Friday, September 27, 2013

Vacation #2

     Yes, I was in Cinncinati last Saturday; visited my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter, age 2...and, of course, cute as a button. So, I didn't get to shop at the Holt Farmers' Market. Bummer!
Anyway, I do have tips that I've been wanting to share, and perhaps some recipes (though the main source for HFM recipes is at the market's bulletin board).

     It's not too late to grill! So grill up some vegetables: Grilling gives veggies that charcoal flavor we love. "Thick slices of eggplant grilled with garlic, herbs and olive oil can be as satisfying as a piece of meat," says chef Ming Tsai, but seasoning is critical. " Salt takes the bitterness out eggplant and accentuates the sweetness of tomatoes and other produce."

     I like to use my George Foreman Grilling Machine when it really is too cold to grill outdoors. So here's one of his recipes: 6 slices of eggplant, 1/2" thick (or two baby eggplants), 2 small onions, sliced 1/2" thick, 2 small tomatoes, diced; 2 small zucchini, sliced; 4 large cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced; 4-6 mushrooms, sliced; 1 tsp. olive oil, (optional). Preheat the Grilling Machine 3-5 min. while spreading  olive oil on veggies, if using. Add the sliced eggplant and garlic, close the lid and cook 3 min. Add the slices of onion, zucchini and mushrooms; cover and cook 3-5 min. Remove the eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms to a plate. Add tomatoes to the onion and garlic. Cover and cook for one min. Remove and serve over the eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms. Serves 2-4. Can be served with meat and/pasta, or stuffed in a pita or French bread for a great grilled vegetable sandwich.

Basil Tips: Using fresh basil means spending a little extra love and care with your most delicate ingredient: When using, it's best to SNIP it into pieces with scissors. Basil bruises easily and blackens when chopped, or if it gets too hot or too cold.
Basil will keep up to a week, stored in a plastic bag, or put into a cup of water and covered with a plastic bag. I have found basil and other herbs easy to dry if I can't use them up in a week. I keep the stems tied/banded together, and hang them upside down in a warm place, such as near my stove. Of course, another option is to buy a basil plant, keep it in a sunny window and snip the tops of the plant for cooking. BUT I've had no luck with growing herbs in my kitchen, so if it works for you, let me know how you did it! You can comment at the end of this blog.

     RECIPE FOR BASIL BUTTER:  1 cup shopped fresh basil, 1 pound of unsalted butter, pinch of salt. Blend ingredients in a food processor. Could make a nice gift when put in a glass jar tied with ribbon or raffia. 

NEXT WEEK: I plan to feature the vendors who sell meat at the HFM. Who knew??


Friday, September 20, 2013

Featuring Bread and Fresh Produce

Luanne Peeper loves baking, and loves the Holt Farmers' Market! She has always loved baking, but only came to love the HFM in the last year or so. She had been selling her wonderful  breads at another market, and changed because she found the atmosphere so much more friendly and fun at HFM (sound familiar? :) 
Her business is named Lu's Dessert Breads, because they are so delicious, they can be eaten for dessert! She features breads that coincide with the season, so now it's zucchini, but she's sold rhubarb, blueberry, raspberry and soon it will be pumpkin. She also bakes special orders; last Saturday it was apple turnovers. Lu loves to work with people, and immensely enjoys having her satisfied customers return for more.  Find her in the larger building. 

Lansing Roots Farm is actually located near Mason. A part of the Lansing Food Bank, this non-profit helps area refugees learn to garden and then sell their goods at farmers' markets. The goal is to help them learn viable skills, in gardening as well as in entrepreneurship, and selling their produce so they can become self-sufficient. I can tell you from experience that their produce is wonderfully fresh and is chemical-free organic as they can make it without being certified as such. You will find them in the smaller building.

Friday, September 13, 2013

What to do with all those tomatoes? (Scroll to answer)

If you haven't met the Rowe family at their  Rowe's Country Market booth at the Holt Farmers' Market, please do so at your next visit. You will enjoy them immensely. Gary Rowe is on the left in the pic, with his parents with him. They pride themselves on selling only excellent produce, grown on their family farm south of Holt. This year they planted over 3,000 tomato plants! When asked what "army" helps them harvest the juicy, red fruit (yes, I've finally given up on calling tomatoes a vegetable), the answer was that they recruit anyone available, and work from 8:00a.m.-8:00p.m. The  result is the plump, juicy and delicious fruit you see in the photo. " Our number one priority is selling only produce of excellent quality, " Gary told me. He also let me know that all their produce is grown as organically as possible, without any man-made chemicals. What keeps them in the produce business? "Repeat business from satisfied customers."
The Rowe's also operate a farmstand at their farm, located on Columbia Rd, near Schafers' Landscaping, and is open Mon-Sat, 12-7:00 Check out their other produce as well, and the Rowe's are able to take orders for large quantities of produce for those who want to can/freeze and put the sunshiny flavors of summer in a jar or baggie to savor in the dark winter months. 

