locally grown gardens

Along the Monon Trail and stocked full of fresh local and semi-local food, a great selection of quality food pantry items and dish wares sits Locally Grown Gardens.

locally grown gardens indianapolis

Rustic tables sit out front making a perfect spot to soak in the sun while eating a picnic food lunch that feels indulgent on the large serving dishes that they use (and sell). Taking a buddy for good conversation is a good idea because the portions are large. Without a buddy it will go past indulgent and into gluttonous.

I was unaware so it was a gloriously indulgent day. I sat at a community table with my feet propped on a second chair soaking in as much sun as possible holding my enormous arnold palmer. From the taste the lemonade is fresh squeezed and just the right amount of tart. The pulled pork was delicious and the side of ginger coleslaw, which was not a normal side portion, was a perfect accompaniment. I wanted to have a piece of pie, but they were already sold out of the sugar cream pie. I am told it is delicious and I am holding out for a piece of that next time. The apple pie did look delicious when I saw it coming out of the oven when I was ordering my food. As a Hoosier that has never had a slice of the state pie, Sugar Cream I really want my first slice to be a quality slice. From that chatter I heard around the tables and my brother’s recommendation it is worth a return visit.

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I was enamored with the dishes, glasses and other cooking plates and food accouterments. As mentioned they sell many of the dishes they use for serving. I most want to go back for some glasses and some steak knives. They also stock some pantry items like olive oil, vinegar and the like.

locally grown gardens indianapolis in

As the summer continues more and more of the produce will be truly local. When I was there the peaches were from the South Carolina, which is better than having them shipped in from California, and they were a better price than the grocery store at the time. If you need firewood for camping or your backyard fire pit they have that covered too. They will even deliver it.

Such a quaint spot, I am going to find it hard to resist this summer. Next time I will be sure to take company and get there early for a slice of pie.

not all parmesan is created equal

what to know about parmesan

You can find a variety of parmesan at the grocery store, but do know the real deal, Parmigiano-Reggiano, from the Parma and Reggio Emilia provinces of Italy isn’t comparable to anything else you will find labeled simple parmesan.

While the authentic imported parmesan is significantly more expensive it is worth it if you are using the cheese as a main ingredient in a dish. Using a lesser cheese, especially a cheese product from a green can, won’t give you the same intense flavor a real aged parmesan will.

A hard cheese that is aged for 12 months it has the second highest concentration of glutamate in any cheese, Roquefort is the highest. Glutamate is the compound that is responsible for the umami taste. Umami has recently been recognized as the fifth sense. In addition to sweet, salty, tart and bitter we know recognize umami as a distinct taste the tastes buds on your tongue can recognize. It is a largely savory taste. Typically from fermented and aged foods it is no surprise that parmesan would have a high concentration. This high concentration of glutamate is why the cheese is so frequently added to a dish at the end of cooking.

Good parmesan will have small crystals in the cheese. This isn’t a sign the cheese has gone bad it is actually quite the opposite. They are glutamate crystals that from during the maturation/aging process of the cheese.

So how can you tell if you are getting the good stuff? Look for imported cheese that says parmigano-reggiano. If you are buying a piece that still has some rind you will see the words actually imprinted on the cheese. All parmesan produced in the United States will have a similar flavor and if that is what you can afford it is a good option. You can also find already grated imported parmesan that is a little more affordable. It is possible, though not guaranteed, that this is made from wheels that had cracks in them and were not worthy of being sold as the real deal.

You don’t need a lot of cheese for most dishes and it keeps for a long time in the fridge so while it might be expensive ($13-$20 per pound) it will last you for quite a few dishes over a long period of time. I have had our wedge wrapped in plastic in a plastic bag for over 5 months.

If you need to find an affordable alternative first try the real thing either buy a small affordable piece or ask to try a bit at a quality cheese shop. Then head to the grocery store and try some of the cheaper options to see which gives you the best, most similar, flavor and buy that one. Stay away from the green can it isn’t adding flavor it is only adding melty cheese to your dish. You might as well save the money and the calories if that is the option.

