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Farmers Market Update: San Diego

by | Aug 28, 2011
Peppers

Peppers

Kristine Valenzuela is a corporate woman by day but spends her free time immersed in many passions. Besides developing a new food and lifestyle blog Is Everybody Listening?, she enjoys organic food, wine, her husband and two daughters (with a third on the way), guest blogging/writing and figuring out how to how to get the most out of life. Follow her thoughts and rants on Twitter @specialksd.

Farmers Market Update: San Diego (Little Italy)

by Kristine Valenzuela

Hello from sunny San Diego! There are so many great things to say about this area but I think what people most associate with San Diego is the near-perfect weather. Yes, we really do have it made living here! The constant moderate climate produces incredible fruits and veggies year-round so I’ve always been a fan of our local farmers markets. Obviously, summer is the highlight of the year and brings tons of varieties of produce with amazing colors. In particular, I’m a fan of the season’s strawberries, peaches and tomatoes, although there are plenty of good eats at any time.

Last weekend, I visited one of the area’s cornerstone markets, the Little Italy Mercado. The market is barely three years old but has grown from just a few hundred visitors each Saturday to well over 3,000. Seeing its growth over the years has been exciting to say the least. It’s located in San Diego’s urban enclave of Little Italy which is convenient to the area’s growing food scene.

Eggplant

Eggplant

The market features some of the county’s most established farms in addition to many up-and-coming vendors. Joes on the Nose is our local ‘big orange truck’ and has become everyone’s favorite wake up call. They can be found at other markets, driving through different business parks or catering events. If you ever see them, you MUST try their Aloha Latte with homemade coconut whipped cream. You won’t regret it.

Joes on the Nose

Joes on the Nose

This spectacular bitter melon from Sage Mountain Farm was one of the first non-traditional vegetables I came across and couldn’t resist snapping a picture. They also had the most vibrant long eggplant. Simply beautiful.

Bitter Melon

Bitter Melon

Berries from Pudwill Berry Farms are a huge hit in my house and with such a variety to choose from, it’s not surprising. Sometimes I even share them with my kids 🙂 Southern California is also known for its avocados and many residents are lucky enough to have different varieties growing on trees in their yards. These Reed avocados were the size of softballs.

Reed Avocados

Reed Avocados

Berries

Berries

Fresh salsa is a staple at our local Mexican food establishments and in many households. Making it is easy thanks to having awesome peppers. These golden treasure peppers hail from Suzie’s Farm, a highly-regarded farm known for their meticulously ‘groomed’ produce.

Golden Treasure Peppers

Golden Treasure Peppers

Suzie’s Farm always has the biggest variety of micro greens. This is a photo of a third of what they offer through the markets. These would go fantastic in a summer salad with some lemon cucumbers.

Lemon Cucumbers

Lemon Cucumbers

Micro Greens

Micro Greens

Back to the subject of Mexican food, we are truly fortunate to have many great fisheries too. You haven’t lived until you’ve had ceviche from Poppa’s Fresh Fish! Even though I’m pregnant and supposed to stay away from it, I sneak some ceviche every now and then. My mouth literally waters just looking at a picture of it.

Ceviche

Ceviche

No summertime trip to Little Italy Mercado is complete without grabbing a ‘paleta’ from Viva Pops. They’ve become so popular at the market that they opened a shop in nearby Normal Heights, which I hear is also very busy. All of their gourmet pops are made with ingredients sourced from local farmers, many of whom are also vendors at the Mercado.

Viva Pops

Viva Pops

To bring it back to the neighborhood, the market is in the middle of many small Italian food restaurants and vendors. This is why it’s great that places like Lisko Imports bring fresh pastas out to the street for even easier access.

Fresh Pasta

Fresh Pasta

My purchases for the day:

  • Nectarines
  • White eggplant
  • Tri color potatoes
  • Lemon cucumbers
  • Reed avocados
  • Two gourmet pops from Viva Pops – strawberry and salted caramel
  • A container of truffle salt

Stay classy San Diego!

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Farmers Market Update: Detroit

by | Aug 21, 2011
Eastern Market District

Eastern Market District

I’m so excited to finally have a farmers market update from Detroit. Thanks so much to Mallory Jade for putting this together.

