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For The Love Of Food

by | Sep 2, 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 couple inspiring stories about food communities in New York, a scary wakeup call about genetically modified foods and some different perspectives on the roles of politics and economy in healthy eating.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links on 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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Farmers Market Update: Summer Tomatoes!

by | Aug 14, 2011
Gigantic Tomato

Gigantic Tomato

This is by far my favorite time of year to go to the farmers market, it’s truly amazing. (If you’re interested in joining me next week, there are still a few slots left in my two market tours, 8am and 10am).

More than any other time of year the market is overflowing with life and bounty. The fruits are sweet, juicy and abundant, making it hard to decide which delicate morsels to cradle into my bag and try to get home undamaged.

O'Henry Peaches

O'Henry Peaches

Sea of Strawberries

Sea of Strawberries

We’re finally entering late summer, which means all the best summer tomatoes are finally here. The dry farmed early girls are my favorite, because they’re easiest to get home and amazingly sweet and rich in flavor.

Early Girl Tomatoes

Early Girl Tomatoes

But today I was also blown away by these giant heirloom tomatoes. They were as big as pumpkins!

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

While we’ve had sweet peppers for several weeks now, the spicy chilies are just starting to appear. I got some jalepenos, but I’m excited to see Thai chilies are available as well.

Thai Chilies

Thai Chilies

Eggplants, my gateway vegetable, are also a late summer delicacy. As a former eggplant hater, I find that the long thin plants are easier to work with and often taste better than their rounder cousins. The light purple color of these were particularly striking this week.

Eggplant

Eggplant

Late summer is also the time for corn, which not coincidently pairs exceptionally well with all the above vegetables. I love it raw off the cob or pan cooked quickly with summer squash and peppers. But I’m going to experiment with some new techniques using the ones I bought today.

Corn

Corn

Summer Squash

Summer Squash

Of course cooking is more fun with the abundance of summer herbs. This time of year I always have cilantro, dill and basil on hand.

Fresh Dill and Cilantro

Fresh Dill and Cilantro

If you love basil, look around your farmers market for vendors that sell it with the roots attached. You can bring it home and put it into a vase with water. I’m still using one I bought several weeks ago with one of my market classes. Just be sure to change the water 1-2x per week, and that the plant has access to light. I tried keeping some in my kitchen but it always wilted in one day if I didn’t move it near a window.

Rooted Basil

Rooted Basil

This is also my favorite time of year for salads. I make a big one most days for lunch, and the huge variety of greens like spinach and radicchio help mix it up and allow me to make something that tastes different every day. I love how the bloomsdale spinach is so deeply colored that it almost looks blue.

Radicchio

Radicchio

Bloomsdale Spinach

Bloomsdale Spinach

Fresh legumes including peas, green beans and shelling beans are staples in my kitchen this time of year as well.

Cranberry Shelling Beans

Cranberry Shelling Beans

Though I don’t talk about it much, melons (particularly the heirloom varieties I often find at the market) are a completely different experience when I get them directly from farmers. The rich complexity of the smell alone is intoxicating, and the flavor is nothing like the typical honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon I’ve had from the grocery store.

Watermelon

Watermelon

Lastly, the grapes are finally here. They’re particularly sweet and crisp this year, which is how I love them.

Red Flame Grapes

Red Flame Grapes

Today’s purchases (~$55):

What did you find this week at the farmers market?

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For The Love Of Food

by | Jul 29, 2011

For The Love of Food

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

There were so many awesome stories this week narrowing them down to the top 10 was difficult. Several studies were published on environmental factors that influence healthy food choices, Monica Reinagel shares an interesting method on breaking weight loss plateaus and I found one of the most inspiring videos I’ve ever seen.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links on 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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Farmers Market Update: Boot Camp

by | Jul 10, 2011
Green Zebra Tomatos

Green Zebra Tomatos

This weekend marked the first ever Summer Tomato Farmers Market Boot Camp! A small group of people met up with me at the farmers market for a tour and lessons on how to tackle shopping when overwhelmed with awesomeness.

First Farmers Market Boot Camp

First Farmers Market Boot Camp

I had such a good time with the class that I scheduled another one in two weeks, and I expect to be doing more throughout the summer. If you’re in San Francisco for one of them I’d love to meet you.

Dirty Girl Strawberries

Dirty Girl Strawberries

We went a little nuts today, I’ll admit. I got so excited explaining to the group how good everything is I bought way more stuff than I normally do. I don’t regret a bit of it, and I’ll certainly eat well this week, but if you compare today’s shopping list (below) with previous weeks you’ll see what I mean. It was amazing.

