Vendors Absent This Week
Great Harvest will be absent from the market until they can hire a sales person. And Whim Pop will not be with us this week.
On the Way In and Out
Tony Fetters Fruit Farm is back with us this week with peaches, apricots, and berries -- and all of those great products made from their own fruit. Ask them when they will be picking the first apples of the season -- they may be a little early this year.
Jose is bringing these great mini-cantaloupes that are the sweetest cantaloupes I have ever tasted. The watermelons are also especially sweet this year. Our farmers are not suffering from lack of rain yet, but some of their fruits and veggies have more flavor because of the heat and the lack of rain.
Pete Lund is bringing wonderful corn from his Amish friends and heirloom tomatoes that are now coming from his own garden. Pete grows organically though he can’t advertise as being “certified organic.” We’re glad to have him.
Alma will bring Northern Neck peaches, lots of berries, and more peppers -- all sizes, colors and heat-levels.
You must try the Very Berry Ice Cream at Windmill Meadows - no berry pieces in it but an amazingly intense berry flavor that reflects the real strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries that gave up their flavor to the ice cream. This is July’s flavor of the month so it won’t be around long. Can peach be far behind?
We have two meat vendors in our market. This is one of the few markets in the metropolitan area that offers rose veal from humanely raised and hand-fed calves. Ask Jacob at Windmill Meadows about his cuts and prices, which are reasonable considering the cost of good veal at high-end grocery stores. And you know who raised this veal.
Ask Russ at Wicked Oak about when to expect the next Tamworth hog served up as chops, cut thin and thick, and lots of chorizo sausage. He also will bring split chickens this week and chicken parts, freshly processed on his farm. Can’t get fresher than that.
Soul Cakes by Tanya is bringing chocolate cake, scones (blueberry and orange cranberry), chocolate chip cookies, lemon pound cake, carrot cake, red velvet cake, fruit tarts, and lemon curd tarts.
Terri at the Comfort Mix Tent will have the best zucchini bread you ever tasted and the healthiest, too, as well as gluten-free, organic peanut-butter drops and S’mores kits with homemade graham crackers.
Special Events This Week
It’s always a special event when the Springfield firemen are with us, and they will be again this week to visit with our shoppers, hand out gifts to the kids and sell water and drinks to keep you hydrated while you shop. Buy a couple of extra while you are with us -- the money you spend goes to assist volunteer recruitment and support the volunteer effort. And after the recent storm, they need our help just as many of you needed theirs.
This Week at the Market
We have the best empanadas around at Delicias del Sur and a panoply of tasty items at Valley View Bakery from just down the road in Lorton. Becky will let you sample the Asiago cheese bread, the Cinnamon Swirl bread, or maybe even the cornbread.
And as always, either Uncle Fred will be on site with his BBQ, or we will have Hakim to smile upon us and serve up those great smoked meats.
From the Market Master
(We’re taking a break this week — enjoy this newsletter from our archives!)
Part of improving your skills in the kitchen is knowing what to have on hand at all times to expand your repertoire. For a well-stocked pantry, you will need some items that regretfully cannot be bought at area farmers’ markets. But having these items will enable you to cook up those market ingredients on any spur of the moment. They are also the kinds of ingredients that enable you to successfully create a menu of complimentary dishes or a one-dish meal or casserole that needs something more than just the main ingredients to hold it together.
Start with a good vinegar and maybe even two or three. Pick out a good wine vinegar and move on from there to include some flavored ones also. And it never hurts to have some good old cider vinegar around too — for potato salad if nothing else. Then I recommend that you choose a good quality extra-virgin olive oil that tastes good to you, because this is the one you will use for salad dressings and also to dribble over a completed dish to pop the flavor. For most of your cooking, Berio pure olive oil is just fine, and it also works for those salad dressings that will play a minor rather than starring role in a dish. I also use a combination of olive and canola oils in my homemade mayonnaise that I always have on hand.
Next you want to keep lemons, limes and oranges on hand for marinades and salad dressings and to flavor dessert sauces — these are the secret ingredients that add summer brightness to foods.
In the refrigerator, keep on hand a good-quality ketchup and some Dijon mustard for marinades and BBQ sauces. In the pantry have some Worcestershire sauce and good soy sauce for flavoring anything from crab cakes to gazpacho to summer vegetable sautés. And of course you are going to need herbs — buy them fresh when you can, grow them yourself or check out the herb mixes that may be sold at your market. If you do not cook from scratch every night, buying mixed herbs and spices is a great way to save money on individual spices that have skyrocketed in recent years — and to eliminate waste.
I always have a pepper grinder handy, and I confess I am now using sea salt for just about all my cooking — though not my baking. It really does do a better job of bringing out the flavor of the food without overwhelming it with saltiness.
And then there is the cheese. I always have a variety of cheeses that I use on a regular basis including American cheddar, Australian cheddar when I can get it, Parrano and Parmesan Reggiano. Less often I will buy fresh mozzarella because it does not keep so well — and when I have it on hand I will cook something that uses it. If the cheese assortment begins to get moldy, I trim them up and throw them all in the food processor with that mayo I have on hand and make pimento cheese.
In the meat keeper in the refrigerator, I also have either some really good and lean smoked bacon or a package of country ham bits and pieces. I use these almost as much in the summer as winter for flavoring because it does not take much to add aroma and flavor to a vegetable dish like the summer succotash recipe I like so much. And garlic! I always have garlic in the crisper next to the citrus fruits in the other one.
That would appear to be the full circle, though I have probably forgotten something. Reply to let us know what you have on hand.
That’s about it — not too many items for even the smallest kitchen — and I have one of those so I should know. And it’s all you need to cook on the fly with whatever you bring home from the market, just like a French country cook or a modern California chef. All good cooks start with the basics and take off from there. Have a great flight — no need to play it safe on this runway.
See you at the market!
Photo by Sarah Sertic