My two favorite times of year in terms of the Frontera Farmer Foundation are the day after the annual benefit when we see how successful we've been at raising money for next year's grants, and even more exciting for me, is when we receive the grant applications which detail the projects that are under consideration for this year's grants. Our independent review board has their jobs cut out for them this year in deciding which projects will be get funded. The grants will be announced the beginning of April, so stay tuned.
Rick is busy this month with appearances. I'm especially looking forward to the Housewares show, since I'll get a first look at all the new gadgets and trends, which I'll be sharing with you over the upcoming months.
Bill Shores, our gardener, shares some of his picks for seed companies he uses, and there's an update on recycling bottle caps that came from one of our subscribers.
Peeks into Chef's Inspiration. This is a classic dessert that Melissa, Frontera's Pastry Chef, makes every year during Lent. Capirotada is a type of bread pudding that's found throughout Mexico. What makes this dish unique is that it's made without a custard base. This version uses a fruity red wine and piloncillo syrup as the binding agents. Melissa tosses toasted bread cubes in butter along with pecans, pine nuts, dried figs and raisins. This year she decided to add dried sour cherries to kick up the flavor. Once all the ingredients are mixed together, they're drenched with the red wine/piloncillo syrup and baked. The capirotada is served warm, finished with a dusting of queso anejo, a scoop of pine nut crunch ice cream and a drizzle of a red wine and jamaica sauce. What a wonderful way to end a memorable meal at Frontera.
Dates and places Rick will be appearing.
5th Annual Dancing with Chicago Celebrities March 12th. Rick will again be competing at this worthwhile event benefitting the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer organization. Cheer Rick on and help a worthy cause. Tickets are available on line, and the event is being held in the Crystal Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Chicago.
Green City Winter Market at the Nature Museum March 27th. Rick's demo will be held on the 2nd floor at 12:00 noon. Reservations are required and limited to newsletter subscribers. Signing up for the newsletter is free and you have the added benefit of staying up-to-date on what's happening at the market.
Frontera Farmer Foundation. As our review board is about to start the process of picking this year's grant recipients, I wanted to give you some background on how the foundation works. Although we raise the money and write the checks, no one at the company is in any way involved with deciding who is awarded any of the grant. In order to qualify and retain our not-for-profit status, we needed to separate ourselves from this process. There are three people who make up the independent review board, and I don't envy them this task of deciding which projects will be green lit. This year we received over 30 grant applications. The projects range from irrigation improvements, high tunnels, equipment, livestock acquistion, to capital funding for new ventures to expand on their existing businesses. If you're interested in making a charitable contribution to the Farmer Foundation, you can now donate on line through our web site.
Kitchen Gadget Adventures. While working on the recipe for the skirt steak skewers this month, I ended up using a cast iron grill pan since the weather outside wasn't cooperating. I love using a cast iron grill pan, however, it can be a pain to clean. That's when I decided to try using one of these nylon pan scrapers, and it's amazing how easy the grill was to clean. I've had these scrapers for several years, but I never thought to use them for this application. You'll find them in most cookware stores by the registers or at Bed, Bath and Beyond. They're usually between $1 to $2 a piece. I happen to like this design by Progressive since it has a ridge on the top which makes it easier to hold, but there are many brands to choose from. They work great on any type of cookware.
Q: We love Season 7 of "Mexico - One Plate" especially all the cool places that Rick visited in Mexico City. How can I get a list of all the places where Rick ate?
FYI, I hope to have a resource guide completed for Season 7 by next month since there's been so many questions on the blog about the specialty cookware that Rick used during the shows.
Recipes from the Test Kitchen. This is a slight misnomer this month since I've included one of the recipes from our new cookbook "Fiesta at Rick's," which will be out in the next few months. Savory Sesame-Pepita "Cookies" is a savory cookie that makes a great nibble. I find them very addictive.
The last recipe this month is pictured above, Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding. The inspiration came from Melissa's dessert that I featured from the dessert menu, however, mine uses a custard base. I did borrow her use of figs because the flavors married so well with the chocolate and cinnamon. This is one of my favorite comfort desserts, and one I hope you'll try.
Sustainability. This is the perfect time of year to start planning and buying seeds for this year's garden. We're often asked where we buy our seeds for both Rick's home garden and the rooftop. I went directly to the source, Bill Shores, our gardener, and compiled this list of his recommendations.
In a follow up to the article on recycling for last month, one of our subscribers, Mike, emailed me about a recycle program for bottle caps. Aveda, a hair and skin care company, has started a program in conjunction with local schools called "Recycle Caps with Aveda". For more information on this program, check out their link. Thanks Mike for this helpful info.
See you next month.
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