G.B. Russo and Son International Grocery

It is a time of celebration at G. B. Russo and Son International Grocery as they celebrate their 110th anniversary! Their business has been a community staple since 1905 and is currently under the operation of the family’s 4th and 5th generations.  And– they’ve been named Best Boutique Grocer by GR Magazine and have received the Specialty Food/Beverage Townie Award from On the Town Magazine.

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G. B. Russo and Son offers a unique shopping experience where every aisle is an adventure. Currently, G. B. Russo and Son is offering limited release anniversary beers, including their Italian Pistachio Pale Ale, they have handcrafted in collaboration with local breweries. They always have thousands of wines, gourmet foods, craft beers, liqueurs, deli items, cookware and more from around the world and around the corner. They also sell homemade foods, including fresh Italian sausage, frozen entrees and pizzas, cannolis, catering trays, and more. You can also visit the comprehensive deli for a selection of 300 different meats and cheeses.

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As the holiday season rolls in, check out G. B. Russo and Son International Grocery for their meal and gift specials. Click here to learn more about this centennial family owned business.

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Enjoy samples from G. B. Russo and Son and over 40 other businesses at Fork Fest! Get your tickets here

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Reserve Wine & Food

Grand Rapids has quickly become a beer hub. There are breweries, brewpubs, and new beers popping up each week, but let’s not forget about the wine. Reserve Wine & Food, located downtown Grand Rapids is home to the best wine menu in the area with 102 wines available by glass. Reserve sees wine as an adventure, an experience with an underlying story.

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As a restaurant, Reserve strives to highlight not only wine, but also food, and the relationship between the two. We can drink good wine, and eat good food, but to bring to the two together heightens the experience of the moment. Reserve is about creating that experience for its customers. The heart of their dining experience comes from the story that rests in the glass of wine, and the food upon the plate. As a company they are a group of passionate people that seek out quality products. They house the world’s second largest Cruvinet storage and serving system, which ensures freshness and quality in each glass of wine. They have the goal to source as much from the local community as they can, actively engaging with small family farms to create a farm-to-table menu. Their drinks menus, as well as their Charcuterie & Cheese menu note where each product was sourced from.

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We are honored to have Reserve Wine & Food be a part of the 5th annual Fork Fest happening next week Thursday, October 22. They will be serving up small plates at the event. Stop by and see them between 5-9pm. For information about Fork Fest and to purchase tickets head to the event page.

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If you want to experience Reserve Wine & Food’s wide selection of wine and enhance your wine knowledge consider attending one of their Monthly Wine Tastings. Their next tasting will be held on November 19. Head to their webpage for all the details and to reserve your spot today.

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Uccello’s Ristorante, Pizzeria & Sports Lounge

While the first Uccello’s was opened in 1996, the Uccello’s family has been making pizza for our community since 1978 with the opening of Faro’s Pizza. After all these years, they're still making great food today: Uccello's was voted Best Happy Hour by Grand Rapids Magazine. Uccello’s has also often been voted Best Pizza, Best Bar/Pub, and Best Sports Lounge.

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You can visit Uccello’s at any of their five locations in the greater Grand Rapids area. Uccello’s is open from 11 am to 2 am everyday offering mouth watering combinations for lunch, happy hour, dinner, and late night hunger. If you are looking for a location for your upcoming holiday parties, Uccello’s is a great option. Uccello’s offers award-winning food, private banquet rooms, catering, and gift card specials. Planning a holiday party or not, Uccello’s is always a top destination for viewing a big game in a great atmosphere on their large array of big-screen TVs. Learn more about Uccello's and find the location closet to you here. 

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Here at Local First, we encourage environmentally-friendly business practices. Recently, we heard that Uccello’s has stopped using styrofoam containers for their take-out and leftover containers. We take this moment to applaud Uccello’s for this change!

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Enjoy samples from Uccello's Ristorante, Pizzeria & Sports Lounge and 40 other local businesses at Fork Fest. Get your tickets here!

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Lindo Mexico Restaurant

It is an exciting month for Lindo Mexico Restaurant. By the end of October, they will be moved into a new and bigger location at 1742 28th ST SW in Wyoming. They will be offering a full bar and a patio, creating an even more vibrant atmosphere to enjoy.

