Honey Caramel Pie

Thanksgiving dinner isn’t complete without a delicious pie for dessert. This honey caramel pie is rich, a little gooey, and perfect for sweet tooths and caramel lovers alike. Using only honey as the base of this pie’s caramel filling creates a delicate depth of flavor that differs from sugar-based caramels. A perfect dessert for fall, this pie is sure to be a hit!

This caramel recipe cannot be made truly vegan without removing the honey, which is what gives it its unique flavor. To make the pie dairy free, you can substitute with full-fat coconut cream and vegan butter.

This recipe also requires you to heat the honey to a certain temperature range. If you do not have a thermometer, you can use the ice bath method to check the temperature. In a small cup, add lots of ice and a small amount of water. When you think your caramel is starting to reach the right temperature, drip a small amount of it into the ice bath. Remove it from the bath and run it through your fingers to see if it has hardened. If it forms a firm ball when dry, it is ready to be taken off the heat. Watching the caramel’s color is also important if you’re using this method. As it reaches the correct temperature, it will become darker and golden in color, thickening slightly. As the honey boils, it will naturally foam, so don’t be alarmed. Happy caramel making, I hope you enjoy this wonderful pie!

 

Ingredients:

For the crust:
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
6 T unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup honey

 

For the Caramel:
¾ cup heavy cream
1 cup honey
2 T unsalted butter, room temperature

 

Instructions:

Grease a 9.5-inch pie pan and set it aside.

Smash your graham crackers into fine crumbs.

Melt your butter in a medium bowl.

Add graham cracker crumbs and honey to the melted butter. Stir until combined.

Transfer into the pie pan. Smash the graham cracker crumbs into the sides of the pan and base to create a crust.

Allow the crust to set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

In a medium sized pot, add your honey and heavy cream.
Turn your burner on to medium-high heat and stir occasionally. The honey will foam as it boils, this is normal.
Heat the honey until it has reached 250℉

When the honey has reached temperature, it will turn a deeper golden color and become thicker to stir. Do not allow it to become too dark, otherwise it will become too hard to eat once it’s set.

After the honey reaches 250℉, remove it from heat and immediately stir in the butter. Stir until combined.

Pour the caramel into the piecrust and top it with flaky salt if desired.

Allow the caramel to cool and set at room temperature for 1-2 hours. When it has cooled and set, cover it to preserve freshness until serving. Enjoy!

 

Fall Quinoa Salad

This warm quinoa salad is perfect for fall. Roasted butternut squash gives this dish a great texture and flavor, along with savory spices and cinnamon. It’s great as a side for dinner, or as a cozy vegan dinner when served by itself.

This recipe calls for cinnamon, which may seem odd for a savory dish. It lends the quinoa mixture a subtle warm spice that pairs wonderfully with the butternut squash. You may omit the cinnamon if you’re skeptical, but it makes this dish really shine!

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups spinach
2 garlic cloves
1 lemon
2 T oil
2 Tsp cumin
2 Tsp paprika
2 Tsp salt (or to taste)
1 Tsp cinnamon (optional)

Preheat your oven to 425 and prepare a baking sheet line with parchment paper.

Mince your garlic cloves and set them aside.

Peel and cut your butternut squash into cubes. Toss them in your oil and place them onto the lined baking sheet, leaving some space between each piece. Roast for 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and add your minced garlic to the baking sheet with the butternut squash. Roast the squash and garlic for 10 more minutes.

While your squash is roasting, bring 2 cups of water to boil in a medium sized pot. Add your quinoa and simmer it on medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the water is completely absorbed. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat when done.

Chop your spinach into medium-sized pieces and add them to a small saucepan to wilt the spinach, about 2 to 3 minutes.

When your butternut squash has finished roasting, add the butternut squash and spinach to the pot with the quinoa. Stir to combine.

Squeeze the juice of one lemon into the pot. Add your spices, salt and garlic to the pot. Stir the quinoa salad to combine all the ingredients. Enjoy!

Lentil Bolognese

This lentil bolognese is perfect for pasta night. With just a can of tomatoes and a few pantry staples, this protein-packed meal comes together in just 30 minutes. This dish plays on the classic flavors of your favorite tomato-based pasta sauce, with added protein and texture from hearty lentils. It pairs perfectly with your favorite pasta, or over a bed of rice. Try it topped with cheese, like mozzarella or parmesan.

