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For St. Patrick’s Day: A familiar dish with a twist

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Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.

Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake

Of the creamy, flavored butter that your mother used to make?

Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I’m to cry.

Oh, wasn’t it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.

One of Ireland’s more famous foods is the humble potato which, when abundant was the source of song, and when scarce, the source of suffering.

A potato blight touched off starvation and ignited the complicated events that devastated west and south Ireland between 1845 and 1849, the years of the great Potato Famine. In those years, more than one million people died and another million emigrated, many to Canada and the U.S.

The famine and the potato live together in folk memory of the Irish, along with this simple, and familiar dish: Colcannon, meaning white-headed cabbage.

Even non-Irish will know the dish well as mashed potatoes. The traditional Irish mash was an inexpensive daily main dish. It adds a little cabbage or kale, perhaps with scallion, leeks or chives. Bacon or ham pieces can also be added.

Leftovers are fried up in the morning for breakfast with pork slices.

Here is one recipe from Taste of Home.

Ingredients
1 medium head cabbage (about 2 pounds), shredded
4 pounds medium potatoes (about 8), peeled and quartered
2 cups whole milk
1 cup chopped green onions
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup butter, melted
Minced fresh parsley
Crumbled cooked bacon

Directions
Place cabbage and 2 cups water in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until cabbage is tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving cooking liquid; keep cabbage warm in separate dish.

In same pan, combine potatoes and reserved cooking liquid. Add additional water to cover potatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, place milk, green onions, salt and pepper in a small saucepan; bring just to a boil and remove from heat.

Drain potatoes; place in a large bowl and mash. Add milk mixture; beat just until blended. Stir in cabbage. To serve, drizzle with butter; top with parsley and bacon.

Nutrition Facts
1 cup: 168 calories, 5g fat (3g saturated fat), 14mg cholesterol, 361mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 4g fiber), 4g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 fat.

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Farmers markets: the best place for locally sourced goods

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For many people, the mention of a farmers market brings to mind stalls packed with fresh fruits and vegetables. However, these bustling spaces offer an abundance of other regional goods. Here’s a sampling of what you might find.

Ornamental plants
Bring your backyard to life or add a pop of color to your garden with a wide selection of flowers, plants, and shrubs. Ask growers on-site about the best choices for your shaded, sunny, or damp yard.

Organic goods

While it can sometimes be a challenge to find fresh organic produce in grocery stores, there’s no shortage of it at farmer’s markets. Many small-scale cultivators and breeders specialize in organic farming practices. Take your pick from organic fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, eggs, and more.

Craft beer, wine, and spirits
Little pairs are better with a locally-sourced meal than a glass of wine, cider, or craft beer that was made just down the road. Discover the flavors of your region at the stalls of local producers. If you fancy an aperitif or digestif, sample the offerings of a nearby micro-distillery.

Artisanal goods
Farmers markets aren’t just about eating and drinking. Among the tables laden with the food you’ll find an array of unique creations. These often handcrafted products range from soaps, creams, and essential oils to candles, clothes, and linens.

For these local products and more, take a stroll through a farmers market near you.

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Food

Revitalizing green smoothie

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Do you need an energy boost? This delicious and refreshing smoothie is the perfect solution.

Start to finish: 10 minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients

• 1 banana, sliced and frozen
• 2 kiwis peeled, sliced and frozen
• 1/2 cup pineapple peeled, diced and frozen
• 2 cups baby spinach
• 2 cups vegan milk
• 1/2 cup coconut water
• 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
• 1 teaspoon almond extract

Directions
1. Use a blender to purée all the ingredients.
2. In 2 glasses, evenly pour the smoothie.
3. Garnish with berries.

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Pomegranate and feta salad

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This simple summer salad is packed with nutrients and perfectly marries sweet and salty flavors. The pomegranate seeds add a nice pop of color.