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Lindo Mexico Restaurant has received many awards including Business of the Year by the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Leaders in Industry by Corp. Inc., and is being named Business of the Year by GROW. They offer a menu full of authentic Mexican food offering their popular wet burrito. They also serve unique flavors of margaritas like Mango con Chile, Tamarindo con Chile and homemade Rumchata.

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What really sets Lindo Mexico Restaurant apart is their desire to be a socially responsible company. For example, they hold a Children's Day on April 30th where they give away bicycles, scooters, and free meals to all kids that attend. Family is also incredibly important to Lindo Mexico. They refer to their staff as the “Lindo Mexico Family” and appreciate the wonderful work they do on a daily basis. They hold an Employee Appreciation Day every year to honor them.

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Click here to check out this great business that has a heart for its customers and staff that make the business’ dream a reality.

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Enjoy samples from Lindo Mexico Restaurant and over 40 other businesses at Fork Fest. Get your tickets here!

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Cherish the Autumn Season

Autumn is a time of change, a seasonal transition, but in that we find ourselves seeking a rhythm that allows us to embrace the season. We nest our homes for the upcoming months, pull sweaters out of the back of our closet, and spend hours filling the kitchen with the scent of cinnamon and baking apples. We watch as nature transitions. The squirrels collect the fallen acorns, the dried goldenrod sways in the breeze, and the wind carries a cooler touch. Leaves tumble from the trees, revealing a bare skeleton frame. The winter months are approaching, but autumn rests here long enough for us to fall in love with it.

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It is a remarkable season. The season is short, the shortest of them. I never find myself ready to say goodbye to the habits I form, and the rhythm of autumn that I fall into. Maybe that is why I, and most Midwesterners claim autumn as our favorite. It comes and goes before we are ready for it to depart. While it is here it gives us time to reflect and cherish what we love. It provides time to slow down, listen, and intentionally live out the beauties of the season. It is a crossing time from one to the next. One we must embrace fully, for it always leaves before we are ready.

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Here are a few suggestions on ways to nest and prepare your home, celebrate and cherish this unique season, and simple ways to live it out.

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Prepare your home

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  • Chilis, chowders, and broth-based leek and potato soups are the comfort food of the season. Take a weeknight or a Saturday afternoon to make a large batch of your personal favorite or try out a new one. Enjoy half of the pot, and then freeze the other half to pull out on a busy weekday.
  • I have a deep love for blankets. Tossing them on the back of your couch, on the living room chairs, or piled in the corners not only helps warm the room, but also helps keep you warm on the cool autumn evenings.
  • Candles are a must during this season. There are a handful of autumn scents from pumpkin pie to cedar that brings all the smells of the season into your home.
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Cherish the season

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  • Gather together a large group of friends, or pull the family together for a Saturday afternoon of apple picking. Nothing quite embodies autumn like apples.
  • Autumn is the best season to forge for materials for wreath making. The ground is laden with nature’s finest treasures, and it makes for a low, or even no cost way to decorate and cherish the season.
  • Do not forget to enjoy a big mug of cider. Whether is a cold, warm, or hard – make sure to put it on your autumn to do list.
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Live it out to the fullest

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  • Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins! Be sure to indulge in this seasonal flavor found in teas, pies, and donuts. Also don’t forget to pick up a few pumpkins from a nearby patch to place on your front porch.
  • Raking and jumping into leaf piles is the simplest, but most joyful way to spend an afternoon during autumn.
  • Bundle up in your favorite knit sweater and head out for a walk. Listen to the leaves crunching beneath your feet, soak in the vibrant colors around you, and let the crisp fall air consume you.
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Carrots

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Carrots are high in vitamin A and beta carotene, the substance that gives them their orange color. The carrot is also high in fiber, calcium and potassium.

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How to Prepare:

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Scrub carrots with a vegetable brush under running water to remove dirt. Do not peel unless removing damaged areas.

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How to Store:

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Remove greens and refrigerate carrots in a plastic bag. Undamaged carrots will last 2-4 weeks when refrigerated properly. For long-term storage, carrots can be frozen and then blanched, or carrots can be packed in a barrel with moist sand in a cool location.

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How to Cook:

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Carrots can be enjoyed raw, lightly steamed, or sautéed.

