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North Park Farmers' Market Blog

Pick up a basket full of love

August 16, 2011 - 8:00am
Carolyn K

Romance is always in the air at North Park Farmers market!  So gather up your partner and dosey doe through the aisles because they're chocked full of aphrodisiacs sure to make your date night a success! Sure, there's the familiar foods that chemically make us more amorous, like oysters and chocolate.  But did you know that your gardens are also filled with these beacons of love?.  Your first stop should be at Valdivia to pick up some tomatoes. Tomatoes, also known as "love apples", were were banned by the Catholic Church in the 19th century due to concerns about the fruit’s “morality.”  We dare you to try to control yourself after biting into the red,  juicy, fleshy forbidden fruit!

Next stop on your love journey should be Suzie's farms to pick up some Armenian cucumbers.  Researchers have found a link between the smell of cucumbers and sexual arousal. Don't let yourself get too carried away...and be sure to stop by John Gilruth's and pick up an avocado or two. Just by looking at the shape of avocado, you will see the reason why it was associated with sensual creativity.  What's that delightful aroma wafting JR Organics? Their fresh bunches of basil are sure to arouse you, and while you're moseying through the stalls, take a taste of Hopkins Ag almonds. These nuts are known throughout the ages to be a symbol of fertility. Finish up your shopping with some delicious cheese from Taste that you can spread softly over a warm baguette from Belen. And don't forget to tempt your beloved with a chocolatey Almond Joy cookie from the Chewy Cookie. Last but not least, get some flowers from Maldonado and you're almost guaranteed to get some tonight!

Hummus- a Recipe for ChickPeas of Mind

August 12, 2011 - 11:24am
Carolyn K


North Park Farmers Market shoppers love hummus!  Whether it's the sundried tomato sprouted hummus from Majestic Garlic, Lisko's Curry or Peanut Butter hummus, or Kalamata Olive or Cilantro Jalapeno hummus from Baba Foods, we scoop it up with slices of fresh cucumber from JR Organics and ask for more.

So, what makes hummus, a paste of mashed chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and garlic, so additive and  appealing?  The answer is the chickpeas!  Chickpeas, like other legumes, are full of Tryptophan, an amino acid which lifts your mood and create a calming effect. In fact,  chickpeas were originally cultivated for their mood lifting properties. So, next time you're at the North Park Farmers Market, pick up a tub of humus or a handful of Suzie's Farm's fresh chickpeas, munch away and you're sure to have a great day! 

Get Sauced at the North Park Farmers' Market

August 11, 2011 - 9:56am
Carolyn K


Tomatoes of all shapes, sizes and varieties are in abundance at local farmers' markets now, but this luscious season won't last forver. While those heirlooms are ripe and ready, you need to stop by  Suzie's Farm, JR Organics, the Produce Stand, Kawano Farm or Valdivia farms and pick up all the ripe and ready tomatoes you can find. Then, proceed to get sauced! 

We've picked a few great recipes from clever bloggers; use these or your own family favorites. Start with the basic marinara sauce, perfect for topping fresh pasta from Lisko Artisan Deli. Proceed to homemade ketchup  and pizza sauce (just add veggies to make a perfect pie). Don't stop there, there's tomato soup and salsas! Think of the endless possibilites you'll have spicing those sauces up with sausages from Da-Le Ranch, and infused salts from Salt Farm. Most of these sauces freeze well so you can stay sauced for the rest of the year!


Pimento Cheese Spread from Poor to Posh

August 10, 2011 - 10:28am
Carolyn K


We all have our guilty pleasures and we're here to confess that ours is pimento cheese spread.  Not familiar with the stuff?  It's usually a mix of grated processed cheese (like Velveeta), diced jarred pimento peppers and mayonnaise, and it's a staple in Southern lunchboxes. In the 1900's it was a delicacy at Southern tea parties. Once Kraft began selling the processed cheese and Southern farmers began growing pimento peppers, the spread became more affordable and became popular for sandwiches for the working class.

