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Highlights from the General Topics and Cookware boards. Food trends, food products, and burning questions.

Corn on the Cob Shopping Etiquette

All those people at markets who tear back corn husks to expose the kernels (then toss the ears back for no apparent reason, leaving the corn to deteriorate) are practicing shockingly poor corn-buying etiquette, say hounds, who insist that it’s perfectly easy to find good ears without de-husking.

The selfish should note that this preserves the freshness of ears you yourself choose as well as those you’d otherwise have ruined for others!

ciaolette explains what to look for: The husks should be fresh and green, with no yellowing or dryness, and should sit close to the ear. The silk should be mostly green, with very little darkness. The cut stalk should be very fresh, not dried out. The ear should have good weight for its size.

Your editor, Caitlin McGrath, evaluates the kernels by running a finger up the outside of the cob to feel if they’re plump and uniform. Karl S points out that if you’re buying organic corn, there’s always a chance you’ll find a worm or some mold–it’s rare, but his smart solution is to always buy an extra ear, just in case.

Board Links
Farmstand etiquette

Rhubarb Facts and Trivia

Rhubarb is a stalk of many colors, ranging from dark red to pink to bright green. Red rhubarb is most common, but you’ll also see green rhubarb (don’t suspect it’s unripe).

Here’s an interesting bit of rhubarb trivia, courtesy of Karl S: strawberry rhubarb pie wasn’t originally a combination of rhubarb and berries. Rather, it referred to strawberry rhubarb, a bright red variety! Other worthy pie pairings are rhubarb-apple and rhubarb-blackberry-apple.

See information on rhubarb varieties at: http://www.rhubarbinfo.com/rhubarb-varieties.html

Even more esoteric trivia: actors, to generate crowd noise backstage, murmur the word “rhubarb” over and over. Or at least that’s what we’ve heard…

Board Links
rhubarb questions

Summer – and Blueberries – Arrive in New Jersey

Blueberries have arrived in New Jersey, and Ellen pronounces the first pick outstanding. Val Ann C, who scored some nice ones at the Sunday farmers’ market in Red Bank, agrees. The growers expect last year’s very good crop to be followed by an even better one, maybe the best in years, Ellen reports.

Around Hammonton in Atlantic County, count on Glossy Fruit Farms for berries and the Red Barn for super fruit pies. In midstate, Emery’s grows organic blueberries and offers a pick-your-own option–but this season’s berries haven’t come around yet. Neither have those at nearby De Wolf Farm, but all in good time.

Red Bank Farmers’ Market [Monmouth County, NJ]
W. Front St. and Shrewsbury Ave., Red Bank
732-530-7300
Map

Glossy Fruit Farms [Atlantic County, NJ]
66 S Myrtle St., between Rte 206 and Middle Rd., Hammonton
609-561-8050
Locator

Red Barn Farm Market [Atlantic County, NJ]
51 S. Myrtle St., between Rte 206 and Middle Rd., Hammonton
609-567-3412

http://www.penzaspies.com

Locator

Emery’s Berry Farm [Ocean County, NJ]
346 Long Swamp Rd., near Pinehurst Rd. (Rte 539), New Egypt
609-758-8514

http://www.netpie.com

Locator

De Wolf Farm [Ocean County, NJ]
10 W. Colliers Mill Rd., near Archertown Rd., New Egypt
609-758-2424
Locator

Board Links
First Blueberries of the Season are Here

Licorice, Anyone?

Licorice comes in black, red, salty, or sugarless varieties. Here are some of the Chowhounds’ favorite online sources.

Economy Candy in NYC’s Lower East Side is a legendary shop that that stocks a large selection of black licorice, including Kookaburra brand, which some folks view with awe! Not many people seem to know these guys sell online, at: http://www.economycandy.com

Licorice International, out of Lincoln, Nebraska, has many types of imported licorice. Their Dutch and German selections are particularly worth a try; each has its own distinctive flavor. They sell salty licorice, too, which is very much an acquired taste. If you like red licorice, they offer a very nice sampler. Order at: http://www.licoriceinternational.com

For a good selection of sugar free, try Dutch Sweets, at: http://www.dutchsweets.com.

Board Links
best black licorice? by mail-order, pls

Onion-Saving Secret

Onion cognoscenti offer a neat trick for prolonging freshness (especially with varieties that don’t usually keep so well, such as Vidalias): store them in pantyhose! Drop an onion into a pantyhose leg, and knot it off. Drop in another onion, knot, and repeat.

When you need to use an onion, just cut the hose off before the next knot. The rest stay protected! Hang your oniony pantyhose in a cool, ventilated area, and the onions will last for several months.

Bonus tip: to prevent weeping, hold a small piece of bread in your mouth as you chop (don’t chew!). Another trick is to keep a few onions at a time chilled in your crisper drawer (cold ones aren’t as gaseous).

Board Links: Onions in pantyhose, Vidalia chocolate cake & other tips

Veggie Burgers without the “Faux”

There are veggie burgers that try to mimic meat, and there are ones that taste like exactly what they are: vegetables (and grain)! Here are some recommendations for finding the latter.

The entire Gardenburger line (there are many varieties) is 1. really tasty and 2. true to its vegetable roots.

Dr. Praeger’s Burgers, sold at Trader Joe’s, have a wide following.

Trader Joe’s Indian-seasoned Nirvana patties are very nice.

Morningstar Farms Garden Veggie Patties have a nice blend of veggies and a good mouth-feel.

Sunshine Burgers have a clean, unique taste, reports Val Ann C. Their main ingredients include ground sunflower seeds and brown rice.

Vegelicious Veggie Burgers are great, raves jilli42. Look for their “Santa Fe.”

Bobfrmia likes Veggie Patch Bistro Burgers, made from wild mushrooms and rice; they’re sold at Costco.

Also recommended: Annie’s California burgers.

Board Link: Un-meaty veggie burgers?

Canned Salmon

Canned pink salmon is often mushy, and the skin and bones put some people off. You can work around it by slipping the skin off the fish and picking out the bones (or just crush them right in, as they’re soft and a great source of calcium).

Another alternative is to pay more for skinless, boneless canned salmon. Some brands almost taste fresh. Here are some hound-approved brands of high-quality canned salmon:

Bumble Bee prime filet canned salmon, which tastes close to fresh (rworange).

Rubenstein’s red sockeye canned salmon works wonderfully in salads and sandwiches (Emilief).

Dave’s Gourmet is a canned wild salmon from California recommended by Nancy Berry. It can be found at some Whole Foods stores or ordered at: http://davesalbacore.com

Vital Choice is another good brand, says Faith Lubitz.

Board Link: Can we talk about canned salmon?

Tickled Pink at In-N-Out

It’s well known that burgers at the In-N-Out chain are cooked to order. What’s not so well known is that you can order them cooked as you’d like, and they’ll take—and execute reasonably well—orders for rare and medium rare burgers without flinching. Since patties are small, it’s best to order a double if you want a truly juicy sandwich, though.

Board Links: Ordering Your Burger Rare at In N Out

Shipping Lobsters

It’s hard to find fresh, top-quality lobsters outside the Northeast. Mail order is a fine alternative, though, and there are several outfits recommended by Chowhounds for shipping super-fresh New England lobsters to land-locked loved ones. Cheeseboy suggests opting for “selects” in the 2-3 lb. range, as opposed to 1.5 lb. “chix” or 4 lb. “jumbos.”

These companies all have a good track record with mail order:

The Lobster Net
Sanders Lobster Pound
Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound
Fisherman’s Fleet

Board Links: Shipping Live Lobsters