Farmers Market Update: Best Cherries Ever

by | May 29, 2011
Mountain of Cherries

Mountain of Cherries

I’ve been doing this farmers market thing for awhile now, and I have to say that cherries are without a doubt some of the most difficult fruit to photograph. They’re so bright red that it washes out nearly every detail on the fruit, and drowns every other color in the frame.

Consequently I rarely feature my cherry images, and today would have been no different if I didn’t think leaving them out would be a crime. Because anyone who went to the San Francisco farmers market this weekend knows that the cherries were the star of the show.

Tasty Strawberries

Tasty Strawberries

And that’s no small feat this time of year. Today I tasted a strawberry so good I thought it had been injected with sugar, because it reminded me more of the sweetened agua fresca drinks from the taquerias in the Mission district than it did any natural fruit.

But still the cherries were better. Not only that, they’re better than they were last year and possibly the year before that. Honestly it was difficult to not buy some from every farm I stopped at, and I do regret not coming home with more. Don’t miss the cherries this year folks.

Brooks Cherries

Brooks Cherries

Of course there were other notable spring treats as well. Rhubarb is here, and before the season ends I’m determined to try to figure out how to use it. Most of the recipes I’ve seen for it are sweet, which I’m not so excited about. If you know of any good savory recipe, please let me know.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

Generally all the spring vegetables are still amazing. I’m especially loving the sweet spring onions, though I’m normally not a huge onion person. This year I’m adding green onions to everything from eggs to salad. The leeks are excellent too.

Spring Vegetables

Spring Vegetables

Oddly even summer produce is starting to appear. I was stunned today to see watermelon and peppers this early in the season. The vendor told me it was from their farm in Southern California, which makes a bit more sense.

First Watermelon

First Watermelons

But as much as I love summer, I’m not ready to skip ahead just yet. I still haven’t tried any of these beautiful blueberries on my morning muesli.

Blueberries

Blueberries

Nor have I found anything to do with green almonds yet this season.

Green Almonds

Green Almonds

And the last of the citrus fruits shouldn’t be ignored either. This late in the season tangelos, navel oranges and kumquats are the best. Though we had some spectacular blood orange juice this weekend as well.

Kumquats

Kumquats

It’s truly an amazing time of year for the farmers market. Don’t miss it.

Big Tomatoes

Big Tomatoes

Today’s purchases:

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For The Love Of Food

by | May 27, 2011

For The Love of Food

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

This week I found a surprisingly in depth and thoughtful piece on genetically modified foods, an even more impressive food commitment by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and a few good signs that the politics of food labels are headed in the right direction—truth.

Also, for you geeks my thesis work is finally published. Here’s the deets.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links at Twitter (@summertomato) and the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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For The Love Of Food

by | May 20, 2011

For The Love of Food

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

I love Marion Nestle calling out the food industry on their ridiculous health claims, the emphasis on food culture in health and the launch of the new and awesome Gilt Taste.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links at Twitter (@summertomato) and the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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Red Lentil Soup With Indian Spices

by | May 18, 2011
Red Lentil Soup

Red Lentil Soup

Today’s guest recipe is by Boston Globe writer, Allison Boomer. A big lentil fan, she recommends using either Red Chief or Petite Crimson lentils from Zürun.

Her last recipe contribution to Summer Tomato was also a huge hit:

French Green Lentils Roasted With Carrots And Beets

Allison is an artisanal food expert, marketing professional, writer and nutritionist. She partners with people and businesses who share a passion for handcrafted food. She’d love to connect with you on Facebook.

Red Lentil Soup With Indian Spices

Serves 6-8

by Allison Boomer

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder, or more to taste
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 pound (2 cups) red lentils, rinsed with cool water and sorted to remove any small stones
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 can (about 14 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • Juice of 1 lemon

1. In soup pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. When it is hot, add the onions and cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

2. Stir in the cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and chili powder. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.

3. Add the stock, water, lentils, carrots, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, partially cover the pan, and turn the heat to medium-low. Simmer the soup for 30 to 40 minutes or until the lentils are soft.

4. Add the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and chili powder, if you like.

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Exercise & Weight Loss Live – Episode 7 – Summer Tomato Live [video]

by | May 17, 2011

Big thanks to Travis Saunders and all of you who participated in this episode Exercise & Weight Loss. Everyone really enjoyed the show, and we had some great discussions. Show notes are below.

My apologies that the audio quality is still not ideal, the technical stuff gets a lot more complicated when you add another host (working on it). We also lost about 2 minutes of recording at the end (for an entirely different reason I didn’t anticipate). But all the important points were captured, and you’re welcome to ask any remaining questions you have here in the comments.

