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July 9, 2009 | Visit the Farmers Market online at | Subscribe to Fresh Picks

Market News for This Saturday, July 11

After a gray and waterlogged June, no one is complaining about the weather we've had lately, which has been practically perfect in every way -- reasonable temps, low humidity, limited rain and even then mostly at night. It's like Camelot! Thanks to the cooperative weather, the Lansdowne Summer Concert Series is rolling along quite nicely now, the past two shows having taken place outside and the crowds getting bigger each week. Tonight's show looks to be a fascinating change of pace from the usual toe-tapping, as nationally known and award-winning performer Charlotte Blake Alston brings traditional and contemporary stories from the African and African American oral and cultural traditions to the lawn of St John the Evangelist Episcopal Church on Lansdowne Avenue at 7:00 pm. Bring the family, a blanket for the ground, and a snack, and sit back and enjoy this oldest of performance arts -- storytelling.

Dutifully Documented
The weather also cooperated beautifully last Saturday, and the public 4th of July festivities went off without a hitch. (Hope your less public ones did as well.) Whirlwind photographer John Kelly Green was everywhere that day, capturing the highlights in photographs of the Farmers Market and of the parade and fireworks. Those links contain more than a hundred pictures from that beautiful day, so grab a cool drink and go find yourself and your loved ones in one of them. If you're not there, you must have been out of town. Thanks, John!

Easy Being Green
So, corn on the cob showed up last week and basically stole the show. When spectators along the 4th of July parade route heard that the Market was open and had corn, they abandoned their spots and hightailed it over to the parking lot to fill their shopping bags, backpacks, and strollers with the summer's most popular cooked vegetable. And, yes, it was just as good as they thought it would be. But there's another fine veggie that's been available for a few weeks now that doesn't get nearly the fanfare that corn enjoys, and that's green beans. These long, thin legumes are loaded with nutrients and have terrific eye appeal -- certainly, they're the swimsuit models of veggies -- but if you're like us, you find them dull on their own and you're not sure what to do with them once you get them home (possibly also like swimsuit models). Let's ask Epicurious.

Most recipes involve cooking green beans in boiling water or steaming until "crisp-tender" and then adding jazzier stuff to liven them up. This recipe includes fresh cilantro and sounds like a winner, these beans get help from roasted onions, and this one uses only good quality olive oil but is still a big hit with reviewers. This salad containing radishes, red onions, and greens gets a thumbs-up for using lots of ingredients available at the Farmers Market. The preparation of this pasta salad is a bit more involved, but it has definite main dish possibilities. And here's a recipe for a lemony dip if you prefer your beans just warm of raw. Less traditional preparations skip the water and roast the beans in the oven instead, adding garlic, onions, or nuts.

Some recipes, however, ignore "crisp" altogether and focus on the "tender," and there's something to that. The nearby restaurant Bona Cucina on Sherbrook Boulevard in Upper Darby often offers a side dish of long-cooked green beans that are soft to the teeth but wonderfully flavorful and that always leave us wanting more. We're thinking of trying this recipe to see if it compares. And this is how we grew up eating green beans (known as "string beans" in our house) -- cooked to death, no longer vegetarian, hardly even green anymore, and completely delicious.

To get a Market Buck this week, come by the Manager booth and tell us about a food you prefer when it's cooked beyond recognition despite all common wisdom to the contrary. But you have to sell it -- make us want to try it that way too. While you're there, you can admire the first place medal the Farmers Market just won for Most Original Group of Marchers in the 4th of July parade. (Notice how we didn't start with this -- our triumphant victory! -- and instead worked up to it gently, just slipping it in casually. We're not braggers; nope, not us.)

Water World
Bonnie's Wondergardens is having a pool party at the Market this week as pond plants galore come to town. All pond owners recognize that such greenery, along with scenic fish, are crucial to prove to your neighbors that the big wet ditch in your backyard is intentional. Now's the time to clean, restock, and enhance your personal waterholes, and Bonnie has the unusual and interesting aquatic plants you'll need. And get them now because the Wondergardens won't be at the Market July 18th, though the storefront will be open that day.

It's All About the Kids
Just across Lansdowne Avenue, Cinema 16:9 is now showing free family-friendly cartoons on the big screen every Saturday morning between 10:00 am and noon. This is especially fortuitous since in two weeks, on July 25, the Market itself will be giving special attention to the under-18 set during its first Kidcentric Day. In addition to fun activities like games with prizes, storybook readings, and art projects, we'll have real live parrots on hand that can be held and touched, facepainting and body tattoos, and a baby parade. We're also thinking that costumes or silly dress-up might be fun at the Market that day. Start planning.

From the Suburbs to the Woods
Two very different public events in the next week merit special attention. The first is this Sunday, July 12, and is the screening of portions of a provocative documentary, A New Metropolis, at the Twentieth Century Club. Lansdowne is proud to be a very old town. It is in fact part of the "first suburbs" that were established around Philadelphia and as such is confronted by problems like aging infrastructure and inequitable education finance policies that hinder its ability to compete with younger sprawlburgs and to prosper. These issues are hurdles in many older developed communities in both the region and across the country. Scheduled to air on WHYY in the fall, A New Metropolis focuses on these challenges and the older suburbs that face them. A lively discussion will follow the screening, which is at 7:00 pm. Seating is limited. Register now by emailing There is a $15 suggested donation, payable at the door, 84 S. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne.