This recipe makes about three servings. If you’re cooking for a large group or would like to make more to have leftovers, this recipe is incredibly easy to double using an extra can of tomatoes or a 28 ounce can. This recipe keeps well in your refrigerator for about a week and freezes well.

 

Ingredients:

14 oz can tomatoes (diced or crushed)
1 cup lentils
½  white onion
2 garlic cloves
1 T oregano (dried or fresh)
½ T basil (dried or fresh)
¼ tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt (or to taste)

 

Instructions:

Add 3 cups of water to a medium-sized pot and bring it to a rolling boil. Add your lentils and reduce to medium heat.

Set a timer for 15 minutes to allow your lentils to cook. When they are fully cooked and tender, drain them and set them aside.

While your lentils are cooking, dice your onions and garlic.

In a medium-sized saucepan, add your olive oil, diced onions and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until they are fully tender and fragrant, stirring occasionally.

Add your tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt and black pepper to the saucepan. Stir to incorporate the ingredients. Allow the sauce to simmer for 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

Add your cooked lentils to the saucepan, stirring to incorporate.

Remove from heat, allowing the bolognese to cool for 1-2 minutes before serving.

Serve the bolognese over your pasta of choice, or over rice. Enjoy!

Kabocha Squash (Japanese Pumpkin) Bread

This sweet bread is a great treat as the weather gets colder, with warm and comforting spices that are perfect for a fall day. Instead of using a regular American pumpkin, this loaf uses kabocha squash to make it moist and flavorful. Kabocha squash is also known as Japanese pumpkin, its flavor is somewhere between a pumpkin and a butternut squash and it’s texture is wonderful for baking. Enjoy this bread fresh out of the oven or toasted with some butter the next morning.

If kabocha isn’t in season when you make this recipe, you can substitute with pumpkin puree for a similar flavor. This recipe can also be made vegan very easily by using vegan butter and “flax eggs.” To make a flax egg, grind 1 T of flax seed with 3 T of water and set it in your refrigerator for 15 minutes before adding it in the place of eggs. I made a vegan version of this sweet bread for our Front End team meeting and it was a hit!

 

Ingredients:

2 Cups all purpose flour
½ Tsp salt
1 Tsp baking soda
½ Tsp baking powder
1 Tsp ground cloves
1 Tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tsp ground nutmeg
2 Cups brown sugar
2 eggs
⅔  Cup unsalted butter
2 Cups kabocha puree

 

To make kabocha puree:

Peel a small kabocha squash.
Cut the kabocha in half and scoop out it’s seeds, then chop it into large cubes.
In a large pot, add the kabocha cubes to boiling water. Boil for 20 minutes.
Remove the pot from heat. Using a colander, strain the kabocha from the boiling water.
Transfer the kabocha to a food processor or blender until it is smooth to form the puree.
Drain any excess water from the puree using a cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer.
Set the puree aside until you are ready to bake.

 

To bake the bread:

Preheat your oven to 375℉
In a large bowl, combine your flour, spices, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk them together and set it aside.
In a separate smaller bowl, add your butter and sugar. Cream them together by beating them with a whisk until combined.
Add your eggs to the sugar and butter mixture, beating until the mixture becomes fluffy.
Pour your kabocha puree into the mixture and beat it until the mixture is combined.
Add your dry ingredients and fold the wet and dry mixtures together until a thick batter is formed.
Transfer the batter to a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.
Bake for one hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Serve it warm and fresh out of the oven or the next morning toasted with a little bit of butter. Enjoy!

 

No-Bake Granola Bar Treats

These granola treats are my favorite snack to enjoy on a Saturday afternoon. With protein from peanut butter and sweetness from chocolate and honey, they’re filling and sure to satisfy.

This recipe calls for peanut butter, but any nut butter works perfectly in this recipe. Don’t hesitate to use whatever nut butter you have on hand, or what you like best. For those using chocolate in this recipe, make sure to add your chocolate after the granola has cooled slightly so it won’t melt. However, if you’d like the batch to be extra chocolaty, feel free to mix it in while the granola is still warm.

