What's Coming to Market?
The nice weather continues and the leafy greens are growing quickly. So quickly that Stephens Farm is making a rare winter appearance this Sunday, bringing lettuce, kale and nettles. You'll also find plenty of root vegetables, cauliflower, broccoli, winter squash, apples, and pears.
You'll find bison, beef, lamb and pork this Sunday. Eggs will be plentiful this week. As for seafood, crab of course but also razor clams, mussels, a wide variety of fresh winter fish and frozen albacore tuna.
As for nursery vendors, Petal Heads will have hellebores and primroses, Garden Color returns with hardy perennials and sedums and Sun Gold Farm, LLC will have vegetable starts, fruit and nut trees, blueberry bushes and possibly lilacs. Gales Meadow Farm returns for the next few months with a great selection of certified organic vegetable and herb starts.
Finally, we have a new vendor starting this week. Obon makes feel-good Japanese comfort food: onigiri, soup, handmade tater tots, tofu misozuke and more.
Visit our Availability Page for more information and the full list of farmers and vendors coming to the market this Sunday. The page will be updated through Saturday evening. Check our Twitter feed for Sunday morning updates.
Hardy Vegetables – Plant Them Now!
by Anne Berblinger, Gales Meadow Farm
Many vegetables, the “hardy” varieties, do well in early spring. They can even stand a frost. This year, they should do better than usual, since the soil has already warmed up some and it looks like our extra warm weather will continue.
These veggies need good soil and a spot that gets sun for at least 6-8 hours a day. Most of them will do well in pots on a sunny deck or parking strip. so you can have fresh homegrown vegetables even if you don’t have a sunny garden. For hardy spring veggies, a light dressing of complete organic fertilizer mixed into the top 2-3 inches of the bed should be good for the whole season. If the soil is clay or sandy, a generous dose of compost applied before planting and mixed into the soil will help.
Read the complete article here: http://hillsdalefarmersmarket.com/articles/2015/3/5/hardy-vegetables-plant-them-now.html.
The Fat of The Land
The Kale Effect
Nearly twenty years ago, I landed my first wage-earning job as a cashier at my small town’s natural foods co-op. A high school sophomore, my qualifications for the position were that I wanted spending money and I had an in with the manager, a family friend. The only items in the store that I knew much about were the processed and packaged ones—blue tortilla chips, carbonated fruit juices, “natural” mac and cheese—that were my family’s translation of the mainstream products I’d spent years coveting in friends’ lunchboxes.
The whole foods were unknown to me; filberts, adzuki beans, bee pollen, Swiss chard, kale, quinoa, and other exotically named ingredients made for a steep learning curve that had me bluffing my way through many an afternoon shift. A year in, some semblance of understanding began to form, though mostly from a spectator’s perspective; I wasn’t a cook and retained my childhood aversion to most vegetables. In the back of the store there was a small vegetarian deli that slowly began to change all that.
Called Pearl’s Kitchen, this literal hole-in-the-wall churned out sandwiches stacked high with fresh vegetables, vibrant salads sold by the pound dressed in boldly flavored vinaigrettes, and a handful of vegetarian entrees. Pearl, the sole-proprietress, was a soft-spoken woman whose narrow, smooth face cracked with radiance when she smiled. Her sandy, fine-textured hair cut stylishly short and her tasteful clothes gathered at the waist with a long canvas apron, she exuded a casual sophistication the Birkenstock-and-jeans-wearing co-op staff and I couldn’t match.
It was the mid-1990’s and in my part of the Midwest, hummus was still counterculture; greens like arugula, mustard, and kale were downright mysterious to the average small-town Wisconsinite. It was Pearl’s cooking alone that got me to cough up some of that newly-earned spending money for things like bok choy salad, BBQ tempeh, or wraps filled with spiced lentils. My mom’s influence and instruction are what made me a cook, but Pearl’s Kitchen and the Whole Earth Co-op planted the seeds of my palette. By the time I left for college, I was a dedicated vegetarian with a hotplate intent on cooking most of my own meals atop my dorm room desk.
