What’s in Season: Stone Fruits

In Southern California, stone fruits are beginning to appear at the farmer’s market.

Photo May 24, 9 35 56 AM


Photo May 24, 9 18 58 AM


This means if you are at any market, you should think about buying

  • cherries
  • peaches
  • nectarines
  • plums

The next couple weeks should yield donut peaches and better plum varieties.


Why avocados turn brown

Anyone who has ever bought an avocado has experienced the dreaded browning after cutting it open.

A quick search of the Internet yields that the cause of this is oxidation.  When the flesh of an avocado is exposed to air, it starts turning brown because of the presence of oxygen.  Similar things tend to happen in apples also.

Most remedies for this call for applying some lemon juice on the exposed flesh and covering it with plastic wrap to limit the contact of oxygen.


For a couple years now, I have been buying my avocados at my local Farmer’s Market in Long Beach from Tony.  And during this time, I have learned much about avocados which have given insight to why avocados turn brown.

Before answering this question, first a detour.  Most markets in North America sell an avocado called the Haas Avocadohaas


However, what if I told you, there are many other different types of avocados?

Reed Avocadoreed

The Reed Avocado can be considered the king of the avocados.  Ripening this avocado can take anywhere from 7-10 days and has a much higher oil content than the Haas.  It has so much oil content, that when you cut the avocado in half, it doesn’t turn brown days later.  It is kind of a crazy thing.

Pinkerton Avocado
The Pinkerton Avocado is similar to the size of a Haas Avocado, but has less oil than a Reed Avocado.

Lamb Haas Avocado
lambLamb Haas avocados are similar to Haas, but have a thinner skin.  It has more oil than a Haas, but less than a Pinkerton.

Mexicola Avocados


Mexicola Avocados are a bit bizarre due to the ginormous seed and sometimes the actually edible portion can be a bit small.  The skin is super soft and I prefer to eat these straight up rather than in a guacamole.

Now I’ll end with some tips from Farmer Tony.

  • The amount of oil in an avocado can determine how fast it will oxidize.
  • Supermarket varieties of avocados have low oil content, thus will brown quickly.
  • Reeds, Pinkertons, and Lamb Haas avocados have high oil content, thus will brown over a period of a couple of days.
  • Refrigerating avocados is a bad idea because it loses some of its flavor due to the cold.

If you are outside of California, it may be tough to get access to some of these avocados.  But I encourage you to explore your local farmer’s market or ask around at your specialty market if you can find some of these different varieties.



Cashew Nut Milk Recipe

A new food trend nowadays are nut milks.  Buying cashew milk at the market is more convenient, but making your own yields more nutrition as this recipe doesn’t discard the cashew pulp.

CaptureIf you take a look at the nutrition facts for diy cashew milk (courtesy of Menutail.com), you get way more protein than the silk cashew milk.


  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon honey


  • Soak the cashews in water for 3 hours
  • Drain the cashews
  • Put the cashews in a magic bullet with 2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of honey
  • Blend until thoroughly smooth
  • Refrigerate and shake before drinking.


The scam known as knife blocks

If you walk into any department store you may see a knife block for sale.

Ladies and gentlemen, these knife blocks are a scam.  They often come with many knives you probably won’t ever use.  In reality, you only need 3 essential knives.

Chef Knife

CaptureA chef knife is your workhouse knife.  It is used to chop, dice, cut heavy vegetables, or meats.  A knife I like is the 8″ Victorinox or 10″ Victorinox knife.

All you need to do for maintenance is make sure you bring it to be professionally sharpened, and to do some knife honing.

Pairing Knife


Pairing knives are smaller knives used for more delicate jobs.  Cutting fruits and small vegetables are good uses for it.  I would recommend the 4″ Victorinox Pairing Knife.

Bread Knife
Bread knives are special with the serrated edge.  If you used a chef knife to cut bread, you will crush the bread.  With the serrated edge, it catches the bread to cut it smoothly.  Also you can use it to cut other fragile fruits like tomatoes.

As you get more advanced you can buy other knives such as a Santouku knife, boning knife, or a cleaver.  But with these 3 knives you will be able to cook about 95% of the recipes out there.

Disclaimer: The links are Amazon affiliate links.

The Watson Dinner Party

About two months ago, I was given access to IBM Chef Watson.  You may remember Watson as the computer which beat all the Jeopardy contestants in 2011.


How Watson works is you enter an ingredient, then Watson suggests other ingredients which might go well with it.  When I played with it, I was getting kind of crazy recipes.

Watson suggested as my first recipe:


The directions were:

  • Broil grapes coated with honey and shallots
  • Add rice vinegar
  • Add chives afterwards.

And for the first try, it tasted pretty good.  It was kind of different, but not too crazy.  For the second recipe:


The directions basically said to:

  • Stir fry diced chicken thighs with:
    • Avocado
    • Mushrooms
    • Diced turnips
    • Sugar snap peas
    • Strawberries
    • Mint

Now this recipe tasted really weird.  Like it wasn’t bad, nor good.  It kind of got me wondering how Watson pairs their ingredients.  From browsing their Watson Facebook page, one of the IBM Engineers stated:

In fact, we rely on the “flavor pairing hypothesis” mentioned in this paper, but aim for synergies rather than contrasts, which this paper refers to as the ‘western’ preference. It would be interesting to see if we could have a knob or slider that lets you decide what your preference is…. I’ll put that on a future back burner…

For me personally, I had two major problems with Watson.