The base of this recipe serves as a blank canvas for all kinds of granola bar creations. I have a pretty persistent sweet tooth, so I enjoy making these with sweet additions like chocolate. You can add any kind of nuts, seeds or dried fruits you have on hand and omit the chocolate to make these bars even more nutritious.

Ingredients:

¾ cup peanut butter
½ cup honey
2 T sunflower oil (or any neutral-flavored oil)
1 Tsp vanilla extract
½ Tsp sea salt
2 ¼ cups old fashioned oats
¼ cup milk chocolate chips
¼ cup white chocolate chips

Variations:
½ cup chopped nuts
½ cup dried fruit
½ cup dried shaved coconut
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup chia seeds

Instructions:

Line an 8x8inch pan baking pan with parchment paper. Set it aside.
In a saucepan over medium heat, add your peanut butter, oil and honey. Simmer it until it begins to bubble slightly, stirring occasionally. This may take 7 to 10 minutes.
Add your vanilla extract and salt. Stir the mixture to incorporate it and allow it to simmer for one more minute.
Add your oats and stir until combined, allowing the oats to fully absorb the mixture.
Place your granola to the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes, allowing it to cool slightly. Remove it and stir in the chocolate chips until fully incorporated.
Transfer the granola to your baking pan and press it into the pan. Packing the granola down firmly and evenly will help it keep its shape once prepared.
Allow the granola to chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.
Once cooled, lift the granola out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut them into your desired shape and enjoy!

Banana Yogurt Smoothie Bowl

This smoothie bowl is great for any breakfast, or even as a midnight snack. With added protein from greek yogurt and peanut butter, it’s sure to keep you full all morning while satisfying your sweet tooth.

This recipe serves as a base for a smoothie bowl. You can add your favorite toppings and come up with all kinds of great flavor combinations. If you have a peanut allergy, any type of nut butter works great in this smoothie bowl. For vegans or those with milk allergies, any type of thick vegan yogurt can be substituted in this recipe as well. Almond milk is added to ensure that the smoothie has enough liquid to blend properly, but you can substitute with any milk of your choice.

This recipe also makes great “nice cream,” a popular name for ice cream made with bananas. To make this recipe into nice cream, you can double or triple the ingredients and pour it into a loaf pan to place in your freezer to enjoy later.

 

Ingredients:

½ cup unsweetened greek yogurt
1 frozen banana
2 T peanut butter
¼ cup almond milk

Optional:
Granola
Chopped nuts
Sliced fruit
Seeds
Chopped coconut
Nut butter
Cereal
Chocolate
Honey

Instructions:

Add your almond milk, frozen banana, greek yogurt and peanut butter to a blender or food processor.

Blend until the mixture is smooth and fully incorporated.

Spoon into a bowl and top with your desired toppings. Enjoy!

 

Chilled Cucumber and Yogurt Soup

With the arrival of summer’s hot weather, you might be getting creative with different ways to cool off. Try out this chilled cucumber soup, made with greek yogurt. It’s a refreshing, creamy, tangy dish you can enjoy on a particularly warm afternoon or evening. Serve it as an appetizer or a palette cleanser along with your favorite grill fare – or, enjoy it on it’s own!

This recipe calls for greek yogurt. For vegans or those who are lactose intolerant, any type of unsweetened greek-style or thick yogurt will work great in this recipe.

 

Ingredients:

1 large cucumber
1 cup unsweetened greek yogurt
1 shallot
1 clove garlic
1 T fresh or dried dill weed
1 T lime juice
½ tsp salt or to taste

 

Optional garnishes:

A sprinkle of dill weed
A dollop of yogurt
Thinly sliced cucumbers

 

Instructions:

Dice your shallot and garlic clove. Set them aside.

Peel your cumber and remove the seeds. Chop into medium-sized chunks and set aside.

In a blender or food processor, add the diced shallots and garlic. Add your cucumber, greek yogurt, dill weed, lime juice and salt.

Blend the soup until it is smooth.

Transfer the soup into the fridge, in an airtight container and allow it to cool for 30 minute to an hour. Serve and enjoy!