Meet one of the sweetest, friendliest vendors at the HFM...and that's saying a lot! ( We've been complimented on the warm, friendly atmosphere at the HFM). Anna, of Anna's Creations, creates fabulous necklaces, earrings, foot jewelry  and bracelets, all of her own design. What's foot jewelry? Stop by and ask! You'll be delighted. Granddaughters? I loved the cute bracelet I got for my Eliana, two years old. Anna started making jewelry in  response to a fund raiser at her church, and loves creating, selling and wearing beautiful things. She believes she was meant to create beauty, and her jewelry shows this.
Anna also does jewelry parties, makes custom jewelry for weddings, and will do repairs as well. Check her out; you'll be glad you did. I always am.
 Lisa Stuccher is one of the newer vendors at HFM, and she can't be classified as only a produce vendor, although she sells her home-grown produce. Since she also sells homemade craft items such as ceramic refrigerator magnets from Peace Works, beautiful feathered/flowered hair clips and delightful "cute critters," I guess she falls somewhere in between categories! Which is totally fine with me. Unique to the market is a hand-bound, leather journal she made herself. The leather is soft and brown and very touchable. It looks like an antique, or a precious heirloom. Since the size is 5X7, it's just right to hold, perhaps to tuck in the tote bag and journal wherever you may be! She's already sold one, but would probably make one for you upon request.
What to do with all your tomatoes? Can 'em, freeze 'em and eat them raw. Want more? Try making a quick sauce: Cook tomatoes down to half their volume, then add enough water to restore the original volume. Add bay leaves, salt, pepper and fresh garlic, simmer for 30 minutes, then stir in herbs and olive oil.
Create a flavored salt: to season eggs, pasta or anything: Puree kosher salt with tomatoes in a blender, lays it on a sheet tray, and dehydrate for a couple nights (about six hours) in an oven with the pilot light on, or in a  100 degree oven until dry.
Cherry tomatoes? Roast 'em! This will give you cherry tomatoes that are about the size of raisins. You can stop short of the maximum cooking time, and have a juicier but still wonderful roasted taste.
Two pints of cherry or grape tomatoes, 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
Oven at 250 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes with the oil; salt and pepper to taste.Line a baking sheet with a rack; place the tomatoes on the rack. Roast for 6 hours, until they look like big, red juicy raisins. Makes 1 pint.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Yes! Featuring Greenman's Farm Produce and The Soap Sisters!

Dennis Greenman is a staunch supporter of farmers' markets, being one of the original vendors at the Holt market, and a vendor at the Meridian market for 32 years. Greenman's Farm Produce is probably the largest vendor at HFM and offers the biggest variety of items including fresh herbs, the only vendor to sell these. Much of his produce is grown on his farm located at 1905 Eiffert  Rd where he also sells produce from his roadside stand.  Dennis will also sell items not locally grown, such as lemons or limes, for the convenience of his customers . One stop shopping is the goal.
While Dennis' day job is selling insurance for Farm Bureau, his second job is planting, growing, harvesting and selling produce. What keeps him going? "I enjoy what I'm doing. I like keeping busy," Dennis told me. " Also, I'm teaching my grandchildren how to work as they help me at the market." One of these is pictured above, holding the peaches. Isn't she adorable?  Stop by, say hello, ask questions, ask for a sample if the item you want is new to you. Dennis is very accommodating, and wants his customers to leave happy, and return the next week for more.
The Soap Sisters are another long-time vendor at the HFM. Pictured above are Sandra, the soap maker, and her daughter, Sammy. Another sister, Leslie found the cute picture that became their logo, featuring a blond woman, and a dark-haired woman  with glasses in a wooden tub! Too cute!  Because Sandra has the dark hair and glasses, and Leslie is the blond.
The sisters began their soap business a number of years ago when an illness showed them the scarcity of skin products that were made entirely from natural ingredients. So they set out to make their own using essential oils for the scents, olive oil and coconut oil, (no soy because this is not good for a woman with hormone issues)  for the base of the products. Sandra hand-carves each bar to fit the customer's hand! Then she uses the resulting "soap ends" to make sachets to be used to scent a drawer/closet or to be used in the shower as a scrubby. Of course I use their products, and love them. You gotta love these craft vendors; their products are works of love as well as excellence.
     Remember to check the bulletin board for recipes; this week's feature will be Judy Tuttle's ratatouille which uses many fresh, summer vegetables, and is easy to make...lasts for days and of course is DELICIOUS! Judy is one of the volunteers at the HFM, and is an excellent cook!
     NEW NEXT WEEK: The Twisted Pretzel: chocolate/gourmet pretzel treats and Big Daddy's Big Doggs, which feature, of course, hot dogs.