Despite it's lowbrow image, we're delighted to find that pimento spread is making it's way back into fashion and that the rest of the world has discovered it. In fact,  Bon Appetit declares pimento cheese a hot food trend of 2011. Throughout foodie blogs, we found it paired up with things like aioli, panko and Kobe beef. Being traditionalists, we pay homage to pimento spread with a grilled pimento cheese sandwich;  replacing the processed cheese with Springhill Colby Jack or a good cheddar from Taste Cheese, the jarred pimento peppers with roasted pimiento peppers from Suzie's, and using Belen Challah bread as our base.  You could try using Nicolau farm's chevre for a spicy chevre pimento spread. Try one of those recipes and indulge your guilty pleasure too!

Happy National Farmers Market Week

August 10, 2011 - 6:54am
Carolyn K


It's National Farmers Market Week from August 8th to13th, giving you one more great reason to celebrate by shopping at our amazing local markets, supplying you with fresh, in-season produce grown by local farmers.

Farmers markets have a broad impact are having on the communities that they serve.
According to the USDA more than 1,000 new farmers markets have popped up around America last year, bringing the total in the 2011 National Farmers Market Directory to 7,175 — a 17 % jump over last year. (We know those numbers are low, since some markets aren't listed in the USDA site due to the cumbersome registration process.)  California has more than 729 markets, the largest number of farmers markets in the US, and San Diego currently hosts 54 weekly markets.

While unemployment hovers at record levels this summer, entrepreneurship is thriving in local farmers markets. Our farmers markets are growing jobs and strengthening local and regional economies; research shows that farmers markets spur spending at neighboring businesses. 

The growth of local farmers markets not only directly benefits local economies;  it also promotes healthier eating habits. People who shop at farmers markets tend to come home with more fruits and vegetables in their shopping bags. Expansion of local farmers markets may ultimately help reduce health care costs from obesity and other health problems linked to a diet dominated by processed foods. 

So celebrate this week by visiting our three farmers markets and recognize that locally grown food is not only good for your taste buds—it creates jobs, keeps money in local economies, promotes community development, and can reduce the environmental and public health costs of the food we eat!


We're Sweet on Sweet Peppers

August 5, 2011 - 4:48pm
Carolyn K


A plethora of peppers have hit the North Park Farmers Market!  With so many shapes and colors to choose from, we thought that a quick primer on peppers was in order.  First, differently colored peppers are not different peppers at all! Typically, they signify various stages of growth and maturity. A green pepper is just a red pepper that hasn’t fully ripened.  Next, what gives the pepper it's heat is a chemical called capsicum.  Peppers that do not contain capsicum such as bell peppers, are considered sweet.
Now that you're schooled on peppers, here are some of the infinite ways you can cook with them.  One of our favorite dishes is Nicolau Farms chevre stuffed roasted peppers finished with Thyme of Essence dried thyme . Another dish that shouldn't be missed is chile rellanos!  Roast any of the multitude of peppers, now available at Suzie's or Paradise Valley, remove the charred skins, fill with Springhill Garlic Jack Cheese, coat with flour and fry! Finally,  we think that the combination of sweet peppers and JR Organics heirloom tomatoes in a sweet pepper and heirloom gazpacho  goes together just like salt and pepper!


August 5, 2011 - 10:09am
Hillary E.

We may not have the lush tropical gardens - owing to the fact that San Diego is all coastal desert - that evoke romantic scenes from childhood books, but that doesn't make native succulent and cactus landscapes any less dramatic and beautiful. Plants in these families are well suited to our mostly arid climate of warm days and infrequent rain, adapting by being able to store water in their leaves, stems and roots.

At the North Park Farmers' Market you'll find John Gilruth with his plentiful selection of cactus and succulents for sale. With many varieties and sizes to choose from, he's practically got his own mobile garden going on in the booth already. Excellent in outdoor planters or in well drained soil, bring some home to start your own desert garden scape. To change up the scene, John Gilruth also has Protea plants for sale. Also known as sugarbushes, the flowers on these sparse and unassuming plants look almost prehistoric but dazzle in their many colors, shapes and sizes.

