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The SLOW Week vol.3

April 17, 2017

Hope you all had a lovely weekend. Did you visit a farmers’ market?  I had hoped to shop the Napa Farmers Market on Saturday, the opening day, sadly it didn’t happen. I was able to make a stop at my regular Thursday market. I did not post a Weekly Report as the fruit and vegetables selection was virtually unchanged.

Here is the third installment of The SLOW Week. 

S-Shop for organic strawberries. Why organic? Strawberries top the list of The Dirty Dozen, a list of the top 12 fruits and vegetables that contain the highest amount of pesticides. Strawberries tested by scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2014 and 2015 contained on average 7.7 different pesticides per sample, compared to 2.3 per sample for all other produce, according to a new EWG (Environmental Working Group) analysis. Plus, they are at their prime and so delicious!

L-Learn about safe seafood choices. The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers Seafood Watch guides for each state. There are three categories, “Best Choices”, “Good Alternatives” and “Avoid”. So whether you’re at your local fishmonger, favorite restaurant or traveling you can make an informed choice anywhere.

O-Own a subscription to  Edible magazine. With 90 editions there is surely one for your area. These magazines highlight local food, purveyors, chefs and stories, connecting people to their food communities.

W-Watch Food Inc. When the film was released in 2009 it shocked viewers. The film exposes the corporate control over food systems in America, inhumane treatment of animals and the use of pesticides to name just a few.

Wishing you a sweet week!

 

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The SLOW Week 2

April 10, 2017

Hello Monday! Here is the second installment of The SLOW Week. If you missed last week’s explanation and information click here.

S-Shop reusable produce bags. Most everyone nowadays owns a few reusable shopping bags now it’s time to move beyond that. There are two types of bags, mesh and cloth, both are better options than one-time use plastic. I personally prefer cloth as they can be washed over and over again, I put them in a mesh lingerie bag and wash with my kitchen towels. If you are crafty you can make them!

last week I encouraged you to try a new vegetable. I did the same and cooked up rapini-it was delicious.  

LLearn how to handle a knife. As I mentioned in my post last week, a sharp knife is better than a dull one. It helps to know how to properly hold a knife so that you avoid cutting yourself.

O-Own-an instant-read thermometer. Grilling season is upon us and an instant-read thermometer is an inexpensive piece of equipment that is vital to have on hand. The benefits of an instant-read versus a leave- in thermometer are that you need only insert the tip rather than about an inch of a leave-in thermometer. An instant read typically calculates the temperature much faster and more accurately.

W-Watch-Michael Pollan is best known for his book The Omnivores Dilemma. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do so. His book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation has been turned into a Netflix series. He explores cooking by four elements; fire, water, air and earth. It’s a fascinating journey.

Have a great week!

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Support a farmer this weekend!

April 7, 2017

The Weekly Report

The weather in Northern California has been glorious…until yesterday. I arrived at the market to a gloomy sky and by days end, the sky was filled with rain and wind. Although it’s been a wet winter and California certainly needs as much water as it can get, I’m about done with the rain.

Rains brings challenges for farmers. For strawberry farmers it’s mold. And at Iacopi Farms, the first english pea crop was ruined due to rain.

Weather challenges aside, there were plenty of options at the market this week.

FAVAS!!!!

Yep, the first fava beans arrived. Fava beans are a laborious vegetable that I happen to think are worth the effort. It’s a two step process to get to the actual eating: Removing the beans from the pod, and then boiling them to remove the “skin” from the bean. You’ve got to really love who you choose to cook fava beans for;)

But, I have a tip for you. You can grill the whole pod which will open up the pod and enable you to pop the bean from the pod making the process a whole lot quicker. This Whole Grilled Fava Bean recipe will have you bagging up these seasonal treats!

farmers' market

Fava Beans and English Peas

As mentioned earlier, English peas arrived at the market last week. A bit later than usually due to the first crop being wiped out by rain. The pods look a bit haggard but inside lay sweet green orbs. Peas are another vegetable that requires some work to reap rewards, but the taste is far superior to the frozen or canned variety. Removing the peas from the pods is a great job for little hands. Not only do kids learn how peas are grown, it’s an opportunity to have them sit in the kitchen and talk while they pluck the peas from their pods.

More Veggies

You may find sugar snap peas, ramps and morel mushrooms, I didn’t but this is the time of year when they’ll show up. However, plenty of artichokes, asparagus, beets, fennel, carrots, radishes, green garlic, spring onions, leeks, broccoli, and greens of all kinds were lined up in farmers stalls.

