Fresh Picks
July 30, 2009 | Visit the Farmers Market online at | Subscribe to Fresh Picks

Market News for This Saturday, August 1

Last Chance
This is it, people — your final opportunity to experience the 2009 Lansdowne Summer Concert Series before it's over, done, kaput for the season. Tonight's performers are coming all the way from Australia to be with us, which is even farther than that Swedish family traveled earlier in the series. Women in Docs (Martens, we presume) have been deemed worthy of attention by Rolling Stone, and their music is described as effervescent folk-pop, which seems like as appropriate a way as any to conclude this weekly music event, even if it ends up being held (again) in the Regency Café. In the off-chance that the weather allows, however, the show's on the lawn of St John the Evangelist Episcopal Church. And it's at 7:00 pm either way. Thanks to Bob Beach for programming such an eclectic mix of entertainers, and to Chris and Marcy Allen for allowing use of the Regency more often than we'd hoped would be necessary.

Putting Kid Day to Bed
How do parents do it? Kidcentric Day was exhausting! It took us the bulk of the weekend to recover. The day was also a lot of fun though, and we hope you all had a great time. We are frankly a little stunned by the sheer number of people - both still growing and already there - who showed up for the event (well over 1000 by our clicker count). Thanks to everyone who came out to play last Saturday, and cherry-on-top thanks to those who helped make it a special day, including the Lansdowne Public Library, Mission Burrito and their steel piñata, Jojo the Grey Parrot Rescue (probably the most popular booth), the fire company, Mommy and Me face painting, Flint Hill Farm's baby goats, the Evans family (who loaned us their carnival games), and the Farmers Market volunteers who worked especially hard to make sure a good time was had by all. No doubt expending the most effort was photographer John Green, who once again captured the day's highlights digitally and posted them online for viewing and free download. (The baby parade pix are near the end, and all these images can also be accessed from the Photos page of the Market website if you lose track of this email.) The takeaway message from that gallery is that you have some really cute kids, people. We'll try to work the kinks out of the baby parade next year and as always are happy to hear any other comments and suggestions you have. Just email us.

Meat and Greet
You were warned here last week that Farm Fresh Express is off this Saturday, and that's still the case. (Their storefront at 305 Windermere Avenue will be open Saturday 8:30 am to 2:00 pm, however.) The good news is that all the shared space vendors — Lupine Valley Veggies, Flint Hill Farm, Greenwood Kitchen, and Bone Appetit Barkery — are coming, plus (and this is a big plus so keep reading) we have a meat vendor this week. Natural Meadows Farm is joining us from Mt Pleasant Mills, PA, with brown and pastel eggs, chicken, grass-fed beef (ground, tenderloin, and New York strip and Delmonico steaks), pastured pork steaks and sausage, smoked ham, and cheese, including Monterey jack, Colby, sharp cheddar, and garlic cheddar. Natural Meadows is no stranger to farmers markets, participating in both the Haddonfield and Headhouse markets in addition to having goods at the Fair Food Farmstand in the Reading Terminal Market. They're our guest this week, as they check us out and we check them out, so be sure to give them a try if you'd like to have a dedicated meat vendor on site more often. If it's a good fit on both sides, we'll find a place to squeeze them in. (Oh yeah, they'll accept checks too.)

Wild Flour Bakery has begun sending pies to the Market that are available whole for $10 or by the slice for $2. The pies are filled with peaches from a local grower, Orchard Hill Farms, that they met at another farmers market they participate in. They'll carry peach for another month or so and then switch over to apple. Now that the heat and humidity have descended, having a fresh fruit pie at the ready without needing to turn on the oven is a very good thing. Wild Flour is also selling a special bread each week in addition to their ever-changing savory croissant. And if you haven't tried their challah rolls for your burgers yet, what are you waiting for?

Fruitwood Farms will be bringing the last of their blueberries this week, so grab a few extra pints and freeze them for pancakes and later baking endeavors. They'll also have a small number of blackberry pints; Mike says to come early if they're on your must-have list. The first of the donut peaches should be ready too. They're the ones that look almost squashed flat and that make for a good walking-around snack since they seem less messy than round peaches. If you get an especially flat ripe one, you can just pop out the pit and be left with only the donut, getting your sugar fix in a traditional treat format but feeling virtuous all the while. These peaches have a short season so, again, don't delay in grabbing some for yourself. Finally, Fruitwood might, just might, have some of their ethereal grapes this week. Mike has promised that if any are ready for picking, he'll send them to us. And if not this week, then definitely next. Warning: With all these desirables in limited supply, there might be some elbow checking going on around Fruitwood's stand. Proceed with caution.

The Recipe Booth
This time of year it's impossible to ignore the presence of the tomato, but what to do with this bountiful fruit, bathed in sunlight and summer warmth and showered by the summer thunderstorms? I can only eat so many tomato salads and so much salsa, so earlier last week I prepared tomato sauce hoping to preserve the sweet taste, but, still left with a few plum tomatoes, I thought I'd try my hand at a soup. It was good, so I'll share the recipe. But first here are some weird tomato facts.

