Question: What is pecan flour?
Answer: Pecan flour is a type of baking flour made from pecans. It can be used in many of the same recipes as wheat or other flour products. It is good for those who are looking for gluten-free alternatives when baking or for adventurous bakers who want to try something different. A few recommended uses are for breads, cakes, pancakes and muffins. Oliver Farm (www.oliverfarm.com) in Wilcox County is a Georgia producer of pecan flour (and peanut, pumpkin and benne/sesame flours, too) and has several recipes on its website including coffee pecan shortbread cookies, vegan chocolate pudding pecan pie, pecan flour buttermilk pancakes and triple chocolate brownies.
Q: What can you tell me about Romanesco broccoli? I hear some people say it is really a cauliflower. How do you eat it?
A: Broccoli or cauliflower? You can call it either, neither or both. We most often see it labeled as broccoli. It is usually listed in seed catalogs as broccoli, perhaps because they don’t want to create a separate category for it. From a culinary viewpoint, its taste, texture and uses lean more toward cauliflower. It looks like both but has a more refined appearance than either. It is apple green and each head seems to be composed of thousands of spiraling fractal Christmas tree florets. Some people call it only Romanesco, and the French call it Romanesco cabbage (chou romanesco). If it will help your children eat more veggies, call it the Christmas tree vegetable and tell them Santa Claus is watching.
Actually, there is not a hard and fast wall between broccoli, cauliflower and other members of cabbage clan. Think of it this way, Afghan hounds, dachshunds, great Danes and teacup Chihuahuas all look very different. They have been bred over many years to express certain characteristics. Yet, they are all dogs and members of the same species. Broccoli and cauliflower (as well as cabbage, collards, kale, kohlrabi and Brussels sprouts) are also the same species but have been selected by farmers over thousands of years for specific traits.
Romanesco “whatever” can be eaten raw in salads or with dips, steamed, sautéed, roasted and used in numerous other recipes.
Q: Can we grow lusterleaf holly in Georgia?
A: Lusterleaf holly (Ilex latifolia) is a superb broad-leaved evergreen for Georgia and the Southeast. Grow it as a tree or large shrub in sun or half shade. It is useful for creating a tall informal hedge to block a view or to block and absorb sound from a freeway. Two of the lusterleaf’s great virtues are its clusters of brick-red berries (on females) and large, glossy evergreen leaves with their finely serrated edge. Lusterleaf holly combines well with other broad-leaved evergreens such as yaupon, Southern magnolia, camellias, Japanese cleyera, tea olive, waxmyrtle and Chinese photinia. A few, good needle-leaved companions include cryptomeria, Leyland cypress and red cedar. It also works well with a wide range of deciduous trees and shrubs including hawthorn, winterberry, possumhaw, witch-hazel and crabapple.
Lusterleaf holly may not be as well-known as some of the cultivars that are its offspring. A good example is ‘Emily Bruner,’ a hybrid of lusterleaf holly and the popular ‘Burford’ holly.
Contact your local nursery or garden center for availability and more information about lusterleaf holly.
Q: My husband’s family always eats collards for New Year’s Day, but I don’t like eating collards or cooking them. Do you have other options?
A: Some Southerners traditionally eat collards on New Year’s Day in the belief that the greens will ensure lots of greenbacks through the coming year. However, collards are not the only greens that may be eaten. This tradition varies from family to family and region to region. Turnip greens, mustard greens, kale, tendergreens and mixtures of these and other greens are the tradition for some Southerners. Cabbage is supposed to be the New Year’s green of choice in the New Orleans area. These other greens may be more suitable to your liking and take less time to cook.
However, we do not recommend breaking the family tradition just because you don’t like the taste or trouble unless you consult and get the agreement of everyone involved. That is not a good way to start 2016. Perhaps someone else could cook the collards and you could cook the black-eyed peas. (Black-eyed peas represent silver money and/or overall good luck in the coming year.) Perhaps someone else could cook the collards the family way and you could prepare an alternative collard dish such as collar chips (like kale chips but using collards) or a collard salad.