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Information adapted from From Asparagus to Zucchini

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Recipes

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Gingered Carrots and Kale Ribbons

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Ingredients

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  • 8 large carrots (about 2 lbs), peeled
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 slender leeks (white parts only) thinly sliced, washed and dried
  • ⅓ cup golden raisins, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest; plus 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 large kale leaves, tough stems removed and leaves thinly sliced
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Preparation

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Using a vegetable peeler, slice the carrots into long, thin ribbons. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, for about 5 minutes. Add the raisins, garlic, ginger, lemon zest and ½ tsp salt. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the carrots, kale and ½ cup water and cook, stirring or turning with tongs, until softened, for about 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

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Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray

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Curried Carrot Soup

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Ingredients

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  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 cans (14 ½ ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth (about 3 ½ cups)
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)
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Preparation

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Heat butter in a Dutch oven or large (4 to 5-quart) saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, curry powder, 2 tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, for about 5 minutes. Add broth, carrots, and 3 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover, and simmer until carrots are tender, for about 20 minutes.

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In a blender, puree soup in batches until smooth; transfer to a clean saucepan. Add more water to thin to desired consistency. Reheat, if necessary. Stir in lemon juice. Serve garnished with cilantro, if desired.

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Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart 

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Carrot Salad with Honey-Lemon Dressing

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Ingredients

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  • 2 Tbsp walnut oil or canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups shredded carrots, (about 4 medium)
  • 1 cup peeled and shredded celery root
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
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Preparation

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Whisk oil, lemon juice, honey, shallot, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add carrots, celery root, raisins and walnuts; toss to combine.

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Recipe courtesy of Eating Well

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Millet Couscous with Roasted Carrots

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Ingredients

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  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 cup millet
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 ¼ cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 6 medium carrots, peeled, cut into 1” pieces
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup roasted almonds, chopped
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
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Preparation

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Preheat oven to 400°. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add millet and cumin seeds and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until millet is tender, 25–35 minutes.

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Meanwhile, toss carrots with 2 Tbsp oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender and golden brown, 15–20 minutes. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat; cook almonds and cayenne, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Serve millet drizzled with oil and topped with carrots, cilantro, almond mixture.

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Recipe courtesy of bon appétit

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Carrot Cake

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Ingredients

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  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
  • 4 fresh whole eggs
  • 2 cups pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups raw finely ground carrots
  • 4 ounces finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 ½ pounds powdered sugar
  • 12 ounces room temperature cream cheese
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces room temperature margarine
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Preparation

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In a mixing bowl, mix sugar, vegetable oil, and eggs. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Fold dry ingredients into wet mixture and blend well. Fold in carrots and chopped nuts until well blended. Distribute batter evenly into 3 (9-inch) cake layer pans, which have been generously greased. There will be approximately 1 pound 5 ounces of batter per pan. Place in preheated oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Cool layers in pans, for approximately 1 hour. Store layers in pans, inverted, in closed cupboard to prevent drying. Layers must be a minimum of 1 day old.

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To remove layers from baking pan, turn upside down, tap edge of pan on a hard surface. Center a 9-inch cake circle on top of revolving cake stand. Remove paper from bottom of layer cake. Place first layer, bottom side down, at center of cake stand. With a spatula, evenly spread approximately 3 ½ ounces of frosting on the layer. Center second layer on top of first layer with topside down. Again with a spatula, evenly spread approximately 3 ½ ounces of frosting on the layer. Center third layer on top of second layer with topside down. Using both hands, press firmly but gently, all layers together to get one firm cake. With spatula, spread remainder of frosting to cover top and sides of cake. Refrigerated until needed. Display on counter or cake stand with a plastic cover.

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Filling and Icings: In a suitable bowl of large mixer, place powdered sugar, cream cheese, vanilla, and margarine. Beat at second speed until thoroughly blended. Hold refrigerated and use as needed.

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Recipe courtesy of food network

Malamiah Juice Bar: Investing in Local Youth

Jermale and Anissa Eddie are pouring their passions and values into their family business. Part of Malamiah’s mission is to provide community wellness education and youth employment opportunities. Aside from providing great resources including education classes at the Downtown Market, discounts to customers who are affiliated with partnering fitness facilities, and access to wellness advisers, Malamiah Juice Bar has also started their own Juicy Education Initiative and participates in the LEAD program (Leadership and Employment, Achievement and Direction).

