Farmers Market Update: Reno

by | Nov 20, 2011

Tiny Chili

Ashley Hennefer is the Green Editor at the Reno News & Review, the editor of Wildflower Magazine, and a graduate student the University of Nevada, Reno. Born and raised in the Bay area, she’s lived in Northern Nevada for ten years and has fallen in love with its agricultural community and environment. Check out her personal blog, follow her on Twitter or add her on Facebook.

Farmers Market Update: Reno, Nevada

By Ashley Hennefer

We Nevadans love our agriculture, and here in Northern Nevada we have a unique and vibrant farmers market culture. While our unpredictable weather has its perks—including our beautiful snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountain range and an abundance of frost-thriving apple trees—it also means that our farmers market season is short. By mid-September, nearly all of our markets are closed. We have a great local food co-op in Reno and several of our farms are open throughout the year, but that’s about it. Luckily, Reno’s Garden Shop Nursery has begun hosting an indoor farmers market on Sundays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., and last weekend I checked it out.

The Garden Shop Nursery is especially beautiful during the fall and winter months, especially with all of their beautiful flowers.

orchids

Orchids

I’m thankful that it is close to my house so I can still go to the market even when it snows. I was not expecting the market to be very big—and I was right. The little market was tucked away in the back corner of the nursery. However, the vendors and Garden Shop Nursery staff did a great job setting up all of the tables. There was a pleasantly decent selection of items to choose from, and all of the vendors from Nevada and California were enthusiastic and passionate about their products.

I had an idea of what I wanted to purchase: I’ve been on soup-making kick, so I wanted to find a few items to use for that. I also wanted to find some great seasonal items, and maybe a few things I’d never tried before.

Despite the size of the market, everything was nicely displayed in baskets and bins. I got there around half way through the day and there was a crowd, although it may have just seemed that way because of the size of the room. It was warm and cozy and everything smelled great.

I first stopped to check out the onions, garlic, potatoes and squash. We picked three onions and a small spaghetti squash.

Onions and Potatoes

We use garlic often in my household but I passed on it this time since I am growing some of my own. I also passed on potatoes, although they looked tempting displayed in their baskets.

Potatoes

Because we got there after the initial rush, we missed some of the items, like farm fresh eggs (bummer!), which sold almost instantly according to the vendor. The vendor also had other items on display such as locally made pet food, salsa and tortilla chips.

Pet Food

I passed on all of these, although I tried a sample of the salsa and it was delicious. It’s on my list for this week’s shopping!

Another vendor, who had ventured to Reno from Northern California, had an eclectic assortment. His produce was very colorful and unique.

Colorful Produce

I could eat tomatoes 24/7 but they are hard to come by at this time of year since our climate is harsh on these types of plants. I did score a few, which ended up being flavorful but not nearly as much as the ones I had a few weeks earlier (one of the many sacrifices we Nevadans make).

Tomatoes

There were some bitter melons available, which I think are really cool looking, but these ones looked a bit moldy.

Bitter Melon

I was surprised at the presence of jujubes—which I’ve actually never had before! I didn’t really know what to do with them so I didn’t get any but if there are some this weekend I might try them out.

Jujubes

There were also persimmons, which I’ve never had before either. I recently saw an interesting recipe for using them on a pizza and figured I’d give it a try, plus their lovely orange color was too tempting to pass up.

Persimmons

Green beans are a favorite of mine and I snagged some before they were all gone.

Green Beans

Pomegranates are one of my favorite seasonal foods and the vendor had a nice selection, including this giant one! This photo doesn’t do it justice but this is definitely the largest pomegranate I’ve ever had.

Large Pomegranate

There were also walnuts which I thought would be great on the persimmon pizza I plan to make.

Walnuts

We got some red and black plums but the bin for the white was nearly empty already.

White Plums

After our bag was heavy with fruits and veggies, we headed to the meat area. We have some amazing farms around here and I really wanted to get some fresh cuts. I was surprised to see a fish vendor, who had also traveled from California, but he had sold most of his inventory. I’m curious to see what he will have available this week.

Fish

I could smell the sausage from Collis Ranch table several feet away. Luckily they were giving out samples (I love free samples).

