Farmers Market Update: Springtime

by | Feb 28, 2010
Loose Beets

Loose Beets

I know that it is technically still February, but I’m going to officially declare it springtime here in San Francisco, at least for all of us foodies.

The spring greens are in full effect. Today I found spinach, lettuces, asparagus and even pea shoots.

Pea Shoots

Pea Shoots

Asparagus

Asparagus

Brassica greens like kale and cabbage were around for most of the winter, but now we are seeing the late season varieties such as these savoy cabbages.

Savoy Cabbage

Savoy Cabbage

Herbs and onions are getting more diverse as well, as more delicate herbs like cilantro and thyme are reappearing. Still no basil though.

The giant leeks you can find these days are epic.

Big Leeks

Big Leeks

Fresh Herbs

Fresh Herbs

The root vegetable season is also shifting to the tail end. I’m seeing fewer radishes and other spicy roots, but sweet beets and carrots are thriving.

Carrots

Carrots

In fruit, citrus is still where it’s at. Tropical fruits like kiwi, mango and guava are also available. But it’s hard to beat these $1 navel oranges from Hamada Farms.

Deceptive Tomatoes

Deceptive Tomatoes

Navel Oranges

Navel Oranges

You should still avoid the deceptively juicy looking tomatoes, however. Trust  me, they aren’t good. The vendor said it will be about 3 weeks before the heirlooms show up.

Until then you’ll have to amuse yourself with all the rest of the amazing spring produce. These flank steaks look pretty awesome too.

Flank Steaks

Flank Steaks

Today’s purchases:

Is your season turning?

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For The Love of Food

by | Feb 26, 2010
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Lots of great healthy eating tips this week on the interwebs. I love the news that slow eating can help you eat less. How often are we told that enjoying food more helps us lose weight? (OK, all the time here at ST, but I’m a weirdo.) There’s also an interesting article about sodium worth reading.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For complete reading lists join me on the social bookmarking sites StumbleUpon and Delicious. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you there. (Note: If you want a follow back on Twitter introduce yourself with an @ message).

Links of the week

What goodies did you find online this week?

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Farmers Market Update: First Asparagus!

by | Feb 21, 2010
First Asparagus

First Asparagus

I guess spring is here for real. Behold: asparagus!

And it didn’t come alone.

Every week I’m seeing more spring produce popping up as if it were, um, springtime.

Cardoons

Cardoons

Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads are baby fern shoots that show up at Far West Fungi for a few weeks or so every spring. Cardoons–a unique and unwieldy vegetable–are also a rare seasonal find. Neither of these make my top 5 vegetables list, but they are fun to play around with if you are feeling adventurous.

I admit I’m a little more excited about the artichokes that are appearing everywhere. The past few years I’ve fallen in love with the baby ones, but I enjoy artichokes of all sizes. And it looks like I’m not the only one.

Artichoke Slug

Artichoke Slug

Cauliflower is peaking in season right now and trust me, you don’t want to miss it. Try roasting cauliflower florets at about 450 degrees with a little olive oil, sea salt, curry powder and coriander. Cover it with foil for the first 15 minutes, then remove the foil and let it brown until tender. Stir every 10 minutes or so. So easy and ridiculously tasty.

You can also find cauliflower’s prettier and more delicate cousin, romanesco.

Romanesco

Romanesco

Cauliflowers

Cauliflowers

Eggs are also easier to find at the farmers market this time of year. Right now I am smitten with the ones at Marin Sun Farms. They aren’t cheap, but they will blow you away. And you won’t get Salmonella.

Blood Oranges

Blood Oranges

Marin Sun Farms Eggs

Marin Sun Farms Eggs

The citrus season is also booming. Blood oranges and navels are wonderful right now, while the cute little clementines are almost gone. Also be sure to grab some Meyer lemons to squeeze on your asparagus and artichokes.

And root vegetables are still awesome.

Beautiful Turnips

Beautiful Turnips

Is it becoming springtime at your market?

Today’s purchases:

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For The Love of food

by | Feb 19, 2010
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

There were an unusual number of thoughtful articles published this week. To start, read up on the important legislation that was passed for organic dairy production (yippie!). There is also some bad news about bagged salad greens you should be aware of, along with some valuable info on choosing a CSA if, per chance, the salad story makes you want to opt out of the industrial food chain (if it didn’t, check out the salmonella pepper article).

