5 Ways to Enjoy Sweet Summer Corn

bicolor cornCorn, wonderful sweet corn. There are so many ways to prepare fresh corn. Here are some delicious ways to enjoy this summer treat.

  1. GRILL: This is the easiest, simplest, and most enjoyable way to eat summer corn. Remove husk and silk. Wrap cobs loosely in foil (add a few dabs of butter if you like). Place on the grill for about 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. CORN SALAD: Great for picnics. Just remove corn from cob, toss with chopped veggies of your choice – red and green bell peppers, zucchini, red onion, tomatoes, or other veggies. Add sliced olives and chives, and toss with vinaigrette. Chill and enjoy.
  3. JALAPENO CORNBREAD: Another favorite. Take any traditional cornbread recipe and add finely chopped jalapeños and, if you like, some finely chopped red bell pepper for a colorful side dish.
  4. CORN CAKES: Great as a quick easy side dish. Crisp and creamy, these are a real treat. See the recipe below.
  5. CORN WITH FRESH HERBS: Fresh summer herbs are the best and when paired with sweet summer corn, they’re awesome. Sauté corn with chopped onion for a few minutes. Add fresh chopped chives, sage, oregano, and a bit of salt and pepper. Sauté quickly and serve hot.

Corn Cakes
2-1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 5 ears)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal (yellow or white)

8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

  1. In a food processor, pulse corn, eggs, milk, and butter 3 to 4 times or until corn is coarsely chopped.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, cheese, chives, salt, and pepper.
  3. Stir in corn mixture just until dry ingredients are moistened; do not over-stir or beat.
  4. Spoon 2 tablespoons batter onto a hot, lightly greased skillet or griddle to form 2″ cakes; do not spread or flatten cakes.
  5. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until tops of corn cakes are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked.
  6. Turn corn cakes over and cook for 2-3 additional minutes.
  7. ENJOY!

Solstice Inspirations and Climate Smart Farming

Last week I marked the summer solstice dining under a beautiful twilight sky at Glide Ranch in Davis at the “Celebrate the Solstice” dinner.  The evening was notable not just for the food – which was outstanding – or for the company – which was very entertaining – but also for the opportunity to show support for an amazing organization: Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF).

caff-solsticePCFMA is a longtime fan and partner of CAFF and their work to support and sustain our state’s family farmers. CAFF’s work extends into many areas including farm-to-school, food safety, and now, climate-smart farming. As the ongoing drought demonstrates, the ability of California farmers to continue to produce high quality and nutritious food is limited by a multitude of factors outside of their direct control. The impacts of climate change are equally serious – reduced chilling hours has the potential to decrease production of popular stone fruits and apples, extreme heat threatens the health and safety of farm workers, and climate changes have the potential to increase plant stresses which farmers may try to treat with increasing uses of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

To help address the challenges of climate change on California agriculture, CAFF is co-sponsoring SB 367, the Agriculture Climate Benefits Act. The bill is authored by Senator Lois Wolk and is co-sponsored by California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN). SB 367 promotes climate-friendly agricultural practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and store carbon such as increased composting and addition of compost to rangeland, planting hedgerows and riparian habitats alongside production acres, and a shift to no-till crop production. The potential funding identified within SB 367 is the state of California’s cap and trade funds, not the state’s general fund, ensuring that these costs are not borne by California taxpayers.

Recognizing the urgency of this issue and the opportunities that SB 367 presents to support California’s farmers in their efforts to not just mitigate the impacts of climate change but to also begin removing carbon from the atmosphere, PCFMA has signed on as a supporter of SB 367. I encourage you to visit CAFF.org and CalClimateAg.org to learn more about this important legislation.

PCFMA will continue to monitor this legislation and other efforts in Sacramento to help our state’s farmers address the challenges of climate change and the drought. Closer to home, PCFMA is continuing its work to better educate farmers’ market customers about the impacts of the drought and how they can be a part of the solution to better management of our state’s precious water resources. A recent online survey of PCFMA’s farmers’ market customers about the California drought has resulted in over 1,200 responses to date. We are in the process of analyzing the responses and will have information to share in the coming weeks.

Thanks for all of your support of PCFMA and our markets. I look forward to seeing you in the market soon.

