Fresh Picks
October 7, 2010 | Visit the Farmers Market online at | Subscribe to Fresh Picks

News for This Saturday, October 9

Market Faces
Last week we promised that you'd know this week's Face of The Lansdowne no problem. Then we saw the photo, and we weren't so sure anymore. Becoming as the picture is, it's not how we're used to seeing this well-known face of both The Lansdowne and just Lansdowne. This is the kind of look we're more accustomed to. Now do you recognize her? The addition of specs definitely helps place that sweet face, doesn't it? (Funny thing is, she probably wouldn't recognize any of us either if she weren't wearing them!) We're tickled that this week's Face can lead off Fresh Picks, since it's a happy visage that all Marketgoers know and appreciate. Heck, why make a trip all the way across town to her storefront when she'll bring her line of fall plants and arrangements and decorative wreaths and swags right to the parking lot? It's a trip (usually two or three actually) that Bonnie has made nearly every Market Saturday since the LFM opened in 2007, and we just want to take a moment to say how much we all appreciate that. On the rare Saturday that the Wondergardens takes a break, the Market looks drab and listless, like something is missing, and it definitely is. Thank you, Bonnie, for the color, life, and personality you, your goods, and your help (where would we be without Rose's watchful eye and Helene's gentle guidance?) add to the Lansdowne Farmers Market. Your face -- bespeckled or not -- always says home.

In truth, Bonnie has a really busy Saturday coming up, so she may not stick around the Market long, but lots of other vendors will be there all day for your shopping pleasure. Along with the regular weekly vendors (who are starting to bring pumpkins, late-season apples, and Asian pears; oh my!), alternating vendors this week include Turning Roots Farm with loads of picturesque and tempting vegetables, Wentworth Farm with cheddar and Colby cheeses and luscious butter you have to be there by 10 am to get, and Cupcake Dreams, which has been absent for far too long, but Julia returns with classic vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, red velvet cupcakes, and sure-to-go-fast autumnal pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, plus a variety of large and small pound cakes. Well, thank goodness! Also back this week is Donna Howard of Spotted Hill Farm, who is always happy to give newsletter readers a deal on something. This week it's $1 off shampoo; just mention this "ad" and save. She'll also have those popular felted wool soaps in a whole variety of colors plus tins of Fair Trade shea butter. Although nothing is more consternating this time of year than seeing Christmas decorations in department stores, the Market only has a few more weeks left (really! only five to go!), so don't put off any gift shopping you plan to do among our vendors. If you want to give felted soup, buy it now!

(That's applications, Market Bucks, and Community Day.) We started yammering here about the Fall Festival and the Sweet Endings dessert contest last week, but the link we provided for the entry form included only the rules, not the application. Let's try that again: Rules. Entry Form. Or, you can pick up a hard copy at the Market. The money that we raise from the $5 entry fee per item will go half to the contest winner and half to the community food bank, and all the money raised from the silent auction of the entries will go to the food bank, so it's one of those nice win-win-win situations we get so excited about. And let's be clear that even if you don't win, place, or show in the dessert contest, merely participating makes you a champ in our book. C'mon -- give it a go.

Speaking of champs, how 'bout them Phillies? As the boys of summer again carry their season into the fall, let's root them on with another Market Buck giveaway for demonstrating your Fightin' Phils spirit. But this time instead of just showing up at the Market Manager tent wearing something with a Phillies logo, to get a Market Buck you also need to bring a donation of a couple of items for the community food bank. (If you saw through this as a shameless attempt to paint the Market Phillies red while actually giving out the Market Bucks for food donations, you're just imagining things.) In fact, we'll be collecting items for the food bank every week till the end of the season just to give it a nice boost before the really cold weather sets in, so bring a bag or box of nonperishables -- rice, beans, soup, pasta, sauce, peanut butter, etc -- to us and we'll get it to where it's needed and give you a Market Buck too.