Sausage

We bought two packages of sausage since we rarely eat it—one spicy and one mild–and both types were delicious.

There were other items at the farmers market like olive oil concoctions, handmade bags and jewelry, but I’m kind of a traditionalist and chose to stick just with food. I was surprised at how many items we were able to get even at a small market. I plan to visit weekly, and as much as I love Nevada winters, I look forward to what the spring brings.

Bounty

My bounty (pictured above):

  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Black plums
  • Red plums
  • Persimmons
  • Green beans
  • Small spaghetti squash
  • Sausage from Collis Ranch

Want to share your farmers market with Summer Tomato readers? Read the guidelines then drop me an email!

Tags: , , , , ,

For The Love Of Food

by | Nov 18, 2011

For The Love of Food

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

Lots of talk this week about the pros and cons of local foods. Also, congress says pizza is a vegetable, heritage turkeys are the greatest thing since bacon and coffee/tea may reduce your risk of mercury exposure from fish.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links on Twitter (@summertomato), Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook 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?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

How To Eat Like A Sane Person (and lose weight too) – Episode 16 – Summer Tomato Live

by | Nov 15, 2011

Tonight is another episode of Summer Tomato Live. I’ll be interviewing friend and Summer Tomato success story Chris Lea on how he learned to eat sanely and get control of his health. But I’ll let Chris explain more about who he is:

I’m Chris Lea, a computer geek who works at (mt) Media Temple splitting time between performance oriented R&D work for websites, and business development. The geeky computer friend you have in your life probably thinks I’m pretty geeky compared to his or herself. I’m friends with Darya’s boyfriend Kevin, which has (very fortunately) led to my being friends with Darya, which has fit in incredibly well for me as I’ve taken an increasing interest in my own health over the last five years or so. I’m very, very keenly interested in figuring out ways to not actually get any older as I get older.

Tune in here at 6:30pm PST to ask me and Chris your questions. To participate click the red “Join event” button and login with Twitter or your Vokle account. The show is now open and free to everyone, so no password is necessary.

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.

If I don’t get to your question or you’d like a more in depth follow up, you can Ask Me or subscribe to the Tomato Slice newsletter.

Click here to see past episodes or subscribe on iTunes (video podcast or audio only).

Tags: , ,

Thanksgiving Healthy Eating Tip: Slow Down

by | Nov 14, 2011

Photo by Photo Monkey

Worrying about carbs, calories and diets is one of the most unproductive things you can do on a holiday that celebrates thankfulness. Instead of giving you a list of healthy side dishes or tips on how to cut out calories, this Thanksgiving I offer just a single piece of advice: slow down.

The actual content of your Thanksgiving dinner matters very little in the grand scheme of things. A few hundred calories here or there can make a difference when projected over weeks and years, but for one meal the impact is negligible. Your body will adjust naturally and you’ll burn off those extra calories the next day, so don’t worry about it.

But for people trying to get healthy or lose weight, not worrying about food can feel very strange. There is always the fear that if you aren’t vigilant and conscious of what and how much you eat you may gorge yourself stupid and all your hopes of fitting into your favorite jeans by the end of the year will be ruined.

Overeating is certainly a possibility when food anxiety is a constant force in your life, but Thanksgiving is a perfect opportunity to start getting over it. Really. It may seem counterintuitive that such a food-forward holiday can be stress free, but let’s not forget that the real point of Thanksgiving isn’t turkey or pie, but being thankful.

Since most of us won’t be harvesting our own meals this year (hats off to anyone who is), it is silly to pretend this particular dinner requires more thankfulness than any other meal we eat. Turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce are tradition, but do not necessarily reflect our 21st century needs and values.

With the emergence of modern media, there are other essential pieces of our lives that we can no longer afford to take for granted. Free time is one. Exercise is another. But most important of all these is our real, human, non-Twitter relationships, particularly those with family and friends. It is far too easy to neglect these basic elements of our existence when we have so many other obligations and distractions, but failure to nurture them can severely affect our overall quality of life.

If you care about your health and want to keep your eating under control on Thanksgiving, why not focus your attention on strengthening relationships and spending time with the people you care about? Instead of worrying about yourself and what you want to accomplish, ask people about themselves and discuss mutual interests.

