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North Park Farmers' Market Blog

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Oil Together Now

December 22, 2011 - 12:52pm
Julie R


This is the third night of Hanukkah, so get to the North Park Farmers' Market and collect the farm fresh ingredients for your holiday meal.  A lot of people find Hanukkah to be a bit of a mystery: Why is it never the same time each year? Do you really get one present a night? If there are 8 nights of Hannukah why are there 9 candles on the menorah? (answers below)

Invited to a Hannukah celebration? Gift packs from California Olive make a beautiful hostess gift. Latkes, or potato pancakes, are fried in oil to honor the olive oil that burned for 8 nights to light the Temple. Use potatoes from Proios Family Farm or try a great beet latke variation with fresh beets from Suzie’s Farm or JR Organics. Think about using avocado oil for frying, it will let you get your latkes nice and crispy without smoking up your kitchen. Top with sour cream from Springhill farms and a simple applesauce from Smit Orchards apples. Serve warm whilst spinning dreidels. What’s a dreidel?

Oh yes, we promised you answers.Hanukkah is based on the lunisolar Jewish calendar. Traditionally, a few gifts are given on only one night of Hanukkah, but some families gift children every night. The extra candle on a menorah is a shamash, it’s lit first then used to light the rest of the candles. A drediel is a 4-sided top used to play a children's game, winning gold foil-covered chocolate money or gelt. Happy Hannukah!


Contemplate Your Navel

December 14, 2011 - 4:48pm
Britta T and Catt W


Though they grow pretty much year round in San Diego, oranges light up the night at farm stalls at the North Park Farmers' Market during the winter months. Versatile, sweet, and terribly healthy, organic oranges should be at the top of your shopping (and cooking) list this season.

Paradise Valley Ranch, John Gilruth's Rainbow Ranchito and R&L Farms sell their locally grown Navel and Valencia oranges, as well as juicy, easy- to-peel tangerines, and tart and sweet limes and lemons.

Orange wedges with shaved fennel and boiled or grilled chunks of Chiogga beets from Suzie's Farm make a delightfully refreshing salad. Chill the beets, and toss with tender winter lettuce or vibrant leafy greens from Maciel Family Farms and an easy vinaigrette made with orange juice and California Olive oil and vinegar.

Saute onions, garlic and ginger together and then deglaze the pan with just-pressed orange juice from Paradise Valley Ranch. Reduce the liquid to glaze pork chops and roasts from Da Le Ranch, or start with the same combo and add crushed chilis from Valdivia Farms and stir fry a batch of Kawano Farm green beans with a taste of Thailand.

Cooking with oranges makes everyone feel like a fuzzy navel, doesn't it?


Home (Decor) for the Holidays

December 7, 2011 - 4:00pm
Julie R


When you live in a climate where winter clothes = long sleeved t-shirts, sometimes the winter wonderland feeling doesn’t kick in easily, but get into the holiday spirit now by shopping at the North Park Farmers market! 

Pick up bunches of holly from Maldonado Growers to hang on your door or put in a big vase and decorate like a little Christmas tree. Buy their evergreen garlands to hang above your fireplace or wrap around the banister on your stairs. Not much of a decorator? Just place a potted poinsettia by the door and let those red flowers exorcise the Grinch in anyone.

Get a wreath made from red chilies and organic flowers from JR Organics to show the world that you are in the holiday spirit and proudly support local farmers and farmers' markets.  Pile chilis or red apples from Smit Orchards in a pretty basket from Paradise Valley Ranch and use as a centerpiece for your next dinner party.

Keeping it subtle? Pick a nice little succulent from John Gilruth and tie a ribbon around the pot, set it on your desk and ease on into the holiday spirit! Stack persimmons in a tall vase on the mantel, or use a pretty bouquet of red gladioli to make a statement and make yourself at home for the holidays. 


Eat Well. Help Local Schools.

December 5, 2011 - 9:42am
Catt W


North Park area schools, like those all over San Diego (and beyond), are struggling with severe district budget cuts that threaten to cut staff and even close schools. Parents are rallying to contribute in any way they can, and  community members without school-age children can help too. The North Park farmers' Market is pitching in with Cash Crops.

Starting December 8th, San Diego Weekly Markets will rebate 5% of the dollars you spend at the North Park Farmers' Market to the local school of your choice. Just ask the farmers and vendors for receipt tickets when you shop, then deposit them in your school's bin at the Information Booth. Keep your grocery money in your neighborhood and help local kids. Amazing farm-fresh food is the icing on the cake.


