Posted by Kim Schoelen
Last week I talked a bit about supporting family farms and I’m pleased to be able to promote another family owned local farm- Remick Family Farms. It’s even in the name. When comparing the experience of buying fruit at a grocery store versus buying it from a market stall, well, there is no comparison. When you’re at the store you’re bombarded by so much produce that isn’t local (crazy, since we live HERE, why should we be getting grapes from Peru during grape season?) that the farm to fork connection just isn’t there. At a farmer’s market you know it was picked within a few days, it’s ready to eat and if you really wanted to know, you could probably find out who did the picking and what their hobbies are. I love that connection.
I wanted to get connected to Remick Family Farms, so they sent me their story, which I’m going to share with you before we get to the recipe.
Remick Family Farms began in the early 1960’s in Redlands, Ca with citrus. An employment opportunity for Noel Remick motivated him to move his family to the Central Valley. Reedley became home for Noel and Yvonne and their 4 children Kevin, Noel, Polly and Mary in 1967. The farm was planted mostly in grapes and peaches . The family worked together to add tree fruit orchards and build a packing shed on the farm for their use and packing fruit for neighbors.
The next generations of Remicks continue in the agriculture business – the farm has transitioned to APRICOT production with the younger generation handling nation wide shipping. “True California Gold” describes (currently) 10 varieties of beautifully produced Apricots . . . the family continues to add varieties, while maintaining ties to the established favorites!
The Remick family has supported Farmer’s Markets since the 1980’s. Fruit for the markets is hand picked specifically for our local consumers to ensure freshness and flavor. Some of the early days were spent in Southern California; Santa Monica, Torrance and Palos Verdes and the Central Coastal areas; San Francisco (Alemany Market), San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande and close to home: Clovis, Hanford with the newest market: The Market On Kern!
I stopped by their stall last week and got my hands on some apricots that are so big that had i been blindfolded I would have mistaken them for peaches. No lie. I also grabbed some Fresno Chiles for good measure, and also because I have an unhealthy obsession with Fresno.
I made cobbler already, which is usually the extent of my apricot adventures so I had to think outside the box a bit more for this. Then I remembered a sandwich a friend made for me once with peanut butter and apricot-habanero jelly that was out of this world. Once that seed was planted my mind couldn’t let go of the idea of some spicy jam.
I found this gem thanks to some swift googling, and have adapted it to fit my needs a little bit more. Plus, it’s all metric, which I was not ready to deal with the reality of. I wasn’t preparing it at home, so I had to make a few changes, too- I was at my grandma’s using her pristine 1950’s oven for my family’s Sunday BBQ. We do this every week because we genuinely like each other and we get together to play catch or board games, listen to records and let our dogs play together. Even though there are 5 vegetarians and 6 meat eaters on most Sundays, meat usually takes center stage. My dad usually throws a few boca burgers on the grill for us, but this week I took charge of the veggie entree. So here goes:
Baked Tofu with Apricot and Fresno Chile Glaze
1 Fresno Chile (It’s pretty spicy, I would have used two if it was just for myself, but I was cooking for a group. One is just enough spice to be universally tasty.)
1/4 cup Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or Soy Sauce, but this is the low sodium powerhouse marinade.) I also put in 1/8 cup of water to dilute the Braggs a bit. It’s pretty strong stuff.
2-3 tea bags- black tea or tea of choice. (They use pu-erh loose leaf tea, but I was waaaaay too lazy for the whole extra step of straining the marinade, let alone figuring out what pu-erh is.)
1 block of extra firm tofu
1-3 tablespoons Brown Sugar
1/4 cup water
Preheat oven to 425°
1. Pop your teabags and Liquid Aminos into the microwave (be careful your bags don’t have metal staples on them!) just long enough to heat it up- I did about 30 seconds. Cover and let steep for 5 minutes. Cover a baking sheet in foil or parchment paper.
2. Prepare your tofu: drain water and then gently press excess moisture from tofu using paper towels. Cut into cubes or triangles or whatever tickles your fancy. The official instructions say to cut little X’s into the top of your tofu. I forgot to do this and they were really good anyway, so it’s up to you whether you want the extra work or not. Dip your tofu into the tea marinade to cover and place on baking sheet.
3. Pop that tofu in the oven for 15 minutes. Flip tofu after 15 minutes and bake for 10-15 more minutes. It gets so yummy and crispy and crunchy, so don’t take it out too soon.
4.While the tofu is doing its tofu thing dice your apricots and chile. I didn’t peel the apricots because I love textures in my food, but if you’re looking for more of a glaze than a sauce I’d peel them first. Throw them in a sauce pan with 1/4 cup of water and let it simmer, stirring occasionally. You want it to all really break down and become jam-my. It takes about 20 minutes. When things look like jam, add your brown sugar and stir.
5. That’s pretty much it. It’s super simple and it’ll make you look like a gourmet wizard. Do whatever it is you want to do presentation wise with it. The recipe recommends coriander and pistachios. Since I was feeding a bunch of people I left the two separate so they could serve themselves, or so the meat folks could spoon some of the sauce over their chicken if they felt so inclined.
I did take out some samples to the veg-heads to taste test before dinner officially was ready and they took a Bananagrams break to try them out.
4 out of 5 vegetarians approved (one is raw, she smiled politely though), and even my Uncle Terry who’s plate usually resembles a medieval feast with all of the meat and bread heaped on it, popped a cube in his mouth before asking what kind of “meat” it was. He was so shocked to learn it was tofu that he stopped mid-sentence and said “I need a beer” while walking off, shaking his head. The glaze was spooned over tofu, chicken, roasted potatoes and even watermelon all to delighted exclamations from my whole family. The sweetness of the apricots paired with the quick burn of the Fresno Chile were a hit, and all thanks to Remick Family Farms! If this sounds good, be sure to try Apricot Salsa as well- a recipe from a Fresno Bee story on the early crop of apricots featuring- taa-daa- Remick Family Farms!
Get out to the Market this week and see what you can make for your family and stop by Remick Family Farms for some outrageously huge and tasty apricots.
Also, say hi to Coach. He was totally bummed that he couldn’t have any of the Apricot Chile glaze on his kibble!