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Malamiah’s Juicy Education Initiative ran as a pilot session this past year and is fully launching in January of 2016. As a part of this program, Malamiah partners with local K-12 school systems to educate children on the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. Each school creates their own health challenge for their students involving aspects of physical activity and nutrition. Challenges have ranged from sharing healthy decisions on social media to dedicating your recess for running. Malamiah visits the school and presents a demo of the juicing process. Kids love seeing the blending process! When a student accomplishes the challenge, he or she gets a wristband that results in 50{6be771524f35e681d5eb1711abbe9ad08f29540a742404ae9fff00be7e8f65de} off Malamiah Juice Bar products. I love the fact that Jermale and Anissa desire to positively influence the health education in our local schools.

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Malamiah shares a partnership with the LEAD program. Through this partnership, a youth who qualifies for the program is employed by Malamiah Juice Bar. The high school student goes through a seven week program that helps them gain an understanding of professionalism.  Then, he or she begins their six-month internship with Malamiah Juice Bar. Anissa absolutely loves this program and the benefits they can provide to the youth. “For many of them, this is their first real job,” says Anissa. “We have watched our LEAD employees grow as they have gotten their driver’s license and opened their first checking account for direct deposit. It works out great because we provide our staff with mentoring opportunities as well.” Jermale and Anissa have been extremely happy with their partnership with the LEAD program. They even just recently hired one of their former LEAD employees after graduation! This family owned business is deeply investing back into their community.

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As Anissa put it, “the juices are just the tip of the iceberg.” The drinks and smoothies are the vehicle for positive health changes. But the education and opportunities they are providing through these partnerships and programs will foster a deeper, long-term impact. Malamiah recently underwent an initiative to better define their organization’s culture. They are now operating under the Malamiah J.U.I.C.E. culture, standing for joyful, understanding, intentional, community, and excellence. I was absolutely blown away by this family and their business. They desperately seek to serve their community in any way that will make a positive difference.

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If you’ve never been to Malamiah Juice Bar, swing by one of their two locations. They just opened the doors of their new facility in Grandville! I told Anissa I was honestly terrified to try one of their drinks because I am such a picky eater. But I took a leap of faith. Wow, was my apple, strawberry, and lemon juice delicious!

Tips for Storing Fall Crops

During the winter, I typically shift most of my diet towards rice, beans, bread, and cheese. It is quite the stark contrast from summers spent with vegetables filling every nook and cranny of my fridge. In the past I’ve experimented with storing fall crops, but ended up losing valuable produce because I didn’t store it properly. I did a little research so I can spruce up my pantry for the winter.

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Storing fall crops saves money, makes it easier to support local farmers, and ensures that you have access to delicious, healthy food late into the winter months. There’s no need to go without local vegetables this winter if you follow these easy tips for storing fall crops.

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Crops for Cool Storage (45-60 degrees)

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Dry beans

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Store in airtight jars in a cool, dark place. Freezing dried beans kills any insects present.

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Garlic

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Store in boxes or mesh bags in a cool place with moderate humidity, such as a cool basement.

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Onion

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Store in boxes or mesh bags in a cool place with moderate humidity.

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Potato

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Store in closed boxes or cloth-covered baskets in a cool place with moderate humidity, or store in buried containers.

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Winter squash

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Store in bushel baskets, shallow containers or on shelves in a cool place with moderate humidity.

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Crops for Cold Storage (32-45 degrees)

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Apple

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Store in refrigerator or another very cold place, in perforated plastic bags or waxed boxes to maintain high humidity. Check weekly.

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Beet

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Refrigerate beets in plastic bags or pack in damp sand in a sealed container and store in a cold basement, garage or root cellar.

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Cabbage

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Refrigerate in plastic bags or plant trimmed cabbage heads with roots attached in buckets of damp sand in a root cellar or cold greenhouse.

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Carrot

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Refrigerate or pack in damp sand in a sealed container and store in a cold basement, garage or root cellar.

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Turnip

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Refrigerate or pack in damp sand in a sealed container and store in a cold basement, garage or root cellar.

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For more information on how to store fall crops, click here.

Spinach

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Spinach is a nutritious green despite its 80-90{6be771524f35e681d5eb1711abbe9ad08f29540a742404ae9fff00be7e8f65de} water content. It is high in chlorophyll, vitamin A, and vitamin C, all best retained by no or minimal cooking.

