Posts tagged ‘farmers’ market’

It’s hot …

Marionberries and blueberries… and cooking is the last thing on my mind.

Thank heavens for the farmers’ market, and for that magic moment at the height of summer when all the berries converge.

On Saturday, our market still had strawberries – last of the crop, according to the vendor who had sold out by 11. Raspberries were everywhere, the first fat blueberries had arrived, and one vendor even had early Marionberries. Another had ripe, tart red currants, glowing like rubies. I bought some, though I have no idea what to I’ll do with them.

There were also loads of cherries – this seems to be a bumper year for the cherry crop. I bought a bag of those to take to a barbecue, but I saved the berries for myself, and I’ve been eating them by the handful and the bowlful – mostly just as they are, sometimes with a little cream and (in the case of the Marionberries, which haven’t reached their sweet peak yet) a sprinkle of sugar. I did make an easy cobbler with some of the blueberries this morning, heavy on the berries and light on the sugar. That’s breakfast for the next few days.

I’d live on fruit alone right now if I could, but my body has a protein habit. Finding a way to satisfy that with a minimum of kitchen time can be a challenge. Not so this week; the young fisherman who’s been bringing live crab to market also had smoked tuna loins. I threw together a simple rice-and tuna dish that’s a distant cousin to the tuna noodle casseroles I grew up with. You don’t need a recipe for this kind of thing, just a general method.

Last night, after the coastal breezes blew the heat away, I cooked up a pot of brown Basmati rice and put it in the fridge overnight. This evening, I mixed it with some finely diced onion, fresh peas, and about half of the tuna, shredded with my fingers. To boost the smokey flavor, I crumbled up an ounce or so of Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Blue cheese, mixed that in with the tuna and rice. The zest and juice of half a lemon and a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise to keep everything moist, a sprinkle of parmesan and half an hour in a 350 oven and I’ve got dinner (and a couple of days worth of lunch).

These are the kinds of dishes summer calls for: things you can throw together quickly, filling but not heavy, and full of flavor. Not to mention endlessly adaptable. No peas? Dice up some summer squash, or broccoli, or whatever you find at the market. No rice? Use pasta. Trying to watch the fat content? Moisten the casserole with stock instead of mayonnaise.

And then have berries for dessert.

July 5, 2009 at 6:49 pm Leave a comment

Now we’re getting somewhere

Market haul, June 29As Culiaria Eugenius points out, the coming of summer brings a shift from greens and peas and more greens into the rich variety of summer produce. At yesterday’s market, I had to keep reminding myself that I’m heading out of town later in the week, so I restrained myself to one of Wood Family Farm’s excellent rib steaks, a bunch of garlic tops that are already opening (hey, they were only 50 cents a bunch), a few of what will probably be the last sugar-pod peas, some of the first green beans, a half pint of cherries – and two pints of raspberries.

It’s too hot to cook indoors, but I thawed the steak and gave it a good massage with a mixture of smoked paprika, cumin, rosemary and a dash of dried chipotle, plus a little salt, then put it in a bag to soak up those smokey flavors with plans to grill it tonight, once the ocean breezes start blowing in from over the Coast Range and cooling things off. There will be green beans – just gently steamed with a dab of butter – and perhaps a pan of garlic tops and mushrooms set to simmer at the edge of the grill. Some of the steak (I can’t eat it all at one sitting) will get sliced for use in a salad or wrap; there are enough green beans for a second meal, and somewhere along the line I’ll do something with the cherries. This week, I anticipate at least 3-4 meals from mostly local food. And it’s just going to get better as the summer progresses.

Yesterday, though, I couldn’t bring myself to cook at all. I rinsed and nibbled some of the peas, raw, for lunch. And then there were the raspberries.

Raspberries and I, we have history. I love them with a love that surpasseth understanding, above all other fruits, even summer-ripe peaches or the crisp antique apples of fall. Until I moved to the Willamette Valley, I’d never lived anywhere raspberries were grown; they were always rare, imported treats, so expensive that I never bought more than half a pint at a time, and carefully doled them out a few at a time as toppings for ice cream or cheesecake.

I still remember the realization, that first summer living in Oregon, that I could eat as many raspberries as I wanted. Followed, soon afterward, by an encounter with an acquaintance who was complaining that the raspberry canes in her back yard had run amok, and that she didn’t really like raspberries, so if I wanted to come over and pick some, I could help myself.

I think I came close to “too many raspberries” that summer. But never since.

Now I have raspberries growing in my own back yard. In their third year, they’ve spread out nicely along the eastern fence, and they’re thick with nascent fruit this summer; with a few weeks, I should be harvesting bowls full a day.

But not yet, so I snatched up two pints of the first market raspberries – Cascade Bounty, a relatively new cultivar – and brought them home.

There are lots of fine things to make from raspberries: Jam, pie, a simple puree (simmer raspberries an a very small amount of liquid – water, white whine – until they fall apart, sweeten to taste or not, then press through a strainer to remove the seeds) that can be used in everything from drinks (a few tablespoons of raspberry puree + sparkling water over ice!) to sauces to desserts.

But at the start of the season, I don’t bother. I just eat them.

I managed to consume nearly half a pint on the way home from the market. And a few more as I gently picked through them looking for squashed or overripe berries that might promote mold.

And then, for dinner, just this:

Raspberries and cream

Raspberries. Cream. That’s all.

June 29, 2008 at 3:10 pm 1 comment

Take the challenge

Countdown: Eight days till the local market opens!

Talk about good timing: While browsing the Flickr photo group I started last year for the Albany-Corvallis Farmers’ Markets, I noticed that group member Katherine Rivera had posted a note about her new local foodblog: the Mid-Willamette Valley Eat Local Challenge.

Based on the national Eat Local movement, Katherine poses a simple challenge to mid-Valley cooks: Every week, from Memorial Day to Labor Day (May 26 to Sept 1), try to work local ingredients into your meals. How you do it is up to you. A meal a week using nothing but food grown in the valley? A little something local in every meal? It’s up to you. And she makes the challenge in a spirit of fun: Enjoy yourself, and if you miss a week, don’t sweat it, just try again the next week.

Heck, this is an easy challenge. I’ve been managing to eat locally grown food just about that often even through the winter, thanks to all the stuff I bought last season and dried or froze, plus an occasional trip to the indoor Winter Market. In fact, I’m down to about one good meal’s worth of last summer’s bounty (some dried chanterelles and herbs, a container of frozen oven-roasted tomatoes, a small stash of dried beans and one last package of lambchops from Wood Family Farms). If I get a chance in the coming busy week, I hope to make a meal out of that and clear thelarder for this year’s market.

Of course, the first few markets are more promise than anything. The growing season starts slowly here, and it’s been a cold spring so far. In April, we can expect spring lettuce, leeks and garlic, plus maybe a few hothouse vegetables. There will likely be baked goods, eggs from happy chickens and perhaps some of last summer’s honey from local bees. And a lot of plant starts, for those of us hoping to grow some of our own food this summer. It’ll be a few weeks, weather willing, before the early radishes and spring-tonic greens begin to show up. Bit by bit, the season will advance, the variety of wonderful things will increase, and by Memorial Day, it should be a snap to join the challenge.

If you’re reading from somewhere outside Oregon, check the “Eat Local Challenge” link in my sidebar – there might be a challenge group near you. Or start one. Or just take a personal challenge. Do it for your health, do it for the environment (food transport is a major consumer of fuel, do it for (my favorite reason) your taste-buds. There’s no more pleasing adventure than discovering wonderful things to eat in your own back yard, figuratively or (for you gardeners) literally.

April 11, 2008 at 7:44 pm Leave a comment


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