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June 18, 2009 | Visit the Farmers Market online at | Subscribe to Fresh Picks

Market News for This Saturday, June 20

Free Music Times 3
One of these weeks, the Lansdowne Summer Concert Series will actually take place in its intended location on the lawn of St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church. But until the string of Thursday-evening rain ends, why not head for the dry and cozy Regency Cafe tonight at 7 pm for the best bargain around in live entertainment (which is, as the commercial says, zero dollars). We're hopeful that last week's underwhelming crowd was strictly because of the weather and not because you're not interested in seeing free performances even when they're brought practically to your doorstep. Come on, readers, support this new endeavor by the LEDC to provide more free entertainment right in the borough. You get another chance tonight — don't blow it.

A quick trip to David Grier's website should be enough to convince you that this guy has the goods and is worth far more than the price of tonight's admission (again, folks, its free). He's been voted best guitar player of the year several times by the Bluegrass Music Association for heaven's sake, which is akin to being selected best photographer of the year by the National Geographic Society. They know their stuff. If you need convincing, however, go here and look for song titles followed by arrows. Give a listen, and then we'll see you tonight at 7:00 at the Regency.

If you have a really good reason to miss tonight's concert, try to hit the free show at the Regency tomorrow night at 8:00, when keyboard player Nate Graham tickles the plastics and stirs up longings for cookies and cakes and pastries, which the Cafe will be happy to fulfill.

Finally, every Saturday at the Farmers Market there's free musical entertainment from about 10:30 am to 12:30 pm, plus tables and chairs to sit and enjoy it from and food aplenty to keep you satisfied all the while. Some towns don't have any regular musical offerings — free or otherwise — so think about that when the choice is between a live musician and another night of TV. We got it good here.

Meat Your Father
Since this Sunday is Father's Day, we tried to find one of those burly men who use chainsaws to carve tree trunks into bears or eagles to be Artist of the Week, but they seem to be few and far between in the inner-ring suburbs. So, lacking totem poles, we'll have to find something else at the Market to take home for dad. Hmmm, how about meat?

Since Father's Day could almost be subtitled "Grillin' and Chillin' with Pop," the obvious choice is steak. Farm Fresh Express carries both sirloin and NY strip steaks that come from humanely raised cattle that are not given antibiotics or growth hormones. These steaks cost a bit more per pound than the ones in most grocery stores, but Dad's worth it, right? If pork is your pop's preference, FFE carries fennel and sage Italian sausage, also from well-treated livestock, plus what's probably the best bacon you'll ever eat, its only drawback being that you can't grill it. These meats all are sold frozen, but they'll defrost in the fridge overnight in time for supper on Sunday. For fathers who are such carnivores that they want even their snacks to be meat based, try FFE's nitrate-free beef sticks, which come hot or sweet (ie, not hot) and which are what Slim Jims want to be.

Round out your Father's Day meal with the new red potatoes from Fruitwood Farms, perhaps roasted or parsleyed. Although we may have passed asparagus season, there are plenty of greens available (the rain's been great for them), so you can temper all that protein with some serious vitamins. If any leeks make it to Market this week, try The Recipe Booth's braised leek recipe, below, which would be a nice side with steak and potatoes. Dad won't care that gifts such as these aren't something he can use multiple times. He'll just be glad it's not something he has to mow, wash, or find batteries for.

Save It for Later
Know what else dads like? Garlic bread. Okay, everyone likes garlic bread, possibly because its three primary components — bread, garlic, and butter — are all favorites on their own, so combining them and then heating the whole thing up to warm, savory perfection is a surefire winner. (Kind of like cream cheese frosting. Whoever first thought of combining cream cheese, butter, and sugar and then smearing it on cake, we salute you.) In any case, no matter how you like to make your garlic bread — sliced crosswise and then wrapped in foil and baked, sliced lengthwise and then broiled open face, or some other permutation — you're going to need bread, preferably some kind of baguette. Both the Regency Cafe and Wild Flour Bakery carry long, crusty loaves that will do the trick beautifully.