From Mallory:

I am a writer, graphic designer in Rochester, Michigan. I am a foodie and this has been a gateway drug to the thrill of experimenting in the kitchen and the jonesing for more than an apt balcony to garden. I am a beer enthusiast and travel when I can—which is never enough.

Detroit’s Eastern Farmers Market

by Mallory Jade

You can follow the Detroit Easter Market on Twitter @easternmarket and Facebook.

It’s no secret that Detroit has endured a tumultuous lifespan and survives today as a skeleton of its pre-riot heydays. Politics, economics, and its capacity for violent social rifts have painted Detroit its notoriously gritty reputation.

Detroit’s Eastern Market is just one true testament to our city’s fight to hang on—a historical site less than two miles from the city’s downtown. Since 1891, the market has expanded into the historical district it is today, remaining as one of the oldest and largest continuously operating market districts in the United States (the largest in the world in the 1920’s). Today’s beautiful weather will draw tens of thousands in from the city, the suburbs, and even other states.

Historic Sheds

Historic Sheds

This beautiful summer Saturday I couldn’t wait to see what sort of treasures the vendors have brought to their tables.

Beautiful Greens

Beautiful Greens

Immediately I was floored by the happy abundance of beautiful greens. Fresh collards, kale, cabbage, spinach, chard, and broccoli, with vibrant rhubarb and stems of chard to break up the color. Even the beets looked bright in the vastness of green. Needless to say, it took a fair amount of willpower to avoid choosing one of each.

More Beautiful Greens

More Beautiful Greens

All sorts of herbs in all forms light up the senses from paces away, their delicious aromas were begging to be taken home.

Fragrant Herb Plants

Fragrant Herb Plants

Fragrant Herbs

Fragrant Herbs

The tables of summer squash hosted their newest arrival, the pattypan or “white flesh” variety. Even though it’s a summer squash, I can’t help but let it remind me that fall is in transition.

Summer Squash

Summer Squash

I’ve never tried eggplant before, but with such an abundance of these mystery veggies, I definitely picked one up to grill later. Roasted redskins in olive oil and sprinkled with lemon pepper is one of my favorite potato dishes.

Eggplant and Redskins

Eggplant and Redskins

A stand from Snover, Michigan, had a wide variety of beans sourced from all over the state. Regardless of season, I can’t resist soup! A 1.5 lb bag of bean soup mix is the prize I took with me for plenty of hearty bowls to last me well into the cold months.

Michigan Beans

Michigan Beans

One of my favorite vendors of the day was Green Organics Farm out of Lapeer, Michigan. The friendly Green Organics man was very knowledgeable and eager to explain the subtleties of each variety (much appreciated when garlic-lover meets indecision). I am now, gratefully, a more informed garlic consumer and very excited about my selections.

Green Organics Garlic

Green Organics Garlic

Because Eastern Market is host to nearly 250 vendors from local farms and retailers/wholesalers, be wary of product origin if your concern is buying strictly local and farm fresh. These peaches looked delectable, but I will wait because Michigan peaches will be available in the next couple of weeks.

Peaches

Peaches

Enduring an unsavory climate this season, Michigan seems to be at an awkward standstill for fruit. Peaches are still being brought in from California to hold us over until they are direct from Michigan orchards.

This resident busker is delighted to serenade you while you browse some Michigan gladiolous.

Busking and Michigan Gladiolous

Busking and Michigan Gladiolous

Grown in Detroit is as local as it gets, coming from community gardens and urban farmers on the fringes of the city. This Cooperative supports local growers by bringing their harvest to local markets.

Grown In Detroit

Grown In Detroit

The flower sheds, potted plants, and floral items lining the sidewalks make me wish for the space to plant and hang them all. And perusing the colorful blooms is an exciting opportunity to explore more of the history-rich district.

Potted Plants For Yards

Potted Plants For Yards

Potted Plants

Potted Plants

Unknown to most is that the district remains open six days a week. Plenty of ethnic and local tastes, specialty shops, and fresh meat distributors encompass the main market. There’s a little Ethiopian on the corner I’m anxious to try.

