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“Do you like tomatoes?” By Laura Kumin

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As a cooking coach, and text/twitter-friendly mom, I often get the social media equivalent of a culinary SOS. “What can I make that is simple, quick, and delicious?” In the summer, my response is often another question, “Do you like tomatoes?” Because if you do, let’s start there.

This time of year, farmers market vegetable stalls are brimming with huge heirlooms and perfect cherry tomatoes; tomatoes grown in dirt and hydroponically; red, yellow, and even orange ones.

You can’t go wrong with a juicy, ripe tomato. And though I’m not a southerner, I have grown to love fried green tomatoes too. But my favorite tomato-centric dish of all is one from my grandfather. His Greek salad, with a nice hunk of crusty bread, takes only a few minutes to prepare, and works just as well in small quantities as in huge bowlfuls. If I put a container of Greek salad in the refrigerator, it’s gone in a flash, whether there is a crowd at home, or just two of us.

My grandfather died when I was 10 years old and I learned the recipe from my mother. When she made it, the salad had only 3 main ingredients: tomatoes, green pepper, and celery. As an adult, I asked her why it didn’t include feta cheese and olives, typical Greek ingredients. My mom replied that because she and her sister (my aunt) disliked them, my grandfather omitted the cheese and olives in deference to the wishes of his children. I’ve gone back to the original version, except when my mom comes over for dinner.

Greek Salad 

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Ingredients (makes 4 servings):

  •  4 medium-large tomatoes or an equivalent amount of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 tsp. of granulated sugar
  • Salt (preferably kosher or sea) and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. of red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup of chopped or crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ cup of chopped or sliced black olives, oil or brine-cured

 Instructions:

  1. Chop the vegetables into small pieces, all roughly the same size and mix them together. (Cherry tomatoes can be either halved or quartered, depending on their size.)
  2. Add the sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper.
  3. Chop the feta cheese and olives and add them to the salad.
  4. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 1 hour (and preferably longer) to allow the flavors to meld together.

At the market, you can get the tomatoes from produce vendors, including Toigo Orchards, Mock’s Greenhouse, Twin Springs Fruit Farm and Bending Bridge Farm.  All Things Olive has several varieties of wine vinegar, and Blue Ridge Dairy Co. has delicious feta.

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Laura Kumin is a cooking coach and the creator of MotherWouldKnow, a website that offers tips and other guidance to cooks (especially beginners), budget-conscious recipes and answers to food-related questions.  She also blogs for Huffington Post and writes occasionally for other websites and blogs.


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4th Annual Bake Bethesda A Pie Contest!

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It’s time to show off what you can do with a pie!

We are hosting our 4th Annual Bake Bethesda A Pie Contest at Bethesda Central Farm Market on Sunday, September 1, 2013!

Our Bake Bethesda a Pie Contest has become an exciting annual event. Last year over 45 participants entered very creative and delicious pies in two categories, Sweet and Savory. The contest is open to kids (8-17) and adults (18 and older). Over 200 spectators watched the 2012 judging and eagerly anticipated the announcement of the prizes and the cutting of the pies! After the judging, the pies are sliced and given to the spectators for tasting. The crowd goes wild for pie!

The pie contest is open to amateur bakers only and the contest is free to enter, but there is a $5 donation required per pie entry that goes to the Manna Food Center.

“The Annual Bake Bethesda A Pie contest has exceeded our expectations. There are so many talented bakers that enter their delicious creations that it is hard to choose a winner. Everyone has fun and we raise a lot of money for Manna.  It’s a win-win for everyone”, says Co-Founder Ann Brody Cove.

The judges are all food professionals and this year’s judges are Aviva Goldfarb, the founder of the dinner planning service, The Six O’Clock Scramble; David Hagedorn, who had a 25-year career as a chef and restaurateur before becoming a writer, and whose columns in The Washington Post have included Chef on Call, Real Entertaining, Sourced and The Process; and pastry chef extrodinaire Ed Lichorat.

This event is open to the public and is free! Registration is open online on through August 28 – register here!  For complete details and contest rules, click here.


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Farm to Freezer Launches as a Social Enterprise in 2013

Farm to Freezer Launches as a Social Enterprise in 2013 | centralfarmmarkets.wordpress.com

The harvest is in, so let’s get cookin’! After many months in the planning stages, Farm to Freezer is now ready to launch for the 2013 season. Based on the success of our pilot project with Bethesda Cares last year, we are launching Farm to Freezer as a social enterprise and scaling it up to serve more people in our community.

Several people have asked, What is a social enterprise? Are you a non-profit? Farm to Freezer is a for-profit social enterprise. By tapping the synergy of collaboration within our local food system we provide more local, nutritious food to Manna Food Center’s clients in need, provide vocational training in kitchen skills to vulnerable populations, and support farmers by purchasing their surplus produce and thereby strengthening our local food economy. I believe in the power of business to do good in the community. I believe that we can make a difference without competing for scarce public and philanthropic funding.

Farm to Freezer is able to launch operations in its first year because of the generous synergies created between several community stakeholders who share common goals. This year we are thrilled to collaborate with Manna Food Center that serves 3,300 clients and 50 partner feeding programs; Woodside United Methodist Church whose congregation has a strong hunger relief mission; Interfaith Works that provides vocational training to men and women rejoining the workforce; and farmers at the Bethesda Central Farm Market and the Olney Farmer’s Market.

Farm to Freezer will sell its delicious local and organic frozen tomato sauce, ratatouille, and mixed vegetables. Customers will be able to buy our products in the freezer section of local independent groceries and at select farmer’s markets in the fall.  Sales will help subsidize the cost of providing healthy, local vegetables frozen at the peak of ripeness to Manna Food Center’s clients come winter, when local fresh produce isn’t available.

Want to join us in the kitchen? As Manna Food Center volunteers, we will wash, chop, cook, package, and freeze beautiful vegetables and make delicious tomato sauce and ratatouille.  Click here to sign up!

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This blog post was written by Cheryl Kollin, who is the founding principal of Full Plate Ventures LLC which is a consulting business that leverages the symbiotic relationship between business and social mission. In 2012 she co-founded Farm to Freezer in collaboration with Bethesda Cares to address surplus fresh produce, hunger, and food waste. This year she launches Farm to Freezer as a social enterprise. Cheryl also co-chairs the Montgomery County Food Council. For more information about Farm to Freezer, visit their website.