Friday, September 30, 2011

Radical Cooking - New Southern Greens

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms

Better, faster, fresher, cheaper - healthier
Cooking the new old fashioned way 

Grilled salmon served
 on a bed of Quick Cooked Kale

It not unusual for people to roll their eyes and shun greens when ever they're served.  

Even for Southerners raised on greens, sometimes, the way they're prepared makes them un-appealing.  It all depends on who's doing the cooking and how fresh the greens are.

Here in Virginia, we have a long tradition of dumping greens into a big pot of water, throwing in a piece of fat back and cooking the heck out of them.  What's left is a worn out mass that's served with the "pot liquor" and plenty of biscuits to sop up the broth.  

By today's standards, cooking greens all day with high fat, high salt bacon may not be the healthiest way to prepare them but to old fashioned taste buds, it can certainly be good.

Greens, in case you're from the north and don't understand southern speak, can be an leafy vegetable.  Collards, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens are a few.  There are more.

This recipe is certainly radical when it comes to cooking greens - kale in this case.  It's a quick cook, stir fry method using soy sauce (or aminos) for flavoring.  

Now, before you fat back and long cooking traditionalists roll your eyes at me, why not give it a try?  It's healthy and it's good!

Quick cooked greens - now that pretty radical!

Quick Cooked Kale
Remove the leave from
the stem by starting at
the top and pulling down. 
The number one, most important thing about this recipe is to have really fresh, young, tender kale - like from the garden right after a frost.

Older kale - generally the grocery store stuff - doesn't do well with quick cooking so you might as well get yourself a pot of water and a piece of fat back.

Kale, by the way, is loaded with nutrients!

Serves 4 to 6 

This much damp kale.....
3/4 pound fresh, young kale (a little more or less is OK)

1 tablespoon soy sauce or Braggs Aminos (see Karla's Tip below)

Optional garnish - Crispy sauted onions or canned, French fried onion rings

Remove the stems from the kale.  Break or cut into bite size pieces.  Wash well.  Drain but do not dry.  

Put the soy sauce or aminos into a large skillet.  Add damp kale. Cover.  

Cook on high till softened - about 2 to 3 minutes.   Remove cover.  Stir until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Serve topped with optional garnish, if desired.
Cooks down to this.

Karla's Tips
Like spinach, kale will cook way down so don't worry if your skillet seems too small.

Braggs Aminos is like soy sauce without the additives and with much less salt.  It has a softer taste, too.  Look for it in the health food section of your grocery store.   

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Radical Cooking - Take Back Bad Produce

By Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist

Better, fresher, quicker, cheaper, healthier 
Cooking - the new, old fashioned way 

I just got back from returning produce I bought last week at the grocery store.  

It doesn't matter which grocery store because they're all to blame.  

They sell produce that looks beautiful but winds up being terrible.

Last week, I bought some gorgeous looking (and wonderfully fragrant) peaches.  I thought they'd be great.  I cautioned the clerk not to bruise them as he put them into my bag. I brought them home to lovingly, slowly ripen. 

Two days later, the peaches were the perfect stage of ripe-ness but when I bit into one, it was pulpy and dry.  Not a speck of juice ran down my chin!

Thinking it was just a bad peach (that can happen), I cut into another, then another and, by the forth peach, I realized it was going to be the whole batch.  They were AWFUL. It didn't matter that they were on sale....they were awful at any price!

We live way out in the country and I don't get to the grocery store every day, so I put the peaches into the fridge till I was able to make a trip to town.

A week later, I took them back to the store, receipt in hand.  

The clerk cheerfully took them back never asking why.  
I thought it was important for her to know why I returning the peaches so I told her.  I asked her to be sure the peaches got back to the produce manager so he (or she) could see what was going on with their produce.

I never used to return produce - or much of anything for that matter - but now I seem to be spending 2 days a week at the grocery store - 1 day shopping and the other day returning.

Grocery stores (and I shop them all) spend lots of time displaying their produce attractively and keeping it fresh looking but they should also be sampling the produce to see exactly what they're selling.  

Shoppers around the world taste produce before buying.  It's expected.

We used to taste before buying but, somewhere around 1960 as small stores and farm stands gave way to super markets, the practice stopped.  

Now-a-days, tasting a grape or a bit of lettuce is considered shop lifting. So, we buy good looking produce expecting it to taste as good as it looks.

When it doesn't, we throw it out.
What we need to do is return it.

