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Ask Kirstin: Storing Produce; Cooking Scallops

vegetables

I am totally in love with the book! And having so much fun making the Kirstin specials. A few questions: I recently started receiving a farm fresh delivery every week. I am wondering how I should clean and store the produce? Should I wash it all at once and store in individual bags in the fridge, or wait and wash when I am about to use it? Also, what is the best way to store herbs? — Lindsay G.

Yay for the fresh farm delivery! There are different opinions as to whether you should wash your produce first or not. Washing can bruise the produce making it susceptible to spoiling sooner. Unless you are going to use the produce immediately, my recommendation would be to gently brush off any dirt and store in the fridge in separate bags or containers until ready to use, then wash well. If you choose to wash produce before storage, be sure to thoroughly dry it with a clean paper or dish towel. Wrap salad greens in paper towels before putting them in bags. Never wash berries until you are ready to eat them.

As far as the herbs go, herbs love to be treated like flowers, so put them in a vase, and beautify the interior of your fridge with them, unless it is basil, they don’t like the cold, so keep them in a vase on your counter.

 

I love scallops but they are always watery when I sear them. Is my heat too low? It seems I heat the pan forever but they still ooze liquid. — Maria

First of all, watery scallops may not be your fault. Make sure the scallops you get are dry packed and have not been plumped up with water, look your fish person in the eye and ask him to level with you. Once you get your scallops home rinse them well. And now comes the really important part: dry every single scallop well, with a clean paper or dish towel.

Get your skillet really hot, if you have a cast iron pan use it, drizzle with a high smoke point oil like grape seed oil or clarified butter. When the oil is hot, gently lay down the scallops. Do not crowd them (you might have to cook them in several batches). Do not move the scallops until you are sure they have developed the golden crust you are looking for, then flip them and cook until they are done. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

 

Kirstin: Sometimes when I cook dried beans or grains it seems to take forever, why is this? — Molly

That is probably because it really is taking forever…they aren’t done yet are they? And I bet on other days, when you are not watching, your beans/grains cook in half the time they usually do, don’t they?

Blame the variables that we are not in control of, such as whether the plant grew during a dry or wet year and how long the item sat on the shelf. That said, there are a few things you can do to speed up your pot of seeds. Soak both beans and hard grains overnight. This hastens the cooking and it also allows especially hard grains to “plump up” nicer. If you know you have hard water, add a touch of baking soda to the cooking water. Acid (tomatoes, vinegar, molasses) can prolong the cooking time, so add it at the end. And most importantly use the cooking times on the packages as suggestions only, start testing the beans/grains long before you think they are done, until they are done.

 

Want to “Ask Kirstin” for help in the kitchen? Send your questions to kirstin@thefamilydinnerbook.com.

 

 

Join the Discussion

  • http://www.vineyardherbs.com Holly

    Kirstin! You rock. I’m glad I found your “How-to” thread; I’ll be checking in often! :) Holly

  • A Peckham

    I didn’t know that about basil. Looks like I can put that on the counter this week instead of the fridge, thank you :)

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