Still, I didn’t try cooking kale on my own until I was two years out of college. Those rigid, waxy leaves, that unavoidable greenness, had always seemed too extreme. I’d come a long way from my processed-food-coveting days, but I didn’t think I’d come that far. Armed with a recipe card from the produce aisle and a sense of adventure, I brought what seemed at the time to be an enormous bouquet of frilly greens home and set to work.
The recipe was ridiculously simple: clean the kale, cut away the fibrous stems and tear the leaves into pieces. Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan; throw in slivered garlic, then the torn leaves, water from washing still clinging to their corners. Stir to coat and cover.
When I lifted the lid a few minutes later, briny steam warmed my face as I stared in disbelief at how the pot, overflowing to the point of absurdity when I’d covered it, was now less than half full of shimmering, dark green leaves, looking like a pile of beached kelp. I was even less sure now, but I finished the recipe, cooking off any remaining liquid and tossing the steaming leaves with a healthy dousing of sesame oil and a pinch of salt just before scooping a small serving onto my plate.
The flavor was nothing like I expected—green, yes, slightly bitter, perhaps, but also richly sweet and deeply satisfying, cloaked in nutty sesame oil dressing. Much to my surprise, I ate the whole pot.
Kale comes from a world that knew nothing of mac and cheese, natural or otherwise. The people who brought kale in from the wilderness and nurtured it saw (or tasted) its potential as a nutritious food. And, after years of careful selection, Kale became an important provider of fresh flavor during a time of year known as the hunger gap—those desperate months when the cellar stores ran low and the weather did not allow much in the garden to grow.
We joke about kale now, its ubiquity and cult-like following. Kale is over, we say, ready for something bolder, less familiar. But in our country, kale filled a different kind of hunger gap, one in which produce came from the freezer or the pantry, where lettuce was crunchy and white and ketchup was considered a vegetable. Heirloom seed-saving, organic farming, seasonal eating—kale was a compelling, if unlikely, ambassador of these movements. Something deep in its cells still charms us into believing our lives will be improved by eating it.
I, too, am always eager for the next thing. I’ve tired of kale salads and chips and am ready for new flavors. Even so, a pile of garlicky sautéed kale still seems to go with almost anything. I never tire of that trick—the one where an impossible mound of tough, bitter leaves melts into complex mouthfuls of yielding, ageless nourishment.
Sarah West is a gardener, eater and admirer of the agricultural arts. She gladly spends her Sundays as assistant manager of the Hillsdale Farmers’ Market, basking in the richness of its producers’ bounty and its community’s energy. Find archives and more at http://thefatofthelandblog.wordpress.com.
In a Word: Certifications and Labels at the Farmers Market
Unlike a grocery store, the farmers market is an amalgam of different sellers, each displaying a unique collection of foods and each adhering to their own set of standards when producing those foods. Below is a list of certifications and labels used by some of our vendors to quickly communicate their farm’s practices. Knowing what these labels mean helps you make a more informed decision on market day.