Finally, Community Day. The last one of the season is coming up on October 23 (that's the same day as the Fall Festival), and you can get an application here or at the Market Manager tent until we run out (which is why downloading one is the safest bet). The deadline for application submission is October 16, but if you wait until after about the 12th to send one in, you'll probably be shut out, so for goodness sake, please just do it now and save us all the agita of having seven applications arrive on the 16th when there are only three spots left, which forces us to make some hard choices. Really, that's no good for anyone, and Community Day is supposed to be fun.

Vichyssoise It Ain't
When the temperature falls, we always start to crave potatoes. Next to oatmeal, they're about as stick-to-your ribs comforting as you can get, and they're inexpensive and versatile to boot. Several varieties are available at the Market -- red-skinned, sweet, fingerling, russets, white -- but we'll confess that it's the plain white ones that we turn to most often. Oh, roasting some chunked-up red-skinned potatoes in olive oil with rosemary is a delicious way to showcase that thin skin and creamy flesh, and baked or candied sweet potatoes are practically a dessert as side dish, but we grew up in family that knew only one potato -- white -- except for when the sweets were trotted out for holidays. Yukon Golds, fingerlings, and baby reds were as alien as balsamic vinegar and truffle oil. So whether we were eating roasted or baked or mashed potatoes, they all started in the same big 50-pound bag. One of our favorite meals back then was potato soup. Just potato, mind you, not potato and leek or potato and some other vegetable or herb that classed up the dish. No, our familial potato soup was basically really runny mashed potatoes with one crazy ingredient that we'll tell you about in a minute -- it was tater soup, if truth be told -- and we loved it. So of course it's always in the back of our mind as we make a much more ingredient-rich and flavorful potato soup as soon as the fall chill sets in, which happened to be earlier this week. Here's how to make our gussied-up potato soup yourself, which you should, since it's both easy and yummy, a killer combination.

Scrub, peel, and 3/4-inch-cube four or five white potatoes, cover with water, cook until just tender, then drain. While the potatoes cook, chop up the white and light green parts of one large leek, then wash carefully a couple times to rid it of pesky trapped grit. While your knife and cutting board are out, chop up three peeled carrots and two stalks of celery reasonably small. Melt a generous dollop of butter in a Dutch oven or deep, heavy pan, and add the leeks first and then the carrots and veggies after the leeks have started to soften. Cook that combo a few minutes, then add a cup or so of chicken or vegetable broth, just to cover the veggies, and simmer until the carrots are tender. Add the potatoes, a 3-inch sprig of rosemary, and a 5-inch sprig of fresh thyme (or a pinch of each dried if your herb bed is even sadder than ours), and then enough milk to almost cover the whole lot of veggies, potatoes, and herbs. (We used nonfat milk but then added some half and half too, but use whatever you have on hand.) Salt and pepper this conglomeration to taste, plus add a generous pinch of cayenne, which you will much appreciate as a soft glow at the back of your throat when mealtime comes. Heat this gently for another half hour or so, stirring occasionally, until it's all combined and happy together, then remove the herb sprigs. Now, for the crazy ingredient from our family's tater soup. While the vegetable-potato-milk combo is heating through, melt about half a tablespoon of vegetable shortening in a skillet. Don't use butter, folks; use solid vegetable shortening, like Crisco. Why? Because that's what Nana used, and she knew her way around shortening. Once it's melted, add 2 or 3 tablespoons of plain old flour and stir it around well. Keeping the heat fairly high, continue to stir the flour and melted shortening together until it forms, well, blobs, then keep cooking the blobs until they brown, stirring occasionally. The idea here is to really brown the flour, until it smells nutty and cooked and almost burned really. This isn't a roux by a long shot; it's just browned flour, which we have a hunch was supposed to substitute for meat in a frugal family's soup, fooling the palate into thinking that some tasty bits of smoked bacon or ham had been added somewhere along the line. So, brown your flour then add it to the hot and creamy soup (it will sizzle nicely as it hits the liquid), and then take a submersible blender or a potato masher (our choice) and smash the potatoes a bit, but don't get carried away -- you want to leave some chunks. Taste it for salt and pepper and then dish it into shallow bowls. If you want to make your family really happy, you'll serve this thick soup with toasted whole-grain bread slathered with jam or fruit butter. The sweet of the fruited-up toast is a perfect counterpoint to the savory of this unpretentious yet delicious soup. If you try this soup -- and why wouldn't you? -- please let us know what you think and how you tweaked it for your own purposes.

