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For The Love Of Food

by | May 17, 2013
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.

In case you missed it, here’s the archive of my appearance on Dead to the World with David Gans (KPFA radio) from Wednesday night. One of my longest discussions of Foodist to date. It will only be available until May 29:

http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/91603

UPDATE: Here’s a more permanent version if you want to listen after the KPFA archive expires.

This week around the interwebz the salt police take a blow, chili peppers reduce Parkinson’s risk, and why sunshine is important for more than just vitamin D.

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. 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. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).

Read the rest of this story »

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Farmers Market Update: Autumn

by | Oct 16, 2011
Winter Squash

Winter Squash

Alright Mother Nature, you win. It’s autumn now and I’ll accept it, even if San Francisco only had about five days over 80 degrees this year. I don’t need summer when I have produce like this.

Thompson Grapes

Thompson Grapes

Bring on your autumn grapes. Grapes have never been my favorite fruit, but they are so sweet and crispy this year I can’t resist them. I like wine too, and harvest is soon. Grapes are ok with me.

Flame Grapes

Flame Grapes

I’ll take your apples too. These heirloom varietals don’t taste anything like the overly sweet fujis I grew up with. These apples remind me of what I’ve always wished apples tasted like whenever I have apple cider.

Autumn Apples

Autumn Apples

And these little wickson apples, the size of golf balls, are as complex as a glass of wine.

Wickson Apples

Wickson Apples

Of course I don’t mind the sweet white pomegranates, with their pink seeds and delicate flavor. They aren’t as sour as the red ones are this early in the season, and the seeds aren’t nearly as tough and woody.

White Pomegranates

White Pomegranates

I finally gave in and got some brussels sprouts too. Sure I used to hate them, but once I learned the secret to cooking these little guys they became a welcome guest on my dinner plate. I’m especially fond of the smaller sprouts like the ones I found today, because they are almost never bitter.

Early Brussels Sprouts

Early Brussels Sprouts

With Halloween approaching not even the winter squash offend me, but these days I eat them instead of carve them.

Sugar Pie Pumpkins

Sugar Pie Pumpkins

Yes I’ll miss summer—or at least the idea of it. I’ll miss the peaches and plums.

Peaches

Peaches

I’ll revel in the last of the figs and melons.

Brown Turkey Figs

Brown Turkey Figs

Maybe if I’m lucky you’ll give me a few more weeks of eggplant.

White Eggplant

White Eggplant

Perhaps the sweet peppers will last until my birthday next month.

Sweet Peppers

Sweet Peppers

Or maybe the spicy ones will?

Hot Peppers

Hot Peppers

What always breaks my heart most is the tomatoes. I can live a few months without strawberries, but the tomatoes really get me. Everything is better with a dry-farmed early girl tomato on it. It will be hard to see them go.

Organic Cherry Tomatoes

Organic Cherry Tomatoes

But I love my cauliflower. (Pretty much everyone loves my cauliflower). And it will keep me company as fall rolls in and winter approaches.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

I’ll embrace your root vegetables as they sweeten in the cold.

Beets and Carrots

Beets and Carrots

I’ll give you some time on the persimmons though, I don’t think they’re quite ready yet.

Hachiya Persimmons

Hachiya Persimmons

Today’s purchases (~$40):

  • Heirloom kabocha squash
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Red Russian kale
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Wickson apples
  • Daikon
  • Ginger root
  • Garlic
  • Dahlias

Is your farmers market still running?

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Farmers Market Update: Early Winter

by | Dec 5, 2010
Watermelon Radish

Watermelon Radish

I’m loving the changing seasons. Winter is moving in fast, but fall produce is just peaking in flavor.

Pomegranates are amazing right now. They are sweet and don’t make you pucker with tartness like they do early in the season. We’ve been stocking up on the juice and freezing it in ice cube trays to add to sparkling water spritzers for the rest of the year.

Big Hachiya Persimmons

Big Hachiya Persimmons

Pomegranate Ice

Now is also the best time to get persimmons, because they lack the chalky astringency they can have before they’re quite ripe. Remember, fuyu persimmons are eaten while firm (find a dark orange color) and hachiyas are ripe and edible when soft. I’ve noticed a lot of restaurants adding fuyus to salads and even savory dishes.

Colorful Carrots

Colorful Carrots

As winter approaches, we’re also seeing the emergence of root vegetables. Members of the radish family are less spicy and more sweet this time of year, making them perfect for winter salads. Today I stocked up on watermelon radish (aka watermelon daikon) and kohlrabi. I like to eat both of these raw.

