Nut Meg: Megan Gibson spices up fresh nut butters

PB & Jams is a small-batch fresh nut butter company stirring up a twist on the classics. "Our all-natural nut butters highlight the natural flavor of the nuts, while keeping other ingredients simple," says owner Megan Gibson. Working from the Center for Culinary Enterprises in West Philadelphia, Gibson produces five varieties: Hot or Not Peanut Butter, a savory, spicy version of Haitian peanut butter; Classic Peanut Butter, in smooth or chunky; Simply Almond Butter, textured with a light crunch; The Cashew Butter, naturally sweet and smooth; and slightly sweeter Maple Walnut Butter.

PB & Jams products can be purchased at Overbrook Farmers Market, N3RD Street Farmers Market, University of Penn’s Gourmet Market at 1920 Commons and online at pbandjamsphl.com.

Story by Julianne Mesaric.

Asparagus: Like spears through our hearts

story and photos by Grace DickinsonAsparagus is a hard worker. Plant it in a field, and you’ll see. Once the stalks get growing, they don’t stop. “Keeping up with it is a chore in itself,” says Deborah Rudman, this month’s featured gardener. “Though a good chore.”

Asparagus’s constant growth calls for a relentless (almost daily) picking schedule, with stalks shooting as high as 10 inches in just 24 hours. The crop is only harvested in the spring, though it needs space in the garden all year. As long as you properly take care of the perennial, it will zealously do its job for years to come. Fifteen growing seasons down the road, don’t be surprised to see the same patch of asparagus sprouting just as quickly as during its first year.

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Russet Potatoes: This spud's for you

story and photos by Grace DickinsonThe Russet is our country’s favorite potato. Roasted, fried, boiled, baked, there’s really no cooking method that doesn’t yield a tasty result. In America, we find Russets as potato chips and French fries. They arrive mashed with milk and butter at our holiday tables, and foil-wrapped as a dinnertime classic finished with a generous dollop of sour cream.  
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Kale: How to grow, buy and prepare this hardy leafy green

Story and Photos by Grace Dickinson KALE IS FINALLY GETTING the spotlight it deserves. No longer just a garnish, the leafy green is now an A-list celebrity in the vegetable world, and everyone wants a leaf of it. 

For the food bloggers, kale is the addition that sends their mac and cheese to the top of the search engine charts. For President Obama, it’s the garden-sourced salad gracing his Thanksgiving table. For the health conscious it’s a crispy baked alternative to the potato chip. And for local chefs, like Citron and Rose’s Yehuda Sichel (see p. 11), it’s more than a side dish, starring in salads and stews, or as a replacement for parsley in tabbouleh.

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Canned Goods: Five ways to preserve your delicious tomatoes

story by Marisa McClellanFresh corn and juicy peaches are great, but there is no summer food more versatile than plump, sun-ripened tomatoes. Because their season is fleeting, I make a point of preserving as many tomatoes as possible in as many ways as I can. Here are some ways I stash away enough Romas, Sungolds, heirlooms and grape tomatoes to hold me through the winter and beyond.
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Preservation Act: Debut book from local food blogger extols the virtues of canning

story by Amy StansburySummer is here, but before long the season will pass and so will the sweet taste of sun-ripened fruit. For years, food blogger—and Grid contributor—Marisa McClellan has been sharing her recipes, tips and secrets to keeping those fruits (and much more) available all year long through canning. Now, McClellan is sharing her insights in a new book, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year Round. Filled with endearing stories of her personal love affair with jams and jellies, the book is stocked with mouth-watering recipes (including chapters on foods like pickles and syrups) specifically for small batches in tiny kitchens. Grid recently had a chance to talk with McClellan during her book tour and find out more about canning culture.
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Food In Jars: Local blogger Marisa McClellan signing books this weekend

Marisa McCllelan's new book, Food in Jars. | Image via foodinjars.comYou've read her blog and drooled over her mouth-watering recipes, now it’s time to read her book. Canning blogger and Grid columnist Marisa McClellan will be celebrating the release of her new book, Food in Jars: Preservation in Small Batches, with a selling and signing event at Greensgrow Farm this Saturday from 12- 2 p.m. She will also be featuring some of her favorite recipes from the book, including pickled dilly beans and stonefruit chutney.

Also joining McClellan will be Robyn Jasko, author of Homesweet Homegrown, a veritable how-to guide for living a more sustainable lifestyle. Jasko will also be bringing goodies to share, including cold beet sangria and herbal simple syrups.

Stay around after the signing and you'll also have a chance to take a workshop from the canning pro herself. McClellan will be teaching how to make spiced peach jam. The workshop starts at 2 p.m. and costs $35. Participants will go home with a jar of jam as well as the recipe. To register, visit greensgrow.org/events.

Want to find out more about McClellan’s new book? Check out Grid’s interview with McClellan in our August issue, which streets next week.

Food: Rhub Awakening

Come spring, we local eaters are deeply hungry for regionally-grown produce beyond cold-loving Brussels sprouts and storage apples, potatoes and onions. Sadly, with a stinging chill remaining in the air, summer berries, stone fruit and corn (oh corn!) are still a long way away. Happily, there’s one plant that starts appearing earlier than all the rest, and with its brilliant color and tart flavor, it will give your taste buds the zing they’ve been longing for.

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Handmade Holiday: Food in Jars

Learn to have a can-do attitude

Featured Artisan: Marisa McClellan

Knowing where your food comes from makes it taste better, and being part of the process is even more rewarding. That's where home canning comes in. It not only preserves garden fresh foods through the winter months but also gives you complete control—and might even save you a few bucks.

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