Don’t let summer end without…

Where did the summer go? It seems like just yesterday we were planning our first cookout and making plans to go to the beach. And while we do love fall—hello scarves and pumpkin-flavored everything—we’re not quite ready to let go of summer. Here are a few ideas for making the most of the last few weeks.

Hit the Dallas Farmers Market. Yes, it’s open all year, but now is the time to experience the flavor of the very freshest summer produce while getting to know the farmers who make it all happen. Pick out some heirloom tomatoes, a ripe, juicy melon and an especially gorgeous bouquet of fresh-cut flowers.

klyde warren parkTake the family to Klyde Warren Park. Seriously, there is so much to do. Play a game
of chess, check out what’s going on in the children’s park, romp with your pet in the dog park, make plans for Music Thursdays and grab a bite at the park’s gastropub, Savor.

There’s so much beauty to take in at the Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. Kids will go crazy (in a good way) at the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden, or plan to catch up with your bestie over a swanky afternoon tea. Admission is only a buck during the month of August, so now is a great time to go.

With more than 600 miles of coastline, Texas’ Gulf Coast is a prime spot for beachgoers. Grab some light reading, pack your towel, slather on your sunscreen and go!

texas-hill-country-rebecca-suzanneIf you’ve got a free weekend, head to the Texas Hill Country for a rustic mini-break. The town of Bandera bills itself as the cowboy capital of the world, and it’s easy to join in the fun. Rent a cabin, schedule a trail ride, go to a rodeo and end the day at a honky-tonk.

And of course, you’ll want to plan one last summer soirée with fantastic foods and delicious drinks. Whether you’re planning to show off your culinary prowess or delight in the skills of a creative caterer, Artizone has got you covered.

 

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Artisans juggling it all!

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Susie Kirkwood, Pear Tree Preserves, at work.

Many of our Artizone artisans juggle more than one job or switched career paths to become a food artisan. One of these artisans includes Susie Kirkwood, Owner of Pear Tree Preserves and on of our featured artisans in August.

Today’s blog post is brought to you by Susie, who tells us about switching her career.

I have been making and selling my preserves for about three years now. I had always managed to do things for Pear Tree before work, after work, and on weekends when I started. But after a couple of years, I began to feel the business wanting to grow. I would get opportunities that would become harder and harder to keep up with.

I decided to quit my full-time graphic design job after nine years. I wanted to give my business a chance to grow organically. Graphic design is always something I’ve enjoyed and never wanted to stop doing, so I decided to switch gears and freelance, giving me more time for Pear Tree and the ability to still keep designing.

Keeping one foot in graphic design and one foot in the food industry has been very difficult, but extremely rewarding. Pear Tree has tripled in size since I quit.

One of the many great things that has come out of this is that I’m able to help out other food vendors and farmers that I meet with design work, and sometimes even trade design services for fruit they have grown for Pear Tree. It has been a great experience.

The people I have met through this have been some of the most generous in terms of sharing what they have learned in their small business experience with me. I have been very lucky and have found the Chicago community to be really welcoming and appreciative of my jam.

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Make the most of end-of-summer produce

With apologies to Don Henley, we’re not too worried about the boys of summer leaving. All that fresh summer produce, though? That’s another story. Luckily, there’s still time to savor the flavors of the hot season, and Artizone has more than a few ideas for making the most of August’s most abundant veggies.

squashSummer squash Zucchini and yellow squash are especially plentiful this time of year, but so are your options for eating them. Shred them and mix into your favorite blueberry muffin mix. Slice and toss some into a frittata. Cut them into spears, coat with egg and panko and bake for a French fry alternative. It’s delicious on pizza (sub pesto for tomato sauce for an extra-summery dish). For a truly decadent treat, you must try this recipe for chocolate zucchini cake: Preheat the oven to 325 and butter and flour a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Sift 2 ¼ cup flour, ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp salt together into a large bowl and set aside. In a second bowl, beat one stick of unsalted butter, 1 ¾ cups sugar and ½ cup vegetable oil. Add two eggs one at a time and beat well after each, then beat in 1 tsp vanilla extract. Add 2 cups grated zucchini and mix thoroughly. Next, portion out ½ cup buttermilk. Add dry ingredients and buttermilk to the zucchini mix a little at a time, blending well after each addition. Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips and ¾ cup walnuts over it. Bake about 50 minutes or until the cake passes the clean-toothpick test. Cool cake in pan and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tomatoes What can’t you do with tomatoes? Char ‘em and serve them on Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 9.20.36 AMtoasted baguette slices with fried eggs. Make homemade spaghetti sauce. Layer thick slices onto a BLT (for the vegetarians out there, try a TLT: grilled tempeh, lettuce and tomato). Caprese salad and bruschetta are crowd-pleasing tomato dishes to tote to the last of the summer patio parties. Or make a tasty tomato tart—it’s super easy if you start with a pre-made crust. Spread about 8 ounces of shredded mozzarella over the bottom of the crust, and sprinkle about 2 Tbsp of chopped fresh basil over it. Then artfully arrange thin slices of tomato. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Slice into wedges, garnish with more fresh basil and serve warm.

