MARKET NEWS for this Saturday, August 17
We've been writing this newsletter for so long that we're well past any idea of whether we've already written on a certain topic or shared a particular recipe. Chances are pretty good that, yes, we've already told you what we're thinking of telling you. But in the hopes that you are as forgetful as we are and might be moved to try something the second time you see it if you skipped it the first, we're going to forge ahead and write at length about sweet corn, though chances are good we've mentioned that most summery of market products a time or two before because, you know, corn.
Picky, Picky, Picky
To be perfectly honest, we bought some pretty mediocre corn at the Market last week. Well, two-thirds mediocre anyway. That's because of the half dozen ears we bought, two were more mature than we like it -- fuller, more starchy -- and two were too young -- baby kernels that pop brightly but don't provide the mouthful we like when typewritering down an ear or cutting it off the cob to use elsewhere. Only two of the six were that perfect middle age, bearing kernels that were full but not chewy, sweet but substantial. That's how we like our corn on the cob. Mom, on the other hand, would have snatched up those older ears and had at them with no hesitation, and the little sisters would have each lit into the too-young ears like no tomorrow. Different strokes, and all that. But alas, we dine alone, so the Three Bears scenario could not play out and we ate corn that was two-thirds good but not great, which it could and would have been had we selected it ourselves. But we were in a hurry and let the seller throw six ears into a bag without input, so we deserved what we got. And the especially sad thing is that we know how to pick corn without even pulling down the husk; we just didn't take the time last week.
If you've been letting the seller pick your ears, chances are you're not going home with the stuff that's best suited to you either, so please read this article, which gives tips on selecting corn "without peeking" because pulling back the husk affects freshness (you're breaking nature's seal) and also is a little rude if you don't then buy that ear. (It's like squeezing a tomato or peach and then putting it down, and you shouldn't be doing that either, since you don't want anyone squeezing soft produce that you're considering buying before you get to it, do you?) That article suggests some visual cues as well as tips about how the ear should feel (we always pass on the ones that feel dead solid because they're the older, fuller ears, and we want something with more row definition, meaning it's a bit younger). Read the article and go to the Market knowing what kind of corn you and your family like, and then pick your own ears with confidence.
We're assuming that you love corn on the cob, and if you don't, please keep it to yourself. Whether boiled, roasted, grilled, or even -- surprisingly -- microwaved, there's just no beating the stuff. Break the ear in half, stick little holders in the ends, peel back the husk and use it as a handle, or just pick it up with your bare hands – be as messy or as demure as you want. Just eat as much as possible while it's here. And when you get tired of it on the cob, cut it off and do some other things with it. Things like these Summer Corn Cakes (please go read that recipe; the writer really sells it), this Charred Corn and Avocado Salad (ingeniously made under the broiler), and this salad of barley, corn, and green beans (especially if you're hip to the current trend of grainy salads). Frankly, these Sweet Corn Pancakes sounds so delicious it's a wonder we haven't abandoned this writing session altogether to go buy some buttermilk to have ready in the morning. Just FYI: In our experience, even if a recipe calls for starting with raw corn, cooked kernels will usually work. Thus, if you have a container of fresh but cooked corn off the cob in the fridge, you're always ready to add some to a vegetable quesadilla, to homemade salsa, or to a pizza (try it with bacon, caramelized onions, and blue cheese). The moral of this story is that when you have had enough corn on the cob, cut it off the cob and have more corn.
Sweet corn is called sweet corn primarily to distinguish it from field corn, the stuff that is fed to livestock and ground for meal. Field corn comes from the tall, strapping stalks that you see growing in endless tightly planted fields when you drive through Chester and Lancaster Counties. The rows are close because the corn will be harvested by a farmer driving a combine through the field and cutting down the stalks, not by people moving down the rows and selecting only the ears that are ready to eat. Helpful tip from a country girl: If it's planted right beside the road, it's field corn, not sweet. So if you pull over and help yourself to some (look at the funny tourists!), you probably won't be happy when you bite into it.
