October 8, 2009 | Visit the Farmers Market online at LansdowneFarmersMarket.com | Subscribe to Fresh Picks
Market News for This Saturday, October 10
Stewing About Beef
Raise your hand if you read the cover story in last Sunday's New York Times about E. coli contamination of beef, the lax regulation of commercial meat processing, and the possibly devastating consequences of ingesting a tainted burger, such as paralysis. Keep your hand up if you immediately swore off ground beef forever. That's quite a few hands in the air. No wonder — that was one alarming story. Among other things, it detailed the difficulty of processing so many animals safely in the time constraints employees are working under, and indicated that the contaminated patties in question were made from the meat of cattle from four different places, including Uruguay.
While there's really no bright side to a piece like that, carnivores can take considerable comfort in knowing that the ground beef you get at the Lansdowne Farmers Market is safe. Here's how Mark Skinner, proprietor of Natural Meadow Farms, explained it: "Grass-fed beef differs from grain-fed beef in that the grass makes the contents of the cow's stomach (rumen) alkaline, whereas grain-fed beef have acidic rumens. E. coli loves an acidic environment, so when these grain-fed animals are processed, it's difficult to prevent contamination of the meat. Also, my processing differs from that of the big guys. My processing plants are very small, family-owned businesses. They have no moving lines, and they only do a few animals at a time and not thousands per day. When they process my beef, they mix it only with the beef that I bring in, so it comes only from my steers. While I do occasionally run out of beef from my own herd, if I get it from another farmer in my area, I make sure it is grass fed and kept in the same environment as mine are. Additionally, 'industrial' ground beef is treated with ammonia (which alarms me in and of itself), whereas my processors may use lactic acid, which is what is required by the USDA and which is produced by your body naturally. There seems to be some confusion also about ground beef and hamburger patties. While the big industry may do different things with these two products, mine are the same beef, but the patty is formed for you into a burger shape; there is nothing added artificially. People sometimes note that my ground beef is more expensive than beef at the grocery store, and it may be, but what you have to remember is that while corn and soybeans are subsidized by the government, grass is not, so if I have to buy any hay at the local auction, I am paying a "real world" price for it. Please remember that by buying local beef (and meat) you are supporting your local economy and a more sustainable way of farming."
We hope this reassures you that you can still make a cheeseburger, some meatloaf, or a side of meatballs without first making sure your affairs are in order. And maybe it even inspires you to stock up on the good stuff while the getting's good. Grass-fed beef is available at the Market both at Natural Meadows (Mark will be bringing a new batch of just processed frozen beef this week) and at Farm Fresh Express, which carries meat from Natural Acres Farm year-round, both at the Market and through online ordering. (And here we must apologize that last week we referred to Natural Meadows as Natural Acres. Sorry, Mark, and thanks for your considered answer about beef.)
Mark also wants you to know that he's taking orders for Thanksgiving turkeys, which he will bring to the parking lot the Saturday before Thanksgiving even though the Market is over by then. The turkeys will be frozen, but there's plenty of time to get them thawed by Thursday. (He noted that right now Lansdowne has placed the most turkey orders of all his Markets. Let's keep it that way and win this unannounced competition, folks.)
Local chef Vanamala Dutt will be giving a cooking demo around 10:30 this Saturday in the vicinity of the Market Manager tent using several ingredients purchased that morning on site. Vanamala is one of the partners in Provision, a prepared food shop soon to open on South Lansdowne Avenue, in the spot where Nature Isle was. She specializes in Indian cuisine, but she'll decide what to make once she sees what's available. Come have a taste!
One way (maybe the only way) to keep squirrels off your bird feeder is to give them something of their own to eat. Check at Schober Orchards this week for ornamental corn that's not perfect enough for decorating but that's plenty attractive for the critters. Todd says he's selling it cheap. He'll also have some corn husks that can be used to make dolls like these, a nifty project for a handy crafter and a great decoration for the Thanksgiving table.
Flint Hill Farms is back this week with goat cheese, cream cheese, yogurt, butter, and so forth. Unfortunately, it's probably too early to buy some of these products to use in a dessert for the contest (see below), but check with Rebecca — that cheese might have a two-week shelf-life, making it a-okay for the 24th.
Last week, Wildflour Bakery had apple sweets in four forms — turnovers, dumplings, pies, and tarte tatins. The dumplings were the size of a softball and were breakfast for two anyway. Though whether apple dumplings are acceptable breakfast food might depend on where you grew up and how much PA Dutch and Amish influence was around. If you weren't lucky enough to have a dumpling in the morning before now, treat yourself to one. Remember: it's mostly apple!
Bonnie keeps bringing great stuff to spruce up your autumn garden and home. Last week she had tall, purplish, cattail-y things that turned out to be millet plants and that would be excellent to add height to a display of pumpkins and mums. Her coxcomb plants will provide jazzy color and a unique shape to garden beds for weeks to come. And her $5 bouquets remain unbeatable.
The special dish in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month at the Mission Burrito Bandito this week is carnitas, slow-cooked pork marinated in cloves and oranges.
It's been a few weeks since we had a Market Buck offer, mostly because we keep forgetting. Since this Saturday is 10/10, get a Market Buck by bringing a list of the 10 things you like best about the Lansdowne Farmers Market to the Market Manager booth. Also, starting this week, we're going to have a Suggestion Box there for the rest of the season, so you can drop in a note (anonymous or not) with your best ideas for 2010 or even later this year.
The last Community Day (in cahoots with Fall Festival) is October 24. Get your application here or at the Market Manager booth, and send it in soon to save yourself a spot.
