Fresh Picks
September 17, 2009 | Visit the Farmers Market online at | Subscribe to Fresh Picks

Market News for This Saturday, September 19

Busy Weekend
Boy, did it look like it was going to rain last Saturday! Off and on all day, dark clouds threatened a cloudburst, but the most nature could muster was an occasional brief and spitty shower. So in the end, both the Farmers Market and the Lansdowne Arts Festival went off with nary a hitch. And all the positive thinkers who came out under the dark skies, not afraid of getting wet, were surely glad they did, for wonderful things were to be had all along Lansdowne Avenue. At the Market, the duxelles at John's Minicakes fairly flew off the table, and the return of Farm Fresh Express was roundly celebrated. Fresh bread and baked goods were snatched up, cheese was purchased as a go-along, and just-pressed cider never had a chance against the crowds. The apples, corn, tomatoes, peppers, raspberries, and beets piled on the vendors' tables presented still lives that any of the painters or photographers down at the Arts Festival would have been happy to capture, had then not been so busy with customers.

The Festival was well (and almost equally) attended both days, with activities upstairs and down, inside and out, east, west, and south. (North of the Twentieth Century Club is a street, so best not to mess with that zone.) Offering everything from free pinwheels and balloons to three-dollar greeting cards to thousand-dollar paintings, the Arts Festival indeed had something for everyone, and no one went home empty-handed unless they chose to. And the free music, dance, and spoken word performances ensured we were fully entertained at all times. Thanks to all of you who came out for the big weekend, and even bigger thanks from all of us who enjoyed the festivities to the many volunteers who make the Arts Festival and the Farmers Market happen again and again.

Eventful Fall
We're now more than two thirds of the way through the 2009 season, with only seven more Saturdays to go — two in September and five in October. Unless you're one of the volunteers who gets up by 7:00 am on Saturday to set things up, it probably feels like the Market season is blazing by (for us, not so much). Even though time is short, there are still a few special events on the books, including a combined Fall Festival/Community Day on October 24. Applications for that Community Day will be available October 1. Of course, we'll be having another Sweet Endings dessert contest as part of the Fall Festival, so start thinking about what you want to make. Hint: think Market ingredients, think seasonal, think absolutely yummy.

But before we get to that celebration of the end of the season, we have Dog Day! It's next week, folks, September 26, and if you have a canine that's friendly with both people and other pooches, you gotta bring 'em. In addition to the SPCA's adoption van and Animal Friends of Lansdowne, we now have a groomer, Alex Chapman, who will be clipping nails for $5 a dog, and a trainer, Michelle Frumento, who's going to offer training tips, answer questions, and demo her skills with attending dogs. We're working on a few other guests too, so it's not to be missed. The dog parade will kick off at 11:30, with prizes awarded for Best Costume (though these are not required), Best Poser, and a randomly drawn winner. We may come up with a few more categories also. Come early to shop (shopping at the Market is important, even on Dog Day!) and to fill out the parade entry form. Also, if you are a petsitter, either full time or occasional, we encourage you to drop some small fliers at the Market Manager tent this week or next in anticipation of Dog Day. Include your name, contact info, services provided, rates if you want, and anything else that might aid a pet owner looking for someone to help when they're gone for the day.

Market Shorts
So, Farm Fresh Express is finally done with their excused absences for 2009. (Any more and they go straight to the principal's office for some serious disciplinary action!) Say your bus is coming up the street and you only have two minutes to spend shopping at the Lansdowne Farmers Market. If that's the case, FFE is probably your best stop, since Pam and company carry a little bit of everything — organic vegetables and fruits, meat and poultry, milk and cheese, yogurt, spreads, honey, jam, and an array of pantry items found nowhere else at the Market, including pickles, pickled beets, spelt noodles and puffed spelt cereal, maple syrup and sugar, and even vanilla extract (helloooo, Sweet Endings!). It's easy to get captivated by their display of beautiful greens and produce at the east end of their tent or distracted by the array of cheeses at the western corner, so don't miss the rather low-key pile of jarred and bagged items around the middle. There's great stuff there!

After a few weeks off, Bone Appetite Barkery will be back at the Market this Saturday with Mary Lou's fancy homemade treats. She'll be occupying that shared space exclusively until October 10; Greenwood Kitchen returns October 17. This is also a Lupine Valley Veggies week. The cool, cloudy weather we've been having has impeded the ripening of their heirloom tomatoes unfortunately, but they still have loads of herbs and squash blossoms and other unusual items. Don't forget to pick up some of their flavored basil for that gazpacho Meg Votta's demo has inspired you to try at home before the fresh tomatoes are all gone.

Raspberries and blackberries are two currently available Market treats, but we always feel like the clock is ticking when we buy some, as they are fragile and susceptible to molding very quickly. Even washed and placed in the refrigerator, they seem to get fuzzy literally overnight, whether purchased at the Market or picked at home. That's just the nature of the berry. It's also a bummer. But take heart because this article from The New York Times lays out a plan to stave off deterioration using a brief bath in hot water — 125-degree water for half a minute to be precise. In fact, the article says that such "thermotherapy" even reversed molding on some berries. Sounds like the heat would damage the tender fruit, doesn't it? We thought so too, as did another reader who nonetheless tried it and wrote in the following week to say how well it had worked and that they were now a believer. Try it!