2-Ingredient Chocolate Truffles

This recipe comes from one of our front-end team members, Delaney. She loves creating affordable, plant-based meals for herself and is excited to share her creations for you to enjoy!

If you have a craving for rich chocolate, this is a must-try recipe. You only need 2 ingredients, your microwave and one bowl. No mess, no fuss and lots of yummy chocolate truffles. You can even customize them and coat them with whatever toppings you’d like. I used some sprinkles I had in my cabinet, along with some powdered sugar and cocoa powder to coat these. I’ve put some suggestions for coatings along with the recipe, but feel free to get creative with them!

This recipe calls for coconut cream, but heavy cream also works to make the chocolate ganache base for these truffles. I recommend using chocolate that’s between semi-sweet or 70% dark to achieve the right texture and firmness for these truffles. You can store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container if you want to save some for later. They’ll stay fresh for 1 week, or up to 2 months if stored in the freezer.

Ingredients:

¼ cup of coconut cream (find it on the baking aisle)
1 cup of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
½ Tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Extras for Coating:
Cocoa Powder
Sprinkles
Powdered Sugar
Cinnamon Sugar
Chopped Nuts

Directions:

Scoop the coconut cream into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave the coconut cream on high for 1 to 2 minutes, or until it begins to boil. This will depend on the strength of your microwave, so keep an eye on your cream and adjust the time as needed.
Remove the bowl from the microwave and pour chocolate chips into the cream. Do not stir. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel for 5 minutes. This will allow the chocolate to melt and easily incorporate into the cream.
After 5 minutes, stir until the chocolate is incorporated with the cream and no chocolate lumps are visible.
Allow the ganache to chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. Don’t cover the ganache while it’s warm, as covering it will form condensation that can cause it to split.
Once chilled, use a small scoop or a spoon to roll the ganache into balls.
Coat the balls in your desired toppings or enjoy them plain!

Meating the Needs of Our Community

During April and May, many meat processing plants in the United States temporarily closed or slowed their processing speeds due to COVID-19. This caused concerns that we could experience a nationwide meat shortage, impacting how we feed our families.

These closures and delays have shed light on issues in the commercial meat supply chain, as many farmers can’t get their products to consumers despite steady demand for meat. We spoke with our local vendors, Polyface Farm and T&E Meats, about how they’re serving their customers during this time, as well as how the locally-based supply chain gives them an advantage over large-scale agribusiness.

 

In a telephone interview, Daniel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Swoope, VA, discussed how the farm has changed operations to meet customers needs. “We used to have a 30/30/30 model before the outbreak. That was split between restaurants, retail from our farm or grocery stores, and our neighborhood drops.” Mr. Salatin told us that at the beginning of the pandemic, Polyface Farm was concerned about losing business, as many restaurants began cancelling large orders. “Then, everything else went crazy,” he said, “Retailers and grocers like the Friendly City Food Co-Op, our online and on-farm sales went through the roof.” Mr. Salatin told us that these changes didn’t present many problems to Polyface’s ability to provide meat to their customers, other than trying to meet the drastic increase in demand.

 

Mr. Salatin explained that being a locally-oriented farm gave them freedom to change direction when they needed to. “Because our supply chain is small and local, it’s flexible,” he stated. “The commercial meat supply chain is like an aircraft carrier. When you load it up and it takes off, it’s going to take awhile to reroute it. The commercial food industry is built around packaging huge amounts of food for public spaces like restaurants and cafeterias, but now people are eating in very different places. Our local supply chain is like a kayak. We can change course easily without so much resistance.”

 

This statement from Mr. Salatin brought our attention to an issue in the commercial meat supply chain which has caused supply shortages in the previous months. The equipment used to process livestock in commercial meat processing plants is very specialized. This machinery is designed to package products in a specific way, often in packages holding large amounts of meat. These quantities are meant to be sold to restaurants, commercial cafeterias and other foodservice industries that need lots of product to stock kitchens and feed large amounts of people. With many Americans staying at home, demand for these industrial quantities of meat has almost disappeared. However, demand for smaller amounts of meat, such as those found in grocery stores, has skyrocketed. Many of these plants weren’t designed to package smaller quantities of meat and can’t convert their processing lines to package it. This means they can’t get meat to market in amounts people and families want to buy.