Green and Purple Kohlrabi

Green and Purple Kohlrabi

Watermelon Daikon

Watermelon Daikon

But radishes aren’t the only root vegetables to experiment with this time of year. Celery root has a subtle taste like celery but a consistency more like a potato. It’s great to puree, roast or add to soups. Sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes) are another of my winter favorites. They’re flavor is remarkable, reminiscent of artichoke but more like a delicate potato in appearance.

Organic Sunchokes

Organic Sunchokes

Celery Root and Carrot

Celery Root and Carrot

Parsnips are another delicious root vegetable great for cooking. They look like white carrots but with a more herbal flavor. They are also great for roasting and purees.

Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells

Large Parsnips

Large Parsnips

Although it is fairly late in the season, there are still some peppers around. Though the selection is limited, you can still get beauties like these Christmas bells.

Winter is also a great time for greens. Chard, collards, kale, cabbages all get sweeter this time of year, and are a great accompaniment to roasted winter squash with beans or meat dishes.

Cabbages

Cabbages

Winter Greens

Winter Greens

Brussels sprouts and broccoli are also sweeter than usual.

Organic Broccoli

Organic Broccoli

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

I also found a few more exotic ingredients this week, including Indonesian lemon leaves (any relation to kafir lime leaves?) and aloe vera.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera

Indonesian Lemon Leaf

Indonesian Lemon Leaf

Oh, and crab season has started!

Dungess Crabs

Dungeness Crabs

Today’s purchases:

If you would like to share your own local farmers market with Summer Tomato readers please click here.

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Farmers Market Update: Fleet Week

by | Oct 10, 2010
Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco is a zoo this weekend, but it’s awesome. It’s Fleet Week, which means we have the Blue Angels buzzing over our heads several times a day. And the weather couldn’t be better to hang out on rooftops and watch the action.

Because we are in the middle of changing seasons, the farmers market is a new adventure every week. As summer produce wanes, autumn produce is ramping up. Some of the new items will last all winter, and others are only around a few weeks during the interim.

Pumpkins and Tomatoes

Pumpkins and Tomatoes

White pomegranates are a special treat only around for a couple weeks this time of year. They are sweeter and their pink, translucent seeds are softer than the more typical red pomegranates. Definitely try one if you get the opportunity.

Shin Li Asian Pears

Shin Li Asian Pears

White Pomegranates

White Pomegranates

Asian pears are another temporary item at the market. They’re delicate, watery flesh and subtle flavor make them easy to over look, but it’s fun to bring a few different varietals home and experiment with their unique flavors while you have the chance.

Organic Quince

Organic Quince

Fresh Chestnuts

Fresh Chestnuts

Chestnuts and quince will also be around for a short time and are fun to experiment with. I also saw persimmons for the first time this week.

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

First Persimmons

First Persimmons

At this time of year though, my favorite foods are still the late summer produce. I can’t get enough tomatoes and peppers. I adore them. And they pair so beautifully with fresh herbs and almost anything.

Fresh Herbs

Fresh Herbs

Hot Peppers

Hot Peppers

And let’s not forget about vegetables. It’s last call on winter squash and eggplant. But you can also find fall favorites like brussels sprouts and artichokes.

Artichokes

Artichokes

Baby Brussels Sprouts

Baby Brussels Sprouts

Also notable is that Warren pears are now available at Frog Hollow, and you can pick up some fresh whole wheat tortillas at Massa Organics.

Whole Wheat Tortillas

Whole Wheat Tortillas

Warren Pears

Warren Pears

I’m leaving for Hawaii early this week so I only picked up some white pomegranates and padron peppers.

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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: Salad Time

by | Jul 18, 2010
Tokyo Turnips

Tokyo Turnips

At this time of year, salad might be my favorite food. I know, salad sounds boring. It sounds cold, tasteless and painfully healthy. The kind of healthy that no one really wants to be.

But in early summer health is the last thing on my mind when I choose to make salad. Truth is I just can’t wait to eat all the beautiful greens and fixings I find each week at the farmers market. Food like this is a treat, and probably not at all what you think of when you think of salad.

Any good salad starts with greens. The little gem lettuces, arugula, spinach, mizuna and even more untraditional greens like purslane.

Purslane

Purslane

Salad Mix

Salad Mix

Purslane is a succulent green that is supposedly high in omega-3 fatty acids. Personally I eat it for its lemony flavor and unique texture. It’s a great addition to any salad mix.

