June 17, 2007

Famer's Market Haul - 6/16/2007

I went to the Willow Glen farmers' market yesterday, and there were people selling soap, and ceramics, and greeting cards. And a dude playing guitar. But still no sign of Happy Boy farms and their incredible salad greens, or the guy with the incredible orange and purple cauliflower. What's up with that? I don't go to the farmers' market for soap, or dudes with guitars (nice as they are). I go for lettuce and orange cauliflower.

Still, there were plenty of goodies. I bought:

Posted by spaceling at 11:14 AM

June 09, 2007

Farmers' Market Haul - 6/9/2007

I hit up the Willow Glen Farmers' Market for the first time this year. Not a bad selection today, though there were a larger proportion of prepared-foods and baked goods vendors than I remembered. But plenty of fruits and veggies.

I got:

The stone fruit vendor had plumcots and apriums in addition to pluots - I was tempted to get some of each and have a plum/apricot hybrid tasting.

I'm roasting the beets now - I'll use them in a salad later when they've cooled.

Posted by spaceling at 09:25 AM

May 13, 2007

Farmers' Market Haul - 5/13/2007

Today was fruit day at the farmers' market. I got:

I love stone fruit season. Hurrah!

Posted by spaceling at 05:50 PM

April 01, 2007

Farmer's Market Haul - 4/1/2007

Spring is officially here. The farmers' market was jumping today, and the stalls were much less bare than at my last visit, although a lot of the best goodies that spring has to offer were not yet in evidence. My purchases today:

The strawberries are magnificent. I'm already thinking that I should have bought more. Hopefully, there will be more in weeks to come.

Posted by spaceling at 12:02 PM

March 18, 2007

Farmers' Market Haul - 3/18/2007

Spring is just around the corner. You can feel it. It just hasn't quite manifested itself at the farmers' market yet. The stands were looking really bare today. Soon, we'll be getting all kinds of fun spring stuff like asparagus and fava beans and green garlic. But the only exciting thing today was grapefruit. And that was only really exciting because I've never seen grapefruit at the farmers' market before.

I also got mushrooms, onions, and mustard greens. Those are currently cooking up with some lentils into a soup. It smells terrific. I'm a little nervous that the mustard greens will be too pungent. We'll see.

Posted by spaceling at 08:11 PM

February 04, 2007

Farmers' Market Haul - 2/4/2007

The farmers' market was not nearly as dismal as I'd expected it to be after hearing so much about the recent freezes that have affected farmers in California. It certainly wasn't as exciting as the farmers' markets at the height of summer, but there was a pretty good selection of your basic lettuces, root vegetables and other produce.

There was even some citrus fruit, though it didn't all look very pretty. My usual fruit vendor (Lujan farms) had some very sad-looking tangerines. Fortunately, they put out samples, and though the tangerines looked sad, they tasted very good. As I was picking out my tangerines, a little old Japanese lady came by, tasted, and announced, "They don't look good, but they are good. Just like people. We don't look good, but we are good!" She was still tasting the tangerines and announcing their goodness to all and sundry when I left.

My usual vegetable stand had a display of vegetables that looked like small turnips. They were pale green on the outside (roughly the color of wasabi paste), and white shot through with deep pink on the inside. "What is that?" I asked the farmer. "A turnip?" He shrugged, cut off a wedge, peeled it, and handed it to me to taste. It was a radish, with a very sweet, not peppery flavor. I bought some. I later found out that they're called watermelon radishes. They're very pretty.

I rounded out my haul with some carrots, onions, and walnuts. Not bad for a February market at all.

Posted by spaceling at 06:35 PM | TrackBack

January 07, 2007

Farmers' Market Haul - 1/7/07

This was a typical mid-winter farmers' market in many respects. You can find anything you could want, as long as all you want is citrus, beets, or winter greens.

But I did score that item that I've been eagerly anticipating since winter began: Meyer Lemons!

I still don't think I've figured out how to use Meyer lemons to fully bring out their distinctiveness, but I love them anyway. They're lovely to look at, and they smell great.

Anyway, the total haul was:

Total expenditure: $4. (I'm already thinking, "Man, I should have bought more lemons!" Maybe there will be more next week.)

I've been disappointed in the lemongrass I've gotten at supermarkets recently, so we'll see if the stuff from the farmers' market does better.

Posted by spaceling at 10:34 AM | TrackBack

October 26, 2006

Thompkins Square Park Greenmarket - 10/22/2006

Last weekend I was in New York City. But why let a little thing like being 3000 miles from home prevent you from visiting a farmers' market?