John Green's photographs from the last couple of Farmers Markets can be seen here, including some shots of the canning seminar hosted by the Lansdowne Baptist Church, as well as many frames of pretty produce, cute kids, and happy dogs.

Lansdowne Through the Lens
On a recent beautiful July morning, more than 30 photographers set out on a 2-hour Photo Walk through your favorite town (and if it's not your favorite yet, give it a couple years — it will be). You'll surely recognize some of the subject matter (helloooo, Lansdowne's sycamore tree!), but seeing it through another's eyes (or lens) could enlarge your perception of Lansdowne. You might even think about taking your own photo walk. The photographs captured that morning will be shown on the big screen at Cinema 16:9 this Sunday evening, September 20. Starting at 7:30 pm, there will be four 30-minute viewings beginning each half hour, the last one starting at 9:00 pm. Admission is free, and you already know that great food and drinks are available for purchase at the snack bar. The Cinema is located at 35 N. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne.

The Recipe Booth
We all get lazy sometimes, and that's okay. For the last week or two I've been feeling this way. Luckily, a recent trip to the Lansdowne Farmers Market revealed some great prepared chili sold by the quart at John's Minicakes. I paired it with a simple corn pancake I make with a pancake mix for an easy but inspired meal.

For the chili: Heat some of John's red wine chili gently in a covered pot. Speaking of red wine, feel free to pour yourself a glass before you proceed with the pancakes.

For the corn pancakes: Mix up enough pancake mix for four to six pancakes according to package directions. (I tend to lean to the richer side when I make these types of pancakes, using the optional egg as well as cream or half and half in place of any liquid the recipe calls for.) Then mix in 2 to 3 tablespoon of cornmeal and 2 ears of corn cut from the cob or 1 cup of frozen corn. I usually chop a jalapeno pepper and put it in the works, as well as some black pepper. Now just saute the pancakes in butter and serve them alongside a big bowl of your Farmers Market chili. It's a meal of inspired laziness.

- 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: Ceramicist Deanna Haldeman can throw a bowl that's so light you'll need to fill it with fruit to keep it on your counter. She also makes mugs, platters, and utensil holders that are lean and graceful.

Musician of the Week: Although it's not entirely clear whether we are getting a single person, John Byrne, or a group, Patrick's Head, this Saturday, we think it's safe to say the music will be compelling — a mix of rock and American and Irish folk — either way.

Blog: Writer's block; lotsa shout outs (go see if you got one).

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
September 17 to 24, various times; $5 to $7.50
Sin Nombre, International Shorts Festival
Free cartoons, Saturday 11:00 am to 1:00 pm
35 N. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne

Vegetarian Cooking Class
at Life More Abundant
Thursday, September 17, 7:00 pm; Free
25 N. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne

Minas concert at Darlington Arts Center
Friday, September 18, 7:30 pm; $10
977 Shavertown Road, Garnet Valley; 610-358-3632

Pray the Devil Back to Hell film at The Garden Church
Sunday, September 20, 1:00 pm; Free-will offering
82 N. Lansdowne Ave, Lansdowne; 610-623-1645

Eat Organically, Live Organically class at Life More Abundant
Led by Alexandra DiFilippo, HHC
Sunday, September 20, 2:00 pm; Free
25 N. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne

Lansdowne Through the Lens slide show at Cinema 16:9
Sunday, September 20, 7:30, 8:00, 8:30, and 9:00 pm; Free
35 N. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne

Wissahickon Chicken Shack at the Lansdowne Folk Club
Thursday, September 24, 7:30 pm; $15 to $18 Twentieth Century Club, 84 S. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne

Save The Lansdowne Day rally at the Lansdowne Theater
Saturday, October 3, 10:30 to 11:00 am; Free
31 N. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne

Lansdowne Games Day at The Garden Church
Saturday, October 3, 11:15 am to 9:00 pm; Free
82 N. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne

Click for a complete listing of upcoming local events.

Do you have an event to announce?
Send your upcoming events to to have them included in this space!

View From Lupine Valley

Remember the Radish
The first March after moving onto our "farm," I began laying out rows and planting. After more than 10 years in apartments, some with small bits of land, most without, our house and its one third acre of land, small barn, old springhouse, woods, and pond did seem like a farm. My first crops were peas, potatoes, onions, and cauliflower.

In April, my parents came to see this so-called farm from their seven-acre vineyard in Erie County. To them, it seemed like a crowded residential lot. My father and I stood in the garden, searching in vain for any seedlings, but we saw no signs of growth. All of these vegetables were new to us; we didn't know exactly what they were supposed to look like.

Growing a garden had been my dream since I was seven, so I kept at it. Peas began to form, then potatoes and onions, though I never did get any cauliflower that year. Our first edible vegetable was a radish. This initial radish was nothing like the plump bulbs we grow today, but it was red, crisp inside, and just big enough for Dan and me to each get a taste. "It tastes just like a radish!" I said. "This is cool." Now, whenever I lament any small trifle in the garden, Dan reminds me of how far we have come. "Remember the radish," he says. Then we both laugh over our humble beginnings.

- Louise Bierig