Tokyo Turnips

Tokyo Turnips

SF has officially migrated to summer. The stone fruits (those with pits like cherries, plums, peaches, etc.) are out of control delicious right now. At the sampling dishes we all had the same experience: 1) Gently choose fruit piece with tongs, 2) place fruit in mouth, 3) moment of silence, 4) “Oh my god. I have to buy those.” Today it was the yummy rosa pluots that had us all hypnotized.

Yummy Rosa Pluots

Yummy Rosa Pluots

Fruit is always spectacular, but for my day-to-day cooking I’m most excited about all the fresh greens, vegetables and herbs.

Lemon Cucumbers

Lemon Cucumbers

I’ve been making the best salads with radishes, turnips, carrots, cucumbers and other bits of deliciousness.

Summer Tomatoes

Summer Tomatoes

Today I even got some green zebra heirloom tomatoes (top) to add to the salad mix.

Salad Fixins

Salad Fixins

The shear volume of herbs is also incredible. Today we found not one, not two, but four different varietals of basil. There was sweet Italian basil, Thai basil, purple basil and lemon basil. Who knew?

Lemon Basil

Lemon Basil

I also found chervil at the market today, an herb I’ve read about but never tried (pics weren’t that great). Any serving suggests are welcome.

Purple Basil

Purple Basil

Other summer vegetables are also starting to appear. For the past few weeks I haven’t been able to get enough summer squash. The yellow and green zephyr squash I’ve been getting are so good when cooked with eggs I sometimes mistake it for cheese. I know it sounds weird, but it’s something about the chewy texture and earthy, salty, sweet texture that puts the zucchini I grew up eating to shame. These days you might be lucky enough to find squash with their blossoms still attached.

Zucchini Flowers

Zucchini Flowers

I was excited to see yellow wax and green beans this week, they always look so inviting it’s almost impossible to resist digging your hand into the basket and grabbing some to take home.

Yellow and Green Beans

Yellow and Green Beans

Oh yeah, and I discovered a variety of kale today I’d never heard of before. Anyone familiar with spigariello kale? I didn’t have room for it in my bag this week, but I’ll probably pick some up next time I see it.

Spigariello Kale

Spigariello Kale

Every week I see more varieties of peppers, which makes me ecstatic. Peppers might be my favorite summer treat. These padrons are a little ripe for my taste (they’re best when dark green), but they sure look pretty.

Padrons

Padrons

I also saw corn for the first time this week, and I went ahead and grabbed an ear, just in case. I’m thinking I’m going to throw it in a stir fry with peppers, beans, squash, cilantro and tomatoes. Yum.

First White Corn

First White Corn

I saw okra too, but I did manage to restrain myself from this one. Next week.

Okra

Okra

Did I mention that the flowers are beautiful too? I love this time of year.

Sunflower

Sunflower

Today’s purchases (~$55):

What did you find at the market this week?

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Farmers Market Update: End Of Summer

by | Oct 3, 2010
Bronx Grapes

Bronx Grapes

End of summer is always a confusing time in San Francisco, because it is inevitably the nicest weather we’ve had in the city since early May. For the first time all year we pull out our shorts and sandals, while the rest of the country is whining about humidity and getting their pumpkins ready for halloween. It happens every year.

The local produce plays these tricks on us as well. Right now we’re seeing the best of the summer’s fruits. The peaches are perfect, the melons magnificent, the plums spectacular. And of course we’re now getting perfect summer tomatoes.

Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn

Perfect Summer Tomatoes

Perfect Summer Tomatoes

Summer vegetables are equally as awesome. The eggplants, peppers, corn and squash are impossible to ignore with their bright colors and lovely aromatics.

Peppers

Peppers

Eggplants and Peppers

Eggplants and Peppers

But the signs of fall are no longer subtle here in San Francisco. Not only are grapes and apples some of the best fruits available this month, but pomegranates and pears are here as well.

First Pomegranates

First Pomegranates

Winter Banana Apples

Winter Banana Apples

We’re also seeing brussels sprouts and winter squash.

Cauliflower and Broccoli

Cauliflower and Broccoli

First Brussels Sprouts

First Brussels Sprouts

Without a doubt this is one of the best times to eat in San Francisco, but it won’t last long. Get it while the gettin’s good.

Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: Pneumonia

by | Aug 8, 2010
Bicolor Corn

Bicolor Corn

You’re probably sick of hearing about how sick I am. Trust me, so am I.