At the end of the shopping, the smell of open barbeque and the Motown karaoke is a likely temptation to rest before heading back home. It’s hard not to stop and grab a bite with the droves of other market patrons sitting around tables and enjoying another beautiful summer Saturday in Detroit.

After Market Beats and Eats

After Market Beats and Eats

Even though Eastern Market is now open for business on Tuesdays, it’s totally necessary to come out for at least one Saturday as it’s a Detroit staple. Don’t get me wrong, there is a smaller roster of vendors on Tuesdays, but still so much to choose from and enough goings-on to make the trip worthwhile.

If you can’t make Tuesdays at Eastern Market, Wayne State holds a public market on Wednesdays from 11-4pm, July through October, across from the public library.

It’s true, freshness has the capacity to thrive in Detroit; the city and its metropolitan areas are absolutely peppered with farmers’ markets and other fresh food options. From Garden City to Rochester, going east to Mt. Clemens and cities in-between—all within an hour radius of downtown Detroit. That doesn’t even include the uncharted gems and roadside stands you might drive by in areas with less urban development. If you love to taste and support the freshness of local harvest, finding a farmers market is not only a great way to dive into metro Detroit’s local food culture, but the quality for the quantity on your dollar is undeniable.

So, if you’re in the Detroit area and interested in discovering new things in small travels, I’ve included a list of metro Detroit farmer’s markets at the end of this post.

Purchases (~$17):

  • 3 cucumbers
  • 2 bunches of kale
  • 4 garlic bulbs (approx .25 lb): German White, Music, Siberian, Spanish Roja
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 1 eggplant
  • ? dozen corn
  • 1 loaf of cherry walnut Flemish desem (sourdough)

Factoids sourced from detroiteasternmarket.com and the Detroit News.

Places are listed by county, city, season, days and times of market, for quick reference. I’ve included links if you would like more information.

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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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Farmers Market Update: Takoma Park, Maryland

by | Aug 7, 2011
Purple Basil

Purple Basil, Arugula and Garlic

Halona Black is a personal food shopping consultant, teaches raw and vegan cooking classes, and is building a personal chef business. To learn more you can subscribe to her blog, Garlic & Lemons, follow her on Twitter, or email at garlicandlemons@gmail.com

Farmers Market Update: Takoma Park

by Halona Black

What I love most about living in DC is being so close to small towns. Many people who have not visited DC do not realize that Maryland and Virginia are a quick train or bus ride away. So when I grow tired of looking at backyard alleyways lined with garbage cans, one of the places I head to is the Takoma Park Farmers Market.

Takoma Park Farmers Market

Takoma Park Farmers Market

The Takoma Park Farmers Market is a year-round market that has been serving local residents every Sunday since 1982. It is located smack dab in the center of town on Carroll Avenue, Takoma Park’s own mini “main street.”

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

Most main streets in America are closed on Sundays, but here the shops stay open during the market to take advantage of the traffic. So after picking produce, you can go antiquing, peruse a bead shop, or visit Middle Eastern Cuisine for a delicious brunch for under $10.

Green Beans

Garlic Scapes

What I like most about this market is their commitment to selling local produce. The sellers grow their food within a 125 mile radius of Takoma Park.

Summer Squash

Summer Squash

I have been to a few other area farmer’s markets and have seen produce with the PLU code sticker on it. I’m not a farmer, but if the produce was picked and packaged for travel to the market within the last 24 hours, who has time for putting on stickers?

Melons

Halona Melons

On my last trip I was able to find a few goodies. Eager to utilize my new raw food skills I had learned in a recent class with raw food expert, Aris Latham, I was looking for a few fresh ingredients to use in a recipe.

Here are a few of the jewels I found:

  1. arugula
  2. purple basil
  3. garlic
  4. red early girl tomatoes (Blue Ridge Botanicals)
  5. garlic scapes
  6. savoy cabbage (Waterpenny Farm)
  7. Halona melon (I’m excited about finding a melon that shares my name…) (Blue Ridge Botanicals)
  8. cherry tomatoes
  9. zucchini
  10. hibiscus (Blue Ridge Botanicals)

I used some of these beautiful red early girl tomatoes and garlic to make a delicious, raw spaghetti.