Native to the Americas and cultivated as early as 700 AD, tomatoes were taken to Europe in the early 1500s by Spanish explorers. There, a member of the nightshade family, tomatoes were considered poisonous as well as a cause of cancer, were thought to cause h allucinations, and were used by witches in attempts to summon werewolves. Later, during the French Revolution, tomatoes were adopted by the patriotic citizens of Paris who were told to eat tomatoes as a sign of devotion. Much later and closer to home, it is rumored that somewhere around Pittsburgh Andy Warhol's mother served him tomato soup for lunch for 20 years, leading to his famous tomato soup can artwork. And in 1981, the USDA chairman infamously declared ketchup to be a vegetable to justify Reagan administration budget cuts to the school lunch program. But whatever you do with tomatoes, from summoning werewolves to demonstrating your patriotism, don't refrigerate them, which will break down the sugars found inside and take away that sweet taste.

Roasted Tomato Soup
Begin by slicing 12 plum tomatoes in half and placing them cut side up on a large baking sheet lined with parchment. Add 2 trimmed and peeled shallots, 4 cloves of garlic left unpeeled, and 2 halved poblano chilies. Drizzle everything with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in a preheated 350-degree oven for about an hour.

While the vegetables roast, combine in a blender 1 or 2 tbs chopped fresh oregano along with 3 cups chicken broth and 1 1/2 cups of tomato sauce (homemade or a good store-bought sauce). Puree until smooth.

Once the roasted vegetables are cool enough to handle, peel the garlic and rough chop all the vegetables. Combine them in a pot with the sauce/broth mixture. Season the soup with salt and pepper and heat it to a simmer.

I added a spoonful of pesto on top in the bowl and accompanied it with a good grilled cheese sandwich.

- 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: After helping with the paper projects last week and encouraging kids to new creative heights paper eyeglass-wise, everyone's favorite art teacher cum phys ed instructor, Liz Steele Coats, is onboard this Saturday with her pretty jewelry, colorful pottery, and whimsical mobiles.

Musician of the Week: If the Buy Fresh, Buy Local movement had an official musician, it would no doubt be Cowmuddy, who is a regular at farmers markets all over the region in addition to playing gigs at coffeehouses and clubs. Hmmm, wonder if anyone has considered starting a Listen Live, Listen Local movement as well.

Blog: Kidcentric wrapup, mint juleps, barn owls.

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 30 to August 6, various times; $5 to $7.50
The Drummer, Coraline
Free cartoons, Saturday 10:00 am to noon
35 N. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne

Women in Docs at the Lansdowne Summer Concert Series
Thursday, July 30, 7:00 pm; Free
Lawn at St John's Church, Lansdowne

John Childers at the Regency Cafe
Friday, July 31, 8:00 pm; Free
28 N. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne

Minas at Rose Tree Park
August 9, 7:30 pm; Free
Route 252 and Rose Tree Road, Media

View From Lupine Valley

Camping With Vegetables

I used to be an avid backpacker. Five years ago, I had the opportunity to pass the summer living and working in Yosemite, spending every evening and weekend on the trail. At the end of the summer, I backpacked 40 miles along the Tuolumne River, the best trek of my life.

The next summer, another dream came true: I started my first vegetable garden. Inspired by This Organic Life, in which nutrition professor Joan Dye Gussow plants and eats her yard, I put in close to 3000 feet of tomatoes, eggplants, herbs, corn, potatoes, giant squash, and peas. The garden grew in size and scope until I could no longer leave it for camping trips, but as the vegetables grew, I began to see the similarities.

When camping, birds ate my cheese, raccoons snatched my homemade cookies, and a bear stole my contacts and toothpaste. I learned how to keep my food hidden from predators, a skill that proved useful in the garden.

On the trail, I met other backpackers with whom I shared directions, gear hints, and methods for filtering water. When I first started my garden, I felt like I was on a solo expedition, but soon I began meeting other growers and learning from them.

Prior to one trek through Big Sur, I spent a night I intended to be on the trail in a motel instead, W.O.W. (waiting on weather). Watching the weather is a big part of growing food, for knowing when to plant as well as when to harvest. For instance, mature onions and garlic are best harvested after a dry spell, while peas and beans are best picked plump after a rain.

By the garden's third year, I had an excess of hot pepper plants — close to a hundred, when only thirty would fit in my garden — and I began selling plants. A few months later, I was selling hot peppers, along with tomatoes, eggplants, squash, okra, beans, herbs, and kale. In the heat of August, I bought an awning to protect my veggies (and myself) from the sun. I learned how to store veggies, pack them with ice in coolers, and take extra water to hydrate herbs and plants. I took rope and weights to tie my awning and tables down if the wind picked up.

One market day, riding home in the aftermath of a thunderstorm, I realized I was still a great camper. Instead of hiking through the wilderness, I was on the trail right in my backyard: camping with vegetables.

- Louise Bierig

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