UPDATE: Today, Sunday, I found sugar snap peas. No ramps or morels.

Fruit

It’s pretty sparse out there still. I found only strawberries and citrus-and the strawberries I tasted were excellent! It’s about this time of year I’m thankful I froze berries last year. They are perfect for smoothies and hold up well in baked goods such as crisps.

UPDATE: Also at the market today were kiwi and rhubarb!

Flowers

Farmers’ markets offer more than delicious fruits and vegetables. Notably this time of year are flowers. Many are so seasonal that they are only at the market for two to three weeks. Ranunculus, tulips, dogwood, iris and lilac to name a few. I picked up a bunch of lilac and not only are they beautiful but their smell is outrageous!

Farmers' Market

Lilacs

Have a great weekend!

 

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The SLOW Week

March 31, 2017

 

the S-L-O-W week

This is a new addition to Gather Weekly, called “SLOW Week:” ” S” for “Shop”, “L” for “Learn”, “O” for “Own” and “W” for “Watch”. In SLOW Week, I’ll share items on my radar that I’m excited about.

SHOP- Find a farmers’ market and pick a new vegetable you’ve never tried before. Don’t worry about how you’ll cook or use it, the “interwebs” is full of information:) Google it and you’ll find something that appeals to you, I guarantee it! Today I bought rapini , although I’ve eaten it in restaurants I’ve never cooked with it before. A quick on-line search has me thinking sautéed with garlic and red chili pepper flakes. I’ll report back.

LEARN- Listen to a podcast. I love Evan Kleiman from KCRW’S Good Food. Although, based in LA,  only a little of the content is specific to Southern California. She has interviews with chefs, farmers, authors and more. Additionally, there is a weekly market report on what is in season from LA’s farmers and chefs, and then offers seasonal tips and recipes.

OWN-Do you own a good knife? If you cook often you owe it to yourself to use a quality knife. It is by far the most important piece of equipment in your kitchen. A good knife will last a lifetime if cared for properly.  A sharp blade is less of a safety hazard, dull knives can slip which can lead to cutting your fingers rather than that carrot.

WATCH-When I want to be swept off to a far away place, I watch Chef’s Table on Netflix. But be warned, you’ll either be making plane reservations or grabbing a snack mid-way through an episode. My favorites are Dan Barber, Francis Mallman and Dominique Crenn.

Have a great week!

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The Weekly Report

March 31, 2017

Spring breaths new life into farmers’ markets. As hearty vegetables and citrus fruits phase out, new earthy flavors begin to pop up. But get ’em while they last because spring’s delicacies are only at the market for a few weeks!

 

time to buy

Asparagus, green garlic and spring onions are a few vegetables that are in season for only but a short time. I gave up trying to preserve asparagus by blanching and freezing them when I made my first batch of pickled asparagus.  These spears hold up well and add a nice vinegary kick to a charcuterie platter or bloody mary.

Spring Vegetables

Asparagus, Green Garlic and Spring Onions

 New potatoes are especially delicious this time of year. These “babies” are freshly dug and have not been cured. They lend more of a creamy texture compared to those that have been in cold storage. Their shelf life is not nearly as long and are best eaten within a week of purchase. Simply steamed until a knife can pierce through cleanly and toss with butter, fresh dill, salt and pepper. Or try this  potato, sausage and spinach breakfast casserole . I’d replace the frozen spinach with fresh (or swiss chard) and use new potatoes rather than russet and why not throw in some green garlic and spring onions because they are so dang good?!

Farmers' Market Potatoes

New Potatoes

 

greens, greens and more greens

The market was exploding with fresh greens this week! Pea tendrils, mustard flowers, fava leaves, lettuces, spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, kale, celery, even cabbage still intensely green and flavorful.

Farmers' Market Vegetables

Pea Tendrils, Swiss Chard and Cabbage

the return of sweet

Strawberries hit the market about two weeks or so ago then disappeared. Why? Rain is bad for fully developed fruit as it causes mold. But the shiny sweet strawberries were back today in several stalls. Citrus continues to brighten the tables, however quantities are dwindling; you can still find kiwi too. As far as fruit goes, there is not much more than that. In the next month rhubarb, blueberries and cherries will appear.

rounding out the list

The first English peas arrived today at Iacopi Farms! Radishes, beets, carrots, turnips, artichokes, leeks, broccoli, fennel were everywhere .

Find a farmers’ market this weekend and enjoy the Springtime weather!