Start to finish: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

• 1 head curly endive or frisée lettuce, chopped
• 1 radicchio, chopped
• 1 red onion, thinly sliced
• 1/2 cucumber, cut in semi-circles
• Seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
• 7 ounces feta cheese, diced
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 1 tablespoon Dijon or old-style mustard
• 2 tablespoons maple syrup
• Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
1. In 4 bowls, equally divide the lettuce, radicchio, onion, cucumber, pomegranate seeds, and feta.
2. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Mix well and drizzle over each salad.

If you find the taste of raw red onion to be overwhelming, soak the slices in cold water for up to 1 hour before assembling the salad. This will mellow their flavor.

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Prosciutto, fig and goat cheese crostini

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If you want a simple yet sophisticated starter to serve at your next dinner party, look no further than this classic Italian appetizer. Your guests are sure to love the pairing of salty prosciutto with the sweetness of figs.

Start to finish: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

• 4 slices Ezekiel or multigrain bread
• 3-1/2 ounces soft goat cheese
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 4 fresh figs, sliced
• 8 thin slices of prosciutto
• 1 cup arugula
• Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
1. Use a toaster or barbecue to grill the bread.
2. Spread a quarter of the goat cheese on each slice of bread, and top each with half a tablespoon of honey. Salt and pepper to taste.
3. Atop each crostino, lay a quarter of the fig slices and 2 slices of prosciutto.
4. Garnish each crostino with a few arugula leaves. Salt and pepper to taste.

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How to eat locally all year long

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If you favor food produced in your region, you’ll help protect the environment and support the local economy. Plus, you’ll gain access to fresh and affordable ingredients. Though it’s often more associated with summer, eating locally can be done year-round. Here’s how.

Learn about the region
Start by familiarizing yourself with what foods grow in your area and when they’re harvested. A seasonal food list will make it easier to plan your meals. Keep in mind that some growers use greenhouses to ensure that their fruits and vegetables are available year-round. Consult online resources or speak with growers at your local farmers market to learn more.

Prepare for winter

Good food storage practices allow you to enjoy a wide range of products throughout the year. Apples, onions, and various root vegetables, for example, will keep for months if stored in a cool, dark place. Other summer produce can be purchased in bulk and then canned, frozen or pickled. This will allow you to diversify your meals in winter without buying out of season.

Embrace seasonal substitutes
Eating locally year-round requires creativity and a willingness to adapt your diet to the season. Start with simple changes. Swap spinach and lettuce for nutrient-rich alternatives like leeks and cabbage during the winter. Pick up a seasonal cookbook at your local bookstore if you need a bit of inspiration.

With a little planning and effort, you can enjoy locally sourced meals year-round.

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Greek chicken brochettes

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Serve up these tasty brochettes at a Greek-inspired feast or as an alternative to burgers at your next family barbecue.

Start to finish: 1 hour 20 minutes (25 minutes active)
Servings: 4

Ingredients

• 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tablespoons oregano, fresh or dried
• 1 tablespoon Italian parsley, fresh or dried
• 1 teaspoon ground coriander
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• 4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cubed
• 1 large zucchini

Directions
1. In the sink or a large bowl, soak four wooden skewers in water for at least 1 hour. (Skip this step if you’re using metal skewers).
2. In a large bowl, mix the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and spices. Add the chicken and mix well. Make sure the chicken is evenly coated in the marinade. Chill in the fridge for 1 to 3 hours.
3. Chop off the ends of the zucchini and use a peeler to cut fine strips. Salt generously and lay the strips flat (without overlapping) on a clean cloth or paper towel. Place another cloth or piece of paper towel and a heavy object, such as a wood cutting board, overtop. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.
4. Uncover the zucchini and use a clean cloth or paper towel to dab away excess salt and water. Roll up each strip.
5. Assemble the brochettes by alternating cubes of chicken and rolls of zucchini. Cook on a barbecue or in a grill pan until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with tzatziki sauce.

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