If it's something smaller you're after, Midori Plant & Crafts has tiny little succulent gardens already potted in small ceramics and coffee mugs. Perfect as gifts, or for creating a harmonious natural corner in your workspace, we find them hard to resist. So come on! Get in the garden!


Happy National Peach Month!

August 5, 2011 - 8:12am
Carolyn K


August is National Peach Month and the North Park Farmers' Market is ready to help you celebrate! In the Chinese culture, the peach has mystical attributes, and supposedly brings luck, abundance and protection. Closer to home, even though the state of Georgia calls itself the "Peach State," our home state of California actually grows over 50% of all the peaches consumed in the US. After basking in our hot California summer sun, August peaches have developed their full flavor profile giving us reason to eat them by the bushel!  So, stop by Smit Orchards or R&L Farms, fill your baskets and let the celebration begin! 

Once you're full of peaches eaten out of hand (does that ever happen?) chill out with a peach pie smoothie  or heat things up with a Chipolte Peach Salad.   Who could pass up warm peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream?  Complete your party with a peach martini  and everyone will be feeling peachy keen!


Eggplant-can't get no respect!

August 2, 2011 - 6:55am
Carolyn K

Have you heard that eggplants have arrived at the North Park Farmers market?  Often ignored or overlooked, we think that the eggplant is a majestic vegetable that just don't get no respect!   Native to India,  the eggplant has been cultivated since the beginning of their  historical record keeping.  It's so versatile that almost every culture worldwide has adopted it as reflected by the numerous tasty eggplant dishes prepared around the world from baingan bharta served in India, to baba ghanoush served in the Middle-East, to moussaka served in Greece, to aubergine parmigiana (a.k.a. eggplant parmesan) served in Italy, to beer-battered deep fried eggplant fritters served in Georgia, USA. 
We discovered the Rosa Bianca, also known as a Sicilian eggplant, last year and it instantly got our respect!  Available at Suzie's, this heirloom varietal, is sweet, fleshy and a lot less bitter than most other varieties. It also has a minimal amount of seeds,  making it perfect for grilling, baking and for just about anything that requires eggplant.  Slice it thinly,  sprinkle with olive oil and thyme from Thyme Essence,  grill the slices,smear on some of Nicolau's fresh goat chevre,  roll them up, top with chopped heirloom tomatoes from JR Organics and drizzle with Gianni's balsamic vinegar.   We think that you'll be giving the eggplant its due props!


DIY Sun Dried Fruit

July 29, 2011 - 4:38pm
Carolyn K

When we heard the first murmurings of the back to school ads, we were prompted to find a way to preserve the luscious bounty of the summer harvest.   What better way of preserving that summer fruit than putting our famous San Diego sunshine to work and sun-drying them! Follow these easy steps:




  1. Choose which fruits you want to dry.   The obvious choices are apricots and plums from R& L, peaches and nectarines from Hillside.  But, why not get adventuresome!  Be sure to give cherries from Smit farms, strawberries from Valdivia farms and citrus peel from Paradise Valley a try.    Why not preserve the outrageously delicious yellow and red watermelons from JR organics or the meaty Stupice tomatoes from Suzie's farms. 
  2. Wash and thoroughly dry the chosen fruit. Cut large fruits into narrow slices about 1/4-inch to 1/8-inch thick. Small fruits such as grape tomatoes or berries can be left whole.  For watermelon and cantaloupes you'll need to remove the seeds.  
  3. Spread the sliced fruit out on a stainless steel cookie rack atop of a baking sheet and cover with cheesecloth to keep away the insects.  Let sit in full sunlight for approximately two days, taking them inside at night to prevent the fruit from absorbing the moisture from any dew.  Turn them over once each day to promote even drying.
  4. The fruit is done when it is no longer sticky. Store the dried fruit in plastic bags or airtight containers and freeze it. 
  5. Open it on a cold rainy January day, we bet you'll be able to taste the summer sunshine!