Just a few days later, on Wednesday, July 15, and back at the Twentieth Century Club, is an open-air staging of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream presented by the Commonwealth Classic Theater Company and sponsored by the Lansdowne Economic Development Corporation. There are several great things about this event. First, it's completely free. No more need be said about that aspect. Second, it's put on by professionals. These people know how to act, enunciate, and project, and no matter how much trouble you had reading Shakespeare's plays in 10th grade or college (we all did!), it's a different ballgame seeing them performed, and when real actors speak the lines, you will understand what they mean and you will laugh. (Here's a synopsis if you want to come prepared.) Third, as we implied, it's outside on the lawn, so if you lose interest in the play, you can just enjoy the evening air, count the fireflies, eat some cookies, and relax. And if by chance you don't think the whole thing is the bomb diggity -- the play, the night air, the fellow feeling of sitting with friends and neighbors and just taking it all in -- well, then no one is going to make you stay, and you can pack up and head home. How's that for a deal? 7:00 pm on the lawn of the Twentieth Century Club, 84 S. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne.

The Recipe Booth

It's Wednesday night and I am happily enjoying a dry run of this week's recipe, making sure to have worked out any kinks before I send it off to Fresh Picks (the only thing worth reading in my in-box). This week we focus on my newest fixation, peaches. There's no need to fuss too much with them; they are way good on their own and have stood the test of time.

Although Thomas Jefferson had peach trees at Monticello, US farmers did not begin commercial production until the nineteenth century in Maryland, Delaware, Georgia, and finally Virginia. California contributes 65% of the peaches grown for commercial production in the United States, but my favorite peaches are grown in New Jersey and are available right here at the Lansdowne Farmers Market.

My last two peaches have spent a few days on the counter and are looking slightly past their prime but will make one of my favorite drinks of the summertime, peach margaritas. In a blender combine two peeled and chucked-up peaches (scored and quickly blanched peaches give up their skin easily), one half cup silver tequila, the juice of one lime, 1 tablespoon of honey, and 3 cups of ice. Blend these ingredients together until the ice is broken down. Pour the mixture into 2 margarita glasses and garnish with a peach slice. Pass one to a friend and enjoy the conversation that follows.

-Gary Booth

MAPThe 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.
Featured This Week

Artist of the Week: Diane Orleman makes one-of-a-kind knitted and crocheted hats, bags, and scarves that are so unique that she didn't give us a picture for the website for fear that her brilliant ideas would be stolen from the internet. (Kidding; she just didn't have a photo. But her work is really cool. Come by and see it.)

Musician of the Week: The Spinning Leaves are making their annual stop at the Market this Saturday, where they will woo us with a groovy vibe that is all about magic and love and glowing and growing. Can you dig it?

Blog: The view from a carrot suit atop a hammock atop a truck, crop roll call, teething.

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


Upcoming Local Events

Movies at Cinema 16:9
July 9 to 16, various times; $5 to $7.50
The Wiz
Free cartoons Saturday 10:00 am to noon
35 N. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne

Charlotte Blake Alston at the Lansdowne Summer Concert Series
Thursday, July 9, 7:00 pm; Free
Lawn at St John's Church, Lansdowne

The New Metropolis sponsored by the Southeastern Pennsylvania First Suburbs Project
Sunday, July 12, 7:00 pm; $15 donation
Limited seating; register here
Twentieth Century Club
84 S. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne

A Midsummer Night's Dream presented by the Commonwealth Classic Theater Company
Wednesday, July 15, 7:00 pm; Free
Lawn of the Twentieth Century Club
84 S. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne

Worldwide Photo Walk led by John Green
Saturday, July 18, 8:00 am to noon; Free
Historic Lansdowne Theater
33 N. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne

Click for a complete listing of upcoming local events.

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View from Lupine Valley

Gardening: A Life in Four Seasons

I see the garden as a one-year life cycle, running parallel to the phases of human life.

Spring is rebirth. Spring is heady, like being sixteen again, having just learned to drive. I can do anything, be anybody, go anywhere. My head is full of new ideas, new systems, new crops and varieties to try. I go outside at every opportunity to clear beds and plant and replant. When it rains, I tend my seedlings indoors, excited by their rapid growth.

By summer, I am thirty. I've made a good start and now I assess what's working and make any necessary changes. I must nurture my mature plants and protect them from insect pests, weeds, and heat waves. I replant, still optimistic I will get in more runs of short-season crops.

In fall, I've reached old age. There is no time to replant, just keep what I've started growing as long as I can. I write down ideas about what worked and how to do it differently next time. I enjoy reaping the harvest and working fewer hours.

Then frost comes, and with it, hibernation for the garden. I do what I can to put the garden to bed for the year. Spent plants and leaves fill the compost bin, ready to create new life the following year. It is over. Time to rest. Somewhere in the winter, after months of nesting, the initial excitement and enthusiasm return, and I am ready to get back out and start another cycle.

-Louise Bierig