The most famous of the New York City farmers' markets (or greenmarkets, as they call them out there) is the one in Union Square. I didn't make it to that one. I did get a chance to stroll through the Thompkins Square Park market on Sunday afternoon, though. It's a smallish market, with maybe a half-dozen stalls, focusing pretty much exclusively on fresh produce.

The first thing I spied was a big pile of quinces. I was quite excited - I don't encounter quinces much, and have never purchased any. I decided not to try to take any home with me. There were more varieties of apples than I've ever seen in one place. Also lots of pears. Orange cauliflower, some rather sad-looking bell peppers, beautiful pumpkins and butternut squash, and lovely bunches of parsnips.

I bought two Braeburn apples, which I ate as afternoon snacks over the course of the next couple of days. They were delicious.

Posted by spaceling at 09:20 PM | TrackBack

September 30, 2006

Farmers' Market Haul - 9/30/2006

I've been going faithfully to the Willow Glen farmers' market every Saturday morning, but not so faithful about blogging it. Bad food blogger. The market standouts have definitely been the Green Zebra tomatoes, the salad greens from Happy Boy Farms, and many lovely varieties of cauliflower.

Alas, Happy Boy Farms was not at today's market. I suspect that with winter fast approaching, there may not be as many salad greens to bring to market as there once were.

Last weekend, I scored some orange cauliflower. I made this recipe, which was pretty good, though when I make it again, I'm going to use lemon juice instead of red wine vinegar. I think it would go better with the flavor of the cauliflower.

Alas, Mr. Spaceling has not been impressed by cauliflower. It's okay - it leaves more for me.

Today, the farmer from whom I bought the orange cauliflower had purple cauliflower. Purple! This has got to be one of the most beautiful vegetables ever - it is a deep, velvety, purple. It is gorgeous. So, of course, I had to take some home.

"You should see the purple cauliflower I got from the farmers' market!" I said to Mr. Spaceling. "It's the prettiest vegetable ever."

"I don't have to eat it, do I?" said Mr. Spaceling.

I assured him that he didn't. That cauliflower is all mine!

Along with my purple cauliflower, I also got...

A smaller haul today than many - we currently have quite a bit of fruit in the house, so I passed up the late peaches and the early apples that were on offer. I think I may have finally eaten my fill of Green Zebra tomatoes for a while, bizarre as that may seem. (My favorite thing to do with Green Zebra tomatoes - spread a nice pumpernickel bread with lowfat yogurt cheese, layering the Green Zebra tomato slices on top, and sprinkling with a bit of salt and lots of freshly ground pepper. Yum.)

Yogurt cheese, by the way, is plain yogurt that has been drained until it's thick and spreadable. It probably merits a post of its own. I've been using it as a tangier (and lower fat) alternative to cream cheese.

Posted by spaceling at 07:43 PM | TrackBack

September 02, 2006

Farmers' Market Haul - 9/2/2006

Went to the Willow Glen farmers' market this morning. Alas, there were no more blueberries. I think it's time to face the fact that berry season is over.

Still, it wasn't a bad haul for the end of summer. I got:

The tomatoes I've been getting lately have been really fabulous. Even the sliced tomato that they put out for use on sandwiches at the cafeteria where I work has been sweet, juicy, and flavorful. Mmmm, tomatoes.

Posted by spaceling at 10:30 AM

August 05, 2006

Willow Glen Farmers' Market

This morning I decided to go down and check out the Willow Glen farmers' market. I know that the folks who sold me some excellent halibut on their last visit to the Japantown farmers' market regularly go there. Of course, having just cooked trout last night, I wasn't really looking for seafood. But I decided to go see what else was there.

I've occasionally heard Willow Glen described as the La Jolla of San Jose. (This will only make sense to my San Diegan or former San Diegan readers. Who probably make up 75% of my blog audience. All three of of you.) It actually is remarkably like what you would get if you picked up a couple of blocks worth of downtown La Jolla, and plunked them down in the midst of an unprepossessing commercial/light industrial zone. It's kinda weird. In the space of 3 blocks you go from auto parts to Pilates studios.

The market itself is located in a parking lot behind a movie theater and a Starbucks. (Approximately 1 in 4 shoppers was clutching a cup of coffee.) The market is slightly bigger than the Japantown market. There was a large flower stand, a Happy Boy Farms stand with loads of gorgeous organic greens, a stand with a lovely selection of nuts and dried fruit (I meant to go back and get some after I was done picking out my fresh foods, and I forgot! Something for next time), several fresh fruit stands, a bakery stand, the fish folks, a stand selling prepared Mexican foods, and a stand selling Indian foods. And some kind of craft stand selling glass knick knacks, and a massage therapist. (That last is how you know you're in Willow Glen, I suppose.)