Allen-Signature

Allen J. Moy
Executive Director

Market Thymes Newsletter – July 2015

July 2015-1Market Thymes July 2015

Summer’s Sizzlin’ at the Market
Summer is in full swing at your local certified farmers’ market. There is a bounty of fantastic summer produce with everything from sweet Brentwood corn, squash, peppers, and eggplant to berries, stonefruit, and tomatoes. There are mounds of fresh salad greens, big red onions, fresh piquant herbs, and more carrots and celery than you can count!

Best Pick: Cooking with Padron Peppers

padronsIt’s pepper season and the padron pepper is a market favorite. These bright green peppers are one of the mild chile peppers but, short of eating one outright, some can be a bit spicy. The saying goes, “Os pementos de Padrón, uns pican e outros non” (“Padrón peppers, some are hot, some are not).

These small chiles can be used in a variety of ways.

  • Simple frying or sauteing is the best. Add olive oil to a hot pan, toss in a big handful of washed and dried padron peppers and cook until blistered. Remove from pan and toss with salt. Serve.
  • Toss with olive oil and salt and add to your outside barbecue grill until browned.
  • Mix with olive oil and salt and lay in a single layer on a cookie sheet fitted with foil. Roast at 400 degrees for about a half hour or until skin is blistered.

All the padrons in these basic recipes can be fried, roasted or grilled with other vegetables, too. Cooked padrons can be added to salads, used as pizza or focaccia toppings, added to sandwiches or just eaten out of hand.

Be sure to stop by the farmers’ market and pick up a big bag because you’re going to love them!

PCFMA Seeks Market Match Technology Partner

The Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association is seeking a technology partner and database developer to help PCFMA increase the efficiency of its Market Match program. The goal is to create a machine-readable farmers’ market scrip and a database system that will improve the counting and detailed tracking of that scrip.

Market Match is an incentive program that is designed to encourage increased purchases and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables by low income families enrolled in the CalFresh program by allowing them to increase their food budgets when they shop at their local farmers’ markets.

To learn more about the Market Match program, PCFMA’s vision for this project, and how to submit a proposal, please download the Request for Proposals.

Proposals are due to PCFMA by 5:00pm Pacific on Monday, July 20, 2015.

 

5 Ways to Eat Summer Squash

Summer Squash 5-26-2010 Happy BoySummer squash tops the list of easy-to-prepare and good-for-you summer fare.  A very prolific vegetable, summer squash is soft-shelled with thin edible skins and seeds. It has tender flesh that requires only a short cooking time.

Common varieties of summer squash include zucchini, pattypan, and yellow crookneck. Other varieties coming to the market are the globe or “eight-ball,” the golden zucchini, the pale green English zucchini, and the bright yellow Sunburst squash with its green stem. There are even squash that are half yellow and half dark green!

Summer squash is very easy to prepare. Wash thoroughly, trim the ends, and you’re ready. Here are some quick and tasty ideas for preparing squash:

  1. Grilled Squash: Cut zucchini and yellow squash in half lengthwise, sprinkle with a little olive oil, salt and a touch of chipotle powder (not too much – it’s very strong and spicy), and place on the grill for 5 minutes or until soft.
  2. Grilled Zucchini & Onions: Cut a variety of summer squash and yellow onion into chunks or slices, place in a bowl, toss with a little olive oil, grated Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and a bit of crushed garlic. Lay a length of aluminum foil on the counter and pour squash mixture onto foil. Fold foil around squash, creating a foil packet, sealing tightly. Place on the grill for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Skewers: Cut squash in big chunks and toss with button mushrooms and cherry tomatoes in a favorite marinade, place on skewers and grill for a veggie kabob.
  4. Ribbon Salad: Thinly slice 2 raw zucchini into long ribbons. Place in a bowl and add chopped sun dried tomatoes and pine nuts. Gently toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Serve room temperature as a side salad.
  5. Baked Zucchini: Slice a zucchini and a yellow squash into circles. Lay in a greased 8×8 glass pan. Melt two tablespoons of butter and drizzle evenly over the squash (use olive oil if you’d rather use it), sprinkle with panko bread crumbs and them 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 to 25  minutes or until softened and browned on top.

Peach Perfect

Peach-Salsa2Peaches are so versatile that they can be used in both savory and sweet recipes. Everyone makes peach cobbler and peach pie, but try adding a bit of sweetness to your savory dishes by grilling with herbs, adding to salads and sauces, or making this delicious salsa, perfected by Sara Haston, our Cookin’ the Market chef.

