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Farmers Market Update: Early Autumn

by | Oct 11, 2009
Mini Pumpkins

Mini Pumpkins

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the seasons change. Just last week there were figs everywhere, but I couldn’t find any today. Instead there were piles and piles of persimmons, a sharp contrast to the one sad looking crop from last week.

But you can’t say I didn’t warn you about this. Summer is ending and autumn is in full swing. How often do you get to see oranges sitting next to nectarines? Not very often, I can assure you.

Early Fuyu Persimmons

Early Fuyu Persimmons

Oranges and Nectarines

Oranges and Nectarines

The main attractions right now at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market are winter squash, peppers, pomegranates and grapes. You can also find nice rainbow chard, apples, pears, green beans, melons, eggplant and tomatoes. The first crop of walnuts and almonds have arrived, and the stinging nettles at Star Route looked pretty good (if you’re into that sorta thing).

Stinging Nettles

Stinging Nettles



I definitely learned a few new things while shopping today:

Apparently these Spitzenburg apples were Thomas Jefferson’s personal favorite. (say wha?)

Spitzenburg Apples

Spitzenburg Apples

Kabocha squash–my favorite as of last year–comes in both orange and green (I only knew about the green ones).

Orange & Green Kabocha Squash

Orange & Green Kabocha Squash

I also stumbled upon these funky looking jelly melons at Lucero Organic Farms. I had never seen these at the market before, so naturally I bought one. Also called “horned melon” and “blowfish fruit” I would have guessed these were native to Southeast Asia, but Wikipedia says they’re African. The sign up at Lucero claims they might be a good diet food too, whatever that means. If the one I got is any good I might get some more next week.

Jelly Melon

Jelly Melon

Following up from last week, I bought myself some of the sweet pepper chips from Happy Quail Farms, which were just too good to resist. And to spice things up I snagged two Scotch bonnet peppers from Tierra Vegetables. I think I’ll have to bring home a pair of nitrile gloves from the lab to handle these things, but hopefully I can turn them into something delicious.

Scotch Bonnet Peppers

Scotch Bonnet Peppers

Pepper Chips

Pepper Chips

And finally, I think I might have found my Halloween costume 😉

Today’s Purchases:

Fig Leaves

Fig Leaves

What are you eating?

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Stinging Nettle and Israeli Couscous With Lemon, Parsley and Capers

by | Dec 9, 2008

Saturday at the farmers market I was talked into buying some stinging nettle and I must admit, I was pretty skeptical. Who wants to put something in their mouth that has stinging in the name?

But despite my reluctance, I could not deny that the nettle (to avoid negative connotations I am going to ditch the “stinging” part) was beautiful, fluffy and green, things that I generally associate with delicious. Besides, I pride myself on not being afraid of trying and cooking new foods.

I accepted the challenge. Now what to do with these weird things?

Eating the nettle alone did not sound particularly appealing. If I really love it I could always go back and get some more, right? I had heard that nettle has an earthy, green flavor, so I thought it might pair well with pasta, garlic and lemon.

I do not usually keep pasta in the house (I prefer fresh pasta if I am going to bother eating it), but I did recently purchase some Israeli couscous from Trader Joe’s. Israeli couscous, also called ptitim, is basically just giant couscous. It is made out of semolina wheat, the same kind of flour Italian pasta is made from. (No, couscous is not a whole grain).

I was starting to form a mental image of my meal: Mediterranean style Israeli couscous with greens and garlic. Oh! And I just bought a beautiful Meyer lemon at the farmers market. It’s juice and zest would be a perfect complement to brighten the dish. And since we are going Mediterranean, Italian parsley and capers would be lovely accents.

On a whim I decided to roast an acorn squash as well and use the nettle dish as a stuffing. It was good, but I do not think it was the best pairing and I do not recommend it. I looked nice, but the flavor profiles were a little off.

The nettle and couscous dish on its own was spectacular though. I wish I would have paired it with my Romanesco broccoli instead.

I should also confess that my lips are stinging a bit, but in the good way.

Stinging Nettle and Israeli Couscous With Lemon, Parsley and Capers
  • 1/2 bag of stinging nettle
  • 1/2 cup dry Israeli couscous
  • 1/3 bouillon cube
  • 1/2 shallot
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/2 Meyer lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 tbsp capers

Start some water boiling. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a sauce pan on medium heat and add couscous. Toast couscous in olive oil, stirring frequently until light brown, about 5 minutes (just following the instructions on the box here). Slowly add 1/2 cup of boiling water to couscous, add bouillon cube and return to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until tender, about 12 minutes.

In the mean time dice your shallot, garlic and parsley. Rinse your nettle in a strainer (you can touch it a little, but I would keep your hands off as much as possible). Heat a little olive oil in a pan and add the chopped shallot. Cook shallot for 2 minutes then add garlic. After 30-60 seconds add nettle and salt, then stir and cover. After one minute, uncover the nettle, stir again and add parsley.

If the couscous is ready, add it to the pan. If not, turn off the heat until couscous is ready to add. Stir couscous into the greens until well mixed. Squeeze lemon juice into the pan and add grate lemon zest directly on top of the dish. Add capers, salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately. This is probably enough for 2 people as a side dish. Yum!

Anyone else have any nettle ideas?

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Farmers Market Update

by | Dec 6, 2008


It was 40 degrees when I woke up this morning. I am sure some of you consider that warm, but to me it may as well have been below zero. Cold, any cold, makes me extremely uncomfortable. The last thing I wanted to do was get out of my warm comfy bed, but the farmers market was calling. chocolate persimmons

For two weeks now I have been longing for a refrigerator full of vegetables and today I finally got one.

Despite the frigid temperature it was a beautiful day in San Francisco. The sun was shining and the Ferry Building was bustling. One nice thing about the winter time is that the crowds are not as cumbersome as they are in the summer, so it is easier to linger and savor the quaint beauty of locals seeking fresh market goods.

As expected, citrus fruits are starting to reach their peak. Grapefruits, oranges, pomelos and lemons have traded in their sour acidity for tangy sweetness, and today I bought my first Mandarin oranges.stinging nettles

The most exciting find though was the elusive chocolate persimmon. Orange on the outside and brown on the inside, these sweet pulpy treats are nothing short of wonderful. I was told there are only a couple weeks left in the season, so get them while you can!

As for vegetables, someone at Star Route (Marin Organics) finally talked me into buying those stinging nettles we discussed a few months ago. I will let you know how it goes.

Still on a mission to perfect the roasted root vegetable lunch, I also stocked up on rhizoid goodies.

Today’s purchases:

  • Chocolate persimmons
  • Hachiya persimmons
  • Pomegranate
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Meyer lemon
  • Pink lady apple
  • Fuji apple
  • Leeks
  • Romanesco broccoli
  • Golden beets
  • Rutabaga
  • 1 giant carrot
  • 1 giant parsnip
  • Stinging nettles
  • Yellow eye beans
  • Dinosaur kale
  • Soul Food eggs
  • Acme epi loaf
  • Nossa Senhora de Fatima (Blue Bottle) coffee
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