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Restaurant lunch highlights:

LOCAL Digest: Farm-to-Restaurant Month

Food truck rally kicks off F-T-R 2013

LOCALDIGESTauthorBox9PTLast month I focused on preserving the harvest via canning and the dill pickle sandwich slices and grapefruit marmalade I made. This month, I will focus on how August is Farm-to-Restaurant Month once again in Alachua County and the City of Gainesville.

In August of 2012, Blue Oven Kitchens hosted a series of fundraisers in partnership with area restaurants serving local food in order to raise money for its kitchen facility. We had such a successful Farm-to-Restaurant Month last year that we were able to raise enough money to open our kitchen facility! This year we are asking for your support in order to sustain this facility through its start-up phase as well as Blue Oven's on-going community programming.

This year's Farm-to-Restaurant Month once again offers a variety of fun events centered around enjoying and learning about local food, the farms that grow it, and the foodservice establishments that provide it. All proceeds benefit Blue Oven Kitchens.

Consider becoming a sponsor of Blue Oven Kitchens and Farm-to-Restaurant Month. We give our sponsors locally made thank-you goodies and tickets, depending on the level of sponsorship. Please see our PDF about how to become a Beneficial Nematode ($50 Level), Pollinator ($100 Level), Kitchen Sink ($200 Level), Big Red Rooster ($500 Level), The Cheese that Stands Alone ($1,000 Level), or The Whole Hog (over $1,000 Level).

Friday, August 2nd: Food truck rally at CYM Coffee Co (5402 NW 8th Ave)!  5 P. M. – 10 P. M. CYMPLIFY'S (almost) FAMOUS FOOD TRUCK RALLY! Lots of awesome food trucks (serving up both local and regional delicacies), incredible live music, delicious ice creams from CYMPLIFY Scoops, CYM Coffee Co serving up amazing coffee and specialty drinks, craft beers and wine, Blue Oven Kitchens' entrepreneurs... and more! This is a great family event and the food truck rallies at CYMPLIFY are quickly becoming a feel-good Gainesville tradition. Pets are very welcome. Please keep fuzzy friends on a leash.

Saturday, August 10th: Bagel Bakery. 10% of all sales at our sponsor The Bagel Bakery (4113 NW 16th Blvd) benefit Blue Oven Kitchens. Stop by between 7 A. M. – 4 P. M. that day to support Blue Oven and taste the featured local items. You may also win a door prize!

Wednesday, August 21st: The Jones B-side. The B-side (203 SW 2nd Ave) and Swamp Head Brewery are sponsoring this fun event. Come celebrate the first day of the semester or join friends after the downtown farmers' market from 4 P. M. – 8 P. M. to take advantage of the B-side specials: Blue Oven gets a % of bar sales, of the featured local food menu item, and of the special cocktail. OR BUY A TICKET AT THE DOOR FOR $10. This $10 ticket includes: a 16oz Swamp Head Brewery glass with 1 fill of featured Swamp Head beer if you are 21 or older. Refills in this glass are $4. Tickets and refills available while supplies last. Live music on the porch courtesy of Seaton Tarrant and Jeffrey Forbes.

Monday, August 26th: The Wooly. Local fare buffet dinner at our sponsor The Wooly (20 N. Main Street) from 5:30 P. M. – 9 P. M. courtesy of the Klezmer Katz. The Wooly is owned by and next to The Top restaurant. Live music between 6 P. M. and 8:30 P. M. ADVANCED PURCHASED TICKETS REQUIRED, LIMITED TO 150 PEOPLE. Tickets $35 per person or $60 per couple. Your ticket includes: buffet style dinner and 1 non-alcoholic beverage from event menu, live music, door prize drawing. PLEASE BRING CASH FOR CASH BAR.

