Thursday, October 25, 2012

Last Market of 2012

Saturday is the Last Farmers Market of the 2012 Season
            This Saturday, October 27th, marks the end of the 2012 Farmers Market season.  We hope everyone will come out and shop one last time before winter.  Many of us won’t see each other for the next sixth months, but if you are chatting with your favorite vendors you may find that some of them offer products year round or by special order.  If so, be sure to get their contact information.
            Last week I reminded everyone that now is time to stock up on your winter storage crops such as apples, potatoes, squash, onions, sweet potatoes, etc.  This week is also a great time to stock up on your local meat products.  Most of the meat vendors offer great deals on meat the last day of farmers market so be sure to arrive early if you want to get in on the savings.  Also, it is wise to organize your freezer before you go to market on Saturday so you know how much space you have left to fill.
            The weather this week has been so warm that I keep referring to it as Indian summer.  However, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, true Indian summer refers to a warm spell that happens after St. Martin’s Day on Nov. 11th  and before Nov. 20th.  I don’t really know if this is based on true scientific records or old wives’ tales, however, I am enjoying the warm weather now and if there is another spell the second week of November, so much the better.
            As I write this, it doesn’t look like the good weather is going to hold out until Saturday, which is very unfortunate, since my family has big plans for our annual Fall Party.  We are going to make a big kettle of apple butter as part of the festivities.  I have been busy preparing the apples all week by steaming them and running them through my food strainer.  Let’s hope the rain holds off or everyone will be taking home a gallon of applesauce instead of a pint of apple butter.    
            This week’s recipe is from my friend Amy Kesting.  Amy used to live in Zanesville and work at the Art Museum, but moved back to Columbus last winter.  She is probably the best cook I know and I miss her evening calls saying, “Kristen, I have just made (fill in the blank).  Come over and try some.”  Since I’m too far away now to be her taste-tester I have to be satisfied just looking at pictures of her latest mouth-watering creations on Facebook.  This is the dish I am going to make for my vegetarian friends attending Saturday’s party.  I am going to make it ahead on Friday and bake it on Saturday.         
Pumpkin and Swiss Chard Lasagna
·         One Small cooking pumpkin such as long island cheese or sugar pie
·         One Med-Lg. Butternut squash
·         1 bundle fresh Sage
·         Two cloves fresh garlic
·         Water or milk
·         2 eggs
·         Salt and pepper to taste
·         2 lb. swiss chard or other greens such as spinach, chopped
·         1 jar marinara sauce
·         1 pkg. no boil lasagna noodles
·         Cheese (Amy likes to use for pepper jack for a little kick)
·         Olive Oil
To prepare the pumpkin layer:  Cut pumpkin and butternut squash in half, remove seeds, and bake at 375º for about 40 min with some fresh sage.  Remove the skin and puree in food processor with two garlic cloves and two eggs.  Add a little water or milk to get a good consistency.  Salt and pepper to taste.  To make the chard/greens layer:  Sauté chopped chard in olive oil; mix with about one cup marinara sauce.  Salt and pepper to taste. To assemble the lasagna:  Sprinkle olive oil to coat the bottom of lasagna pan and a little bit of the marinara sauce.  Add a layer of noodles.  Layer up with the pumpkin mixture, a little sauce, noodles, chard mixture, noodles, more pumpkin, more sauce, and so on.  Top with cheese.  Cover and bake at 375º for 60 minutes.  Remove cover for the last 15 minutes of baking. 