Here is a collard salad from the Georgia Grown Test Kitchen that you may want to consider:
Collard Green Salad With Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette
6 cups shredded collards
2 tablespoons Oliver Farms pecan oil
¼ cup shaved onion
Salt & pepper
½ cup pepper jelly vinaigrette
In a large bowl, drizzle pecan oil over collard greens, massaging oil into greens. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate greens several hours or overnight. Add ½ cup pepper jelly vinaigrette and toss to combine. Serve immediately. Serves 6-8.
Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette
¼ cup Wisham’s cranberry pepper jelly
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup cider vinegar
½ cup pecan oil
Salt & pepper
Whisk ingredients together. Reserve excess for another use.
Georgia grown collards may be found at farmers markets and grocery stores in fall, winter and early spring. The pepper jelly and pecan oil in this recipe come from Wisham Jellies (www.wishamjellies.com) in Tifton and Oliver Farm (www.oliverfarm.com) in Pitts, Georgia.
Q: Where will the 2016 Agriculture Forecast seminars be held?
A: Thursday, January 21 at Carroll County Ag Center, Carrollton; Friday, January 22 at Unicoi State Park, Cleveland; Monday, January 25 at Cloud Livestock Facility, Bainbridge; Tuesday, January 26 at Tifton Campus Conference Center, Tifton; Wednesday, January 27 at Blueberry Warehouse, Alma; and Friday, January 29 at Georgia Farm Bureau Building, Macon.
The 2016 keynote topic will be a discussion of sales tax distribution patterns and how Georgia counties have been affected in light of recent legislative tax changes such as the Georgia Agriculture Tax Exemption (GATE) and the Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT). Georgia Ag Forecast is an annual seminar series presented by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) in partnership with Georgia Farm Bureau and the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
For more information and to register online, go to www.georgiaagforecast.com or contact the CAES Office of External Relations at 706-583-0347.
Q: I have heard it is dangerous to eat raw cashews. Is that true? I see them sold in the grocery store.
A: “Raw cashews” you find in a supermarket have actually been steamed to remove the urushiol, a chemical also found in poison ivy that you don’t want to eat. Those cashews from the grocery store are safe to eat, unless, of course, you are naturally allergic to them.
Q: A friend from Vermont gave me some genuine maple syrup. How long can I store it?
A: If it remains unopened, maple syrup can be stored in the pantry about a year. After opening, it should be stored in the refrigerator and will last about a year.
We hope you reciprocated with some molasses, sorghum syrup or one of the many fine varietal honeys produced here in Georgia.
Q: Where can I register to enter the Flavor of Georgia Contest?
A: Register online for the 10th annual Flavor of Georgia Contest at http://www.flavorofgeorgia.caes.uga.edu/.
The Flavor of Georgia Contest showcases delicious, innovative, market-ready prototypes or commercially available food products. Entries are judged on technical aspects such as flavor, texture and ingredient profile. Also considered are potential market volume, consumer appeal and how well the product represents Georgia. The contest can help increase exposure, publicity, business contacts and sales for finalists. More than 1,000 products have entered since the contest began in 2007.
Good luck with your entry!
Q: An article I read described a flower as having a “picotee” edge. What does that mean?
A: Having a picotee edge means the petals have a margin of a contrasting color. Picotee can also be used as a noun to mean a flower, especially a carnation, that has petals edged in a contrasting color.
Besides some carnations and other types of dianthus, there are numerous plants that may have picotee flowers. Among them are varieties of petunias, tulips, bearded irises, dahlias, pansies and tuberous begonias. A few distinctive examples of picotees are ‘Picotee’ amaryllis (white with fine red edge) and the very striking ‘Atom’ gladiolus with its vibrant red flowers outlined in radiant white. Notable among woody plants are the camellia 'Tama-no-ura' and its offspring varieties ‘Tama Peacock,’ ‘Tama Glitters’ and ‘Tama Americana.’ These stunning camellias are red edged in white.