Summer Tomatoes

Summer Tomatoes

Here’s the recipe:

Raw Spicy Spaghetti For Two

Ingredients:

  • 1 package kelp noodles
  • 1 fresh tomato
  • 5 to 6 sundried tomatoes soaked in water (just enough to cover)
  • 7 to 8 dried apricots
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • season salt to taste
  • cilantro leaves to taste
  • cayenne pepper to taste

Remove kelp noodles from the package.  Soak in room temperature water for 5 minutes. Drain and put in a bowl. Put all the ingredients except the cilantro in a blender and mix until smooth. Add more fresh tomato if it’s too thick, more dried tomato if too thin.

Adjust seasoning according to your taste. Mix the sauce with noodles and add fresh cilantro leaves. Let it marinate for 5 to 10 minutes and enjoy.

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Farmers Market Update: Shanghai, China

by | Jul 31, 2011
Lotus Flower

Lotus Flower

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: Shanghai

by Karen Merzenich

I recently returned from a week’s vacation in Shanghai, and the highlight of the trip was a visit to Shanghai’s Wet Market on Lianhua Lu in the Minhang District. In a dizzying array of open-air lanes and buildings, the Wet Market serves both wholesale and retail customers.

In a fast-growing city of nearly 25 million people, it’s not surprising that the market remains open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Wet Market

Wet Market

If you want to visit the Wet Market, I highly recommend going with a guide who can introduce you to the vendors and answer all of your questions. As far as I know, the only guide service that does this kind of in-depth tour is Shanghai Pathways. It’s an unforgettable trip to an amazing market! I peppered our guide Janny with questions about what was in season, where the produce came from, the lives of the vendors and farmers, and more.

Wet Market

Wet Market

July in China means: watermelons! They are everywhere, and they are delicious. The Chinese watermelons are a round variety about the size of a volleyball. They are juicy and succulent and they sure taste great when it’s 100 degrees out.

Watermelons

Watermelons

The summer humidity brings a wealth of fresh mushrooms, including these monkey mushrooms, which were described as having “a mushroom inside a mushroom.”

monkey mushrooms

Monkey Mushrooms

The first peaches and nectarines of summer are here too, as well as multiple varieties of corn. In China the yellow corn tends to be sweet, but the white corn has larger kernels and is referred to as glutinous corn.

Peaches and Glutinous Corn

Peaches and Glutinous Corn

An important lens to use when shopping for food in China is that of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) teachings–as most Chinese people believe that certain foods are beneficial to eat during certain times of the year for health reasons. For example, a popular Chinese summer food is winter melon, which is thought to cool you down in a hot summer. These winter melons were gargantuan!

Winter Melon

Winter Melon

Another cooling summer vegetable is soft cucumber, a spiny, delicate cucumber. Wrinkly, knobby bitter melon fits the bill for refreshing the body in the summer heat as well.

Soft Cucumber and Bitter Melon

Soft Cucumber and Bitter Melon

While lotus root (also a cooling food) is available year-round, the twisty, knobby part of the lotus appears only around the time the lotus flowers bloom, which is now. (I couldn’t find great information on this, but it seems like the thing we call “lotus root” is really the lotus rhizome, and this thing might actually be part of the root, but I’m not sure at all so don’t hold me to that.)

Lotus Shoot

Lotus Shoot

All manner of rice and beans are also available at this market. Rows of bags and stacks of sacks offer whatever legume or grain your heart desires.

Rice, Grains, Beans

Rice, Grains, Beans

You can also find all sorts of noodles. A Shanghainese special is noodles made from rice and green beans, so some have a light green color.

Noodles

Noodles

How about some spice and seasonings? Fresh ginger is available year round, and vendors place fans directly on piles of ginger to dry them out and keep them from molding in the humidity. You can see huge bags of peeled garlic cloves for sale too.

Ginger

Ginger

Chili peppers are ground and sorted to varying consistency and size, per the customer’s request.

Chili Peppers

Chili Peppers

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Wet Market without some meat, fish, and other interesting delicacies. If you are squeamish about meat and butchery, now might be a good time to scroll to the end. I’ll start with something reasonably tame, sides of pork on big iron hooks. You can see the marbled belly pieces, ready for making bacon, on the left.