  1. As the engineer stated, the flavor pairings were kind of odd to me.  I personally prefer more of an Asian pairing which has more contrasts.  For example, Vietnamese food is a balance of sweet, salty, and umami.
  2. The Watson website ingredient combinations were way too crazy.  I really needed to pair down the additions.

However, I was still adamant in throwing a dinner party around Watson, and I really wanted to incorporate local and in season farmer’s markets fruits and vegetables.  I then played around a lot with tangelos and saw

Capture4This was really intriguing because in salsas, you usually add some acid like lime or lemon juice.  But adding a tangelo (which is a combination of a tangerine and grapefruit), added a really interesting mellow orange flavor to the salsa.

After playing around and experimenting for about a month, this is what I decided on the final Watson dinner party menu.


My friend, the pressure cooker

About a year ago, my Mom mentioned she got a pressure cooker.  And after seeing her use it for a little bit, I decided to jump in and get one.




Back then, pressure cookers were kind of scary and they didn’t have nice release knobs and indicators.  And you might have heard of some tales of even exploding ones.

Example of a scary old pressure cooker your grandma might have had.

There are quite a few videos, on Youtube on how to use a pressure cooker, and for more detail feel free to visit Modernist Cuisine on an explanation.  But here is the general gist.

  • When you boil water, the maximum temperature it can reach is 212 degrees (boiling point)
  • When you use a pressure cooker, the temperature can reach up to 250 degrees.  This means things cook faster
  • Since the lid is sealed, you use less gas/electricity

Basically using a pressure cooker will save you tons of time.  Here is an example of some things you can cooker in a pressure cooker.

Regular Cooking:

  • Beef chuck (beef stew) – 3 hours
  • Chicken thighs – 40 minutes
  • Stock from chicken bones – 1-2 hours
  • Dried beans – 6-8 hours

Pressure Cooker

  • Beef chuck (beef stew) – 15-30 minutes
  • Chicken thighs – 10 minutes
  • Stock from chicken bones – 30 mins
  • Dried beans – 40 mins

So for the most part you can get a meal on the table in about 15-40 minutes.  This is a crazy savings in time.

However, the trade off is when you use a pressure cooker, you no longer have context on how the food is cooking.  We usually use our eyes, our hands, or even a thermometer to gauge when something is done.  But we lose that ability.  The best website that tells you how long to cook something hands down is FastCooking.ca

In summary:

  • Pressure cookers can shave hours off your cooking.  Saving time is a good thing!
  • Look up the cooking times from fastcooking.ca to see how long to cook any protein or vegetable.
  • Be sure to buy a newer pressure cooker.  These have better release valves and indicators.
  • It is easiest to cook things which can handle lots of heat.  For example, chicken thighs, tough cuts of beef, root vegetables, and beans are good candidates.  For things that need gentle cooking like fish, chicken breast, etc you have to be very careful of how long you cook things.
  • If you have any questions on how to use one, feel free to drop a question on our facebook page.



Why you should pay attention to California Farmer’s Markets

A new trend in market shopping is to buy things which are in season.  This is advantageous because things taste better and are often cheaper.  The problem in the US is it is often confusing on how to determine this.

For example, you may see eggplants in the market year round.  But the reason you see it year round is that when it is out of season in the US, it comes from South America because their seasons are flipped.

To know what is truly in season in the US, you need to pay attention to what is going on in the California farmer’s markets.  The reasoning is that since 80% of the produce comes from California, the farmer’s markets are the first indicators of what is coming into season.

This week (May 3rd), stone fruits just came into season.  Examples of stone fruits are apricots, nectarines, peaches, and cherries.  Unfortunately they are a little pricey at the market right now since it just started.  But in the supermarket, pay attention to these fruits as they should be getting better in the next couple weeks.

Obviously this may be a problem if you don’t live in California or don’t shop at farmer’s markets.  My solution to you is to follow this blog or follow the instagram channel fp produce hunter who takes pictures at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market.
Photo May 01, 1 11 11 PMNew stone fruits in season at the Huntington Beach Farmer’s Market this week.

Cucumber Lemonade

Cucumber lemonade is a refreshing, and easy drink to make.

5SecondsApp_451280415.367178Wash cucumber thoroughly


5SecondsApp_451280371.072707Dice into squares


5SecondsApp_451287948.171261Place cubes into a blender, fill with water, and blend


5SecondsApp_451288071.455606Strain blended mixture into a bowl.  Discard pulp.


5SecondsApp_451288130.599645Juice a lemon


Mix in:

  • 1 part cucumber juice
  • 1 part water
  • .10 part lemon juice
  • .10 part simple syrup





  • One cucumber
  • Water
  • 1 lemon
  • Simple Syrup

Photo Apr 17, 6 05 48 PM