to ALLLL of the winners thanks to Andrew Zimmern’s website!  He won as JBF Best Media Personality 2013.  And I give him the “Nicest Best TV Personality Award!”
James Beard Foundation Awards winners

How about some punch? Top foodies tell us the cool places to go in NYC.
We’re at Pouring Ribbons cocktail bar wayyyyyy down town on Sunday night.

It’s all about the fun and frolic. As a busy food journalist, and three time James Beard Foundation Award winner including JBF Who’s Who in Food Beverage – it’s an absolute thrill to hang out with all of these great foodie folks. There are too many parties to go and too many people to hug – but we can only try!

JBF Award winner and uber famous chef, Todd English and I
 at Chef’s Night Out Party at Todd English Food Halls, Plaza Hotel

Yes, it’s important to burn some calories after burning the midnight oil eating and drinking so Gina, Anne and I hit the streets on Sunday morning and walked 5 miles through and around beautiful Central Park. A brisk start but sunny day and lots of needed oxygen. 

Nightlife followed by wildlife in Central Park. Birdwatchers abound and the flowers in full May bloom.
My favorite place to stay is The Kimberly Hotel. I booked a two bedroom, two bath suite for our Atlanta gals getaway for $322 and that includes free internet, a roof top bar/breakfast and free coffee/tea and pastries all afternoon on the rooftop terrace. Hello! Why would you stay anywhere else? 50th between Lex and 3rd. 

Goodbye Manhattan, thank you for a wonderful James Beard Foundation weekend!
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Happy 100th Julia Child

Julia Child and me in New York in the early 90’s
Apparently, we loved purple then. We had lunch that day at Union Square Cafe.
Julia told me she thought the waiter was good looking. 

“Bon appetit!” as the late culinary icon Julia Child would say at the end of each episode of her pioneering PBS cooking show series The French Chef.  This week her fans are saying “bon anniversaire!” to commemorate what would have been her 100th birthday on Wednesday, August 15th. Julia’s kitchen wisdoms continue to educate and inspire millions through her many cookbooks, biographies and documentaries about her and this month deliciously fun re-runs of The French Chef on PBS television.  A few minutes into an episode on onion soup I completely forgot I was watching Julia ladle soup and grate cheese in black and white! Her personality added the color. When she knocked over an open bottle of Cognac on the counter she quickly righted it and stated there would be plenty left for the recipe.

During my years as a CNN correspondent covering the food beat, I was lucky to interview and share memorable meals with Julia Child. She even came to my house one morning for coffee. She taught me a few things about food and nutrition, too.

While working on the manuscript for my book, The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!, I asked Julia who was then well into her 80’s and well known for her love of butter and cream what advice she might have for planning a healthy dinner party menu. She offered a stealth strategy, “If you serve a health-conscious meal to guests, don’t say so. Don’t mention it at all. Think taste first!”  Back to the onion soup episode – she ends the show with a table set for a meal with the soup as the entrée, a salad with green beans, a crunchy baguette and fresh fruit and small cookies for dessert. She suggests, “This would be a lovely light meal let’s say for after the movies.”

Gems from Julia

During an interview with me for a CNN profile in 1997 she shared that moderation was the key to eating a healthy diet but here’s her delicious twist on that, “Everything in moderation I say. Even excess! You can splurge every once in a while.” She continued with a stronger observation, “I think a lot of people have an immature attitude. They hear you shouldn’t eat a lot of butter or red meat and so they give up eating butter. They give up eating red meat. The key to healthful dieting is to eat small helpings and a great variety of everything. And above all have a good time!”  Julia Child was famous for telling it like it is. I remember her commenting during a food conference on the low fat diet trend in the early 90’s with this hilarious statement, “All these people eating fat free foods! They’re going to get dandruff!”

When I asked about the healthfulness of French cuisine she leapt to its defense, “When they speak of French cooking they say ‘Oh! All of those heavy sauces!’ I think people have a complete misconception of French cooking. I think they’re thinking of tourist cooking.”

Child’s cookbooks give loud applause to the appeal of produce. In her 1995 cookbook “They Way to Cook” over 100 pages are dedicated to cooking vegetables and salads with a chapter introduction in which she declares, “The truth has dawned that fresh vegetables are not only good for you, they can be the glory of any meal, when lovingly cooked.”

Starting August 15th, Julia’s birthday, the Julia Child Kitchen exhibit will be on display until September 3
Julia’s Cambridge Kitchen

During a recent trip to Washington, DC I was disappointed to find out that the exhibit in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History featuring Child’s kitchen from her home in Cambridge, Mass was closed for renovation. I wanted to get some photos of the section of the kitchen where a VHS tape of CNN On The Menu with Carolyn O’Neil was placed next to her television. (I’m in the Smithsonian!) Nanci Edwards, project manager for the Smithsonian Institution took me behind the scenes to see how the new exhibit was coming along. Out of the public eye on the other side of an unmarked door there it was. Julia’s kitchen with its shiny appliances, cookbooks, counter tops and copper pots hung on a blue pegboard wall wrapped up in protective sheets of clear plastic waiting for the surrounding exhibit to be completed, “It’s a better point of view for visitors now. They can walk around the outside of the kitchen in a complete circle,” says Edwards. Julia Child’s Kitchen will be on display for a limited time August 15- September 3 and will reopen in November, as the focal point of a new exhibit hall titled Food: Transforming the American Table, 1950-2000.