Back in Balance

November 30, 2011 - 4:22pm
Catt W

We're guessing you spent Thanksgiving taking time to acknowledge gratitude for family and friends, the relative comfort and safety we live in, and our many other blessings. Just looking around the North Park Farmers' Market makes us thankful for harvest abundance.

So often though, the holiday seems tied to gluttony. If you overate last week, you're not alone. But it's simple to tip the scales back by lightening up this week. Take a quick trip to the farmers' market on Thursday to get some fresh air, enjoy the live music and shop for the ingredients to get your eating back on track.

Pick up a jug of Green Fix and sip a fresh green smoothie for breakfast. Use any last turkey leftovers to make a Cobb Salad for lunch, with hard-boiled farm fresh eggs and avocado from Paradise Valley Ranch on a bed of leafy greens and tomatoes from JR Organics with a light creamy dressing made with Springhill Farms' Quark. Grill a lean piece of chicken from Da Le Ranch for dinner, with some steamed baby squash from Valdivia Family Farm and new cauliflower from Suzie's Farm. Enjoy a baked apple from R&L Farms for dessert. See? All back in balance.

Side Ways Toward Thanksgiving

November 16, 2011 - 3:56pm
Julie R


Thanksgiving is almost upon us; this Thursday’s North Park Farmers Market is exactly a week before the holiday.  Before we hit the patch of black ice that is Black Friday, latke parties, and tree trimming, sending us skidding into the December Holidays, focus on this celebratory meal. While your farm-fresh Da-Le Ranch turkey may take the lead, this meal’s side dishes take more than a supporting role. Make it yours by serving up some signature sides that are not in your momma’s arsenal.

Savory bread pudding is sure to be a show-stopper and once you have the core bread and pudding, the world is your oyster. Whisk together 6 Paradise Valley Ranch eggs, 2 cups milk, salt and pepper. Throw in a pound of soft Belen bread, cubed, and a half pound of grated gruyere from Taste Cheese; that’s is your blank canvas.  Sauté 1 to 2 pounds of peeled squash from your favorite farmer and a chopped onion, sprinkle with sage from Suzie’s Farm, let cool, toss with the bread mixture and bake at 350 for 55 minutes. Or try it with 2 pounds of sautéed mushrooms from Rodney Kawano Farms mixed with garlic, parsley, and thyme. Try oven roasted tomatoes and garlic or sautéed kale and mushrooms; there’s no end to savory combinations.

Want to lighten up the mashed potatoes? Add some Valdavia farms turnips peeled and boiled for about 10 minutes more than your potatoes.  Drain them, add some Springhill Dairy European butter and mash out any frustrations of your day.

Round out the meal with an antioxidant rich carrot and orange roast. Cut up 2 pounds of JR Organics trimmed carrots and cut an unpeeled orange from John Gilruth or Paradise Valley Ranch into 8 pieces.  Toss it all in 2 tablespoons of Bari olive oil and 2 tablespoons of Meljess Wildflower Honey, some salt and pepper, and roast in a 375 degree oven for 35 minutes.  Serve with a sprinkle of Suzie’s Farm chopped dill. 

First time cooking? Don’t agonize over taking over the Thanksgiving meal reins from someone who’s been doing this meal by rote, just live by this mantra: “The secret is in the sides” and serve to impress!


Seeding is Believing

November 9, 2011 - 3:00pm
Julie R

Pomegranate season is upon us and that lovely pink-skinned fruit is all over the North Park Farmers’ Market. See them in abundance at John Gilruth’s and R & L Farms’ stands. The trick to eating them is to cut them in half then bang on them until all the seeds come out. There is the more delicate way of digging the seeds out with your fingers but that eliminates all the fun; if you are still a touch daunted, Paradise Valley Ranch has packages of pomegranate seeds ready to go. Take them home to cook with or snack on them as you stroll the market. Once you have the seeds out the possibilities are endless: throw them in yogurt, top your green salad for a sweet/sour crunch, or throw them into pancake batter for a new twist and serve with wildflower honey from Meljess Bees.

Want to incorporate more farmers’ market ingredients? Mix the seeds with chopped cucumbers from Suzie’s Farm, lime juice from R&L, and cilantro and diced chilies from JR Organics for a fresh salsa that is fantastic on fish tacos. Mix fresh citrus with the pomegranate seeds and toss with Grand Marnier or Triple Sec and serve as a sweet salad or over ice cream.  Impress your friends with your ingenuity and creativity at your next pomegranate-themed dinner party; serve them champagne or cava with pomegranate seeds floating in it for a fun and festive fall cocktail. Slice and grill eggplant and top with pomegranate seeds, feta from Nicolau Farms, mint and a glug of Bari Olive oil. Serve as a vegetarian entrée with hummus from Baba Foods and couscous with more seeds tossed in for color. Seeding is believing!