 

Mr. Salatin told us that Polyface Farm sends its animals to T&E Meats, a local processing facility in Harrisonburg, VA. He stated that T&E Meats has been able to process and package their meat at quantities they need in order to sell to grocers and families in the Valley. Joel Salatin, a co-owner of Polyface Farm, has had a business relationship with T&E Meats since 2008, when he and Joe Cloud purchased the processing facility from it’s previous owners.

 

We spoke with Joe Cloud of T&E Meats through email to find out more about how they’re adapting to meet the needs of they’re customers. His customers are local farmers, who send their animals to T&E Meats for processing. Mr. Cloud also discussed the issue of specialized packaging in commercial plants and compared his business to theirs. “We have a number of packaging options, which give us flexibility for either retail or wholesale type of sales,” Mr. Cloud wrote. He told us that as a small-scale processor, T&E Meats doesn’t use the type of expensive equipment found in most commercial processing plants. “As a small local meat processor, we can not afford those types of investments, but in fact still do most of our work by hand, including putting individual cuts of meat into packages by hand.”

Mr. Cloud explained that because T&E Meats processes products by hand, they’re able to be flexible when packaging products and aren’t forced to package specific quantities every time. This means they can adapt to the needs of their customers, such as Polyface Farm, to package products for grocery sales or to families through on-farm stores. Mr. Cloud told us that initially, T&E Meats experienced the same concerns about restaurant sales in the beginning of pandemic. “When the COVID initially hit Virginia back in mid-March, there were a few days when it looked like it was going to have a major impact on our business, as farmers saw an overnight plunge in restaurant orders.” Those concerns were soon met with an “explosion” of demand for processing, as farmers were seeing an increase in sales from groceries and families.

 

In his interview, Mr. Cloud discussed another issue the commercial meat supply is facing due to COVID-19 that impacts farmers as well as customers. The specialized equipment at commercial processing plants may seem innovative, however, Mr. Cloud stated that “because the lines involve a fair amount of robotics, each hog has to almost exactly all the same shape and size, which accounts for why we hear about so many hogs in the Midwest being slaughtered and disposed of. Because after growing just two or three weeks longer due to a delay in processing, they can no longer pass down that meat cutting line.” Unlike small-scale farms, most commercial farmers depend solely on commercial plants to process their animals. When these plants close, they can’t sell their animals once they’ve reached the sale weight or size. Because the specialized equipment used at these plants can’t process animals over a certain size, they may be euthanized if farmers can’t sell them for processing to commercial plants in time.

 

Mr. Cloud told us that this hasn’t been an issue for T&E Meats. “We may only be able to break down 30 or 40 hogs in a day,” Mr. Cloud stated, “but each one of those hogs may be a different breed, a different size, and they may each be cut to a different set of instructions.” Because T&E Meats processes animals by hand, they don’t have the same size limitations or requirements as commercial meat processing facilities. While T&E Meats has not experienced the same delays in processing that commercial plants have, they have needed to limit the variety of cuts or products they produce in order to keep up with demand. However, these changes are done to ensure that customers and families can receive popular or staple products that are in high demand during this time, not due to a lack of supply.

 

Many are concerned that they’ll struggle to put meat on their dinner table in the coming weeks. The success of our small-scale suppliers demonstrates that issues in the commercial supply chain are causing meat shortage concerns, not a lack of livestock on American farms. Small farms aren’t constrained by the demands of the large-scale, commercial industry and supply chain. In our supply chain, animals go from farms, small-scale processors and arrive at the Friendly City Food Co-Op.

 

The ability of the local supply chain to be flexible and meet the needs of our community stands out during this time. You can trust us and our local vendors to keep high-quality proteins on your family’s dinner table.

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Happy 9th Birthday!

The co-op turns 9 years old this Saturday, June 6. We’re celebrating in a couple of ways.

First, we are expanding our store! Raising the funds has been ongoing for a little over a year, and now we’ve met our goal. Construction began on Monday June 1st and is expected to last around 9 months. It will be the best birthday present ever!

We are also giving away some presents as part of the celebration. Head over to our Instagram page @friendlycityfoodcoop and enter to win – there will be a different gift basket giveaway each day this week!