Bananas that never turn yellow but rot inside their green peel.
Bitter, tough to chew lettuce, cucumbers, kale, and collards.
Pulpy, juice-less peaches.
Plums that never ripen.
Strawberries that are moldy the day after you buy them.
Stringy, dry green beans.
Onions that look good on the outside but are rotten at the core.
Apples without taste.
Bags of potatoes that contain a few mushy ones.
The list is endless.

If the produce you buy isn't what you expect, take it back. 
Don't be afraid.
It's the only way stores will know you're not happy.  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Radical Cooking - Home Made Pickles Without Canning!

Better, fresher, quicker, cheaper, healthier cooking - the new, old fashioned way 

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms

Got a bumper crop of cucumbers in the garden?

Love the idea of canning but hate the thought of a hot steaming kettle?

Here's a quick little recipe that your're going to like!

It's easy and no canning is required.
Put cucumber slices
into a jar
Just pour a syrup over cucumber slices and refrigerate.

Old fashioned comfort food just like grandma's - only easier and in smaller batches.

Pickles without canning - that's pretty radical!!

Un-Canny Quick Sweet Pickles
Real pickle taste without the canning.

Makes about 1-1/2 cups pickles

1 pound pickling cucumbers (see Karla's Tip below)
1 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon turmeric
Pour  in the syrup
1/4 teaspoon whole mustard seeds

Wash cucumbers well under tepid running water. Drain.

Cut about 1/4 inch off each end of each cucumber to remove both the stem and blossom ends.  Discard.

Cut cucumbers into 1/4 inch thick slices.  Put into a heat safe bowl.

Cover slices with boiling water.  Let sit at room temperature 2 hours.

Drain cucumbers. Do not rinse. Pack slices into a canning jar or other heat safe container with a tight fitting lid.
Cap the jar and

Combine remaining ingredients in a pot.  Cover.  Bring to a boil on high, stirring occasionally, to dissolve sugar.  

When sugar has dissolved, pour the boiling liquid over the cucumber slices.  Cool slightly (about 15 minutes) and cap.

Refrigerate at least over night before eating to allow flavors to develop. Longer is better.

These pickles keep several weeks in the refrigerator.   Do not store at room temperature.

Karla Tip - Cucumbers
Pickling cucumbers have less seeds and moisture than salad cucumbers. Like their name says, they make better pickles than salad cucumbers.

Salad cucumbers are waxed to prevent moisture loss.  Pickling cucumbers are never waxed.

Grocery store salad cucumbers are always waxed.  Salad cucumbers from farm stand and farmers' markets are generally not waxed but ask to be sure.

Sometimes grocery stores carry pickling cucumbers but not always.


Can I use salad cucumbers to make pickles?

Well, sort of.
Salad cucumbers are OK in recipes (like this one) that do not require canning but pickling cucumbers will be much better.

If using salad cucumbers, peel, then remove and discard the seeds before slicing.
The pickling liquid will not penetrate the wax and the seeds will make a pulpy mass.

For recipes that are canned, you must use pickling cucumbers.
You'll be very disappointed if you don't.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Radical Cooking - Pimento Cheese - The Caviar of the South

Halloween Haunted House Tours and Ghostly Sightings - The Spirits of the Graffiti House

Brandy Station Foundation Fall Festival at Old House Vineyards

Come One - Come All

Who - The Brandy Station Foundation

What - Is Inviting you to their Fall Festival

Where - Old House Vineyards, 18351 Corky's Lane (off Route 663) Culpeper, VA 22701

When - Sunday, September 18, 2011 - Rain or Shine

Why - To have fun while raising money for the restoration of the Graffiti House and the Preservation of the Brandy Station Battlefield


Join the Brandy Station Foundation under the shade trees of one of our areas' most lovely vineyards and wineries.

Just $25 per person 
for a day filled with old fashioned fun, food and festivities.
 (Children 12 and under are free with a paying adult)

Look what your ticket includes:
Pork barbecue lunch complete with sides
Home made ice cream and cotton candy
Wine tasting and hay rides

See Civil War re-enactors including the 17th VA infantry and Governor William "Extra Billy"Smith

Browse the craft vendors
Games for children, too!

Tap your feet to the beat of  Mountain Remedy blue grass music.

Don't miss out!!

Tickets on sale now at the Graffiti House/Brandy Station, VA
or call 540-547-4106

Tickets by mail:
Send a check for $25 for each ticket to
The Brandy Station Foundation
PO Box 165
Brandy Station, VA 22714

Makes checks payable to the Brandy Station Foundation


Too late to mail?
No problem!!
Tickets available at the Vineyard the day of the event.

