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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.


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.


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!


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


Have a great weekend!


Home Lifestyle

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!

Home Lifestyle

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!


Farmers Markets Home Lifestyle

Winter Delights from the Market

January 26, 2017

There is a significant downturn in Farmers’ Market attendance come November. Maybe it’s the gray weather or the lack of tomatoes? I’ve always been stumped by the disappearance of shoppers. I mean, people still need to eat, right?

Sure, you’re not going to find a sun-ripened peach so juicy you must eat it over the sink or tomatoes so sweet their skins are blistered from growing to fast in the hot sun. But a trip to the market in the coldest season presents some equally intriguing options- if you just give them a chance.

Winter vegetables are nutritional powerhouses containing anti-cancer fighting properties and they are packed with vitamins and fiber. When compared to their spring and summer siblings, winter vegetables last much longer: If stored properly, greens can last at least a week and root vegetables up to four weeks.

My Winter Watch List

  • Hearty greens are everywhere. You’ll find rainbow-colored Swiss chard and Siberian kale you never knew could be so tender. When it comes to hearty greens, I think simple is best. This garlicky swiss chard is so good! If you don’t have Swiss chard you could use kale or spinach or a combination.


Cauliflower and Romanesco

Colorful Cauliflower and Romanesco


  • Beets!!! Whether red, gold or chioggia (with a candy cane striped interior) are my favorite winter treats. If you have only eaten beets from a can I encourage you to try roasting them at home. Roasting brings out the natural sugar, earthly flavor and retains their jewel-toned vibrancy (when roasted separate from other items). You’ll never eat canned beets again!

Once roasted and peeled store your beets in a glass container for up to one week. I make a simple salad of shaved beets, greens (I like arugula), blue or goat cheese, toasted walnuts and vinaigrette. But you can also eat them raw. Sliced on a mandolin or very fine with a sharp knife they add an earthy crunch to salads.

When you arrive home from the market, remove the beet greens and store them separately. They can be tossed into soups, sautéed and added to omelets, or used raw in a green salad.


swiss chard, beets & romanesco

Rainbow Swiss Chard, Beets in three colors and Romanseco


  • Radishes that have captivating names like scarlet, watermelon (yes, it really looks like a watermelon inside!), French breakfast and Bordeaux to name just a few.


Watermelon, french breakfast and scarlet radishes

  • Celeriac aka “celery root” line the tables of most farmers’ stalls. If you’re looking for inspiration this winter, Diane Morgan’s terrific cookbook Roots will do the trick. From plain old carrots and potatoes to more exotic vegetables like rutabaga and salsify, Morgan presents mouth-watering recipes that make the most of winters’ bounty. Many recipes are on her website, including the delicious Celery Root Purée with Anjou Pear. Potato gratin is such a treat but this Root Vegetable Gratin includes celery root and parsnips and is so dang good!

Celery Root

  • This winter salad combines many seasonal ingredients, oranges, radishes and arugula (called rocket in the recipe). It calls for red lollo rosso lettuce however any lettuce will do. And don’t feel as though you need to follow the dressing recipe exactly. (My family doesn’t care for fennel seeds so I didn’t add them in.)


  • A big pot of soup is welcome this time of year. This Winter Lentil Soup is hearty and satisfying. I add or replace vegetables depending on what I have on-hand.

And watch for these other winter favorites:  fennel, winter squash, leeks, cabbages (red, green and savoy), broccoli, brussels sprouts, collard greens, parsnips, turnips, carrots, rutabagas, greens and, of course, citrus.




Home Lifestyle Recipes

Cranberry Apple Salsa

November 23, 2016

Cranberry Apple Salsa is a blast from my past. While browsing through a box of recipe cards (yes, recipe cards!) from my Mother I came across a few of my own from the 80’s. Food trends come and go—Matcha, acaí bowls and avocado toast are currently popular—and the 80’s were no exception. Quiche, blackened anything and spinach dip were all the rage as was salsa. Salsa became a staple, it gained in popularity as chefs tweaked and played with flavors. Tropical salsas, (hello Wolfgang Puck!) typically paired with the blackened fish, were de rigueur. I don’t remember where I found this recipe, but I made it often. Feeling nostalgic this holiday season, I thought I would revisit and add a few ingredients to bump up the flavor.

cranberry apple salsa

cranberry apple salsa

This salsa can be made ahead of time and is easy to prepare with basic ingredients. If you’re looking for an easy last-minute appetizer or a fresh condiment perk up your leftover turkey sandwich this is for you. Our tradition for lunch on Thanksgiving is heavy appetizers spread out mid-day for all to enjoy whenever hunger hits. A bowl filled with Cranberry Apple Salsa and a platter piled high with homemade persimmon chips and root vegetable chips such as these from Terra Chips   is light and refreshing.

Additionally, you can mix the salsa with cream cheese for a zippy bagel spread.


Cranberry Apple Salsa


  • 1/2 cup picked over fresh cranberries, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup apple (I used fuji) peeled and finely chopped tossed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 fresh jalapeños seeded and minced


  1. In a small food processor finely chop the cranberries and apples separately. Or chop by hand
  2. Place in a medium size bowl
  3. Add remaining ingredients
  4. Cover and refridgerate at least one hour
  5. Serve with root vegetable chips or persimmon chips