Here's what I got:

I spent about $18. And came home and ate a bowl of blueberries, because they were so phenomenally good and sweet. Honestly, the blueberries made the whole trip worth it, even if the rest of the produce turns out to be lousy.

So, yeah, now I have my choice of two farmers' markets. (At least for now - I'm not sure if the Willow Glen market runs year-round.) I'm not sure which will be my favorite. Japantown is slightly easier to get to, and still has a slight edge for good veggies at low prices. Willow Glen wins for fruit, seafood, and salad greens. I expect I'll divide my farmers' market trips between the two of them fairly evenly for a while.

Posted by spaceling at 11:21 AM | TrackBack

July 09, 2006

Fish Tales

So, I went over to the San Jose Japantown farmers' market today, and what did I spy? A stand selling fresh seafood! (Fresh Catch Seafood was the name.) I knew then that fish would be on the menu for dinner tonight.

I hit the other stalls and picked up some fruit, some tomatoes, and some fresh basil, and then hit the fish stand. The seller recommended the halibut, caught just off Santa Cruz yesterday. They were also selling wild salmon, and scallops, along with a couple of cooked seafood dishes.

I got a pound of halibut, and chatted for a while with the sellers. Unfortunately, they told me they may not be back to the Japantown farmers' market, because they're not doing much business there. The customer base is apparently not primed to appreciate wild-caught seafood. (As I was coming in to the market, I overhead the seller explaining to a potential customer, "See, the stuff in the grocery store that's $6.99 a pound is farmed salmon. This is wild salmon, which is better...." I don't think the customer was buying it.)

However, the seller did tell me that they regularly go to the Willow Glen farmers' market on Saturdays. And they gave me a business card, and told me to give them a call if I wanted something special, and they'd try to get it for me. I'd say they know a thing or two about customer service. (Either that, or they just appreciated having one customer who already knows why wild-caught salmon costs twice as much as farmed.)

I baked the halibut en papillote, using a recipe (originally for salmon) from Mark Bittman's Fish: on a sheet of aluminum foil, put down a slice of tomato. Top that with some chick peas and minced fresh basil. Put a serving of halibut on top, and top that with more basil, chick peas, and another slice of tomato. Drizzle it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and fold up the foil into a packet. Repeat with your other pieces of halibut, and then bake everything for 15-20 minutes, until the fish is done.

Fish en papillote is one of my favorite ways of cooking fish - the fish is guaranteed to stay moist (unless you overcook the hell out of it), and it's so much fun to open up the little packets at the table.

It was some very fine halibut. I think I'm going to be making a trip to the Willow Glen farmers' market when I next want fish.

Posted by spaceling at 10:22 PM | TrackBack

June 24, 2006

Farmers' Market Haul - 6/18/2006

Originally uploaded by Wendy Shaffer.

I took a photo of some of my farmers' market bounty last Sunday, but didn't get around to posting until today.

Last Sunday was all about fruit. I bought:

The eggplant and some of the basil went into a really yummy fritatta. A bit more basil went into assorted salads, but I wasn't able to use it all up before it wilted. Next time I buy basil at the farmers' market, I should make a big batch of pesto. We've eaten half of the apricots, and most of the cherries, but the bulk of the peaches and nectarines remain stubbornly hard as rocks. (I did get a single ripe nectarine a couple of days ago, which I ate for breakfast.) I'm bemused - the batch I bought the week before at the farmers' market ripened fully in a few days. If these don't ripen soon, I may end up cooking them.

That sounds like a threat, doesn't it? Picture me shaking my finger at my fruit bowl, saying, "Now, if you don't ripen soon, I'll have to cook you!"

I have a backlog of things I want to post about - I've tried a couple of interesting recipes in the past week. I'll try to get caught up this weekend, but I probably won't be able to post any more today - we're off to my annual company party soon.

Posted by spaceling at 04:48 PM | TrackBack

June 11, 2006

Farmers' Market Haul - 6/11/2006

It's been much too long since I've been to the Japantown farmers' market. So much for my intentions to eat locally in May. While I was away from the farmers' market, summer finally happened. There were three fruit sellers there that I don't normally see in winter, and the place was overflowing with peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, and strawberries. The vegetable stands were not to be outdone, offering eggplant, onions, multiple varieties of squash, fresh herbs, and what I think were cucumber shoots. The trick was in deciding how much of this stuff I could possibly eat before it went off. Here is what I got:

And I still didn't manage to spend more than $10.