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 9.12.01 AMHot peppers Bring the heat! Now is the time to savor the spicy little guys in fresh salsas, or roast ‘em and use ‘em to top pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, tacos and anything else your heart desires. Or, buy a bunch and make like Peter Piper and pickle a peck to save for winter. It’s really not that hard. You’ll need about 3 pounds of jalapeno peppers. Cut them into 1-inch pieces and toss into a large pot with 6 cups vinegar, 2 cups water, three cloves of crushed garlic and one chopped onion. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about five minutes. Ladle the peppers into sterile jars and top off with liquid, leaving about ¼ inch of space at the top of the jar. Place the jars on the counter and tap a few times to remove air bubbles, then cover with two-piece lids. To finish, place jars in the rack of a large canning pan, fill with enough water to totally submerge them, bring to a boil and let ‘em go for about 15 minutes. Refrigerate after opening.

Enjoy!

 

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Unleash your sweet tooth with D-ology: Gluten Free Baking

If you follow a gluten free diet and a have major sweet tooth, then D-ology: Gluten Free Baking’s products are just for you!

With sweets like Oreo Crumble Cookies and a Cranberry Orange Sweet Bread Loaf, you won’t feel like you’re sacrificing flavor when eating D-ology’s baked goods!

“I was in the middle of pastry school when I discovered that I had Celiac disease,” said Diane Mejia, Owner and Head Baker of D-ology. “I was getting hives just by being around flour on a daily basis. I also tested positive for numerous food allergies, making me effectively a vegan.”

Mejia wasn’t impressed with the baked goods she found at grocery stores. “They left me feeling depressed. There was no flavor, the textures were wrong and they looked like cardboard. I remember thinking to myself, ‘I can do better than this.’”

She said her first few tries at were disastrous, but began to learn more each time and started researching gluten free techniques.

“After literally thousands of tests, I finally found a process and products that passed my pastry school standards,” she said. “I decided to take my treats to the street. We started at first baking for friends and family, doing a little catering and so on.”

If you’re going to try a D-ology product, Mejia said to be sure to start with the Hey Missy Cupcake. “We’ve been told on more than one occasion that it’s ‘life changing.’ The Hey Missy is a dark chocolate cupcake infused with pomegranate juice and topped with blackberry icing. It’s not so much a treat as it is an experience.”

Even if your diet includes gluten, D-ology’s products are a must-try.

“Our goal is to make the best pastries in Chicago. Our pastries just happen to be gluten free and vegan,” said Mejia. We’re not trying to make reasonable fakes. We are making exceptional pastries that stand on their own two feet.”

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Rusk 101: How to use your rusks

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Have you ever wondered what a rusk is? Have you ever thought about different ways you can use them? Elizabeth Prewitt, Good Hope Rusks‘ Head Rusketeer has you covered!

Today’s blog post is written by Prewitt, who explains what a rusk is and what her favorite ways to use them are.

Good Hope Rusks are my modern take on a traditional South African breakfast or snack (called a “rusk”).  They’re made almost exactly like biscotti, but they’re not as sweet, and way more rustic.  They’re like biscotti 2.0.

Good Hope Rusks are made entirely by hand and from scratch, with all natural ingredients.  They’re double-baked, like biscotti, but with a more crumbly texture.  No worries about breaking a tooth on these!

The best way to eat a Good Hope Rusk is to dunk one in your coffee or tea.  It’s a perfect breakfast or snack!  Brew a pot — or mix up a Hot Toddy — and go to town.

Bonus round: save the crumbs as a delicious yogurt or ice cream topping.  Or even smash up the whole rusk itself, like my mom does!  It’s that good!

Our Anise & Cacao Nib flavor matches best with coffee, the Triple Sesame flavor is killer with ginger tea, and our Cardamom & Coffee flavor is fantastic with a zippy lemon tea.

Get dunking!

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