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For complete reading lists join me on the social bookmarking sites StumbleUpon and Delicious. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you there. (Note: If you want a follow back on Twitter introduce yourself with an @ message).

Links of the week

What inspired you to eat well this week?

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31 Fun[ny] Things To Do With A Cast Iron Skillet

by | Feb 17, 2010
Kapani

Kapani

I recently acquired a cast iron skillet and have been dreamily brainstorming all the fun I get to have with it.

Obviously my first adventure had to be this Spanish tortilla recipe, which turned out awesome. But I also had visions of recreating my grandmother’s slow-cooked spaghetti sauce and being able to make perfect steaks in my BBQ-less apartment.

But I knew there had to be more I could do with such a big, heavy object–so I turned to the coolest people I know for suggestions:

castiron25

castiron6castiron26

I must admit, my favorite answers didn’t exactly involve food:

castiron1castiron2castiron3castiron5castiron8castiron9castiron14castiron27castiron10castiron7

But by far the most touching reply I received was a link to a Posterous post from @GregKnottLeMond. I encourage you to click over and read it, it’s short and sweet:

castiron24

The post describes how the adorable skillet bird above came to be:

For @SummerTomato ‘s Consideration

The creativity was not, of course, restricted to metallic critters and demolition:

castiron11castiron4castiron12castiron15castiron17castiron16castiron18castiron19castiron20castiron21castiron22castiron23

These blogs that specialize in cast iron cookware were also recommended:

Cooking In Cast Iron

Black Iron Blog

Derek on Cast Iron

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the collective inspiration! Here is my consolidated list of ideas:

  1. Clonk someone (@thescramble)
  2. Cure alcoholism (@mcnee)
  3. Bicep curls (@JeffACSH)
  4. Nut crackin’ (@RtReview)
  5. End a romance (@cookerguy)
  6. Fry chicken (@cookerguy)
  7. Break stuff (@cookerguy)
  8. Work on two-handed tennis backhand (@cookerguy)
  9. Fight zombies (@benhamill)
  10. Frame a picture (@omewan)
  11. Plant bonzai trees (@omewan)
  12. Stop burglars à la Home Alone (@leslieconn)
  13. Burn thermite (@mcnee)
  14. Hit John Mayer (@foodiemcbody)
  15. Make metal critters (@GregKnottLeMond)
  16. Deep dish pizza (@bob_koss)
  17. Squeeze paneer (@newtomato)
  18. Burgers (@thescramble)
  19. Steaks (@thescramble)
  20. Corn bread (@lonelygourmet)
  21. Spoon bread (?) (@virginiagriffey)
  22. Roast meats (@jameswcooper)
  23. Crustless pies (@blee27)
  24. Pancakes (@bob_koss)
  25. Sauté zucchini (@JeffACSH)
  26. Pineapple upside-down cake (@HeatherHAL)
  27. Hashbrowns (@arielmanx)
  28. Seared meat (@arielmanx)
  29. Spanish tortilla (@FBloggersUnite)
  30. Bibimbap (@annemai)
  31. Tarte tartin (@annemai)

What are your favorite things to do with a cast iron skillet?

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How To Tell Green Garlic From Green Onions

by | Feb 15, 2010
Green Garlic

Green Garlic

Believe it or not, young spring greens are already starting to turn up at the farmers market.

Green garlic is one of the unique spring treats we’ll be able to find for the next several months. The same species as regular garlic, green garlic has not yet matured into the pungent bulbs most of us are accustomed to. While the flavor is still recognizable as garlic, it is more subdued and delicate when still green. This gentler version is ideal for pairing with the subtle tastes of springtime.

Look for green garlic at your local farmers market from now until the end of spring. The only issue is, green garlic can look a lot like green onions if you don’t know how to tell the difference.

Your first clue is the slightly purple tint that can sometimes appear on the stalks of green garlic.

Green Garlic

Green Garlic

Green Onions

Green Onions

But the only fool proof way to tell the difference is to examine the shape of the leaves. You are probably already familiar with the tube shaped green ends of green onions. Green garlic is distinct in that the leaves are flat instead of round.