I think I'll make a salad with the cucumber, daikon, and basil, and dress it with rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and maybe a splash of fish sauce. I think I may try roasting the green beans - this is purportedly makes them tasty to non-green-bean lovers. I have not yet sold Mr. Spaceling on green beans. The peaches and nectarines will probably just get eaten out of hand, though I may try making a fruit salsa if the mood strikes me.

Posted by spaceling at 10:17 AM | TrackBack

April 30, 2006

Farmers' Market Haul - 4/30/2006

Farmers' Market Haul - 4/30/2006
Originally uploaded by Wendy Shaffer.
So, here is a photo of today's haul from the Japantown farmers' market. I got:

Total cost: $7

I was strongly tempted to get some more fresh fava beans, but I didn't feel like spending the remainder of the morning shelling and peeling favas. Instead, I spent the remainder of the morning cleaning up my desk and paying bills. Honestly, I probably would have gotten more satisfaction out of the fava beans. Oh well, perhaps they'll have them next week.

Posted by spaceling at 05:11 PM

April 23, 2006

Farmers' Market Haul - 4/23/2006

Mystery veg
Originally uploaded by Wendy Shaffer.

Well, after all my weeks of complaining that the farmers' market has been a bit blah lately, spring is finally here. Things are definitely getting more exciting.

There were more stalls there today, and rather than having only lonely little piles of beets and chard to peddle, they had strawberries and pea shoots and what I think were cucumber shoots, and all kinds of peas, and fresh fava beans. (Here I go, being anti-Pythagorean again.)

Today's haul was:

Total cost: $5.

I passed up on the strawberries (because I stupidly bought some at the supermarket yesterday, and astonishingly, there is a limit to the quantity of strawberries that Mr. Spaceling and I can eat), and the spring onions, and the peas (because I'm going to have enough shelling on my hands with the favas.) It all looked so good, and I really wanted to buy some of everything, but I didn't want to buy more than I might reasonably cook and eat in the next week. (Particularly since the flowering cabbage and the pea shoots are going to be a hard sell to Mr. Spaceling, and I might have to eat them all myself. Actually, I'm counting on having to eat the flowering cabbage all by myself. If I'd thought I'd need to share, I'd have bought two bunches.)

I told the woman running the stand that I wanted to buy one of everything, but I knew that I wouldn't be able to cook it all before it spoiled, and she grinned, and gave me a big extra handful of fava beans, just to make sure that I got my money's worth. And that's why I like shopping at farmers' markets. (Well, okay, I like shopping at farmers' markets because when was the last time you saw pea shoots and Chinese flowering cabbage at Safeway? But getting to actually talk with the people who grew your food, and tell them how wonderful it is, is a close second.)

Next week, I'll have to go back and get her to explain to me what that leafy green stuff I bought was. Now, I'm off to shell fava beans.

Posted by spaceling at 10:16 AM | TrackBack

March 26, 2006

Farmers' Market Haul - 3/26

Pickings were relatively slim at the Japantown farmers' market today. Spring may be here, but for the most part, the stuff on offer was the same stuff that was available in early February: Fuji apples, navel oranges, beets, turnips, chard, and assorted other greens.

But I did find one thing that's very definitely a seasonal springtime delicacy: green garlic. Green garlic looks a little like an overgrown scallion, with looser leaves up top, and a bulbous, purple-streaked white part at the bottom. And it smells like garlic. Mmmmm. I bought two bunches. I haven't quite figured out what to do with it yet.

The other cause for excitement at the market was that the mushroom lady was there, with fresh shiitakes. So I've got some shiitakes.

Today's total haul:

Posted by spaceling at 05:55 PM | TrackBack

March 11, 2006

A Case of Mistaken Vegetable Identity, Part 2

So, I went to the supermarket this evening to get some stuff for dinner. I was contemplating a salad. A serious salad, with some nice, strong tasting greens. None of your wimpy iceberg lettuce salads. I wanted a salad which let you know you were eating something.

So, I got some spinach. And then I was browsing along in the lettuce section, and there was this lettuce with kind of spiky, frilly leaves. I'm not really good with my lettuce names, but I would have described it as frisee, or perhaps escarole. Or maybe chicory. I dunno, I'm not good with my lettuce names. I just eat the stuff. It was underneath a sign that read "Endive - $1.99/lb".