Yes, the Sweet Endings Dessert Contest will again be part of Fall Festival on October 24. Last year there were five entries, and this year we're hoping for at least twice as many — at least. The entry form, which gives more details, is here, but the short story is that desserts should be either original (yours, your family's) or altered from a "found" (internet, cookbook, magazine) recipe, they must contain at least two ingredients from the Market, and they will be judged on appearance, flavor, seasonality, and originality. There will be a fee of $5 for each dessert entered (sure, you can enter more than once), and the first prize winner will get a cash prize equal to half the total entry fees collected.
To make things fun for those who wield a fork more fluidly than a balloon whisk, we're going to sell the desserts through a silent auction that ends just before the contest is judged. You decide what looks good to you, place a bid indicating what you'd be willing to pay for it, and if you're the highest bidder on the winning dessert, you get it for free! (And if your pick doesn't win, you get to buy your preference and enjoy it nonetheless.) We're still assembling contest judges, and we need one "civilian" volunteer. If you're interested and are sure you'll be around the 24th, send us a note and we'll put your name in the random drawing. The civilian judge will be announced here October 22.
Last week's Save The Lansdowne Rally in support of the Lansdowne Theater was a big success, yielding 75 volunteers, some nice donations, and this fun group photograph. The Historic Lansdowne Theater Corporation thanks everyone who came out for the photo shoot, who came to the informational presentations, and who signed up to help out. One thing we all learned: When the HLTC says "Please be prompt" they mean it. The photo session slated for 10:30 am was over by 10:32.
You really can't say you weren't amply warned: Bunnicula is coming to town (after threatening for a long, long time). Starting tomorrow, October 9, Celebration Theater's presentation of Bunnicula: The Musical will have the kids laughing and screaming and probably denying later that they were afraid at all. Based on a popular children's book series about a vampire bunny rabbit taken in by a family, the play features local actors and behind-the-scenes help. Word has it that the set is dynamite. Find a kid or two (yours, a relative's, a neighbor's), and come support your local theater company while having a skeery good time. Bunnicula runs October 9 to the 25th; Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30 pm and Sunday shows are at 2:00 pm; and tickets are available here. Twentieth Century Club, 84 S. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne; 610 259-1800.
One of Lansdowne's finest musical venues welcomes Rod Picott and Amanda Shires tonight, October 8, at 7:30 pm. In a setting as intimate as a living room (for good reason), Concerts at the Beach House are a chance to see both established and up-and-coming artists perform and to buy some merchandise, chat with them, maybe carry their equipment out to the car. They're very special shows. If you've never been before but are interested in this one, contact Bob Beach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-626-0012. If you've been before, you know the drill: a $15 (or more) donation per person goes to the artist, bring a snack or some food to share, and BYOB.
Lansdowne's favorite bossa nova band, Minas, is about to start a series of four Fridays music at Picanha Brazilian Grill in Northeast Philadelphia. The first show is tomorrow night, October 9, from 7:00 to 9:30 pm. (Future shows are October 30, November 13, and December 11). Native Brazilians Patricia and Orlando say the Picanha is the area's best value in Brazilian churrasco, Gaucho-style rodízio (charcoal-grilled beef, chicken, pork, filet mignon, lamb, homemade sausage) served by waiters who bring skewers to your table. The all-you-can-eat meal, including salad bar, is $21.99. The restaurant is at 6501 Castor Avenue in Philadelphia, and reservations are recommended (215-743-4647). Capping off a busy fall will be Minas' CD release party on Monday, November 16, when they will be celebrating with a concert, cocktail, and dinner at World Café Life in West Philly. Sign up for their mailing list to be sure to get all this info firsthand as soon as it becomes available.
Next Thursday, October 15, the Regency Café welcomes the Philadelphia Mandolin and Guitar Ensemble to its window stage for the first live music show in the Café in, well, a while. The ensemble is composed of musicians from all over the Philadelphia area, including Joe Todaro of Todaro's Music. Not surprisingly, they perform on instruments from the mandolin family. Chris and Marcy have been hosts to the Ensemble before and are expecting a crowd; they recommend coming early for the 7:00 pm show or wearing comfy shoes.
The academic year is surely in full swing, as a raft of school-related events have come in for promotion. Right after the Farmers Market this Saturday, October 10, is the William Penn Homecoming football game, which starts at 2:00 pm at Kerr Field in Yeadon. The Patriots will be taking on Chester. Alumni and all fans are welcomed. The official school board position on this event is "Go Penn Wood!"
Lansdowne Friends School invites you to go shopping at their annual book fair coming up next week to help support the school library. The hours are a little complicated so read slowly: Thursday, October 15, 3:00 to 6:00 pm; Friday, October 16, 8:00 to 9:00 am and 3:00 to 8:00 pm; and Saturday, October 17, 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. Plus, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on Saturday, you can visit the book sale's special Pumpkin Patch, where Halloween decorations, pumpkins, baked goods, coffee, and cider can be purchased. Got that? Finally, you can enjoy an Indian dinner Friday evening between 6:30 and 7:30 pm (call 610-623-2548 to order yours). Lansdowne Friends School is located at 110 N. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, and there's loads of free on-street parking in the area.
If you're a St Phil's alum, plan ahead to be at St Philomena's CYO happy hour fundraiser at Casey's in Drexel Hill on Friday, November 6, from 5:00 to 9:00 pm. The $30 ticket covers beer and buffet, and proceeds will go to support CYO sports programs. For tickets, contact Lori Giosa at 610-394-6562.
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.
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