The next episode is scheduled for Tuesday, May 24 at 6:30pm PST, and the topic is Weight Loss Tips & Tricks. I’ve extended the free trial and today is the last day to get the first month of Tomato Slice for free.

May 9, 20111 | Think your regular workouts are enough to keep you fit? Wondering if extra time on the treadmill will counter your weekend splurges? Find out why you might be putting your eggs in the wrong basket tonight here at 6:30pm PST on Summer Tomato Live.

Join me and Travis Saunders from the PLoS Obesity Panacea blog. Travis is a Ph.D student studying the effects of sedentary behavior. We’ll be discussing The Role of Exercise In Weight Loss, along with his work and more.

Live participation is only available to subscribers of the newsletter Tomato Slice. You can sign up at any time, even during the show, and the password for participation will be emailed to you immediately.

As a special thanks to Obesity Panacea readers, I’m offering a free trial membership for anyone who signs up by Friday, May 13. You can cancel at any time.

Click here to sign up and get the password

Read this for more information on the show and newsletter

To watch live and join the discussion click the red “Join event” button, login with Twitter or your Vokle account, and enter the password when prompted.

I encourage you to call in with video questions, particularly if your question is nuanced and may involve a back and forth discussion. Please use headphones to call in however, or the feedback from the show is unbearable.

Show notes:

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Farmers Market Update: Bowling Green, Kentucky

by | May 15, 2011
Spring Onions

Spring Onions

It’s that time of year again! With spring in the air, farmers markets are opening up all over the northern hemisphere. If you’d like to share your local market with Summer Tomato readers, please read the guidelines then let me know.

Greg Hayes is a father, husband, and unintentional health nut who writes about fitting fitness into busy lives at Live Fit Blog. Check it out to read his ramblings about fitness, healthy living, and being mauled by little boys.

Farmers Market Update: Bowling Green, Kentucky

by Greg Hayes

Over the last several years, my wife and I have slowly made the transition to living a healthy lifestyle here in southern Kentucky. Not a simple proposition in a state with one of the highest rates of obesity in the nation.

For me, the responsibilities of graduate school, career, and starting a family had crowded out thoughts of fitness. Seven year ago, after tearing an ACL, I decided it was time to get my weight under control and make fitness a priority. I learned how to lose belly fat, and made the commitment to start eating healthy. It’s taken some time, and making use of the freshest food in the region has been a cornerstone of that healthful eating plan. For me, that plan starts with the SKY Farmers Market.

SKY Farmers Market

SKY Farmers Market

Farmers markets in this area are usually open from mid-April through mid-October, so we’re just getting started with the local harvest. This Mother’s Day weekend the wife, kids, and I wandered out in search of some fresh spring vegetables, and a little camaraderie. We scored on both fronts.

The city of Bowling Green has two farmers markets. The SKY market, open on Tuesday and Saturday mornings, is the newer of the two. They distinguish themselves from their competitors by certifying that the vendors actually produce the wares you’ll find in the market. Membership requires an inspection by the market manager, so you can guarantee the goods available aren’t trucked in from elsewhere. It means you shouldn’t expect to find watermelons in May, but you can be certain to get the freshest possible produce.

Collard Greens

Collard Greens

The vendors do a wonderful job of establishing a festive atmosphere, with live music, animals to interest the kids, and even a hot breakfast, cooked right there.

Little Piggies

Little Piggies

There are no permanent structures, so the vendors pull their trucks and vans in on Tuesday and Saturday to open for business. Despite being a rather cloudy day with a threat of rain, there was still quite a crowd.

Live Music

Live Music

Being early in the growing season, the selection of vegetables is currently weighted heavily toward cool season crops. Kale, green onions, asparagus, and many herbs were in high demand, along with early strawberries.

Fresh Herbs

O’Daniel Farms is one of the most well-known family farms, and their asparagus always goes fast. In addition to a great selection of vegetables, they also sell locally raised beef and chickens. Antibiotic and hormone free, of course.

Local Meats

Local Meats

The kids always head over to check out the selection at Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese, where you can find locally made cheeses in a variety of unusual flavors. From there, its a beeline to look through the current choices of homemade dog biscuits for their two best buddies, Alvin and Jackson.

Homemade Dog Biscuits

Homemade Dog Biscuits

We were there to pick up fresh asparagus but spent Saturday morning celebrating Mother’s Day with my wife, so we arrived late. The asparagus had already sold out, but we found the following items to tide us over until Tuesday morning.

Cheese

Cheese

SKY Market purchases:

What special treats were at your farmers market this week?