I get up to the checkout stand, and the cashier picks this stuff up, peers at it, and asks me if I know what it is. I say no, but that it was under the sign that said Endive.

She asks two other cashiers, and one of them very confidently says, "Oh, that's Belgian endive."

Now, I'm pretty sure it's not Belgian endive. We've established that I'm not good with my lettuce names, but Belgian endive to me means the tight oblong-shaped bundle of pale white leaves that costs a king's ransom.

The cashier rings in Belgian endive, and it comes up $5.99/lb. "Woah," says the cashier. "That had better be some damn tasty lettuce." She clearly doesn't believe that anyone would pay 6 bucks a pound for lettuce. I've done sillier things than pay 6 bucks a pound for lettuce, but I really don't think it's Belgian endive. The other cashier, who insists its Belgian endive, goes to check.

She calls back, and says that because it is under the sign that says "Endive", they'll give it to me for the cheaper price. I pay, and then wander home, wondering rather guiltily if everyone's general state of produce ignorance has procured me fantastically expensive lettuce for a bargain price.

Thanks to the wonder of google, I can now confidently answer that I got exactly what I paid for. Behold the following yourDictonary entry, which explains that endive can refer to either Chicorium endiva, also known as frisee, or escarole, or Belgian endive. The picture shows that what I've got is clearly not the Belgian endive, which is indeed the little oblong bundle of fantastically expensive white leaves.

When I next shop for lettuce, perhaps I need to bring a field guide. Anyone know a good one?

Posted by spaceling at 07:31 PM | TrackBack

March 05, 2006

Farmer's Market Haul - 3/4

I've been cooking a ton, but time for blogging has been scarce. Perhaps I'll be able to catch up on the backlog sometime soon.

Today was pretty slim pickings at the farmers' market. Fewer stalls than usual, and not a lot of variety at the stalls that were there. I hope this is just a seasonal thing, and not a sign that the market is struggling. I think on the whole, the market must be doing pretty well - for a cold, cloudy, and windy morning in March, there were a fair number of shoppers.

So, today's haul was:

For a total expense of $8.65 (and half of that was the walnuts).

On my way back, I swung by 99 Ranch, where they had okra and snow peas on sale. I think I'm going to stir fry the carrots and snow peas with soy sauce and sesame seeds. I don't know what I'll do with the okra yet.

Posted by spaceling at 12:39 PM

February 05, 2006

Farmers' Market Haul - 2/5

No picture today. I didn't get to the farmers' market until 11:00 a.m., by which time things were considerably picked over and most of the stalls were looking a bit bare. The mushroom lady was there, though, so I did get some nice crimini mushrooms. I also got a bunch of red chard, and some beets. (It felt a bit strange to be buying both chard and beets, since chard is just a beet that is cultivated for its leaves rather than its roots. Perhaps I should try cooking the beet greens as well, and see how they compare.)

Total expenditure: $5.75.

Posted by spaceling at 07:32 PM | TrackBack

January 29, 2006

Farmers' Market Haul - 1/29

Farmers' Market Haul
Originally uploaded by Wendy Shaffer.

Apologies for the crappy cellphone camera pic - I figured I've got to start getting some images into this blog, but my digital camera is being wonky and isn't talking to my computer. Gotta love technology.

This picture shows some of my goodies from this morning's trip to the Japantown farmers' market. The farmers' market was pretty sparse today (or perhaps I was there earlier than usual). Several of the usual stands were missing, including the mushroom lady who sells fabulous fresh shiitake mushrooms. However, all my other favorite vendors were there, including Lujan farms, Hamada farms, and the nameless stand with the outrageously good and cheap vegetables run by a big extended family. (I was rung up today by the youngest daughter, who could not have been older than seven, and who handled the whole business of weighing, adding, and making change better than most of the grown-up vendors at the market.)

The haul today was:

On my way back to my car, I stopped to chat with a couple who I think were the pastor of the local black church and his wife. They had a lot of questions about the market, and I got to show off my produce and babble about Meyer lemons.

I think I'm going to cook the green beans using Mark Bittman's recipe for slow-cooked green beans. I'm not sure yet how I'm going to cook the broccolini. (Hmmm, I bet if I blanched it, sauteed it with garlic and olive oil, and then tossed it with some juice and chopped zest from one of those Meyer lemons, that would be good.)

Posted by spaceling at 10:16 AM | TrackBack