Q: Can you give me the recipe for the persimmon salad dressing I heard about on the Georgia Grown Facebook page?
A: Georgia Grown Senior Executive Chef Holly Chute came up with this colorful and tasty salad dressing in which she used two oriental persimmons:
Persimmon Salad Dressing
2 ripe oriental persimmons, peeled and cut
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup pecan oil or olive oil
Salt & pepper
Combine persimmon, Dijon mustard and vinegar in a food processor. Puree until smooth. Gradually add oil with motor running. Mixture should be thick and smooth. Season to taste. Serving suggestion: arugula and spinach salad with sliced apples, red grapes, pecans, blue cheese and red onion. Note: Either astringent or non-astringent varieties of oriental persimmons may be used. When using astringent varieties, be sure they are thoroughly soft and ripe.
For those who have internet access, the Georgia Grown Facebook page may be accessed at https://www.facebook.com/georgiangrown.
Q: What should a consumer do when she gets home from the store and realizes her kitchen scale reports the weight of a roast she bought is almost a pound under the weight on the label?
A: Please contact our Food Safety Division at 404-656-3621. One of our retail food inspectors can check the scale at the store to see if it is calibrated properly. If the meat was weighed at a USDA-inspected plant instead of at the store, we will forward the complaint to them.
Q: I saw a lavender chocolate bar at the store. I didn’t know lavender was edible. Can it be used for other foods?
A: Lavender is an herb best known for its use in sachets, soaps, perfumes and potpourri. However, it does have culinary uses, and has become something of an “it” ingredient over the past few years. Besides the specialty chocolate bars you describe, lavender may be used to flavor ice cream, lemonade, marshmallows, tea bread, bread, roasted potatoes, roasted chicken, sugar, syrup, honey and whipped cream. Lavender flowers may be used to garnish fruit salad, chocolate cake, sorbet and ice cream. The leaves and flowers are used to make herbal tea. An online search or an herbal cookbook will bring more recipes and information about using lavender in the kitchen.
When cooking with lavender, use a light touch or your food may be bitter or smell too much like perfume. If you do not grow lavender yourself but want to use it in cooking, be sure to purchase culinary lavender, not lavender prepared for crafts, potpourri or non-edible uses as that may have been treated with chemicals, pesticides or preservatives not meant for food or food crops.
Look for lavender plants at your garden center or local nursery. They prefer very well-drained soil, good air circulation and a sunny location.
Q: Are the red cedars I see on the list of Georgia Christmas tree growers, the same red cedars that grow wild? I love the smell of the wild cedar trees.
A: They are the same species of red cedar (Juniperus virginiana). However, the ones at the Christmas tree farm have been carefully trimmed to give them that desirable conical shape as well as thickness. If you want the cedar-y aroma of an old-timey Christmas, visit a Christmas tree farm and look over their red cedars. Georgia Christmas tree growers also offer numerous other kinds of Christmas trees.
Q: Is it possible to grow a Christmas cactus in a hanging basket?
A: Yes. In fact, the pendulous growth habit of Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter cactuses lends itself to a hanging basket or hanging pot. Growing them in a hanging container or placing their pot on a pedestal is a way of making the blooms at the ends of the branches easier to see. Remember these are epiphytic species whose native habitat is in the crotches of trees, so they should look quite natural in an elevated situation.
Q: I carried over a poinsettia from last Christmas. I have been giving it the dark treatment (14 hours of uninterrupted darkness each night) since late September. How long do I need to continue? It’s showing good color now.
A: A poinsettia needs the dark treatment for an eight- to 10-week period at night to form its colorful bracts. Starting in late September or by the first of October, the plant must be kept in total darkness for 14 continuous hours each and every night. If you have done this and the bracts have already turned, you can stop and enjoy.
-- Arty Schronce
If you have questions about services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, write Arty Schronce (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit the department’s website at www.agr.georgia.gov.