Flat Garlic Leaves

Flat Garlic Leaves

Try green garlic sauteed in scrambled eggs, sliced raw into salads or mashed up with goat cheese as a spread.

What is your favorite way to use green garlic?

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Farmers Market Update: Love Apples

by | Feb 14, 2010
Love Apples

Love Apples

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The big news at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market this week is the appearance of tomatoes. I won’t pretend these are summer tomatoes (it will be at least a month before I bother to buy any – no way they have any flavor yet), but their appearance is a sign of wonderful things to come.

I hope you all have a beautiful day.

xoxox

dp

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For The Love of Food

by | Feb 12, 2010
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

The interwebs gave us lots of great healthy food tips this week, from an unexpected benefit of eating (and smelling) real, quality food to peeling a mango like a zen master. There is also a great article on DIY packed lunch tips and some good news about beer.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For complete reading lists join me on the social bookmarking sites StumbleUpon and Delicious. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you there. (Note: If you want a follow back on Twitter introduce yourself with an @ message).

Links of the week

  • Confused about nutrition? Eat food! <<Marion Nestle elaborates on her position regarding single nutrient science and why we’re better off just eating food. (Food Politics)
  • Complex smells make food more filling <<One of the reasons I emphasize real, high-quality foods on this blog is because they are so much more satisfying and contribute profoundly to a better quality of life. A new study suggests that their wonderful smells may be partially responsible. (New Scientist)
  • Another perspective on the sodium wars <<I always love to read Monica Reinagel’s perspective on nutrition trends. Here she elaborates on sodium and high blood pressure. (Nutrition Data)
  • Beer for the Bones? <<That’s right. The silicon present in some beers may contribute to bone health. I wouldn’t start drinking more to prevent osteoporosis, but it’s nice to fantasize right? (HealthDay)
  • The Zen of Peeling a Mango <<It’s mango season, Mangoes are good and healthy, Easy to peel. (Who doesn’t want to start the weekend with a mango haiku?) (ReadyMade)
  • A Butcher’s Tips for Avoiding Cuts in the Kitchen <<Safety first. Playing in the kitchen is fun, but it is easy to hurt yourself. Learn to handle a knife safely from the pros. (Lifehacker)
  • 8 Foods That Will Hide Your Bad Breath <<I haven’t written much about Valentine’s Day this year, but a little good breath could never hurt anyone. (Dumb Little Man)
  • How to cultivate the packed lunch habit & save <<I’m a big fan of lunch, habits and DIY foods. Saving money doesn’t suck either. This article is full of great tips. (Stone Soup)
  • You Know About Insulin. And Now, the REST of the Story . . . <<People LOVE to over-simplify health and nutrition. Insulin gets blamed for a lot, and rightly so, but keep in mind there is a lot more going on than just carbs and insulin spikes. (Diabetic Mediterranean Diet Blog)
  • Farro & Winter Vegetables Recipe <<I love Amy. I love seasonal vegetables. And for some reason I’ve never cooked with farro. Something is wrong with this story and I think this recipe solves it. (Cooking With Amy)

What inspired you to eat well this week?

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Quick Fix: Super Easy Kale With Pecans Recipe

by | Feb 8, 2010
Easy Kale With Pecans Recipe

Easy Kale With Pecans Recipe

It has been forever since I’ve posted a recipe, and I apologize. The thing is, I’ve been really busy. And when I’m busy my meals don’t tend to be super interesting or fancy.

But they are definitely delicious.

Kale has been my favorite instant meal lately. I can usually find three different kinds–curly, Tuscan (aka dinosaur), and red Russian–and they all work with this recipe. You can also substitute chard or any other sturdy greens to mix things up. If you want to make your life even easier look for kale with smaller, young leaves so the stems are tender enough to leave in while cooking.

The key to making a plain green vegetable worthy of an entire meal is adding something with protein or fat (preferably both). Nuts work perfectly, as do any kind of beans or lentils. This recipe calls for pecans, which are wonderful, but I usually use roasted pistachio nuts since they don’t need to be chopped. I was out of pistachios today since I ate so much kale last week (these things happen).