Sides of Pork

Sides of Pork

If you want a century egg, ask the vendor to rinse off the ash, clay, lime, and mud mixture so you can break into that pungent dark green yolk. (I was too wimpy to try one!)

Century Eggs

Century Eggs

Fresh frogs, snakes, and eels are on display; make a purchase and they’ll be butchered for you to order. (The frogs are in the mesh bag so they don’t jump away, and the snakes are tied up in the green bag, thank goodness.)

Frogs, Snakes and Eels

Frogs, Snakes and Eels

If you’re not quite up to eel or frog just yet, you can try beltfish, a popular Chinese seafood staple.

Belt Fish

Belt Fish

If you’re after hens or roosters, you can peruse the quality of the show bird on top of the cage before picking one out to be beheaded for your soup pot.

Rooster

Rooster

But good luck getting this teenager’s attention to skin you a fresh quail–he seems pretty engaged in his video game!

Quail Seller

Quail Seller

Getting the purchases back to your home or restaurant means loading up your bicycle cart, scooter, or rickshaw.

Bicycle Cart

Bicycle Cart

If you’ve left your scooter for too long, you might find one of the many alley cats that roams the market seeking scraps has taken over.

Cat on Scooter

Cat on Scooter

Market work can be exhausting. Sometimes you just need a break from selling jellyfish all day.

Napping Woman

Napping Woman

If you’re in Shanghai and you’d like to visit the market: contact Janny at Shanghai Pathways.

Would you like to share your farmers market with Summer Tomato readers? Find out more.

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Farmers Market Update: Omaha, Nebraska

by | Jul 24, 2011
Omaha Farmers Market

Omaha Farmers Market

Before we get started I wanted to let you know that we had another Farmers Market Boot Camp this weekend, and once again it was amazing. I scheduled two more classes on August 13, one at 8am and one at 10:15am. You can sign up here.

Kristin DeKay is co-owner of Image Made, an Omaha based web design company. She enjoys cooking, gardening, photography, and much more, which she writes about on her blog Everyday Potential.

Farmers Market: Omaha

by Kristin DeKay

Omaha’s largest farmer’s market is located in the Old Market. According to their website, the market traces its roots back to the turn of the century. Farmers, residents, and grocers would come together on the corner of 11th & Jackson to sell veggies, produce, jams, honey, and the like. The market continued in this fashion until 1964. Thirty years later, in 1994, the market was revived, and today continues to serve the Omaha community with access to beautiful farm-fresh goods.

Purple Broccoli

Purple Broccoli

I went to the market around 9:30am (It was already approaching 90 degrees!) with my mother-in-law, who was on the lookout for kohlrabi and some bean sprouts. I was just planning to browse and pick up whatever looked good at the moment.

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard

The first thing we found was some beautiful kohlrabi. I’d never eaten this before, but my mother-in-law insisted it was great, so I bought one. If you’ve never tried it before, I highly suggest it! It looks a little intimidating to peel and slice, but I assure you, its easier than it looks! Its taste is very neutral, and the consistency is nice and crisp. It’s perfect raw, in a salad, or lightly sautéed for a stir fry.

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi

I spotted some bright-colored Swiss chard at the next booth, as well as a pile of yellow squash and zucchini. My dad lives in a small town, and always jokes, ”The only time anyone in town locks their car doors is when zucchini are in season. You might end up with a huge box of it in your back seat!” We had plans to grill some steaks the coming week, so I picked up some to skewer on the grill.

Summer Squash

Summer Squash

I’ve always admired beets. They are so pretty and uniquely shaped. I’ve never actually tried fresh beets—I’ve only had the canned variety and didn’t like them. I’m making it a goal of mine to try as many kinds of veggies I can find, even those I’ve told myself I don’t like. Maybe when I’m feeling brave…

Beets

Beets

The next booth was full of Asian veggies—baby bok choy, Chinese spinach, and Thai eggplant.

Baby bok choy

Baby bok choy

I’d never seen Thai eggplant before, it’s about the size of a golf ball and is green with white stripes. They remind me of miniature watermelons. Apparently, they are commonly used in curry dishes, though in the U.S., the large purple eggplant is generally substituted.