She writes: “This salsa is the perfect marriage of sweet and spicy. We wanted to preserve the bounty of peaches arriving to market by the crate full, so we canned this peach salsa at Downtown San Jose Farmers’ Market using a trusty recipe from a canning book called ‘Put ‘Em Up.’ When canning it’s always imperative to follow the exact measurements and cooking directions from your recipe. If you want to skip the canning, simply place in fridge for up to 1 week.”

Here’s the recipe:

INGREDIENTS      makes 3 pints

3 lbs. just barely ripe peaches, we sourced ours from Hamlow Ranches Farm
1 lb. early girl tomatoes, we sourced ours from Alberto’s
1 jalapeno pepper
1 red onion
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1 cup of apple cider vinegar
1 cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of ground cumin
1 tablespoon of salt

METHOD
1. Prepare an ice-water bath in a medium bowl.

2. Bring a pot of water to boil. Working in batches of 2-3, blanch the peaches for 30 seconds. Scoop them out of the water and plunge them into the ice-water bath. Repeat with the remaining peaches.

3. Core, seed, and dice tomatoes. Dice bell pepper, onion, and jalapeno. Using a pairing knife peel, pit, and dice peaches.

4. Combine vinegar, sugar, cumin, and salt in a large pot, and turn heat to medium high. Add all ingredients except the cilantro, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until salsa has thickened. Add cilantro and remove from heat.

5. To can, use the boiling water method found here. and process for 15 minutes.

Photo by Chef Sara

Fresh Herbs Delight the Senses

DebherbspicHerbs and spices add wonderful depth and flavor to almost every dish. Cooking with fresh herbs enhances the taste of food. Their fragrance adds to the experience. There are many varieties of fresh herbs available at the farmers’ market this time of year: Basil, cilantro, thyme, bay leaf, oregano, rosemary, sage, dill, mint, chives, and so much more. There are also many wonderful Asian herbs like lemongrass, pepper leaves, and Thai basil, just to name a few.

Herbs and spices are often categorized together. However, herbs come from the leafy part of a plant while spices refer to the seeds and are always dry. Herbs fall into two categories: the ‘fine’ herbs, such as basil, chervil, rosemary and thyme, and the ‘robust’ herbs like mint, savory, dill and sage. Generally all herbs should be added toward the end of cooking. After cooking too long, they give a bitter taste to the food.

Herb Tips

  • Best when freshly picked.
  • Some will keep up to 2 weeks when refrigerated and sealed in small plastic bags.
  • Refrigerate basil and dill with stem or roots in water, covered with plastic. Most herbs rot quickly.
  • Wash when you’re ready to use. If they’re wet, wrap in paper towel. Keep at room temperature until the leaves dry.
  • When using for the first time, add small amounts to the recipe. If necessary, you can always add more.

Grilled Herb Vegetables
4 medium red potatoes, cut in half
1 onion, peeled, cut in chunks
1/2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed, cut in 2-inch sections
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon fresh sage leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients in a bowl. Place ingredients in a pile on aluminum foil and wrap the foil around vegetables to make a packet. Make sure ends are sealed. Grill on medium heat for about 15 minutes. Serve hot.

5 Reasons to Try a Donut Peach

DonutpeachesStone fruit season is upon us. Peaches, nectarines, plums, and pluots arrived a few weeks early this year, so take advantage of the juicy sweet flavor they offer. And try a donut peach. Also called the ‘Saturn’ peach or saucer peach, they’re small, squat, with a dimpled center, and just the right size for a few bites.

Five Reasons to Try Donut Peaches

  1. They are free stone, meaning the pit doesn’t stick to the flesh of the peach, making it easier to eat.
  2. The flesh is very sweet with almond undertones.
  3. They’re small and easily eaten out of hand. Good for snacking.
  4. They make great jam, compotes, juices, and pies.
  5. They’re full of fiber, vitamin A & C, with no sodium or cholesterol.

Pick up a handful of donut peaches at the farmers’ market. They will be available for another month or so. Use as you would other peach varieties.

Grilled Donut Peaches
4 donut peaches
1 tablespoon of butter, melted
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Chopped walnuts or pecans
Vanilla ice cream

Slice peaches lengthwise and remove pit. Do not remove skin. Brush with butter. Place on medium high grill for about 5 to 6 minutes or until peaches are soft and have grill marks. Place on a platter and sprinkle with brown sugar and nuts. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Recipe: Debra Morris, PCFMA. Photo by Mario Hernandez, Cookin’ the Market chef.

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