And here's the little tip that's the whole point of this piece: On Saturday, pick up an extra baguette, cut it in half when you get home, wrap it tightly in foil, put it in a freezer bag, and stick it in your freezer. The next time garlic bread seems like a good idea, take the loaf out and let it sit at room temperature for an hour, still wrapped up. It'll defrost that quickly, and then you just use it like it's fresh — slather with your preferred topping combo and heat. In fact, even if you're not making garlic bread, this is a great way of ensuring you have nice bread when you want it: freeze it wrapped in foil and bagged, defrost it when needed, and then heat it up at 350 for 15 minutes or so still wrapped in the foil. It'll taste and feel practically fresh baked, we promise. (Because all the Market's artisan breads are made without preservatives and the weather is headed toward hot and humid, it's a good idea to refrigerate what remains after a day or two anyway.) Once you've tried it, you'll appreciate having "fresh" bread available mid-week, and buying a "later loaf" to stash in the freezer a few days will become routine.

Another great reason to have extra bread around is to make homemade crumbs, which are so much better than the store-bought stuff, in part because you can finesse the crumb size and seasoning if you make them yourself. Pittsburgh's Post-Gazette just ran an inspiring piece advocating the not-at-all-arduous task of toasting up your own breadcrumbs for topping pasta, pairing with fried eggs, or even using as a "salsa" with vegetables, fish, chicken, or even steak (this we can't wait to try). Make some of the crumb salsa Sunday and see if you can wean dad off the A1 Sauce.

Short Stuff
Louise and Dan of Lupine Valley Veggies are bringing a bunch more apple mint plants for those of you who missed out on them two weeks ago, plus more sugar snaps and garlic scapes, among other things.

Representatives from the Union AA will have a table at the Market this week and next to take donations and sell tickets for the borough's famed 4th of July fireworks display, a sensaround event you can see, hear, and feel (in the form of falling cinders) if you sit close enough to the tennis courts. The fireworks are quite costly and are mostly paid for by donations for the citizens who enjoy them, people just like you. Bring some extra money this Saturday so you can get your stickers (aka, tickets) and know that you've contributed to this swell celebration. They also need volunteers to assist with a variety of things on the 4th of July, so give them your contact info if you think you can help. We've done it, and it's fun.

The good news is that there are still some open spots for the first Community Day, on June 27. The bad news is that the applications are due this Saturday, June 20, to the address on the application. If you have your application in and you weren't planning on selling cherry bombs or nunchucks, chances are good that you're safely in, but you'll be contacted early next week for sure.

Get a Market Buck this week by telling the folks in the Manager booth the name of the creek that runs through Marlyn Park. Or just convince them that you took the tour of the park last week or last year and have forgotten the name. We're sympathetic to failing memories.

Moving Forward/Looking Back
This Saturday and Sunday, June 20 and 21, a local filmmaker, David Goodman, will be the guest of Cinema 16:9. Both evenings, Mr Goodman's 1985 Oscar-winning documentary, Witness to War: Dr Charlie Clements, will be screened, as will excerpts from his current work in progress, Singers in the Band, to be followed by a question and answer session, during which guests are invited to give Mr Goodman feedback on the new work. A wine and cheese fundraising reception will round out the evening. Tickets are $20 and reservations are strongly recommended. If you're booked this weekend and can't make the special event either night, you can still catch Witness to War until next Friday, June 26.

The Recipe Booth
I purchased some leeks at the Lansdowne Farmers Market recently, and I'm hoping to get some more this week, though their early spring season may be running out. A member of the allium family, the tall white leek was first mentioned in text 4000 years ago. Its origins are vague at best, some scholars believing it may have sprung up in the cold clime of the British Isles and then found its way to the Middle East. Others peg the plant's beginnings to Central Asia. Later used by both the Romans and the Greeks to treat sore throats, the leek became Emperor Nero's favorite vegetable. The first century AD dictator was a skilled speaker and soothed his tones by regularly dining on leek soup. Nero's nickname was, in fact, "Leek Eater" [editor's note: among other things, we suspect].