Comfort Food for Comfort Moods

November 7, 2011 - 12:52pm
Britta T

This past weekend was divine- with intermittent rain and blustery, grey days. It was time to hunker down, stay inside, and enjoy warm food and good company. Comfort food has a different tone though, when you live and work at the farmers' market. Comfort food means fresh pasta and braised greens, or upscaled, locavore-friendly grilled cheese sandwiches, or fresh spiced apple butter and biscuits...

Here are a few ideas for you for the next time you get caught in the rain, or the sunshine, and want a healthy(er) twist on cozy good cookin'.

Spaghetti with Braised Kale
Braise either curly or lacinato (Tuscan black kale), with chopped onions from Suzie's Farm and fresh garlic from Valdivia. Add the greens to a bowl of steamy, hot angel hair pasta from Likso Imports and squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice with a bit of grated Parmesan Romano cheese from Mary at Taste Cheese.

Escarole and Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese

You know this. You know how you like it. Be creative with what you can find at the market and make a sandwich that you'll be remembered by. Start with a decent portion of sourdough or your favorite loaf from Belen Bakery. Take home a hefty slab of Spring Hill Goat Cheddar or maybe their dry Pepper Jack cheese, and shred it carefully. Pick out a beautiful specimen of frisee or escarole from Suzie's Farm or JR Organics. Sautee slices of white onion with a bit salt until the onion begins to carmelize. Meanwhile, brush the bread with some olive oil and layer on the onions, escarole, and cheese. Then grill it until its crispy and melty in the pan, add pepper or salt if needed, and serve immediately...

Spiced Apple Butter

Spiced apple butter on warm toast is a treat from heaven. Luckily, Smit Orchards and R& L Farms have you covered for tart Fuji's and sweet Pink Ladies. Or try combining apples and asian pears for more complexity. Cook the apples down with spices like ginger, star anise, cinammon and cardamon. Add lemon and a bit of sugar, mash it all together once its cooked, and you have yourself an excellent addition to any brunch.  


It Ain't Chard

October 31, 2011 - 12:35pm
Britta T

Are you wanting to make fresh, healthy dinners but feel overwhelmed by picking out ingredients and putting it all together?? Really, its not that hard if you visit the farmers' market to take advantage of Chard! JR Organics has beautiful, leavy bunches of red, yellow, and white chard now that is bursting with vitamins, carotenes, chlorophyll, and iron. Not to mention it yields delicous brackish flavors and when cooked the leaves release a sweet aftertaste.

A simple recipe for dinner is to toss some freshmade pasta (Lisko Imports has some delectable handmade fettucines of all flavors) with olive oil, lemon juice, a bit of minced garlic and steamed or sauteed swiss chard. Or try adding a little zest to your breakfast omelets by adding a few stalks of boiled chard. With Autumn really setting in, it's always a welcome idea to cook ahead and make a creamy "beans & greens" soup for take away lunches or easy dinners. Make sure to pick up some cremini mushrooms from Kawano Farms, a bundle of chard, some pecorino cheese from Taste for grating on the top, and some sprouted black eyed peas from Suzie's. Season with olive oil, garlic, and maybe add some thick cut bacon from Da Le Ranch to infuse more flavor into the broth while your soup cooks down. 

Enjoy! It's easy!


Better for you, brocolli

October 31, 2011 - 12:24pm
Britta T

Broccoli is beginning to blossom again in San Diego and you'll find beautiful florets, stalks, and leaves at our Thursday evening farmers' market in North Park. One of the most nourishing and delicous of cruciferous vegetables, broccoli can make everyone happy and you can use it in many types of dishes.

Toss pasta with olive oil from Bari's (did you know they grow and process all their own olives?), roasted pine nuts or almonds and steamed "hapy rich" broccoli florets from Suzie's Farm. This is one of the most sweet and tender varieites you'll find at the market. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste and enjoy it as is. Simple. Or, purée cooked broccoli with a few zucchinis, then combine with some fingerling potatoes from Produce Stand and perhaps a few herbs of your choice from JR Organics to make a simple, yet delicious, soup.

Broccoli is super fun. Steam the stems and rub with butter from Spring Hill Chese, fresh lemon juice and garlic from R&L Farm. Add a few black olives from Lisko for an awesome appetizer. Broccoli fills you with vitamins, fiber, and anti-inflammatory flavanoids, so you're covered, for better or for worse, when it comes to staying healthy...