If you do splurge for the good stuff don’t throw the rinds away. Freeze them and use them in soups and broths to impart that umami flavor into other dishes.

What to know when buying parmesan 

  • best stuff has the words Parmigiano-Reggiano stamped in the rind
  • crystals that form in cheese are normal and desirable for a better flavor
  • high in glutamate which gives your food that umami taste
  • lasts for months if stored properly

I love to use the cheese on fresh simply cooked vegetables like these peas.

peas & pancetta with parmesan

peas with pancetta & parmesan
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
peas with pancetta & parmesan
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Over medium heat cook pancetta for 5 minutes.
  2. Sweat the shallot until soft and translucent.
  3. Place peas in pan, add chicken broth and cook covered for 10 minutes, or until peas are soft.
  4. toss with 1/4 cup of the cheese and salt and pepper to taste. When ready to serve put remaining cheese on top of dish.
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What is your favorite parmesan dish?

try it this weekend: rhubarb

rhubarb

Last week I tried posting an ingredient on Tuesday and a recipe on Friday and I failed. Didn’t get the recipe up until yesterday. So this week I am combining both. After you find out the fun facts about rhubarb you will get my favorite recipe for rhubarb

Rhubarb: Once I had my first rhubarb tart I was hooked. I savor rhubarb as a spring ingredient. Though you can find it in the winter because it is a cold winter crop I prefer it with strawberries so I wait until those two season overlap. I had a pleasant surprise this spring when a strange plant started sprouting in a corner of my yard. I was so excited to realize that it was rhubarb. I waited patiently for it to get big enough to harvest and through it into a crisp. If you want to have it in the winter try is as a pear rhubarb crisp when pears are at their height. It is another delicious combination.

Season: late winter-early summer, height of the season is April-June

What to look for when you buy: Cherry red stalks and green leaves (if the leaves are still attached) will indicate field grown rhubarb vs hothouse rhubarb. Field grown supposedly has a stronger flavor. The stalks should be crisp like celery and not flimsy when you pick it up.

How to store it: It doesn’t last long so buy or pick it the day you are going to use it for best results. You can wrap it tightly in a plastic bag and it should hold for 3 days.

How to prepare it: Because of its extreme tartness, think sour patch kid on steroids, it will need lots of sugar. Either add a large amount of sugar or pair with a very sweet ripe fruit like strawberries.

Links to some great recipes I want to try:

My favorite recipe for rhubarb:

strawberry rhubarb crisp
Servings Prep Time
4 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
strawberry rhubarb crisp
Servings Prep Time
4 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Ingredients
filling
topping
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Combine filling topping and stir until mixed well and transfer into a buttered dish, preferably an 8-inch square
  3. In a large bowl, use a mixer, beat butter and brown sugar on medium until light , fluffy and blended.
  4. Add flour, crushed ginger snaps and salt. With your hands mix until pea-sized pieces form.
  5. Scatter over the top of the filling and bake for 30 minutes. Tent loosely with foil and cook for 10-20 minutes more, until center is bubbling.
  6. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving
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strawberry rhubarb crisp – – filling: halved strawberries, diced rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, salt, topping: unsalted butter (room temperature ), brown sugar, all-purpose flour, crushed ginger snaps, salt, preheat oven to 375 degrees; Combine filling topping and stir until mixed well and transfer into a buttered dish, preferably an 8-inch square; In a large bowl, use a mixer, beat butter and brown sugar on medium until light , fluffy and blended. ; Add flour, crushed ginger snaps and salt. With your hands mix until pea-sized pieces form.; Scatter over the top of the filling and bake for 30 minutes. Tent loosely with foil and cook for 10-20 minutes more, until center is bubbling. ; Let cool for 20 minutes before serving; –