All that said, sweet corn truly is sweet, so no wonder it's found its way into many desserts. It's starting to seem like if you haven't made or at least bought sweet corn ice cream, you're just not keeping up. The dessert recipes here include a corn and coconut pudding, which most reviewers describe as simple, delicious, and tweakable, and which we want desperately. The standout in this slideshow might be a peach and corn upside-down cake. And this brief set includes, of course, corn cupcakes.
In sum: Sweet corn won't be around long. Choose it wisely and eat it every chance you get.
The third Saturday of August has us preparing to say goodbye to summer as we say hello to our 1/3 vendors: The Avenue Deli, FreshaPeel Hummus!, Golden Valley Farms Coffee Roasters, Penns Woods Winery, Spotted Hill Farm, Take Me...Bake Me/Mompops, Taste Artisanal Market and Creative Shepherd Farm. Because this is a month with five Saturdays and the 2/4 vendors have dibs on the 31st, these vendors won't be back until September 7, so stock up while you have a chance. The exception is The Avenue Deli, which will be filling in for 1732 Meats next week; the bacon'll be back the 31st. Please make a note of it.
If you haven't been following Creative Shepherd on Facebook, you probably don't know that Sebastian recently got notice that his brewery application was approved, moving him one step closer to being able to sell beer at farmers markets, though whether he can sell it at ours remains to be seen.
Also, the next visit from Neil's Sharpening Service will be August 31 in case you've been wondering but hadn't thought to check the vendor schedule page.
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Those Community Day applications are due by next Saturday, the 24th, and we handed a bunch out last week, so get them in if you're serious about participating on the 31st. If the spots run out before the deadline, you know what happens.
There have been some whispers that the Come Chill in Lansdowne cooler bags we keep mentioning are nearing delivery, so don't be surprised if they show up for sale at the Market Manager tent some time in the next 6 to 45 weeks.
The Lansdowne Arts Festival is only a few weeks away, on September 7 and 8. Let's do some awareness raising by wearing T-shirts from past LAFs to the Market the next few weeks. Do so, and get a Market Buck. Just stop by the Manager tent to collect your advertising fee. And let's see who has the earliest shirt. Pull your old ones out, folks! They need love too.
Here Comes the Sun
♫ Aaaaaat laaaaaaast ♫ Vinyl Revival at 35 N. Lansdowne Avenue (Cinema 16:9's old spot) is opening tomorrow, Friday, August 16, at 11:00 am for its first day of business! Open till 5:30 pm Friday and from 10:00 to 4:00 Saturday, the new store will be playing Woodstock favorites all weekend to celebrate the 44th anniversary of that famous festival and offering a 10% discount to anyone wearing tie-dye. Stop in to check out their selection of new and used records and music-themed gifts, and introduce yourself to owner Andrea DiFabio of Springfield. She has lots of special stuff planned for the store over the upcoming months; check here to get excited about that.
Small Business Seminar: Meet the Lenders
LEDC & AAFEA's next Small Business Seminar: Meet the Lenders! Are you an entrepreneur or thinking of opening your own business? Do you have questions about the loan process? This panel discussion will feature leading lenders from our area -- a great opportunity to meet lenders in person, learn more about the lending climate and network with other entrepreneurs from our area. Join us Monday August 19th, 6:30pm at the Twentieth Century Club. Just $5 for Lansdowne residents and members of AAFEA. For more information click here.
FEATURED THIS WEEK
Artist of the Week
This is Zakiyyah McKelven's first time in the Artist tent. For Shuga Mama Shekeres and Crafts, Zakiyyah makes and sells shekeres (shakers) from hollow gourds decorated with ingeniously strung and woven nets of beads. The beads both beautify the gourds and produce a wonderful sound when the shekere is agitated. To pick one up and give it a shake is to immediately feel like a backup singer.
Musicians of the Week
Also new to the LFM is Clyde Barrow (a likely name) in the Musician tent. Your guess is as good as ours.
UPCOMING LOCAL EVENTS
Small Business Seminar: Meet the Lenders
11th Annual Lansdowne Arts Festival
Do you have an event to announce?
Visit our sister market, the Oakmont Farmers Market, Wednesday afternoons in Havertown for more local produce, bread, meat, and other products.
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Fresh Picks is an initiative of the Lansdowne Economic Development Corporation (LEDC).
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