by Carl Haakenstad, bulk buyer
Here in the Bulk department we are all about slow food, or food that you cook from scratch. Cooking from scratch is all perfectly well and good in the cooler months of the year, but in the summer many of us are reluctant to even look at the stove, let alone turn it on. This led me to come up with a few tips for how to fully utilize the Bulk department through the dog days of summer:
COOKING WITH LOW OR NO HEAT
Many of our loyal Bulk customers love a big bowl of oatmeal in the morning. For some, hot cereals lose appeal in the summer. One way to make this breakfast staple more summer friendly is to soak the oats overnight instead of cooking them. You can soak your oatmeal overnight in a covered bowl using water, milk, or yogurt. If you soak steel cut oats they will still require some cooking in the morning, though their cooking time will be greatly reduced, thereby, keeping your kitchen cooler. Also, this method makes the grains more digestible and therefore more nutritious. It’s a win-win. Along those same lines; if you are going to be cooking beans or grains, you might as well cook enough for multiple meals so that you can have the stove on for long periods only one night rather than several. Just portion out the extra and keep them in the fridge or freezer for later use.
Another way to keep that stove off is to try some of the dried mixes from the Bulk department. The hummus mix paired with some whole-grain crackers or garden-fresh veggies could be the perfect light summer meal base. A second option is the falafel mix topped with fresh lettuce, sun-ripened tomatoes and a cooling dill-yogurt sauce all wrapped in a pita or tortilla. Other options include pinto or black bean flakes which rehydrate and turn into delicious refried beans by simply adding hot water. There’s also the dried vegetable soup mix in the herb and spice section. Since all these mixes require only boiling water, they are perfect for minimal-heat summer cooking or your next camping trip.
TAKE THE COOKING OUTSIDE
I know that many of you out there are always just waiting for any excuse to get out the grill. Summer is three months of excuses. The Bulk herb and spice section houses the perfect complement to delicious beef, pork, lamb, poultry, fish or produce that you are cooking up on your grill. The Bulk department offers a Jamaican Jerk Seasoning, Cajun Seasoning, Mexican Seasoning and a vast selection of individual spices for you to create your own seasoning mix for flavorful grilled meats and veggies.
COOL DOWN THOSE HOT DRINKS
Those favorite hot drinks for nearly everyone, coffee and tea, don’t have to be enjoyed hot. Coffee can have a whole different flavor profile when brewed in a cold-press coffee maker or just brewed hot and served over ice. Also, use the tried and true trick of freezing coffee or tea into ice cubes, and adding the cubes to liquid tea and coffee instead of regular ice cubes. This will enhance your cool beverage experience, rather than simply diluting it.
Tea is a refreshing drink for the summer months, especially when slow brewed in the classic “sun tea” method. This summer, try experimenting with your sun tea by throwing in some slices of citrus fruit or fresh herbs (basil, mint, etc.) and see what kind of delicious mixes you can come up with.
Iced Tea Sangria
Prepare sun tea according to your favorite method. A good starting point is about 8-10 teabags or 8 teaspoons of loose leaf tea per gallon of water. Once the sun tea has reached the desired strength remove the teabags or strain out the tea leaves. Finally, place two cups of sliced fresh fruit in the pitcher and place the pitcher in the fridge for a few hours. For the fruit, you can use slices of orange, lemon, berries, pears or kiwi. Feel free to get creative. Also, don’t be afraid to add some fresh, fragrant herbs to your sun tea. If you have an herb garden, try some mint, lemon verbena or sage.
“I EAT LOCAL BECAUSE I CAN”
With summer gardens in and in anticipation of the fall harvest, now is the time to plan for the canning season ahead. The Bulk department will be here for you when you are ready to put up some fruits and veggies. We have pickling spice, alum and mustard seed for your blue-ribbon pickles, and we also have the sugar and spices for your favorite fruit jams and butters. Are you in need of canning jars? Let us know and we can special order them in for you – including the special-order discount you get with your Co-op membership.
1 cup rolled oats, wheat, or rye
1 cup warm water plus 2 tablespoons yogurt, kefir, or buttermilk
a pinch sea or Real salt
1 cup water
Mix rolled oats with warm water and let soak overnight or at least 7 hours. In the morning, bring the 1 cup water with a pinch of salt to a boil; add soaked oats, and simmer. Oats should be done in a few minutes. 2 servings
1 – 16 oz. container plain yogurt (preferably Greek style)
2 cucumbers, diced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lemon juiced or 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. Dill
1-3 cloves garlic to taste
salt and pepper to taste
Process all above ingredients together in a food processor until a smooth consistency is achieved. Otherwise, chop garlic and cucumber fine and simply stir into the other ingredients. Sauce should sit for an hour before serving to allow flavors to blend.