For me this meal is a perfect lunch. Alternatively you can serve it as a side dish and it can serve a few people. If you would like a little more substance serve it with lentils and brown rice or quinoa. I will sometimes have sardines or smoked mackerel or trout on the side.

Super Easy Kale With Pecans Recipe

Serves 1-3 people. 10 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch kale or chard
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans or pistachios
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Sea salt to taste

Start by mincing your garlic, just to make it a tiny bit healthier. Rinse your greens and place them all on a cutting board oriented in the same direction. If the leaves have very thick stems you may want to remove them as explained here. Personally I buy greens that are fresh and tender enough that I rarely bother removing stems.

Pile the greens on top of each other. Starting at the tip of the leaves, cut 1 inch strips until you have cut the entire bunch. If you are using Tuscan or red Russian kale, a lot less chopping is necessary because the leaves are thin and only need be cut in one direction. If your leaves are wide, cut them into 1-2 inch squares. It’s okay if your greens are still wet, the water will help them steam.

Using a pan with tall sides and a lid, add the nuts and turn it on medium heat. Lightly toast the nuts, stirring regularly with tongs. After 2-3 minutes, add olive oil to the pan and allow it to heat up. Add your chopped greens to the pan, sprinkle generously with sea salt and toss with tongs. Cover.

Stir the greens occasionally so they don’t burn, always replacing the lid after stirring. Continue cooking the greens as they wilt and turn dark green. If they start to burn lower the heat, add 1-2 tbsp of water and cover again to steam.

Kale is done cooking when it is dark green and the stems are tender. Unlike spinach, it is very difficult to over-cook kale because it retains its crispness very well.  Before turning off the heat, use tongs to clear a space in the center of the pan and add your minced garlic in a single layer. Allow the garlic to cook until it becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds, then mix it up with the kale and nuts. Add half cup of beans or lentils at this point if desired.

Continue to cook greens uncovered for another minute or two. Taste test a leaf for saltiness and adjust to taste (be careful if you are using chard, it is naturally salty and easy to over-season).

Serve immediately.

Who loves kale as much as I do?

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Farmers Market Update: Miami

by | Feb 7, 2010
Margie's Goodies

Margie's Goodies

In honor of the Super Bowl and permanently nice weather, today’s guest farmers market update is from sunny Miami, Florida.

Brilliant and irreverent, Holly Hickman is one of my favorite healthy eating bloggers. Definitely check out (and subscribe to) her blog and follow her on Twitter @Holly_Hickman. You will not regret it.

Holly is also the author of Healthy Eats Here, a guide to local, sustainable restaurants across America. If you like good, healthy food and have done any traveling you know how difficult it can be to find a decent meal on the road. Holly has figured it all out for us and organized an easy to use, state-by-state guide. I’m very proud to be an affiliate for such awesomeness.

I hope you enjoy Holly’s adventures at the farmers market as much as I did. And be sure to listen to the audio clip at the bottom of the post!

Farmers Market Update: South Beach (Pinecrest)

by Holly Hickman

Greetings from South Beach, or, as I like to call it, The Fanny Parade.

The locusts football fans are in town this week for the Super Bowl–otherwise known in Cocaine Cowboy Country as the Super Blow–and I am in need of escape. Normally, escaping from Miami simply requires that you grab your typical fanny parader off the street and use her as a human floatation device. (As I told Darya, she might live near Silicon Valley, but I live surrounded by Silicone Valleys.) However, our lovely ladies are busy partying, so I’m heading to my other –real– escape: the local farmers market.

You might think from the above paragraph that I do not love my adopted town. I do; I just like to tease it. And the great source of my love for this town is not the ocean or insistently happy weather or even the proximity to phenomenal Cuban coffee: it is, ladies and gents, the Pinecrest farmers market.

We have a number of markets here but Pinecrest, although a 30-minute drive from my house, is my go-to haven. My favorite farmers are all there: Margie Pikarsky of Redland Organics; resident goat whisperer Hani Khouri of Hani’s Organics; and Gabrielle Berryer of Gaby’s Farm.

Behold why they are my favorites:

Tomatoes from Margie's stand

Tomatoes from Margie's stand

If you’re reading this from Iowa, I am sorry. Those are–apologies again, this time to Darya–summer tomatoes. Only they burst forth in JANUARY ’round these parts. Yes! And go through about April. Yes. And Margie grows the best of them.