Let food be part of the celebration, but not the purpose of your day.

Once food is no longer the center of attention the only thing you need to keep in mind is to eat slowly–it is pretty tough to overeat if you are biting and chewing at a snail’s pace.

Slow eating helps you eat less food and appreciate it more. It also helps you make wiser food choices, since decisions about what to put on your plate are made less impulsively.

But slow eating does require some conscious effort. If you are in the habit of shoveling food in your mouth without taking time to put down your fork and chew (or breathe), it is easy to slip back into this pattern. Also, if people around you are all guzzling their food in a fury, you might feel a natural compulsion to keep pace and match their eating speed.

I’ve written before about how to become a slow eater, but at large family dinners some of these tactics can be particularly useful. Start by actively trying to keep conversations engaged while you eat. Chewing and talking are (hopefully) mutually exclusive, so the more you converse the longer it will take you to get through your meal.

Making an effort to put your fork down between bites is another effective way to slow your pace at the dining table. To give your hands something to do between bites, reach for your glass and take regular sips of your water (it is best not to rely exclusively on wine for this tactic) or wipe your lips with your napkin.

And don’t forget to chew.

Trying to eat slowly is much easier than trying to summon the will power to skip the mashed potatoes and biscuits. And slowly savoring the foods you love is far more enjoyable than inventing a clever recipe to replace the sugar or fat in your pumpkin pie.

Spend time with people, enjoy your meal and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

How do you approach health and food on Turkey Day?

Originally published November 23, 2009.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Farmers Market Update: Dia de los Muertos, Guatemala

by | Nov 13, 2011
Guatemala

Guatemala

Karen Merzenich is a former pastry chef from San Francisco. She writes (mostly) about recipes and travel at Off The Meat(Hook). You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter (@offthemeathook).

Farmers Market Update: Dia de los Muertos, Guatemala

by Karen Merzenich

Last week I was traveling in Guatemala and had the great pleasure of visiting a farmers market in Santiago de Sacatepequez, a town that’s about a 30 minute drive from the main Guatemalan tourist town of Antigua. It was a festival day, so the market was in full swing.

One common Guatemalan fruit for sale is the nispero. I have never heard of this fruit before, but when I looked it up it was translated as “sapopilla” or “naseberry.” It was described as being similar to a plum, but a little more tart and with a mango-like fibrous pit. Guatemalans eat nisperos raw, and they also use them to make wine. I love how they’re displayed on a bed of banana leaves.

Nisperos

Nisperos

I was surprised to see rambutans in Guatemala – I always assumed they were only grown in Asia. In Guatemala, they are called momochinos.

Rambutans

Rambutans

Avocados grow wild all over Guatemala at this time of year, and many indigenous people make a living by collecting wild avocados in big bushels and selling them to vendors or at the market.

Avocados

Avocados

Radishes are in season too, and on many menus at this time of year. Here a young girl displays them on a piece of hand-woven Mayan cloth.

Radishes

Radishes

By November, the corn growing season is nearing its end, but you can still find maiz negro (black corn) for sale, raw or roasted.

Black Corn

Black Corn

The black corn is also ground to make masa (dough). for black tortillas, which have a very distinct flavor compared to the white or yellow corn tortillas. Women roll the masa heavily over a piece of volcanic rock. Then, they pat them into thick tortillas and toast them on a large flat metal plate over an open fire.

Making Black Corn Tortillas

Making Black Corn Tortillas

Some market vendors don’t even set up a stall—they just sell what they have off the back of their pickup truck.

Pickup Truck Vendors

Pickup Truck Vendors

I had specifically visited Santiago de Sacatepequez at this time of year so I could attend their well-known Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration. November 1st is an official holiday for Guatemalans—so they can spend the day in celebration of their deceased friends and family members. In Santiago, the day’s activities combine elements of Catholicism with Mayan traditions. Because it was a festival day, there were special kinds of food for sale, like these half chickens with cooked eggs inside and whole fried lake fish.

Chicken With Eggs

Chicken With Eggs

Another special food people eat on this day is sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkins, or small plums cooked in a cinnamon-infused brown sugar syrup. Sticky, sweet and tasty!