2312 Skidoo
Lansdowne's (okay, okay -- Drexel Hill's) newest gastropub, 2312 Garrett, continues to add hours and events to serve (literally) the local community. In addition to expanded Sunday hours (now open at 1:00 pm for your complete NFL viewing pleasure), 2312 is opening at 1:00 pm on Fridays too, so if you're a teacher or a nurse or one of those other occupations that doesn't work 9 to 5 but rather way-too-early to mid-day, they'll have a cold one ready for you as soon as you get off work and belly up to the long, friendly bar. (Tell Vince the bartender we sent ya.) This Saturday evening, the 9th, the bar will welcome the Allison Mars Project, a classic rock big band with eight horns (criminy), starting at 9:00 pm and with no cover charge. Then, a few weeks hence, on the 24th of October, 2312 will find its quiet center with its first yoga brunch, consisting of a yoga class led by instructor Tina Pritchard from 10:00 to 11:15 am that is followed immediately by a healthful breakfast, for $30 per person inclusive. Make a reservation now at

A Ransom Note
Watch this space in the next few weeks for news about Celebration Theater's upcoming performances of The Ransom of Red Chief, O.Henry's family-friendly comedic tale of misadventure. Nine performances, each beginning at 7 pm, will take place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays over the first three weekends in November. On October 23, the play's lead character, Johnny, will visit the market to participate in a fun free ticket giveaway. Tickets are $10 per person, or $39 for five tickets.

MAP 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.

Featured This Week

Artist of the Week: Anyone who knows Maura Williams personally can attest that she is a very attentive and genuinely interested person. When you talk, she listens, really listens, and if you've changed your hair or glasses, she'll notice and remark on it. Maura gives the same attention to her photographs -- often of local flora and landscapes -- as she does to her friends and clients (she's a physical therapist as well as a photographer). You can bet that when she takes a photo, she's considered the subject from several angles and vantage points and settled on the best one before she presses the shutter. It's clear from the arresting results.

Musicians of the Week: The Fiorenza-Dowlin duo refers to itself as "the Spinal Tap of acoustic musicians," which is all we have to go on because computer problems are keeping us from further accessing their site. That said, the music at the Market has been unbelievably good the past few weeks, so if by some chance these two are hilariously bad, we'll grin and bear it and tip them anyway. We're already well ahead of the game.


Upcoming Local Events

Movies at Cinema 16:9
Casino Jack and the United States of Money, Winnebago Man, Dogtooth
Call or go online for times and ticket prices
35 N. Lansdowne Avenue; 484-461-7676

Book Fair at the Lansdowne Friends School
Thursday, October 7, 12:00 to 8:00
110 N. Lansdowne Avenue; 610-623-2548

Minas at Picanha Brazilian Grill
Friday, October 8, 7:00 pm
6501 Castor Avenue, Philadelphia
Reservations: 215-743-4647
See more area performances by Minas

Allison Mars Project at 2312 Garrett
Saturday, October 9, 9:00 pm
2312 Garrett Road, Drexel Hill

Stevie Coyle at Concerts at the Beach House
Sunday, October 10, 5:00 pm; $15 per person
For reservations and directions, 610-626-0012 or

Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra
Sunday, November 7, 3:00 pm
Upper Darby Performing Arts Center
601 N. Lansdowne Avenue, Drexel Hill

Celebration Theater presents The Ransom of Red Chief
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, November 5-7, 12-14, and 19-21, 7:00 pm
$10 per person; $39 for 5 tickets
Twentieth Century Club, 84 S. Lansdowne Avenue

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market photo
Griffin Miller introduces himself to a friendly guinea pig.
market photo
Cassendre Xavier sings, Rupert Wates plays guitar.

Photos courtesy of John Kelly Green.