Friday, August 30th: Prairie Creek Lodge. Low country boil sponsored by Northwest Seafood, Swamp Head Brewery, and Alachua Conservation Trust! We will host this event at Prairie Creek Lodge (7204 SE CR 234) from 5 P. M. – 8 P. M. ADVANCED PURCHASED TICKETS REQUIRED, LIMITED TO 100 PEOPLE. Tickets $35 per person or $60 per couple. Your ticket includes: low-country boil dinner (be prepared to get dirty!), a Swamp Head Brewery glass filled with a non-alcoholic beverage or 1 fill of Swamp Head beer if you are 21 or older, and live music. Refills of beer are $4 each while supplies last. PLEASE BRING CASH FOR BEER REFILLS.

Week of August 26th – 30th Tempo Bistro, Mon-Fri, Tempo Bistro (1516 NW 13th Street) will make a $0.25 donation to Blue Oven for every cup or bowl of soup sold. These delicious soups will feature local ingredients.

A reminder that advanced purchased tickets are required for August 26th dinner at The Wooly and August 30th Low-Country Boil at Prairie Creek Lodge so we know how much food to source. If we have not reached capacity for the food we have prepared, we will sell tickets at the door. Check in with us on our website or Facebook page for updates.

Reserve your tickets or become a sponsor by calling or emailing Val Leitner: 352.278.7518, Val@blueovenkitchens.org. Or, pay through PayPal on our website and make sure to write in details of what you would like to attend, or what level of sponsorship you are requesting in the "Notes" section. Or, stop by the Blue Oven booth at the Union Street Farmers' Market, downtown Gainesville on Wednesdays (over by the courthouse).

Interested in finding out more about Blue Oven Kitchens, our cooking classes, or the entrepreneurs using our facility and their products? Please look for full updates on the BOK website, Facebook, and through the GLOB of course! With our newly opened and inspected commercial kitchen facility, we create new ways for you to support new and expanding food entrepreneurs and small farmers who want to create delicious food products for your enjoyment. Email  Val@blueovenkitchens.org if you would like more information on how to volunteer your elbow grease, if you would like to become a sustaining sponsor to Blue Oven, or if you would just like to donate some un-used kitchen small wares and appliances.

Want to know more about what’s local and what local means in our community? The Local Digest is a monthly piece on all things local in North Central Florida, from food to economics to environment to community. Local, you see, isn’t just a way of buying or a way of eating: it’s a whole system of the social, economic, and environmental values that mark the character of where we live, and how we seek to improve the health of those values. It is a column about sustaining our region and what we love most about it.

LOCAL Digest: Preserving the harvest

Canning fruits, veggies reaps long term flavor rewards

LOCALDIGESTauthorBox9PTLast month I focused on my first foray into goose cooking, which I called "The Crock Pot Goosilla". This month, I will focus on preserving the harvest (also the name of a cookbook I like) via canning.

You may already enjoy preserving fruits and vegetables by canning them in glass jars. It is one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon or evening at home. Canned goods make wonderful treats, beautiful decorations, and meaningful gifts. They are also a way of preserving the tastes and smells of a season past and all its memories.

062713MarmaladeThis week, I made dill pickle sandwich slices, inage above, and grapefruit marmalade. The former came from a local and organic farm that had a surplus of cucumbers and was willing to part with most for $1 per pound, and gave me the rest as a thank you for taking them off their hands. The latter came from a friend's grapefruit tree which still has some of last season's fruit hanging around (literally) and which he kindly shared with me for this purpose. Of course, I promised him a jar of marmalade in return.

I decide what to can based on what is locally available. Sometimes this happens serendipitously (as with the items this week) and usually because of surplus, but sometimes I go out and take great pains to procure what I know is around. I have done that over the past weeks, picking and freezing blueberries, dewberries, and blackberries so I can make my "black bluedew" jam once I have enough. This doesn't mean I have scads of free time to just go out and pick, either. When I happen upon some berries, or am going to an area for business that I know has some, I will jump out of the car and pick feverishly for however long I can, or I will plan an hour or two of time to get what I can while I am in the area.