Directions to Old House Vineyards  (From Culpeper)
Take Rt 3 East approximately 7 miles then turn left onto Stevensburg Rd (Rt 663)
Go 1.1 miles and turn left onto Corky's Lane.  Follow signs to parking area.

Friday, September 9, 2011

41 Cool Springs Road

There's nothing like owning your own building!
And this one has great visibility!!

Show case your business
in this charming
"Sears" cottage

Property Information

41 Cool Springs Rd
Fredericksburg, VA 22405

Purchase Price - $299,900

Lease/purchase considered

Formerly Karla's Great Cheesecakes Bakery
Owners: Karla and Anthony Seidita
540/270-8676  cell

Great Visibility!
Located on a newly widened, well traveled, 4 lane road that connects Routes 3 & 218

1000 square foot cottage
Zoned M-1 (light industrial - see permitted uses below)

Full basement for storage or other use
Lot size - approximately 1/4 acre
Large back yard for parking or storage
VDOT curbed drive way
VDOT turn lane at drive way

Upgraded 200 amp electric service with router for serge protection (staggered turn on of power) after an outage
Most electrical outlets are upgraded
Busy 4 lane,
newly constructed
 highway - primed
for development

Over head, commercial lighting
Ceiling fans
Wood floors

Wired for 3 phone lines and cable

County sewer and water
Oil heat
Central air conditioning
Natural gas available at street for hook up
Out door, trenched electrical line to back yard for exterior power/exterior lighting/out buildings

Approximately 5 years old or less
New 25 year roof
New attic exhaust fan
New front and back steel doors
New vinyl, double pane replacement windows
New bathroom fixtures (no shower or tub)
New ceiling fans and light fixtures
New coffee area/modified kitchenette (no appliances)
New 10 gallon (approximately) electric hot water tank
New oil furnace
New water pipes throughout
Recently rebuilt/relined and cleaned chimney
New stainless steel chimney rain/bird cap


Directions from down town Fredericksburg:
Take Route 3 (William Street) east and cross over the Chatham Bridge.
After the bridge, go to the second traffic light and turn left onto Cool Springs Road.
Follow Cool Springs Road to red cottage on right (#41 - adjacent to the Eagles Club).
If you come to the traffic light, you've gone a little too far. 


Permitted Uses
Zoning Reprint of On Line document

M-1 Industrial Light.
The purpose of the M-1 district is to establish areas of the county to provide for certain types of business and industrial uses characterized by light manufacturing, fabrication, warehousing and wholesale distribution, which are relatively free from offensive activities and which, with proper performance standards, will not detract from residential desirability of adjacent properties. It is intended that the M-1 district encourage the development of parks for the location of these uses. These [This] district should be located only where all necessary public utilities are available and where transportation systems are adequate.

(a)Uses permitted by right:
Automobile assembling, disassembling, painting, upholstering, repairing, rebuilding, reconditioning, body and fender work, truck repairing or overhauling, tire retreading or battery manufacture.
Building materials sales and service yards.
Commercial kennels.
Contractors equipment and storage yards.
Convenience center.
Convenience store.
Fleet parking.
Flex office.
General office uses.
Laboratory, research and testing.
Light industrial uses.
Light manufacturing uses.
Machinery sales and service.
Motor vehicle rental.
Parking and storage of tractor trailers.
Printing, publishing, engraving.
Public facilities/utilities but not including propane and heating fuel distribution facilities, generating facilities, substations, switching stations and wastewater treatment facilities which are permitted as a conditional use permit.
Public works excluding wastewater treatment facilities.
Railroad sidings.
Restaurants without drive through.
School, vocational.
Selected indoor recreational enterprises within industrial parks.
Storage warehouse.
Veterinary clinic.
Vocational school.
Warehousing, mini-storage.
Welding or machine shops (including the use of punch presses not to exceed fifty (50) tons rated capacity).
Wholesale business.

(b) Conditional use permit:  
(You have to apply for a permit - Additional county fees apply)
Adult business.
Airport, private.
Boat sales.
Communication facility.
Dwelling for watchman or caretaker on premises.
Low intensity commercial retail not otherwise listed.
Medium intensity commercial retail not otherwise listed.
Motor vehicle sales.
Other light industrial and manufacturing uses not otherwise listed for this district.
Place of worship.
Public facilities/utilities for propane and heating fuel distribution facilities, generating facilities, substations, switching stations and wastewater treatment facilities (except for the expansion or modification to a wastewater treatment facilities existing prior to October 17, 2006).
Recycling facilities.
School, industrial.
Truck stop.
Vehicle fuel sales.