Thai eggplant

Thai eggplant

I passed by a vibrant assortment of white and red radishes, and rhubarb.

Radishes, Rhubarb

Radishes, Rhubarb

I always stop by the Razee’s Berry Farm Booth. In addition to berries, they grow over 92 different varieties of garlic. I always buy some, their garlic is a must-have. I bought three varieties: Nootka Rose, Ontario Giant, and my favorite, Transylvania.

Garlic

Garlic

On our quest for sprouts, I happened to notice these little guys. They are called patty pan squash, also known as scallop squash. They are so adorable! I did a little research and found that they are one of the first squashes domesticated by the Native Americans before the English settlers came to America. These particular squashes only measured about 2 inches in diameter.

Patty Pan Squash

Patty Pan Squash

I love seeing common vegetables in bright colors.

Colorful Carrots

Colorful Carrots

I purchased a savoy cabbage to split with my mother-in-law (they are so big!). I like to throw cabbage in with my salad. I prefer it raw instead of cooked.

Savoy Cabbage

Savoy Cabbage

There were beans, beans, and more beans at the market Saturday.

Burgandy Bush Beans, Wax Beans

Burgandy Bush Beans, Wax Beans

These beautiful purple onions are sold by Rhizoshpere Farms. They are just a tad sweeter than green onions.

Purple Onion

Purple Onion

I don’t usually purchase herbs (I grow my own), but I had to stop and admire this Thai basil.

Thai Basil

Thai Basil

As we were heading back to the car, we found them. Squeaky Green Organics, a family run farm located about 30 minutes from Omaha, had a booth with all kinds of sprouts. Bean sprouts, sunflower sprouts, pea tendrils, and a bunch of other varieties!

Pea Tendrils, Sunflower Sprouts

Pea Tendrils, Sunflower Sprouts

My purchases:

  • Baby Bok Choy
  • Savoy Cabbage
  • Purple Onion
  • Kohlrabi
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Cucumber
  • Sprouts
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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: Puerto Rico

by | Jun 26, 2011
Sweet Red Ajicitos

Sweet Red Ajicitos

Before we get started on this week’s amazing farmers market update from Puerto Rico, I want to announce that I’m going to start offering farmers market tours/classes for small groups in San Francisco. I hope you can join us!

Adriana Angelet is a food lover and blogger from Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico. She cooks and shares balcony gardening duties with her husband, Eduardo, and their recao eating kitten Gatamiaux. Visit her beautiful blog Great Food 360.

Farmers Market Update: Puerto Rico

by Adriana Angelet

I am very excited to share today some of our finds from the Cooperativa Organica Madre Tierra’s bi-monthly farmer’s market. The farmers set up their stands at the Placita Roosevelt, a fifteen-minute drive from the Old San Juan area, on the first and third Sundays of every month. The market operates year-round; this is definitely one of the blessings of our tropical weather! The farmers’ coop that organizes the market recently celebrated its tenth anniversary.

Cooperativa Organica Madre Tierra Market

Cooperativa Organica Madre Tierra Market

Our first stop was Nelson’s table, where we purchased our regular greens (curly leaf and red leaf lettuces, arugula, spinach, and pac choi), which are available year-round.

Cucumber, Name and Chayote

Cucumber, Name and Chayote

His stand is usually one of the most diverse in terms of its offerings: he had eggplant, yucca and ñame (root vegetables), plantains, cucumbers, chayote (mirlinton), and sweet little red peppers known as ajicitos. Ajicitos are usually used in sauces, chopped into savory dishes, and blended into sofrito, the base for most Puerto Rican dishes.

Root Vegetables

Root Vegetables

Green Papaya Green and Ripe Plantains

Green Papaya Green and Ripe Plantains

We moved on to the Desde Mi Huerto (“From My Farm”) table to check out Raul’s collection of potted vegetable plants and herbs. I really like that they not only sell from their harvest, but foster growing your own at home. I make sure to stop by whenever I have questions on how to tend our balcony garden. We have also purchased some vegetable compost from them to make sure our garden thrives.

Desde Mi Huerto Potted Herbs and Vegetable Plants

Desde Mi Huerto Potted Herbs and Vegetable Plants

In my previous visit, I purchased some honey from Apiarios El Pancho. Their apiary is located only a couple of miles from our house.  In addition to honey, they make honey “butter” – a creamy confection made entirely of honey. I think I might have to get some next time. It would make a great spread on tart fruit slices or crackers.