Certified Organic – Defined and regulated by the USDA’s National Organic Program, “organic” is a legally controlled label that can only be used to describe products from a producer with current USDA certification. Under its legal definition, organic food or agricultural products must be “produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.” Organic producers must keep detailed records of their practices, renew their certification each year, and comply with annual third-party inspections. Find out more about the USDA organic standards: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/NOP
Certified Naturally Grown – When the USDA initiated their organic standards in 2002, many small-scale producers lost the right to use the organic label on their products. Some of these producers chose to apply for organic certification; some found the cost of certification and detailed record-keeping requirements too overbearing for the size and scope of their operation. Certified Naturally Grown is a grassroots certification program that grew out of the desire for a new label that denotes producers who utilize organic practices but choose not to become certified organic through the USDA. CNG is based on a peer-review system in which farmers, ranchers, and beekeepers applying for CNG certification are inspected by another CNG producer in their area. The peer-review model keeps CNG certification costs low and helps foster stronger local farmer networks. CNG holds their producers to a nearly identical set of standards as the USDA’s organic program, though CNG producers may not label their products as organic. Find out more about CNG standards: https://www.naturallygrown.org/
Animal Welfare Approved – Like the USDA organic program, Animal Welfare Approved is a third-party certification system for animal production operations that adhere to AWA’s rigorous set of standards, including specifications for husbandry, feed, housing, handling, and slaughter. AWA works with scientists, researchers, veterinarians, and farmers to design standards that value the humane and respectful treatment of animals as well as the challenges of running a small farm. Only family farms are eligible to apply for AWA certification and, unlike the USDA organic program, certification and inspections are free to all qualifying farms. Find out more about AWA standards: http://animalwelfareapproved.org/
“No Spray” – While not a certification or legally defined term, “no spray” is a common label used by market vendors to quickly communicate an aspect of their farm’s practices. “No spray” can have a wide range of meanings, from a farm that follows organic practices as defined by the USDA to a farm that refrains from using synthetic or chemical based pesticides (though they may use chemical fertilizers or soil amendments and still consider themselves “no spray”). If chemical or synthetic inputs are a concern for you, it’s best to inquire with the vendor directly to elaborate on what “no spray” means to them.
“Pasture Raised” – Also not a legally defined term, “pasture raised” is used to communicate that a meat- or egg-producing animal was raised in the outdoors, with access to fresh pasture and insects providing for some portion of its diet. This term is often used by producers who want to differentiate from labels like “free range” (which is legally controlled only for meat chickens to mean the animal was given some space to roam, though compliance often amounts to hens raised in crowded warehouses with a few small doors for outside access) or “natural” (a term only legally defined for processed meat and poultry, denoting the raw product contains no added ingredients or colors). “Pasture raised” can mean different things to different producers, so if specific practices associated with the “pasture raised” label are important to you, talk with your farmer to learn more.
Spring Fling: Get Your Kale Raab While It Lasts!
by Sarah West
Kale (or any brassica, such as cabbage, collard, or Brussels sprout) raab is an ephemeral spring vegetable that only shows up for a few markets each year. Overwintered brassica plants start sending up reproductive shoots once lengthening days signal that spring is on its way. Farmers harvest the tender tips of these shoots, along with their young leaves, before the flower buds begin to open.
Looking like short, lanky broccolis, raab is harvested for its sweet, edible stalk and silky flower buds. Cut off any tough or fibrous stem ends and cook the raab whole (leaves and all) or chopped into pieces. It’s delicious steamed or sautéed, grilled or baked, makes excellent stir-fry, pasta or pizza topping, or a quick, nutritious side. Raab’s juicy stems have asparagus-tenderness when lightly cooked, the leaves and flower buds adding an extra oomph of robust flavor.
If you know you love raab or want to try it for the first time, don’t hesitate! This vegetable always has a brief tenure at market, as the plants are eager to turn these youthful shoots into seed-producing stalks, and the farmers to turn their winter rows into summer plantings.
Additions and Correction
We forgot to include one farm in last issue's article about CSAs. Sauvie Island Organics
has a 26 week CSA. You can find out more here (link) about the options. There are pickup locations throughout the city.
Pad Thai Noodles
1525 SW Sunset Blvd
Sat, Mar 07, 2015
2:00pm - 3:30pm
Phad Thai is a traditional Thai dish that is loved and enjoyed by many. Come join our cook and learn how to make this dish for your friends and family. The group will prepare this simple noodle dish together and sample their creation at the end of class (link).
Pages To Plate
Cookie Love - Mindy Segal
6306 SW Capitol Hwy
Mon April 13, 2015
Pages to Plate is the Cakery's pop-up culinary event series providing guests with access to intimate book signings, cooking demonstrations and discussions. Pastry chef Mindy Segal will demonstrate recipes from her cookbook Cookie Love and share the stories behind the book. Demonstration of 2 recipes, your own copy of Cookie Love to have signed by the author and samples from the book will be included for $30. Call 503.546.3737 to reserve a space. (Fee due upon reservation.)