I am armed with several recipes for every season – some old and some yet untried – for when opportunity knocks. Having an arsenal of recipes for things like pickles, relishes, syrups, jams, and jellies makes taking advantage of those surpluses less daunting and less time consuming. I would also like to here provide you with several tips that may assist you in being prepared to process your own food.

062713produce> Take advantage of what is in season and what there is a surplus of as you will get some great deals, especially from farmers. And if you're willing to go out to the farm and take surplus off their hands there (and, thus, they don't have to drag it to the market), the deals usually get even sweeter.

> Often, the fruit and veggies farmers want to get rid of aren't perfect, and some are really not perfect. As long as the produce isn't rotten, I'm not daunted by worm holes, stink bug bites, a small rotten spot, and other imperfections. Make sure when you are canning these, however, that you are very diligent about cutting out any area of the fruit or vegetable that has been affected. Those parts do better in your compost pile than in your jars.

062713Tomatoes> When canning vegetables and non-fruit jams and jellies (such as hot pepper jelly), always use a tested recipe by a trusted source, and then don't alter it. You may want to check out the Ball Blue Book or even Ball's Intro to Canning document online. Altering the recipe of acidified, low-acid canned foods could also alter the pH, which could result in botulism, which you definitely don't want.

> Follow the directions carefully. For fruit jams and jellies, not following the directions can leave you with a non-jelled and excellent tasting syrup instead of the spreadable substance you were aiming for. Not following directions for pickles and similar products is the same as altering the recipe.

> Remember that you are sanitizing the jars and everything you are putting in the jars, either through cooking or boiling or scalding. Keep clean hands and try not to contaminate what you have sanitized by touching it unnecessarily.

> Ward's Supermarket and the Citizens' Co-op have a good selection of organic herbs which you can purchase by the amounts you need, rather than by the jar. Ward's also has other canning necessities, such as jars, pectin, and pickling salt.

062713Jars> Jars, lids, and lid rings can get expensive if you buy them at the wrong place. Consider stocking up by ordering online through Ace Hardware and then picking up your jars at the local store. Local hardware stores such as Reddick Brothers Hardware in Micanopy and Sparr Hardware also carry some canning supplies and are often competitive with the online pricing.

From the cucumbers that cost me $8, the spices and ingredients that cost me $5.34 and the new jar lids that cost me $2.24, the total cost for 8, 1 pint (16 ounce) jars and 1, 1 quart (32 ounce) jar of organic pickles is $15.58. I don't include the cost of jars and lid rings as I had them already and have re-used them many times. That means I now have 160 ounces of organic pickles for almost $0.10 per ounce. The online Walmart price for a 46 ounce jar of Mt. Olive Hamburger Dill Chips pickles (non-organic) is $2.63, at almost $0.06 per ounce. Not bad. And it only took me 2 hours to make, the ingredients I either already had or bought while I was shopping for other things, and the cucumbers very nearly just fell in my lap.

AAsmallknifefork0311

August is Farm-to-Restaurant Month Once Again!  Last August, Blue Oven Kitchens hosted a series of fundraisers in partnership with area restaurants serving local food in order to raise money for its kitchen facility. Well, we're doing it again! More details to follow in the next edition of the GLOB, but also check out the BOK website and Facebook page for more updates!

Interested in finding out more about Blue Oven Kitchens? Please look for full updates on the BOK website, Facebook and through the GLOB of course! With this facility, we will create new ways for you to support new and expanding food entrepreneurs and small farmers who want to create delicious food products for your enjoyment. Email Val Leitner if you would like more information on how to volunteer your elbow grease, if you would like to become a sustaining sponsor to Blue Oven, or if you would just like to help us buy a stand-up mixer for our facility!

Want to know more about what’s local and what local means in our community? The Local Digest is a monthly piece on all things local in North Central Florida, from food to economics to environment to community. Local, you see, isn’t just a way of buying or a way of eating: it’s a whole system of the social, economic, and environmental values that mark the character of where we live, and how we seek to improve the health of those values. It is a column about sustaining our region and what we love most about it.

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