“Do you know the differences among all these?” she asked me.

Um, no.

“These are the green zebra. This is the Cherokee Purple, kind of a dusky rose. Ooh! Yellow Pear. And then these kind start off pale but will blush into a beautiful mahogany on your counter. Look at the the heirlooms. Beautiful, no?”

I bought two packs.

Farmer Margie & her nearly sold-out broccoli

Farmer Margie & her nearly sold-out broccoli

This is Margie trimming her magical swirling broccoli. OK, so they only taste like magic.

“It’s because of the frost,” she said.  “Makes ‘em sweeter.”

Ka-ching!

She was also selling (clockwise from top left of main photo): freshly-dug potatoes and beets. (She digs beets.) Beautiful Florida avocado, which are not as creamy as the California kind, but which are as large as footballs and make a fine game-time guacamole. Local wild honey, assorted cabbages, herbs such as lemon grass and Syrian oregano (“the only kind”), turnips and luffa. Yes, for scrubbing your skin; it’s a plant that grows beautifully here in subrtropical climes. She also sells those mulit-colored carrots, plus Asian greens such as tatsoi (perfect for stir-fries), several kinds of organic Florida citrus and some gorgeous eggplant. Anything that grows well in Thailand grows well here.

I could spend all day at this stand, but I am hungry for falafel. Time to go see Hani and his wife, Mary Lee.

Hani and Mary Lee Khouri of Hanisorganics.com

Hani and Mary Lee Khouri of Hanisorganics.com

Hani is the only goat farmer around, and, luckily for us, his goat milk, goat ice cream and goat cheese are all exquisite. That is why I call him the goat whisperer. He’s originally from Lebanon and sells Mediterranean delights such as fattoush (a pita and tomato salad that won’t make you fattoush); fool (a delightful legume-based dish which, again, won’t make you into one); and fantastic hummus and falafel.

Left from top: fattoush, fool & lupini beans

Left from top: fattoush, fool & lupini beans

Hani made me a gorgeous falafel sandwich with his home-pickled turnips while I asked Mary Lee about their beautiful goat’s milk ice cream.  There was none, she said, because the goats are “kidding,” and she doesn’t want to take their milk. Sane and humane.

Hani Khouri makes sure Holly isn't cranky

Hani Khouri makes sure Holly isn't cranky

So, no ice cream from Hani, but I know where I can get some: Gaby’s Farm.

The aptly named Gaby Berryer

The aptly named Gaby Berryer

Gabrielle Berryer is originally from Haiti and spent years working as a psychologist. One day, she decided to buy a farm south of Miami so that she could grow tropical fruits. And she does–oh how she does! Starfruit, canistel (a creamy, custardy fruit), mamey (which I wrote a post about, since I love it so) passion fruit and myriad other delights.

Gaby's Ice Creams

Gaby's Ice Creams

If you have never tasted any of these fruits, buy a ticket here. NOW. And then go see Gaby. She not only grows these delectable paens to tropical love; she makes ice cream out of them. People. Sit. They have a teensy bit of corn syrup in them to keep them creamy and give them good consistency, but other than that, they are perfect. You can find them at Whole Foods throughout the southeast, but I think she should go national.

Here’s a wee interview with my favorite farmers where we learn about kidding, tropical fruits, and why eating stone crabs is sustainable:

Holly at the South FL Farmers Market

And here is the result of my purchases–homemade pizza that we ate topped with an arugula salad, plus an eggplant/tomato riff on baba ganoush. Dessert? Gaby’s ice cream, of course. Darya, you must come to South Florida; they make the magic happen here. And I’m not talking about Mickey.

Dinner with my purchases

Dinner with my purchases

Purchases:

Redland Organics

  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Broccoli
  • Arugula
  • Salad Greens
  • Asian Greens
  • Kohlrabi
  • Starfruit
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Savoy Cabbage

Hani’s Organics

  • Fattoush salad
  • Lupini beans — eat ‘em like peanuts
  • Fool salad
  • Falafel wrap

Gaby’s Farm

  • Canistel Ice Cream

From Darya: Are any more of you holding out on me with winter tomatoes? Time to fess up!

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