Counting Down, Only 2 More Weeks of Farmers' Market

Counting Down, Only 2 More Weeks of Farmers’ Market
            The countdown is on—only two more Saturdays left of the 2012 Farmers’ Market season.  Now is the time to come out to the fairgrounds and buy the items you need to stock up for winter.
            A cool, dark spot in the basement is the best place to store things like onions, garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and winter squash.  Many of these will last well into the winter so you can buy in bulk.  I would advise you to check on them periodically.  Sort out any that are going bad and either use them right away or pitch them so that they don’t affect the rest of your produce.
            There are still many varieties of apples to choose from.  These will keep in the cellar as well but I have heard it is best to keep them away from your potatoes.  If you are like us and have an extra fridge in the garage, that would be an even better place to store your apples, keeping them crisper longer.
            I spent Monday and Tuesday planting my garlic for next season.  A lot of people are surprised to find out that garlic is planted in the fall.  Each individual clove is separated from the whole bulb and planted.  These will actually sprout before the freezing weather arrives.  They overwinter and resume growing in the spring.  Each clove will develop into a whole bulb that will be ready to harvest in late June or early July.
            The other day I saw a boxed mix for Sweet Potato Pancakes.  I had never heard of using sweet potatoes in pancakes, but it sounded like a yummy treat.  Since I have an abundance of sweet potatoes I decided to find a recipe to make them from scratch.  My mother is the only person I know who doesn’t really care for pancakes, but even she conceded that they were good when I made the family breakfast on Sunday morning.  The recipe is from but when I made them I used half whole-wheat flour and half all-purpose flour.  I think half buckwheat flour would be delicious too if you have it available.
Sweet Potato Pancakes
·         3/4 pound sweet potatoes
·         1 ½  cups all-purpose flour (or sub half whole-wheat flour)
·         3 ½  teaspoons baking powder
·         1 tsp. salt
·         ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
·         2 eggs, beaten
·         1 ½ cups milk
·         ¼ cup butter
     Peel sweet potatoes and chop into chunks.  Place chunks in a saucepan of boiling water and cook until tender, about 15 min.  Drain and mash sweet potatoes.  In a med. bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.  Mix mashed sweet potatoes, eggs, milk, and butter in separate bowl.  Blend sweet potato mixture into the flour mixture to form a batter.  Preheat a lightly greased griddle over med.-high heat.  Drop batter mixture onto the griddle and cook until golden brown on both sides.  Serve with maple syrup.

Hanging up the Herb Harvest

Hanging up the Herb Harvest
Thank you to everyone who came out to Farmers’ Market last week in spite of the change in hours and vendor locations.  If you came late and missed us, please come back this week, as we will be back to our normal hours, which are from 9:00am-Noon. 
            This week I have been preparing for frost.  So far, as I write this, I have been spared, but I don’t think I will continue to be lucky for much longer.  I still have a lot of beautiful flowers out in the field, but have been cutting a lot of them to hang up to dry.  Many of the flowers I plant, such as celosia (cockscomb) and globe amaranth, hold their color when dried.  I have bundles of flowers hanging from a string across the entire length of the dining room.  It is such a cheerful sight.
            I have also cleared out my herb beds.  The tarragon nearly took over half of a bed this year.  I need to work harder at keeping it cut back next year so it doesn’t overwhelm all of the other plants.  I also need to work on finding more uses for it.  If you have any suggestions, I’d be glad to hear them. 
            Perhaps, I just need to create a separate bed for the tarragon as I did the different kinds of mint.  I knew before I planted them how much they would spread.  The peppermint and spearmint will be used in my hot tea all winter.
I was glad to find a variety of rosemary, called ARP Rosemary, which is hardy in our zone.   Last year it over-wintered nicely but it was also a very mild winter so I’m anxious to see how it does this year.  I often try to grow rosemary in a pot in the house during the winter, but have not yet made through a winter without killing one.  I think this year I probably won’t even try and will rely on what I hang up to dry for my winter supply. 
The last herbs I was hanging on my drying line were heavy bundles of sage.  However, they proved to be a little too much.  The string broke and it all came crashing down.  I had to find heavier twine and hang everything back up.  No harm was done and the dining room looks and smells lovely. 
            I also helped my friend Nora Daniel harvest her basil the other night.  We stopped when we had filled four trash bags full of the plants.  I think she has a grandiose plan to make lots of pesto for the freezer with all of the basil, but after spending one whole evening picking the leaves off the stems and not getting even halfway through one trash bag, I have a feeling not all of the basil will be made into pesto.  I think I’ll suggest she too string up a few lines at her house for herb drying.  I foresee all of her friends receiving packages of dried basil for Christmas.
            Looking for recipes using fresh herbs, I came across the following at  I would never have thought to add mint to my salad greens.