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For The Love Of Food

by | May 13, 2011

For The Love of Food

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

Some truly fantastic articles this week including new data that farmers markets aren’t as expensive as you think, how to cut calories with a knife, and one of my favorite go-to recipes ever.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links at Twitter (@summertomato) and the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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Probiotics & Fermented Foods – Episode 6 – Summer Tomato Live [video]

by | May 10, 2011

Thanks to those of you who participated in last week’s show on Probiotics & Fermented Foods, it was a great discussion. You can find the show notes below.

The next episode is scheduled for Tuesday, May 24 @ 6:30pm PST. We’ll be discussing Weight Loss Tips & Tricks. If you’d like to participate, sign up by this Friday, May 13, to receive the first month of Tomato Slice for free.

May 1, 2011 | What is the scientific evidence behind eating fermented foods or pre- and probiotics, and what are the best sources?

Tune in today at 1pm PST to join our live discussion about probiotics.

Live participation is only available to subscribers of the newsletter Tomato Slice. You can sign up at any time, even during the show, and the password for participation will be emailed to you immediately.

Click here to sign up and get the password

Read this for more information on the show and newsletter

To watch live and join the discussion click the red “Join event” button, login with Twitter or your Vokle account, and enter the password when prompted.

I encourage you to call in with video questions, particularly if your question is nuanced and may involve a back and forth discussion. Please use headphones to call in however, or the feedback from the show is unbearable.

Show notes:

In an attempt to answer Aisha’s question about whether sauerkraut (or kimchi) goes bad I’ve done a bit of reading and haven’t found much. Most evidence suggests that unopened and submerged in brine it is good almost indefinitely. However, once it is open I haven’t seen much evidence that it goes “bad,” but it might not be as pleasant.

Because it is fermented it is unlikely to experience much rot, so I would judge by color, smell and your own personal comfort level. Obviously anything with a physical growth or mold should be tossed.

If anyone else has any insight please share.

References:

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Farmers Market Update: Purple Mother’s Day

by | May 8, 2011
Flowers for Mom

Flowers for Mom

My mom’s favorite color was purple. And she didn’t just like it, she was obsessed with it. She had purple carpet, purple tupperware, purple contact lenses, you name it.

It drove me crazy, and for most of my life I avoided purchasing anything in purple–even though it’s the official color of my beloved LA Lakers (don’t hate).

Lovely Spring Onions

Lovely Spring Onions

I had already seen enough purple to last me a lifetime, I thought. How could I bear any more?

Beautiful Carrots

Beautiful Carrots

My mom died in 2003 from injuries sustained during a car wreck not far from her home in Southern California. It was just a few days after her 52nd birthday.

I was in Berkeley at the time, working as a research assistant in the same lab where I completed my honors thesis. The call from my dad came in the morning shortly after I got to work. I actually missed it, and had to call back.

Chinese Eggplant & Melon

The first news of the accident was delivered by a stranger, since my dad had already left the office by the time I got the message.

It was almost impossible for me to believe what I heard. My mom had a penchant for exaggerating everything. If she was hungry, it was because she “hadn’t eaten in days.” If she had a headache, it was certainly a “migraine.”

Pluots

Pluots

We all learned not to believe anything was as severe as she claimed it was, and the accident felt the same way. It couldn’t be that bad, I thought, it’s never that bad.

Beautiful Turnips

Beautiful Turnips

But it was. I only saw her alive once after that, and what I saw looked nothing like my mother. She was still soft and warm, but was otherwise unrecognizable to me.

Violet Sweet Peppers

Violet Sweet Peppers

My mom only knew me as a student and scientist. In 2003 I hadn’t yet discovered my passion for food, and I know she’d be baffled and delighted to hear I’ve learned to cook.

Purple Garlic

Purple Garlic

She had always been wonderful in the kitchen, and I was fortunate to grow up alongside her adventurous palate and organic ingredients—a remnant from her hippie years in the 60′s.

Audrey II

If my mom ever had the chance to see the San Francisco farmers market, she would be blown away by the intoxicating smells and gorgeous produce.

She would love the vibrant fruits, brilliant greens and, of course, the purple artichokes.

Spring Artichokes

Spring Artichokes

I know she would be proud of me for discovering this place and eating these wholesome foods.

Purple Kohlrabi and Kale

Purple has a different effect on me now. I don’t love it, not like she did, but I cherish it as a gentle reminder of the things she loved and cared about.

Bronx Grapes

Bronx Grapes

When I see purple I am not reminded that she is gone, but that a part of her will always be with me.

Happy Mother’s Day

Jeri Lynn Pino  1951 – 2003


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For The Love Of Food

by | May 6, 2011

For The Love of Food

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

Great information this week around the web, and I didn’t even need to call BS! Read about why being a foodie isn’t elitist, what scientists think about US agriculture policy, and what’s the big deal about dietary fat.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links at Twitter (@summertomato) and the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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