Not the stove from Julia’s kitchen, but I took the photo anyway at the Smithsonian
But don’t look for the CNN videotape, “ I don’t think that will make it into the new exhibit.”  Edwards informed me, “But we’re not going to throw it away.” I guess I’m still with Julia Child in the Smithsonian somewhere.

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Farmers Market Month!

August is for Farmers  
Saturdays start early for farmers market fans who grab re-usable shopping bags, jostle for parking spaces and hit the stands.  As the saying goes, the early bird catches the worm and in this case it’s the best tasting pickings of fresh produce, herbs, flowers, artisanal cheeses, organic eggs and just-baked breads.  It’s also the place your likely to learn about the foods you’re buying from the same folks who grew the vegetables or made the cheese. Overheard at the Peachtree Road Farmers Marketone recent Saturday; a woman attracted to a beautiful display of heirloom tomatoes but hesitant to buy asked the farmer, “How do I know which ones to pick?”  He replied, “Well, it depends when you want to eat them. If you want them for today choose the really ripe red ones. If you want them for a few days from now choose the firmer ones that will ripen on the kitchen counter.”  She smiled and began her personal harvest from the farmer’s selection.

More Farmers Markets

 August is National Farmers Market Month and just released statistics from the US Department of Agriculture shows a 9.6 increase in the number of farmers markets over the past year. While Georgia can’t beat California’s 827 or New York’s 647 markets, the percent growth in the Southeast region beats the national average with 13.1 percent more farmers market listed in the 2012 edition of the USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, compared to 2011.  Marilyn Wright Yon, dietitian with the School Nutrition Program for Georgia’s Department of Education likes to visit farmers markets so much she seeks them out in other towns when on vacation, “You find amazing things and meet really interesting people.” She recommends bringing a small cooler especially if purchasing cheese, eggs or meats and says, “Buy something new to you to try.  Ask how to prepare it if needed.”

Chefs and Farmers

Another crop showing up at farmers markets is the chef! Chef demos are often part of the entertainment and education for shoppers. The Peachtree Road Farmers Market and Morningside Farmers Market, for instance, feature local chefs and cookbook authors each week.  Rebecca Lang, author of Quick-Fix Southern showed folks what to do with summer’s bumper crop of corn and tomatoes.

You’ll even see Atlanta area chefs leading private tours of the market.  I saw Linton Hopkins, executive chef of Restaurant Eugene followed by an eager bunch of foodies as he introduced them to farmers and spoke about unusual varieties or especially tasty ones.  Executive chef Thomas McKeown of the Grand Hyatt in Buckhead is a regular at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market too because he drops in to visit one of his favorite farmers, Cory Mosser of Burge Organic Farms of Mansfield, Georgia, “I use Burge’s produce in the hotel restaurant where we have a big commitment to supporting local farms.”  During his recent farmers market recipe demo McKeown prepared local goat cheese mousse with heirloom tomato jam. He’ll be on Mosser’s farm cooking lunch for volunteers pitching in work the fields on Sunday August 19th,  “It’s a crop mob. You’ve heard of a flash mob right?” explains McKeown, “Well this is an organized effort to help farmers with volunteer labor.”

www.crobmobgeorgia.com   A great way to celebrate National Farmers Market Month.  
To Market to Market: 
Tips from Nutrition Experts who Love Farmers Markets

Marilyn Wright Yon, MS, RD:  

Arrive early – right at the start of the market – if you want popular items like strawberries, blueberries, peaches, corn, peas or melons.  These typically go fast when in season. 

Bring change – small bills – for your purchases (some are taking credit cards now with their iPhones and the square thingy). 

Bring your own bags/baskets to carry home as sellers can run out of bags. 

Learn the seasons for your area so you are not disappointed if you do not find tomatoes and melons in May (at least in N Georgia) and decide to not return. 

Visit all the vendors even if you think you are finished with your purchases.  You may find something you would like to try the next week. 

Debbie King, MS RD LD :        
    Take a quick walk around to see what’s available before making purchases     
    If your local farmer will take orders the day before it saves lots of time and if you are running late you know what you ordered will be there.
      Buy your favorites but try one new veggie or fruit each weekLike garlic scapes,  they are not just for table décor.
     Ask other shoppers what they make with what they are buyingI was purchasing tomatoes this summer and another shopper said she was buying tomatoes to make tomato jam.  So when I got home I scoured the internet for good sounding tomato jam recipe and made itIt was a great idea as tomato jam is more like ketchup, so we have enjoyed yummy homemade ketchup on our veggie burgers this summer.
    Carolyn O’Neil, MS RD LD: Atlanta!
    -make sure to wear comfortable shoes, but make sure they’re cute. Lots of hunky farmers here. And guys shopping with their girl friends for Saturday dinner cooking dates. You want to look like you’re shopping for a dinner date, too.
    -make sure to wear something casual but fashionable. Avoid shopping bags that clash with your color combo. Lots of other cute girls with designer sunglasses and trendy designs on their re-useable shopping bags. You are not going for the “Rebecca of SunnyBrook Farm” look either. Avoid braids and gingham,  looks too theme-like. 
    -make sure to have lots of small bills. You don’t want to stress out the organic peach guy by handing him a twenty. Small bills especially important in the early hours of market when farmers and vendors haven’t collected a lot of small bills, yet. 
    -act like your bags are really heavy when you see a cute guy near the organic coffee vendor. It’s a long walk to the car. 


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