So what to do with leeks? They are notoriously dirty vegetables, trapping soil between their tight layers as they grow, so always start by cutting and thoroughly cleaning your leeks, which need not be a laborious job. First, remove the outer leaves with a knife to expose the more tender inner leaves that are pale green to yellow. Then slice your leeks crossways into narrow bands and toss them in a bowl of cold water to rinse any sand and dirt from between the layers. The dirt will fall to the bottom of the bowl, and the sliced leeks will float, so you can lift them right out of the water, leaving the dirt behind. Do this at least twice. Alternatively, you can remove the root, slice the leeks longways into halves or quarters, and then wash them carefully under cold tap water, running your finger between the leaves to remove all the dirt.

Now here is my secret leek recipe, Simply Braised Leeks, a cooking method that is very simple but that really brings out their natural sweet mineral flavors. Slice three or four leeks longways into quarters, clean them, and place them in a saute pan with enough chicken stock to cover them about halfway, along with a few grinds of cracked black pepper. Cover and cook over medium low heat until the chicken stock comes to a low simmer. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the leeks are limp and tender. Just lift the leeks from any remaining stock when it's time to plate them up. This amount will make four servings.

We probably have leeks prepared this way every few weeks as a side to a souffle, chicken, or what I think complements it the best, a simple steak off the grill [editor's note: told ya!]. Now I've made myself hungry. I guess it's off to bed to dream about what I will be making for dinner tomorrow night.

Featured This Week

Artist of the Week: Although Ilina Crouse is about to finish grad school in some incomprehensibly advanced field of science and move out of the area, she has a blog, an online store, and an Etsy shop, so you'll still be able to track her down and get your hands on her rubberstamped cards, notebooks, scarves, onesies, and other items, which are precise, involved, and charming.

Musician of the Week: Sara Flynn's MySpace page doesn't contain much information about her, but Bob Beach signed her up and Arlo Guthrie is one of her MySpace friends, and that's good enough for us.

Blog: Interview with artist Ilina Crouse, tattoo removal, code violations, Old Man Marlsbury.

Check out what’s coming in the weeks ahead, music- and art-wise, by visiting our continually updated on-line schedule.


Upcoming Local Events

David Grier at the Lansdowne Summer Concert Series
Thursday, June 18, 7:00 pm
Lawn at St John's Church, Lansdowne

Nate Graham at the Regency Cafe
Friday, June 19, 8:00 pm. Free
29 N. Lansdowne Ave., Lansdowne

Movies at Cinema 16:9
June 18 to 25, various times; $5 to $7.50
The Seventh Seal, Witness to War
35 N. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne

6-Week Summer Drum Workshop at the Twentieth Century Club
Two age groups: 6 to 9 years, 10 to 14 years; preregistration required
Mondays and Wednesdays starting July 6
$10 resident, $15 nonresident
84 South Lansdowne Avenue; 610-284-1493

Click for a complete listing of upcoming local events.

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View from Lupine Valley

Picking Herbs

Market day. I get up before sunrise and await the dawn, when I can go out and pick the herbs. Delicate as they are, their harvest must wait until the last minute. It is a careful balance to pick them quickly enough to leave in time but gently enough that they hold up. Some time before I finish, I stand up and see the vibrancy of the day before me. It is still quiet; I am the only one awake. As I bundle up the herbs, my hands potent with fragrance, I watch the first rays of sun spill over the garden.


The Lansdowne Farmers Market takes place every Saturday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm in the parking lot next to 28 North Lansdowne Avenue, rain or shine.

Visit our sister market, the Oakmont Farmers Market, Wednesday afternoons in Havertown for more local produce, bread, meat, and other products.