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North Park Farmers' Market Blog

FABULOUS FOOD

April 22, 2011 - 3:14pm
Author: 
Hillary E.

FRESH AND DIRECT

The days are getting longer and we can think of no better way to spend those extra daylight hours than shopping and strolling the North Park Farmers' Market. Come join your neighbors as they mingle with chefs, farmers and purveyors. Frenchie's Crepes and Salvadorean Pupusas are the perfect stop for an exciting after work meal when you're too tired to cook. Do like the local chefs do and create your own market pasta with help from Lisko Imports and a saute of the latest veggies from R&L Farms, maybe some grilled and sliced chicken from Da La Ranch too? Poppa's got your fresh fish for tacos, perfect when kicked up with a dollop of chipotle Bitchin' Sauce. Grab some strawberries from JR Organics, oranges from Paradise Valley and apples from Smit Orchards to make a simple fruit salad. Come and enjoy the fresh air, sunshine and endless possibilities!

EGG-CELLENT IDEAS

April 15, 2011 - 1:16pm
Author: 
Hillary E.

CRAFTY VEGGIES


Here's an Easter project the whole family can get in on; all natural egg dyeing! This year forget the dye tablets, instead head to the refrigerator and pantry. Did you know you can dye your Easter eggs using ingredients you probably already have at home, perhaps using up some of those extra veggies you have languishing in the crisper drawer? Pick up a dozen or so eggs from Lisko or Paradise Valley and let the fun begin.

Beets will make pink, orange zest or turmeric will make yellow, coffee makes brown, purple cabbage will make blue, and that's just the beginning. We've found a couple of helpful guides, here and here, to get you started. There's even instructions on how you can use the papery outer layer of onion skins (start saving them!) to create a marbled textured look.

All natural eggs and all natural dyes, what a delight!

 

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CARROT TOP

April 8, 2011 - 4:42pm
Author: 
Hillary E.

FRILLS AND ALL

If you've ever nibbled curiously on the delicate leaves of carrots before you know they're a bit bitter so a little goes a long way, but think of them as an herb. A perfect accent to the sweetness of roasted root vegetables, sprinkled over salads or added into soups. Or, try this out:

Simply scrub clean a good bunch of carrots - Suzie's, JR Organics or Valdivia can help you out there - and trim all but 1/2 inch of the green tops off. If the carrots are on the larger side, slice in half or leave smaller ones whole. Finely chop a tablespoon or so of the delicate carrot tops and set aside. Heat a tablespoon of CA olive oil from Thyme of Essence in a heavy skillet and lay carrots down in a single layer. Let them brown and caramelize on one side before shaking the pan and repeating with the other side. Now add a few cloves of minced garlic and continue to shake until the carrots have softened but still have a bit of crunch. Add a tiny bit of butter, the chopped greens and sprinkle of shallot sea salt from Salt Farms.

BLOOM AND GROW

April 8, 2011 - 2:54pm
Author: 
Hillary E.

BLOOM AND GROW

Have you noticed your favorite farmers are looking a little fuller these days? We're hitting the up swing of harvest season and new crops are just taking off. We're saying so long to the broccoli and deep green hues of winter and hello to the colorful bounty that's fast taking over. Find tiny sweet strawberries at JR Organics alongside their tender lettuce mixes. The squash blossoms and baby vegetables at Valdivia are as irresistible as always. Suzie's has sweet sugar snap peas and carrots in every color of the rainbow - well, almost. And the juicy Valencia oranges from Paradise Valley never get old; neither do their avocados for that matter. Not colorful enough? Grab some flowers from Maldonado and watch spring blossom in your very own home!

SHOP SAVVY

April 1, 2011 - 2:54pm
Author: 
Hillary E.

Your local farmer’s market can be a hidden gem for the frugal shopper. You buy your food directly from the farms that grew it – no middleman driving prices higher - and each step brings you to the discovery of new bounty. We know there’s budget minded shoppers out there looking for the best deals and we’re here to help you make the most of future visits to the North Park and Adams Avenue Farmers’ Markets.

 

  • Shop around, explore and buy at peak season: It’s always good to take a stroll through the market before buying; see who has what and for how much. When produce is at its peak the price will be lower due to abundance.
  • Make friends with the vendors and be a frequent shopper: Ask questions about the farm, the food and the business. The better you know your vendors the more likely you are to find out about specials or get insider info on the tastiest items.
  • Come with a list, but be flexible: Shopping with a list is always helpful in maintaining a budget, but be willing to change or swap items for better deals you may find. If you’re unsure how to use the new purchase, ask the vendor for preparation suggestions. Have an idea of what you want to spend and stick to it.
  • Join a CSA: A lot of the community supported agriculture (CSA) programs out there have pick-up locations at farmer’s markets and are incredibly affordable to boot! When you get your box, take a peek inside and since you’re already at the market you can easily shop around for whatever else you might need for the week.
     
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RELISH THE THOUGHT

March 31, 2011 - 1:06pm
Author: 
Hillary E.