On Tuesday I was diagnosed with pneumonia. Fortunately antibiotics are a miracle and I’m definitely getting better. But I still would have stayed home from the farmers market this weekend to rest up if the wonderful lady that was scheduled to cover the Farmers Market Update this week hadn’t come down with strep throat. Seriously, what’s up with all the summer illness?!

Flavor Grenade Pluots

Flavor Grenade Pluots

Flavor King Pluots

Flavor King Pluots

Though my energy was low, a couple things were notable from the market this week. We are definitely seeing the transition into late summer. The flavor king pluots at Frog Hollow Farm have arrived. These are magical fruits. If you’re in SF you absolutely must find a way to try one in the next few weeks. I promise you won’t regret it.

We are also in the midst of melon season. I’ve only tried a few, but so far they are sweet and flavorful. Next weekend I’m getting a watermelon for sure.

White & Yellow Nectarines

White & Yellow Nectarines

Summer Melons

Summer Melons

I was also surprised to see grapes appearing already. Though I love grapes, this makes me kind of sad. Grapes remind me of fall, and it has been so cold this summer in SF the idea of skipping the rest of the season is heartbreaking. Fingers crossed for a warm September.

Gravenstein Apples

Gravenstein Apples

First Grapes

First Grapes

Seeing these apples would have made me sad as well, but I recently learned (thanks Pim!) that Gravenstein apples are summer apples. I don’t bake pies, but apparently they work nicely for baking.

I hope the rest of you are healthy and happy, and having a wonderful weekend.

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: Ode To Summer

by | Jul 11, 2010
White Nectarines

White Nectarines

Dear Readers,

I know that many of you enjoy the farmers market and visit it regularly, and if this describes you I’m sure you already know what I’m about to write.

For those of you who like the farmers market but find yourself cooking up excuses each week not to go, it is time to talk yourself out of that habit. At least this once. If you’re ever going to make visiting your farmers market a priority, now is the time. This is the season when a taste of a simple plum can change your life (I got mine from Paradez Farms).

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

Pluot Slices

Pluot Slices

There are only a few weeks of the year when berries and stone fruits haunt the market simultaneously, when you can get sweet cherries and perfect peaches. Even the tomatoes now would never be mistaken for anything other than a fruit. At this time of year it is possible to win friends with salad (I’ve done it many times already).

Summer Squash

Summer Squash

Green Chard

Green Chard

Today I saw children begging their parents to buy foods that most of us grew up hating (beets!). And I even bought a bag of broccoli simply because it was so cute. That’s right, even vegetables are getting their moment in the sun.

Adorable Broccoli

Adorable Broccoli

Summer Beets

Summer Beets

(the garlic and onions are photogenic??)

Summer Onions

Summer Onions

Purple Garlic

Purple Garlic

An added bonus is the late summer produce is just beginning to arrive as well. Today I bought my first corn, and saw eggplants available at a few different stands.

Bodacious Yellow Corn

Bodacious Yellow Corn

Mission and adriatic figs are also available, and surprisingly sweet for this early in the season. I even spied a few melons hanging out today, though I was too busy cradling peaches and nectarines to get one home safely.

Mission Figs

Mission Figs

First Eggplants

First Eggplants

And for today’s Moment of Zen, I present: kohlrabi.

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi

Enjoy the summer! And if you discover or learn to love anything new this year, please come tell us about it.

xoxox
Darya

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: No Fridge

by | Jul 26, 2009
Corn

Corn

After two weeks of miserable cold and fog the sun finally came out today in San Francisco and the crowds found their way to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. It was a blast!

I faced a unique challenge while shopping this weekend. A few days ago my refrigerator died and to my dismay we cannot get anyone out to fix it until Monday. *Gasp!* That meant no greens, berries, eggs, or a bunch of other goodies I had been looking forward too. I was panicked at first, but once I started shopping I realized I would continue to eat like a queen this week as usual.

What can sit happily on the counter for a few days? Summer tomatoes, of course!!

Jalepenos

Jalepenos

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

But the fun doesn’t stop there. I also loaded up on peppers of all shapes and colors, sweet corn, eggplant, summer squash, carrots, potatoes, onions and more stone fruit than I’m comfortable admitting to.

Yep. Life goes on, even without a refrigerator.

I also spent some time today with the nice folks over at Bella Viva Orchards. We talked awhile about all the wonderful summer produce and discussed a number of ways to enjoy peaches, one of my favorite stone fruits. Delicious! I will post a link to the interview when it goes out in their newsletter in a couple weeks.