After greens I like to layer flavors and textures into my salads. Cucumbers from the farmers market are completely different from the flavorless, waxy beasts I remember from childhood salads.

Armenian Cucumbers

Armenian Cucumbers

I love the long, curly Armenian cucumbers, but you can also find Mediterranean cucumbers, lemon cucumbers and several other varieties I’ve never tried. Most don’t require peeling. If you don’t have cucumbers, raw sweet summer squash are delicious in salads too.

Zephyr Squash

Zephyr Squash

Lemon Cucumbers

Lemon Cucumbers

Turnips, radishes and carrots are particularly good salad additions in early summer, contributing a distinctive crunch and deeper flavor than the delicate lettuces and cucumber. If you choose good quality turnips and radishes, their greens can be added to your salad mix as well.

Rainbow Carrots

Rainbow Carrots

French Breakfast Radishes

French Breakfast Radishes

Summer tomatoes add both sweetness and brightness to salads, because of their relatively high sugar and acid content. For salads I prefer the deeply flavored heirloom varieties such as cherokee purple and brandywine varieties. Roasted peppers can serve a similar function.

Sweet Peppers

Sweet Peppers

Summer Tomatoes

Summer Tomatoes

To add substance I turn to foods that are higher in fat and protein, like avocados, nuts, eggs, grain or meats. Today I picked up some avocados and eggs from the farmers market. My favorite salad green of late is the chewy and rustic farro grain. If you haven’t tried it yet I highly recommend it.

I like to finish my salad with summer fruits and herbs. Any stone fruit is fantastic and pairs nicely with balsamic vinaigrettes. Figs are also delicious if you can find them.

Pluots

Pluots

Other things I loved this week include the Ruby grand nectarines from Frog Hollow and organic cauliflower.

Organic Cauliflower

Organic Cauliflower

Frog Hollow Ruby Grand Nectarines

Frog Hollow Ruby Grand Nectarines

Today’s purchases:

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For The Love Of Food

by | Jul 16, 2010

For The Love of Food

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

If you are certain milk is good for you, please read the Los Angeles Times article explaining why it may be time to reconsider. There’s also good news this week about the benefits of green tea, exercise, vitamin D and fish oil. I love good news!

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 a complete reading list join me on the new Digg or StumbleUpon. 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: Father’s Day

by | Jun 20, 2010
Assorted Sweet Peppers

Assorted Sweet Peppers

I want to start today by saying there is no one on earth I love more than my dad. Walking around the farmers market this weekend I wished more than anything that he could be with me to see and taste all the amazing produce we have right now here in San Francisco. He’s such a sucker for good food made or grown by people and families who truly care about what they’re doing. I know he’d love it here and I can’t wait until he visits next.

This is a particularly special time of year for fruit lovers. Last week the best cherries were the deep red bing and brooks varieties, but this week the yellow-red rainier cherries finally came into their own, rivaling the sweetness of even the best of the red cherries.

Rainier & Bing Cherries

Rainier & Bing Cherries

White Peaches

White Peaches

We are also in the middle of the fleeting dark berry season. Most of the dark berries are hybrids of blackberries and raspberries. Boysenberries are the most well known hybrid, but today I also found fresh logan and olallie berries. Olallies are my dad’s favorite (I bought 3 boxes in his honor).

Peaches & Nectarines

Peaches & Nectarines

Mature Fava Beans

Mature Fava Beans

But of course, fruit is not all that is special about this time of year. The fava beans are peaking and now’s your chance to get in on this springtime delicacy. I’ll be featuring a spectacular recipe for a Persian fava bean stew next week.

Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard

Squash Blossoms

Squash Blossoms

Also in the early summer you can find beautiful squash blossoms. These are a wonderful treat that pair particularly well with eggs or on pizza. They are also delicious stuffed with goat cheese and herbs, and fried in tempura batter. Decadent, but certainly worth it.

Spanish Red Garlic

Spanish Red Garlic

Sweet Red Onions

Sweet Red Onions

Garlic and onions, while generally consistent, are at their best this time of year. It is nearly impossible for Photoshop to do justice to the neon fuchsia color of the sweet red onions in this photo, but in person they seemed to almost glow with radiance in the morning sun.

Lavendar and Sweet Peas

Lavendar and Sweet Peas

Violet Sweet Peppers

Violet Sweet Peppers

Looking ahead, peppers are what I am most excited about in the coming months, but they are already starting to impress me with their smell and color. This is, however, a fantastic time to start buying pimientos de padrón (another of Dad’s favorites), as they will continue to get spicier as the season progresses.