Being in Southern California, we're lucky to have citrus and avocados at our disposal year-round. The varieties may change with the season - Reed avocados and navel oranges in the summer, Haas avocados and blood oranges in the winter - but still they're in the markets. And what better way to enjoy and celebrate this continuous bounty than to have them together, in a single bowl of relish/salsa goodness? None better we say! We'll help you with the shopping list, then head over here to get the recipe.

Here's what you'll need from the North Park Farmer's Market: grab a few avocados and limes for juicing along with a handful of oranges at Paradise Valley, some cilantro from Valdivia and finally green onions from JR Organics. You'll need a few more things, like a small red onion and a jalapeno from Suzie's Farm but then you're on your way to greatness. Serve the salsa over grilled fish from Poppa's Fresh Fish or have it as a snack with some tortilla chips.

AN ORGANIC DECISION

March 25, 2011 - 2:18pm
Author: 
Hillary E.

Buying all organic all the time isn't always an option for most consumers. But sometimes buying organic means making the healthier choice. Enter The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen.

No, they're not the latest incarnation of the 3 Musketeers but rather a list compiled by the Environmental Working Group distinguishing the worst pesticide offenders in produce from the cleanest. The handy lists were created to help consumers know when it's necessary to buy organic and when it's not. So here for you, are the 12 best reasons to shop at your favorite local farmer's market - whether it be North Park Farmer's Market or Adam's Avenue Farmer's Market - and what you should be buying organic:

celery
peaches
strawberries
apples
blueberries
nectarines
bell peppers
spinach, kale and collard greens
cherries
potatoes
grapes
lettuce

{read more...}

What to do with: Sorrel

March 25, 2011 - 12:33pm
Author: 
Chris S

HOW TO USE SORREL

Sorrel is a leafy green vegetable (or is it an herb?) that looks like spinach but offers an entirely unique flavor.  Suzie's Farm will be bringing this zesty. lemony, sometimes peppery plant to the Little Italy Mercato this week, and we've got some great ideas for using this seriously under appreciated green.  First of all, forget everything you think you know about roasted beet salads.  Then grab some beets and a bunch of sorrel from Suzie's.  Got salt and pepper at home?  Good olive oil?  Ok, you're done shopping.  (If you don't have those things at home, check out Thyme of Essence for California olive oil and Salt Farm for the rest.)  Peel and dice the beets, toss with oil, salt and pepper and roast until soft, reserving the liquid that runs off them (which we'll call salad dressing.)  Let the beets cool, toss with sorrel leaves and salad dressing, and get ready to be amazed that five ingredients can sing so beautifully together.  The sweet, earthy beets and the tart, citrusy sorrel are a perfect combination.

Farmers' Market Integrity 101

March 18, 2011 - 6:26pm
Author: 
Catt W

MAKING THE HARD CALLS

As Farmers' Market managers, it's our job to monitor what's happening at our markets so you - as shoppers - can feel confident that you know what you're buying.

For us this week, that means we'll probably be taking a farm stand out of our Thursday North Park event that has been there since before we took over this particular market. The man who runs that stand is hard-working, reliable, and personable. This will probably affect his income, and he likely has a family to support. That's why decisions like these are not made lightly.

Unfortunately, validating suspicions that we had started to develop, the County Agriculture Department's most recent inspection of that vendor (I'm hesitant to say farmer right now) turned up several issues that can't be ignored.

The letter of the Direct Marketing law requires that farmers, their immediate families or bonafide employees sell only what is produced on their farm, so that the origin and growing conditions can be verified. Since Certified Farmers Markets in San Diego are often combined with a weekly event that includes non-farmers, non-certified produce sales can be included in a different area of the event, but we believe that generally violates the spirit of the law. If you buy fruits and vegetables at our markets, we want you to be buying them from the farmer. Click "Read more" below for the rest of the story...

 

The Luck o' the Irish to You!

March 15, 2011 - 9:37am
Author: 
Hillary E.

SLAINTE!

It's all corned beef, cabbage and four leaf clovers on this green-centric holiday, but don't get stuck in a rut when it comes to making your Irish feast; look to the markets to inspire your menu.  Wednesday at Adams Avenue Farmer's market pick up some savoy cabbage (pictured - tight and compact with crinkly leaves) from Suzie's Farm to make a traditional Irish side of colcannon, a fancy word for mashed potatoes mixed with thinly sliced cabbage.  Or make a puree of roasted turnips from Maciel & Family, earthy and sweet, these could replace mashed potatoes altogether.

On Thursday at North Park Farmer's Market pick up all the ingredients you'll need for a healthy green snack of kale chips.  Simply tear the leaves from a bunch of kale from JR Organics into large pieces and toss with a little olive oil from Thyme of Essence and a pinch of ground up sea salt in your favorite flavor from Salt Farm.  Bake at 300F for 15-20 minutes, or until they're nice and crispy, and you've got a nutritious alternative to potato chips.  Oysters and Guinness is another classic pairing so be sure and stop by Poppa's Fresh Fish to pick up a dozen bivalves to shuck and enjoy at home.

Here's to your health and Happy St. Patrick's Day!