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How to Prepare:

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Rinse spinach leaves thoroughly in cool water as garden soil and grit tend to accumulate on the underside of the leaves. Pat dry with a towel or spin dry.

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How to Store:

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Store spinach in a damp towel or plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. For long-term storage, spinach may be frozen. Blanch for 1-2 minutes, rinse in cold water, drain well, and pack into airtight containers.

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How to Cook:

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Can be enjoyed raw in many ways including on sandwiches, salads, soups, and other baked dishes. Spinach can also be steamed or cooked.

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Information adapted from From Asparagus to Zucchini

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Recipes

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Cheese and Spinach Stuffed Portobellos

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Ingredients

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  • 4 large portobello mushroom caps
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh spinach
  • ½ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped kalamata olives
  • ½ tsp Italian seasoning
  • ¾ cup prepared marinara sauce
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Preparation

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Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Place mushroom caps, gill-side up, on the prepared pan. Sprinkle with salt and ⅛ tsp pepper. Roast until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

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Meanwhile, mash ricotta, spinach, ¼ cup Parmesan, olives, Italian seasoning and the remaining ⅛ tsp pepper in a medium bowl. Place marinara sauce in a small bowl, cover and microwave on High until hot, 30 seconds to 1 ½ minutes.

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When the mushrooms are tender, carefully pour out any liquid accumulated in the caps. Return the caps to the pan gill-side up. Spread 1 Tbsp marinara into each cap; cover the remaining sauce to keep warm. Mound a generous ⅓ cup ricotta filling into each cap and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup Parmesan. Bake until hot, about 10 minutes. Serve with the remaining marinara sauce.

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Recipe courtesy of Eating Well

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Quinoa and Spinach Pilaf

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Ingredients

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  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 finely chopped small yellow onion
  • 1 minced clove garlic
  • 1 cup rinsed quinoa
  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • 5 cups baby spinach (5 ounces)
  • 1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper
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Preparation

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In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium. Add onion and garlic; cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add quinoa and cook 1 minute. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir in spinach and lemon zest, then season with salt and pepper.

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Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart

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Spinach and Avocado Salad with Garlic Mustard Vinaigrette

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Ingredients

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  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, more to taste
  • ½ tsp mustard (Dijon or honey mustard are both great options)
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups loosely packed spinach leaves
  • 1 Hass avocado, cubed
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Preparation

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Using a garlic press, press the cloves and add them to a small bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice, mustard, and a pinch of salt. Continue to whisk until the salt is dissolved, then whisk in the oil until the dressing is emulsified.

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Place the spinach leaves in a large bowl and add the dressing, tossing to coat all the leaves. Add the cubed avocado and gently toss. Finally, season with a little more salt or lemon juice to taste.

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Serve in a bowl or, to add a rustic picnic flare to the meal, use mason jars. And a mason jar is the perfect way to carry this salad with you to work for lunch! Enjoy!

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Recipe courtesy of Mother Nature Network

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Chile Garlic Spinach

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Ingredients

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  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small red chile, such as Fresno or serrano, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 10 ounces spinach (10 cups)
  • Coarse salt
  • Lemon wedges
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Preparation

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In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add chile and garlic, and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Gradually add spinach and cook, tossing constantly, until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt. Serve with lemon wedges.

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Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart

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Easy Sautéed Spinach

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Ingredients

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  • 2 large bunches of spinach, about 1 lb
  • Olive oil, extra virgin
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Salt to taste
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Preparation

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Cut off the thick stems of the spinach and discard. Clean the spinach by filling up your sink with water and soaking the spinach to loosen any sand or dirt. Drain the spinach and then repeat soaking and draining. Put the spinach in a salad spinner to remove any excess moisture.

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Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute, until the garlic is just beginning to brown. Add the spinach to the pan, packing it down a bit if you need to with your hand. Use a couple spatulas to lift the spinach and turn it over in the pan so that you coat more of it with the olive oil and garlic. Do this a couple of times. Cover the pan and cook for 1 minute. Uncover and turn the spinach over again. Cover the pan and cook for an additional minute.

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After 2 minutes of covered cooking the spinach should be completely wilted. Remove from heat. Drain any excess moisture from the pan. Add a little more olive oil, sprinkle with salt to taste. Serve immediately.

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Recipe courtesy of Simply Recipes