Radicchio

Radicchio

New Potatoes

New Potatoes

On that note, the best finds at the market right now are peaches and nectarines, pluots, melons, squash, tomatoes, peppers, herbs, greens, corn, onions, berries (there was a berry tasting event today too) and fresh beans. I was surprised today to see that grapes are also starting to appear, sweet and crisp.

Oh, and the cherry tomatoes I got are da bomb. You should get some.

What are your favorite scores from the farmers market this weekend?

Today’s goodies:

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Oops, I Forgot Corn Season!

by | Oct 19, 2008

Everyone knows that we here in San Francisco often get branded as elitist.

My first thought when I heard this was, “Great!” Who doesn’t want to be considered the best of the best? I personally love arugula (the latest symbol of elitism) and happily enjoyed it all summer as it was tossed around with contempt on the presidential campaign trail (I hope they added olive oil and vinegar too!).

But there actually is a problem with elitism. Sometimes we get so caught up in what is excellent that we forget about some simple pleasures in life that are branded less favorably. I sadly and apologetically admit that I have succumbed to this weakness. I am embarrassed to say it, but this summer I forgot about corn.

The problem is that corn is usually a four letter word synonymous with unhealthy foods.
As you are probably aware, government subsidies have resulted in massive corn over-production. Consequently, virtually all of the processed (i.e., really really bad for you) food in America is made from corn.
Corn is an especially bad word to local organic farmers, desperate to grow something different in America. What all of this boils down to is that there is very little corn available at San Francisco’s proudly elitist Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, even during corn season.
I realized the omission only last week when I found a beautiful pile of corn at my neighborhood corner store (Valencia Farmers Market). I bought a few ears, but according to my calendar October is almost over. At best, corn will only have a couple more weeks before it disappears.
To help make amends, I present this simple corn succotash recipe:
Ingredients:
  • 1 cipollini onion
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 ear of sweet corn
  • 1/2 cup frozen edamame (soy beans) or lima beans
  • 1/2 cup frozen petite peas
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
  • 1 handful of cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

The corn I bought was so sweet that it was delicious even raw. My recipe highlights its natural sweetness by making corn the centerpiece of the dish and keeping the cooking time short.

To remove the kernels from the cob, shuck the corn then hold it top-end down in a large bowl. Keep the corn upright by using the bottom end of the cob (pointing upward) as a handle. Use a sharp knife to cut down the sides of the corn, repeatedly turning the cob and cutting until all the kernels are off. The advantage of using a bowl over a plate or cutting board: I had only one rogue kernel escape onto the counter during this entire process. Preparing corn this way takes less than 2 minutes.

Next dice the onion and bell pepper. Cipollini onions are small and flat, almost donut shaped. They are sweeter than normal yellow onions and are relatively easy to find. Heat olive oil on medium heat until it swirls easily in the pan. Add onions and peppers and cook until they just start to brown, about 5 minutes.

Next add the edamame and stir. When no more ice is visible in the pan, add the peas and mix. (For the record, I don’t measure out any of these ingredient myself. My ingredients list gives ballpark numbers for those of you who prefer detailed instructions, but feel free to ad lib as you see fit.) Continue to cook until no more ice is visible again, then add the fresh corn. Stir and season liberally with sea salt and black pepper.

Continue cooking, stirring occasionally. After about 2 minutes, clear a space in the bottom of the pan and add the garlic. When the garlic becomes fragrant (about 30 seconds), mix it with the other ingredients. After another minute add the spinach and cilantro and stir again. When the spinach has wilted, your meal is ready.

Two Meals

This dish was so delicious I cooked it two nights in a row. The first night (pictured), I made it how I described above then served it on a bed of brown rice and topped it with half an avocado (salt and pepper).


The second night I roasted the red pepper instead of cooking it with the onion, and added it with the corn. Lacking spinach this second time, I used extra peas and cilantro to put more green on my plate. I did not use rice, and instead of avocado I topped it with half a can of salmon.

Canned salmon can be really gross (slimy and full of bones), so be careful if you plan to buy it. That being said, I really enjoy Henry and Lisa’s canned wild Alaskan pink salmon (thanks to Emily for the tip). It comes in a box (pictured) and is available at Whole Foods. Canned salmon is better for you (but more expensive) than canned tuna because of its lower mercury content. Smoked salmon would probably be good on this dish as well.

If I had to pick I would say dinner #2 was better, but both were fantastic. It is hard to beat those roasted peppers though.

Comments and admonishments for my corn neglect are welcomed.

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