(c) Requirements:

(1) Intensity: .....Ratio
Maximum floor area .....0.35
Open space ratio .....0.20

(2) Minimum yards: .....Feet
Front* .....40
Side** .....15
Back** .....15

(3)  Maximum height (in feet) .....65
*Front setback may be reduced. Specified in section 28-59(f)(10).
**When adjoining any nonindustrial district, the setbacks shall be at least forty (40) feet.
(Ord. No. 094-29, 8-9-94; Ord. No. 095-10, 3-7-95; Ord. No. 097-04, 1-7-97; Ord. No. 097-25, 3-18-97; Ord. No. 097-36, 5-20-97; Ord. No. 097-43, 6-17-97; Ord. No. 000-35, 6-6-00; Ord. No. 001-27, 5-1-01; Ord. No. 001-48, 9-13-01; Ord. No. 002-18, 4-2-02; Ord. No. 002-17, 6-18-02; Ord. No. O06-01, 6-20-06; Ord. No. O06-83, 10-17-06; Ord. No. O06-73, 12-19-06; Ord. No. O07-78, 12-18-07; Ord. No. O09-13, 6-16-09)

Link for complete document:

Scroll down to M-1

Fall is Apple Time in Virginia - Celebrate with An Apple Fest Menu

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms

Monday, September 5, 2011

Julie & Julia - The Movie and the Cooking

By Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist  
Julia's plain roast chicken
is anything but "plain"

I bought myself a DVD of Julie & Julia and have been watching it non stop ever since.  It's a must have video for everyone who loves to eat.  It is by far one of my favorite movies!

It's two stories in one...... Julia (that's Julia Child, of course) in France circa 1950 writing "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" - her first cook book and Julie Powell, present day, who teaches herself to cook by preparing every recipe in Julia's book.

Glorious roast chicken
The movie encouraged me to get out my old, and never before used, copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking".  Oh, I had skimmed the book when I got it - sometime during the 1970's - deciding (wrongly) that the recipes were too long and therefor too difficult and too time consuming to prepare.

Now, some 40 years later, encouraged by the movie, I actually started to read the book and discovered that the recipes are purpose-ly long because Julia wanted to explain in detail every step needed so the dish would come out perfectly.

I started to cook and followed Julia's instructions about not skipping steps or doing things differently - even though I thought I knew better.

Well, my dears, just like in the movie, I stood over my pots of simmering stew and fluffy bowls of icings, spoon in hand sighing "yum" over and over again as I tasted.

The complexity of flavors was incredible. Familiar foods but with tastes like I never experienced.  Julia's recipes are art for the palate.  I am so in love with her cooking!

Yesterday, I made Coq au Vin and Orange Frosted Sponge Cake.  It took me the whole day but when we finished dinner, I wanted to lick my plate clean.

Fresh Fruit Tart
Unlike Julie Powell, it will take me years to prepare every recipe in the book.  I don't know how she did all that cooking in just one year.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Radical Cooking - Barbecued Mushrooms

Cooking Without Recipes....
Fast, Cheap and Healthy Food

Barbecued Mushrooms
From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms
Flash in the Pan
Get dinner on the table in no time flat with this vegetarian charmer that tastes expensive but is easy on the budget.  

No recipe or measurements needed.  
Just toss a few pantry staples together and serve. 

Guaranteed to be a family pleaser - and they'll never miss the meat.
What a radical little recipe!!!

Barbecued Mushrooms  
All ingredients are to taste.  Make as much or as little as you need.  
Whips up in 10 minutes or less.
Any left overs make a yummy wrap to send to school or take to the office.  
Can't wait till lunch?   Pour them over your breakfast eggs.

Portabella mushroom caps (washed and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices) 
Onions (peeled, washed and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices)
Olive oil
Ground black pepper
Your favorite barbecue sauce
Cooked rice (See Karla's Tip below)
Put some olive oil into a pan.  Add pepper.  Cook one minute on low heat.  Add the onions. Toss to coat.  Cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until soft.  Add mushrooms and barbecue sauce.  Cook, covered, until they are soft - about 3 minutes. Remove cover.  Stir. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.  Boil until the juices have evaporated to a consistency you like. 

Serve over rice as a main dish.  

Great spooned over grilled chicken or steak, too.

Karla's Tip
Jasmine rice cooks in 10 minutes so it's just as fast as instant rice but tastes so much better.
Jasmine rice, by the way, is a rice-ier tasting rice that is divine.  It's a Thai staple so if you've eaten in a Thai restaurant, you've had Jasmine rice.

Jasmine rice is great for hurry up meals.  While many feel that brown rice is healthier, brown rice can take up to 40 minutes to cook.