Honey from Apiarios El Pancho

Honey from Apiarios El Pancho

Since we arrived earlier than some of the farmers, we took a break to enjoy some homemade probiotic yogurt with granola and molasses from Naturalandia and perk up with cortaditos – espressos “cut” with a little half-and-half – from Finca Vista Hermosa (“Beautiful View”). From a bench we watched as the fresh fruit, root vegetables, and vegetables kept arriving and tweaked our shopping list.

Coffee - Hacienda Vista Hermosa

Coffee - Hacienda Vista Hermosa

Although I’m not a fan, a lot of people like pomarrosas, also known as Malay Apples.  They can be ground and juiced or cooked into compotes or jams. They are pretty to look at! From what I’ve read, the tree and flowers are just as beautiful.

Pomarrosas - Malay Apples

Pomarrosas - Malay Apples

This is the first time I’ve seen cacao pods in the market. I bought two, although I have no idea what to do with them (after opening the pod and toasting the seeds). It was only two for a dollar! If I can get two candies out of them, the experiment would be worth it.

Cacao Pods

Cacao Pods

We picked up two whole wheat baguettes from Stephanie at the Peace n’Loaf stand. Besides baking artisanal breads, she is part owner of the first vegetarian pizzeria in Puerto Rico. I know we should eat bread in moderation (Stephanie herself couldn’t stress it enough), but one of the loaves was gone in less than two days.

Baguettes

Baguettes

On the Siembra Tres Vidas (“Plant Three Lives”) tent, I went straight for the green beans. I participated in their CSA last summer, and got hooked on them. The green onions also looked too good to pass up. I used one right after I got home to make a quick dip to take to my family’s Father’s Day luncheon.

Siembra Tres Vidas Green Onions

Siembra Tres Vidas Green Onions

On our way out, we couldn’t help but notice these baby eggplants on the back of a pick-up truck. Although my husband is not a fan, we couldn’t just take pictures of them – we bought pound. It will likely turn into baba ganoush.

Baby Eggplant

Baby Eggplant

Our Purchases:

  • Arugula (Nelson’s)
  • Red and green curly leaf lettuces (Nelson’s)
  • Spinach (Nelson’s)
  • Pac Choi (Nelson’s)
  • Whole wheat baguettes (Peace N’Loaf)
  • Baby eggplant
  • Cocoa pods
  • Green beans (Siembra Tres Vidas)
  • Green onions (Siembra Tres Vidas)

If you’d like to share your local farmers market with Summer Tomato readers, we’d love to have you! Here are the guidelines.

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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: Santa Fe

by | Sep 26, 2010
Tomatoes

Tomatoes

One of my favorite Summer Tomato contributors recently took a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and visited the farmers market there.

Virginia Griffey is an editor in Oakland. She spends her time running, snowboarding, cooking, and hanging out with her friends and dog, Pebbles. Virginia is currently training for her third marathon while trying to raise $1,500 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Donations of any size are greatly appreciated.

Follow her on Twitter @virginiagriffey.

Farmers Market Update: Santa Fe

by Virginia Griffey

I am lucky enough to have some wonderful friends, Henry and Kristin, living in Santa Fe, the unique and beautiful 400-year-old city that is the capital of New Mexico. I went there at the end of May for a visit, but I didn’t get a chance to go to the Santa Fe Farmers Market. When I went back again this month, I made visiting the market a top priority.

First I visited the Santa Fe market’s website to find out what to expect. The market operates year-round with four markets a week during the summer (two Tuesday, one Thursday, one Saturday). The agricultural products sold at the market are grown in a 15-county region of northern New Mexico. Crafts and processed items are made with agricultural products from that region. The market accepts WIC and food stamps. As is the norm at farmers markets, no dogs are allowed (besides service dogs), but there is a free dog-sitting service.