Grilled Chicken with Mint and Radish Salad

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon for drizzling
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (from 4 limes), plus 1 teaspoon for drizzling
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups mixed salad greens
  • 1 cup fresh mint
  • 4 radishes, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Lime wedges, for serving
Combine chicken, oil, lime juice, and garlic in a bowl. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat a grill or grill pan to high. Grill chicken until cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Combine greens, mint, and radishes. Sprinkle with salt, season with pepper, and drizzle with oil and lime juice. Serve with chicken and lime wedges.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Farmers Market Starts and Ends One Hour Earlier this Week

Farmers Market Starts and Ends One Hour Earlier This Week

            This weekend is the annual Gunfest at the Muskingum County Fairgrounds.  Due to this event, Farmers’ Market will be moved back one hour, starting at 8:00am and ending at 11:00am.  Also, the outside vendors will not be in their normal spots.  The vendors will set up starting at the end of the building, rather than at the front gate as normal.  We are sorry for any inconvenience this creates for our customers.  The farmers still have plenty of great produce to sell so we hope you will still come out and find us.  Our income depends on the goods we sell at market, so please take time to seek us out in spite of the changes.
            The other night I made a big family dinner to celebrate my mother’s birthday.  The main dish featured bone-in smoked pork chops from one of our meat vendors at market.  I prepared them in a way I have never cooked pork chops.  I had so many to cook and needed to figure out the best way to keep them warm until we were ready to eat.  So, here is what I came up with.  I dredged them in flour, to which I had added chopped fresh rosemary and sage, and browned them in an iron skillet with butter and garlic.  I did them in batches of four because that is what fit in the skillet.  After I finished frying each pan of chops I made a batch of gravy from the bits in the skillet, the seasoned flour, a little more butter, and chicken stock.  I also added a touch of my homemade maple syrup to the gravy.  Then I put the chops in my big electric roaster set at 350º to cook in the gravy and become tender.  This worked out really well.
            As we sat down to eat I told the family I had “experimented” with the pork chops and wasn’t sure how they turned out.  They all looked at the meat with an expression of uncertainty, which, in turn, made everyone laugh.  I’m not sure who was the first brave soul to dig in, but soon everyone followed suit with gusto.  I’ll chalk that one up in the “win” column for recipes. 
Our meal was almost completely local food, as I served applesauce made with Melrose and Honeycrisp apples I had purchased at market as well.  Mashed potatoes and salad rounded out the meal.  I topped my homegrown salad greens with nasturtiums from my garden.  These pretty yellow and orange flowers have a slightly peppery taste.  I had to explain to the family that, yes, the flowers were meant to be eaten.  I think everyone gave them a try, but we’ll mark that one in the “tie” column, since they did not receive rave reviews from all who tried them.  
            Since there is no way I could quantify my pork chop recipe—I was making it up as I went—I thought I had better find another “real” recipe to share this week.  As I was about to look through my winter squash recipes I received an email from one of my seed companies with the following recipe.  It was so timely that I just had to try it and when I tasted it, it was so delicious I knew I had to share it with you.           

Butternut Squash Shrimp Bisque
·  1/2 cup sweet butter
·  1 cup diced onions
·  1/2 cup all-purpose flour
·  5 1/2 cups chicken stock
·  5 cups diced and peeled butternut squash (about 3 lbs.)
·  1 cup dry white wine
·  3 bay leaves
·  1 cup whipping cream
·  Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
·  1 pound small, uncooked, peeled and cleaned shrimp

Melt the butter in a heavy, large soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook until transparent while stirring for about 10 minutes. Add the flour and stir for 3 minutes until slightly golden. Add the stock slowly while whisking constantly and bring to a boil. Add the squash, wine and bay leaves and simmer until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Add the cream and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves. Puree in small batches in the blender, pouring the pureed batches into a clean soup pot. Before serving, reheat the soup and add the shrimp. Simmer briefly until the shrimp turns pink. Serve immediately. Serves 8.