Happy Father’s Day Dad!

xoxo

Today’s purchases:

What’s your dad’s favorite fresh produce?

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Farmers Market Update: Perfect Day

by | May 30, 2010
Bay Bridge

Bay Bridge

Saturday was a perfect day in San Francisco. It was warm, clear and beautiful. The farmers market was full of cherries, peaches and strawberries, and I tasted the best apricot ever at Frog Hollow Farm.

Basically it was too nice to stay inside writing about it. Photos will have to suffice today.

Bing Cherries

Bing Cherries

Green Garlic

Green Garlic

Loquats

Loquats

Peppers

Peppers

Potatoes

Potatoes

Red Onions

Red Onions

Saturn Peaches

Saturn Peaches

Shallots

Shallots

White Peaches & Apricots

White Peaches & Apricots

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Farmers Market Update: Last Call

by | Nov 15, 2009
Last Call On Peppers!

Last Call On Peppers!

It’s getting really cold in the Bay Area, especially at night. That means the last of the late summer produce will be disappearing completely in a week or two: this is your last chance for peppers, tomatoes and eggplants until next summer.

To capitalize on this situation I got myself a big bag of tomatillos, the green tomato-like fruit in a husk. If you aren’t familiar with tomatillos think of green Mexican salsa, which is made with them. They are kind of like a tomato but a bit more tangy and acidic. Tomatillos are wonderful in sauces and with meats. I bought some poblano peppers and cilantro to pair with them, but haven’t decided yet exactly what I’m going to make. Suggestions?

Grapes

Grapes

Organic Tomatillos

Organic Tomatillos

In addition to the poblanos I was also sure to pick up a final bag of padron peppers, since I love them so dearly. I got 3 other pepper varieties as well. I can’t help it, I adore peppers. I will miss them a little every day until they appear again next year. Luckily I dried a bunch of different Thai chilies this summer to tide me over.

Grapes are another thing to stock up on while you can. They are sweet and abundant right now, but will start disappearing in the coming weeks.

But don’t worry, not everything is on it’s way out. Lots of new stuff is turning up as well.

I spotted some black walnuts at Glashoff Farms today, which I’m told is a special treat. Has anyone tried them?

Black Walnuts

Black Walnuts

Interesting varieties of garlic and onions are also popping up. I found 2 varieties of shallots today–French and Dutch–as well as sweet cippolini onions at Dirty Girl Produce. Leeks are awesome now too.

Baby Leeks

Baby Leeks

Red Garlic

Red Garlic

At Frog Hollow there was a new variety of pear today, the seckel pear, which is tiny and bursting with flavor. After a sample I couldn’t help but buy as many as I could carry. And of course I got a Warren pear for the road.

Hachiya Persimmons

Hachiya Persimmons

Seckel Pears

Seckel Pears

It’s definitely time to start buying persimmons too. Just be sure you eat them when they are ripe, since unripe persimmons can be dangerous. The kiwi are looking good, though I haven’t tried them yet. Apples are still mind-bogglingly amazing.

And did I mention that citrus is starting to appear? Mandrins, grapefruits and lemons are all available now, although they are still a bit tart for me.

Star Ruby Grapefruit

Star Ruby Grapefruit

Early Mandarins

Early Mandarins

Last but not least, it’s truffle season. If you have piles of money laying around that you don’t know what to do with, these Italian white truffles could be yours!

per OUNCE!

per OUNCE!

Today’s Purchases:

  • Fuyu persimmons (Paredez Farms)
  • Tomatillos (Paredez Farm)
  • Poblano peppers (Happy Quail Farms)
  • Padron peppers (Happy Quail Farms)
  • Pimento pepper (Happy Quail Farms)
  • Piquillo pepper (Happy Quail Farms)
  • Other random hot pepper (Happy Quail Farms)
  • Seckel pears (Frog Hollow Farm)
  • Warren pear (Frog Hollow Farm)
  • Black twig apple (The Apple Farm)
  • Philo apple (The Apple Farm)
  • White winter permain apple (The Apple Farm)
  • Dutch shallots (Dirty Girl Produce)
  • Cippolini onion (Dirty Girl Produce)
  • Tuscan (dinosaur) kale (Capay Organics)
  • Dry-farmed Red kuri squash (Little Organic Farm)

Is your farmers market still open? What does it have?

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