Shallots

Shallots

Squash Blossoms

Squash Blossoms

I also examined the website to see what kinds of products to expect. Santa Fe is at an elevation above 7,000 feet, so I thought there might be some interesting vegetables that aren’t available in the Bay Area, but I didn’t see any fruit or vegetable vendors offering anything that stood out much. I did, however, notice that there was a vendor selling yak meat, and I was very excited about trying some. Yaks are high-elevation animals, so it seemed to make sense that someone might raise them in the area.

Yak

Yak

I headed to the market on a Tuesday morning. I wasn’t going to be in town for the Saturday market, so I was crossing my fingers that Tuesday’s market would have a good showing of vendors. It did. There was a lot of squash, corn and stone fruit available, but Henry and Kristin have squash in their garden, and we’d just bought corn and peaches the day before at a fruit stand in Velarde, about 40 miles north of Santa Fe. So I looked around for what else was available.

White Peaches

White Peaches

Chard

Chard

Following Darya’s farmers market suggestions, I made sure to walk around the market, check out all the vendors and try a few samples before buying anything. I tried white and yellow peaches and honeycrisp apples at Freshies of New Mexico. I admired the lovely allium offerings at Funnel Farm’s booth — leeks, shallots, early bosque garlic and onions. I ate some yellow carrots at Tina’s Farm. To me, they seemed milder and less sweet than the orange carrots that I’ve had.

Yellow Carrots

Yellow Carrots

After walking the length of the market, I came to Jacona Farm, which had a colorful selection of heirloom tomatoes as well as baskets of padron and shishito peppers. Best of all, they had samples of their tomatoes. Trying these tomatoes was my first true “Summer Tomato” experience. They were the best tomatoes I’d ever tasted: pure tomato flavor, the perfect soft but not mealy texture. Though each tasted like a tomato, they all tasted different from the others. I couldn’t help but think that this amazing variety of flavors is one of the things we risk losing by buying off-season “notional tomatoes” at supermarkets rather than supporting these amazing local farmers.

I ate some grilled shishito peppers from Monte Vista Farm. Kristin had told me about these mild peppers, which often are fried, so I sought them out. Monte Vista also was selling garlic scape powder, so I bought a packet to bring home. I stopped by South Mountain Dairy’s booth to sample a few goat’s milk products. The dairy’s motto is, “It’s all about the girls.” I tried apricot chèvre, green chile chèvre and queso fresco. The vendor was selling goat’s milk but didn’t have any samples, but I did get to try some blackberry-flavored goat’s milk yogurt.

Chevre

Chevre

Shishito Peppers

Shishito Peppers

Next, I headed to the Taos Mountain Yak booth. The vendor said the meat is lower in fat and cholesterol than beef but high in omega-3s and stays very tender when cooked. Henry and I were planning a barbecue for later in the week, so I picked up a couple of yak tenderloin steaks to grill up. I also grabbed a bag of yak jerky milk bones for Henry and Kristin’s dogs.

That Friday, Henry threw the steaks on the grill. They were small, and generally I like my steaks about medium rare, so I was worried it would be very easy to overdo it, especially since neither of us had any experience with yak meat. Henry flipped the steaks over a few times as I became increasingly concerned that they were getting overcooked. Finally, I just couldn’t watch anymore. I went inside to get something to drink, came back out, and Henry finally had taken them off the grill. I looked at my steak, thinking about all the money I’d spent for it to end up overdone, and took a bite. It was the most tender meat I’ve ever tasted. I think Henry could have cooked them a lot longer without any problem. As far as taste and tenderness, I give yak meat two thumbs up!

Inchelium red garlic

Inchelium Red Garlic

Leeks

Leeks

Purchases:

  • striped German tomato – Jacona Farm
  • rainbow chard – Santa Cruz Farm
  • blackberries – Santa Cruz Farm
  • yellow carrots – Tina’s Farm
  • honeycrisp apples – Freshies of New Mexico
  • inchelium red garlic – One Straw Farm
  • shallot – Funnel Farm
  • pinto beans – Shirley Martinez
  • shishito peppers – Monte Vista Orchard
  • garlic scape powder – Monte Vista Orchard
  • green chile chèvre – South Mountain Dairy
  • yak tenderloin steaks – Taos Mountain Yak
  • jerky milk bones for dogs – Taos Mountain Yak[link:
  • baguette – Cloud Cliff Bakery
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