Sweet Potatoes and Plums

Sweet Potatoes and Plums

On Dia de los Muertos people come to Santiago from far and wide and converge on the cemetery. The families spend the morning painting the graves with bright colors. Once the paint is dry, they buy marigolds and other long-lasting flowers, evergreen wreaths, and pine needles to adorn the graves. The fragrant pine needles from the surrounding hills are not only used on Dia de los Muertos but for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and other important holidays. (When I explained that we only use green wreaths for Christmas in the U.S., they thought it was crazy.)

Decorated Graves

Decorated Graves

As the day goes on, people sit on and around the graves and enjoy a special lunch. Many splurge on the variety of freshly grilled meats available in the market.

Grilled Meat For Sale

Grilled Meat For Sale

All day long, people in the cemetery proudly display and fly enormous homemade kites, which are made by painstakingly cutting and gluing tissue paper shapes together. The round kites are backed with bamboo poles for stability. It generally takes a team of people 2-3 months to make each kite.

Paper Kites

Paper Kites

Tags: , , , , ,

For The Love Of Food

by | Nov 11, 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 fantastic piece on the environmental impact of real meat versus fake meat (read this book if you’d like to learn more on this topic), another about how the honey market is flooded with a fake product, as well as two counter arguments in the great 8 glasses-a-day debate. Good readin’!

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links on Twitter (@summertomato), Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook 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?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Farmers Market Update: Times They Are A Changin’

by | Nov 6, 2011
Warren Pears

Warren Pears

Welcome back to Standard Time, add that extra hour to your clock and enjoy the long Sunday.

Farmers markets are closing up shop throughout most of the US, but they go on strong here in SF all year. It’s actually a wonderful time for local produce.

Colorful Grapes

Colorful Grapes

My favorite foods like kale and chard really shine this time of year, as do the other green veggies like broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts.

Rainbow Chard and Kale

Rainbow Chard and Kale

Though it is certainly a cruciferous vegetable, it is a little strange to consider purple cauliflower a green veggie. But it’s definitely healthy, and reminds me a lot of my mom.

Purple Cauliflower

Purple Cauliflower

Even better? All this stuff is really cheap.

Romanesco

Romanesco

Unlike the expensive berries, peaches and tomatoes of the summer, fall produce is uber affordable. Two dollars for kale, three for delicata squash, one for an apple, autumn produce is a bargain however you slice it.

Rome Apples

Rome Apples

Of course there are always a few thing that cost a little more (grapes and pears come to mind), but on average my spending goes down substantially from now until late March.

Pears

What are these pears doing?

I use this opportunity to try more fruits than I normally would, since fruit are usually the most expensive items at the market. This time of year you cannot miss the pears, apples, persimmons, pomegranates and kiwi fruit.

Kiwi Fruit

Kiwi Fruit

It’s a great season, and honestly I’m even looking forward to the progress into winter. The citrus are just starting to reappear, and I found these adorable sudachi lemons at Hamada Farms.

Sudachi Lemons

Sudachi Lemons

Any servings suggestions?

Today’s purchases (~$20):

Tags: , , , ,

For The Love Of Food

by | Nov 4, 2011

For The Love of Food

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

In case you missed it, I just started a new mythbusting column over at the ZocDoc blog, where I’ll be publishing new articles every Tuesday. Check out my first piece Is Microwave Cooking Dangerous? Fact vs. Myth.

There were some very thought provoking articles this week, and I especially recommend Bittman’s piece on local food and elitism as well as the Treehugger piece on dietary fundamentalism. Great stuff.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links on Twitter (@summertomato), Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook 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?

Tags: ,

Summer Tomato Live – Episode 15 – Q&A Tonight at 6pm PST

by | Nov 2, 2011

Tonight is another episode of Summer Tomato Live. Tune in here at 6pm PST for a live chat with me about food, health and awesomeness.

To participate click the red “Join event” button and login with Twitter or your Vokle account. The show is now open and free to everyone, so no password is necessary.

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.

If I don’t get to your question or you’d like a more in depth follow up, you can Ask Me or subscribe to the Tomato Slice newsletter.

Click here to see past episodes or subscribe on iTunes (video podcast or audio only).

Tags: