Tag Archives: Martinez

Stroll the Martinez Market

The summery and lovely weather we are having calls for a stroll to downtown Martinez on Thursday to the Pacific Coast Farmer’s Market to check out all the fresh fruits and vegetables from the fields in the nearby valleys.  As an extra inducement to visit the market, Sugar and Spice from Richmond will be offering their delicious varieties of goodies for your snacks and desserts.  Their products will keep you away from baking in a hot kitchen while still being able to serve freshly baked goodies.

 In addition to this bounty, the Sunset Olive Grove from Castro Valley brings their fine extra virgin olive oil that is grown and pressed in Oroville on their forty acre orchard which has trees that are around 100 years old.

 The olives are handpicked between late November and February and cold-pressed either the same day or the following day.  The folks at the Sunset Olive Grove are very proud to display the California Olive Oil Council’s Seal of Extra Virgin Olive Oil – a recognition that is not easily earned.  Their philosophy states “we enjoy being part of the land and sharing the wonderful oil that California produces….We appreciate the opportunity to educate our customers about the health benefits of olive oil…and how to choose and use the product.”

 Having been reared by an Italian mother, I have in my kitchen cupboard the staple ingredient of her cupboard – olive oil.  I am reminded of my old friend Ken who thought olive oil was only good as a hair dressing!  Such misinformation!  Everybody knows that olive oil is good for dandruff all the way down to the dry skin on your heels and every other place on the skin that needs some gentle softening and lubrication.  (That is if you don’t mind giving out the delicate aroma of salad dressing!)

Being the major ingredient in a zesty salad dressing and a wonderful topping with a bit of vinegar, salt, and minced parsley for boiled potatoes, olive oil gives a great flavor boost when sautéing a few chopped onions for the bottom of the pan in which you are to steam spinach or other greens.

French Dressing

¾ c. olive oil
¼ c.  lemon juice or cider vinegar
1 T. sugar
¾ t. salt
¼ t. paprika
¼ t. dry mustard
¼ t. pepper

Combine in a screw-top jar.  Cover tightly and shake vigorously to blend.  Store in refrigerator and shake well before using.  Makes 1 cup.

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Marinated Mushrooms

½ lb. mushrooms, chopped
4 T. olive oil
2 T. cider vinegar or wine
½ t. salt
pinch pepper
2 green onions, minced

Mix together and let stand for 1 hour before using.

Use as:

1.     Dressing on salad greens

2.     Place in unbuttered rounds of French bread to serve as appetizers

3.     Use on cold chicken or shrimp as a dressing

4.     Use as a sandwich spread for small tea sandwiches

Summer’s Bounty

It’s summer and our choices of fruits and vegetables are seemingly endless! Going down the aisle of stalls at the Pacific Coast Farmer’s Market on Thursday on Main Street is such a treat.  Just looking at the variety of fruits and vegetables available directly from their harvest at nearby ranches makes one grateful to be here in the Bay Area and privy to such bounty.

Resendez Farm down in the valley at Hughson is featuring this week’s produce fresh from the fields.  They also want to alert us that very soon they will be bringing a great grape harvest of Thompson Seedless and Red Flames as well as their chocolate cherry tomatoes.

J & M Farms are bringing tasty juicy tomatoes also.  Additionally, you will find peaches, nectarines and cherries, the latter available perhaps for only one more week, so get you “cherry fix” now!

Stop by Lemon Tree for some unique Indian food, prepared fresh and ready for your table.  How easily you can vary your menus by trying some new ethnic foods.  You may find a flavor that will enhance and vary your summer menus.  All these treats will be there when you stroll the aisle to the strumming harp of “Angel” as she offers lively melodies on her talented “strings.”  Moving in time to her music makes shopping fun.

Of course, if you haven’t been tending your garden as well as you should have, there are beautiful bouquets of just picked flowers in a rainbow of colors from Fernandes Flowers.  Abel is always ready to exchange a cheerful greeting and explain the names and features of his many varieties of blooms and greenery.  I always seem to find a display of some posies I have never seen before.  And – the color choices are many.  Having a bouquet of fresh flowers adds life and color to a table or hallway and makes the area cheery and welcoming.

Stuffed Tomatoes

4 ripe tomatoes
lettuce cups
smoked turkey or chicken, cut up
3 T. sweet pickle relish
3 T. minced celery
mayonnaise

Turn tomatoes, stem end down and cut each not quite through in sedges.  Spread apart.  Place in lettuce cups on serving plate.  Combine meat, pickle relish, celery and enough mayo to moisten.  Spoon into center of tomatoes.

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Summer Salad

2 c. chopped tomato
1 c. sliced cucumber
1 can (3 oz.) or equivalent fresh sliced mushrooms
3 T. vegetable oil
3 T. wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t. salt, dash pepper
lettuce 
3 T. blue cheese, crumbled

Place tomato, cucumber and mushrooms in bowl.  (If using canned, use undrained)  Combine remaining ingredients except cheese and lettuce and pour over veggies.  Chill several hours and then serve, sprinkled with cheese and placed on lettuce.

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Peachtree Salad

2/3 c. salad oil
1/3 c. wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, split
1 t. sugar
½ to salt, dash pepper
8 c. torn salad greens, chilled
1 c. minced parsley
1 c. sliced peaches
½ c. broken pecans.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a jar, cover and shake to blend.  Chill, then remove garlic and shake again before tossing with greens and remaining ingredients.

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Colorful Cherry Salad

Toss together: 1 c. pitted fresh cherries, 1 c. cantaloupe balls, ½ c. diced avocado and 1 c. grapefruit sections.  Heap in crisp lettuce cups and serve with French dressing.  Too easy, very fresh and tasty!

The Flowers That Bloom In the Spring, Tra La!

Wow!  As I write today (a few days ago for you) there is no mistaking that we have skipped Spring and are now enjoying Summer!  That may be a bit optimistic on my part, I agree, but the temperature on my deck is strictly summertime.  My apricot, plum and apple trees all have little green balls hanging from their leafy branches, promising some tasty fruits to ripen soon.  But – this is the season for flowers!  Flowers!  Flowers!

            When you get to the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market on Main Street on Thursday, be sure to stop at the Brookside Orchids stall.  In my youth, orchids were extra special lavender colored flowers you got to wear on your shoulder or wrist on that very important prom date.  That’s no longer true, I’m so happy to report.  Orchids now come in a rainbow of colors and of sizes from miniature to humongous to enjoy and adorn your home as well as your person.

            Orchids abound and are available to display on  your tables and shelves along with your shoulders due to their popularity and updated orchid production.  Brookside Orchids has been in operation since 1979 at their gardens near Stanford University about 30 minutes south of San Francisco.  During most of that time, Brookside was a wholesale grower/broker of flowering plants.  In 1996, the nursery began boarding and now has widened to include retail sales of flowering plants as well as immature seedlings and meristems to both general public and orchid hobbyists.

            Across the vendors’ aisle you will find the longtime stall of Great Harvest Breads.  I have written of them many times, but I want to be sure to remind you that their freshly baked products are wonderfully available.  You can almost feel the warmth and fragrance of breads just taken from their ovens in Oakland.  Choose from their varied selection of whole wheat, white and seeded Dakota breads as well as their delicious huge cookies and biscotti.  If oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, ginger snaps and white chocolate chip cookies cause you to salivate just thinking about them, this is the stall to stop and “get ‘em while they’re hot.”

            However, it you are in a big rush and you must have some cookies ASAP, try these.  I cannot vouch for them as I haven’t made them myself, but they sound quite intriguing so let’s give them a try.  Imagine! Cookies in a few minutes!

Almond and Cherry Microwave Cookies

½ c. (4 oz.) peanut butter

¼ c. butter or margarine

5 ½ oz. granulated sugar

1 egg

½ t. almond flavoring

1 ½ c. flour

½ t. baking powder

6 glace’ cherries, halved

12 blanched almonds

            Place p-nut butter and butter into a large microwave-safe mixing bowl.  Soften on high power for 15 seconds.  Add the sugar and beat on medium to high till mixture is light and fluffy.  Stir in egg and flavoring and beat well.  Stir in as much of the flour and baking powder as you can with the mixer and stir in any remaining flour with a wooden spoon.

            Shape teaspoons of dough into balls and place 6 balls widely spaced on a large greased microwave-safe plat.  Flatten each ball lightly with your hand and place halve a glace’ cherry on half of them and a blanched almond on the other half.  Cook on high power for 1 ½ – 2 minutes until cooked through and let set for 1 to 2 minutes to crisp before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.  Repeat with the rest of the dough.

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Explore New Vendors

            Spring has certainly sprung with the Vendors at the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market on Main Street on Thursdays in Martinez.  Fruit and produce galore – in varieties and colors for all our menus.  It’s the start of a great new season.

            The Pt. Reyes Oyster Co. from Tomales Bay is now offering their organically farmed shellfish and oysters, Manila clams, and Bay mussels. This group has been bringing their products from their family business (started back in 1850!) to Farmers’ Markets for 25 years.  Their reputation for unblemished goodness of products is no doubt testimony to their longevity.

            Oysters are one of the richest dietary sources of copper which is essential for the body’s utilization of iron in building red blood cells.  Copper is also needed for the formation of the body’s necessary protein connective tissue.  Oysters are a tasty way to fulfill these needs as well as the body’s requirement of iron, manganese and fluorine.

            Also new to the Thursday Market is a booth called “A Couple of Cakes.”  Elena was at the booth offering freshly baked Banana Bread in slices as well as loaves, carrot and zucchini breads, muffins and coffee cakes.  Elena stated that this family endeavor bakes in Walnut Creek so you know their products are offered to us just a short distance from their ovens.  How fresh can you get!

Although J and J vendors from Modesto are not new to the Market, mention must be made of the fresh and colorful display of fruits and vegetables they bring.  Use your sunglasses as you choose from bright red strawberries, Bing cherries, red onions, walnuts, raisins, and tomatoes.  And – if you love oranges as much as I do carry a big tote and fill it up because we have only a few weeks left to stock up on those vitamin-packed juicy balls.  And don’t pass up those big sweet apricots.  A bit of trivia:  The “apple” Eve was supposed to have tempted Adam with was actually an apricot – or so say some “authoritative sources.”

Cherry Cobbler

Filling:

          4 c. pitted cherries (cut coarsely in two)

          ¾ c. granulated sugar

          1 ½ T. cornstarch

1 T. lemon juice  

Topping:

          4 T. unsalted butter, room temperature

          1/3 c. granulated sugar

          1 c. flour

          2 t. baking powder

          ½ t. baking soda

          ¼ t. salt

          1 t. minced lemon zest

          ½ c. buttermilk

In a sauce off the heat, stir together the cherries and sugar and allow to blend for 30 minutes.  Pour off ½ c. of the accumulated juice into a small bowl and dissolve the cornstarch in it.  Return the juice to the saucepan, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes or until thickened a bit and the cherries look glazed.  Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice.

          Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a processor or mixer, combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk and mix well.  Batter will be sticky.

          Pour cherries into a 9” square baking dish and drop the batter by tablespoonsful onto the cherries.  Filling may show.  Place cobbler in oven and bake 40 – 45 minutes until top is golden brown and filling is bubbling.  Remove and let cool for 15 minutes.  Serve warm with ice cream to 6.

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Hangtown Fry

12 eggs

2/3 c. cream

2 t. salt/dash pepper

½ c. flour

24 sjocled puster (oops, my fingers were on the wrong keys!  I meant    SHUCKED OYSTERS!  Sorry!)

½ c. butter

1 c/ grated Parmesan cheese

          In a bowl, beat eggs, add cream and half the salt.  Mix well.  Mix flour, remaining salt and pepper and coat oysters with the mixture.

          In a large fry pan, melt butter and add oysters.  Cook for about 1 minute, then add egg mixture.  As eggs begin to coagulate, sprinkle on the Parmesan.  Then fold over the mixture and continue cooking until done.  Serves 6.

Munching Along

            To borrow a phrase from Archie (the cockroach) to Mehitabel (his cat ladyfriend), “There’s nothing I like better than a warm bath and a bite to eat.”  I must, however, take poetic license and amend that line to “There’s nothing I like better than a stroll and a bite to eat.”  That’s because it’s my favorite activity on Thursdays at the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market on Main Street in Martinez.

            For many years now that has been a favorite pursuit for countless of the citizens of this historical village.  Sampling and buying a variety of products from local farmers involves a leisurely stroll through the vendors’ aisles, accompanied by Fred McCarthy sweetly strumming on his guitar or the Harp Lady with her melodious arpeggios.  Munching on samples of juicy sweet wedges of apricots, meeting and chatting with old friends and coming home with a tote bag full of fruits and vegetables for the family table is the order of the day.

            This is a great season for the market because our farms are harvesting so many fresh veggies and fruits that the choices seem limitless.  And – besides that, there are vendors ready to tempt your palate with samples of all kinds of tasties from Mini Do-Nuts to coin-shaped slices of sausage on a toothpick. 

            Gino and Rich are two of the “Five Cousins from Portugal” who bring hot or mild liguica sandwiches from their kitchen in Alamo.  Made from a family recipe that goes back for untold generations, these fellows brag that their motto “Taste and texture like no other” is truly a fact.  They must not be wrong as evidenced by the many folks who leave the market with their product in their totes.

            Across the aisle from “the cousins” you can choose from the colorful variety of produce brought from Merced by the Vang Farm. On their 10 acres plus, these folks raise big fat juicy strawberries, picked daily from their fields along with an endless array of vegetables.  It you are looking for sugar snap peas, fava beans, daicon, Chinese broccoli, bok choy, green onions, chard and sweet potatoes, theirs is a one-stop shop of goodies.

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            This recipe sounds and actually is a bit more time consuming than quickly steaming (which is not bad at all!), but can be made ahead and refrigerated for another day’s meal.  It’s a special treat and well worth the time needed.

Stuffed Chard

  1. Heat ¼ c. olive oil, add ¼ c. pine nuts or slivered almonds.  Cook until golden and remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. In the same pan, add 2 large onions, chopped, and cook, stirring frequently until golden – 15 to 20 minutes. 
  2. Add ½ c. chopped parsley and cook for several minutes more.
  3. Remove pan from heat and stir in 2 c. cooked brown rice, ½ c. raisins, 4 t. dill weed, ½ t. salt, ½ t. ground cinnamon, ¾ t. ground allspice, pinch cayenne, and 1 T. lemon juice.  Stir to blend well.
  4. Wash chard, cut off stems.  Cut large leaves in half lengthwise; leave small leaves whole.
  5. Drop leaves into a large kettle of boiling water and blanch for 1 minute.  Plunge leaves into a bowl of cold water and drain again.
  6. Spread leaves, veined side down, on a flat surface and place 1 T. filling near stem end.  Fold in leaf’s sides and roll up.
  7. Arrange filled leaves, seam side down, in a single layer in a greased baking pan.  Sprinkle with 2 T. water. 
  8. Cover and bake 350 degrees for about 25 – 35 minutes or until hot.  Serves 8.

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      That recipe for the stuffed chard is a good one for a vegetarian main dish.  It’s pretty to look at as well.  Even if you are a dedicated meat eater, a vegetarian meal now and then makes for a nice change.  Just remember, if you have several colors on your plate, something raw and something cooked, and something smooth plus something textured, I think you will have covered the day’s nutritional requirements.    

The bounty of the fields in this season invites you to try preparing something different from your usual meals.  Have you had a rutabaga lately?  Cheers, Olga B.

Fresh, Local Produce

It’s really great to have our local Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market open now in downtown Martinez from 10 am to 2 pm on Thursdays.  That means we can get fresh-from-the-fields fruits and vegetables.  Golly, it must be Spring!

Brilliantly and appropriately suited Mr. Carrot was greeted by genial Market Manager Sameer Poudyal as the Market’s vendors displayed their products brought to us directly from their farms.

Sim and Mario from the Market staff gave simple but yummy cooking demos – this week featuring grilled fava beans in their pods and fresh young asparagus. First of all, Sim heated up his small stove-top grill and then coated it with olive oil, a sprinkling of sea salt and a bit of chili powder.  While the veggies roasted on the grill, he prepared a tasty sauce to use as a topping after plattering the tender veggies for serving.

Sauce for Grilled Vegetables

In a skillet over very low heat, sauté minced spring garlic in olive oil. Sprinkle with lemon zest and a generous squeeze of lemon juice and top with shaved Italian parsley, salt and pepper.  Use to drizzle over roasted vegetables.

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Do take advantage of the super tomatoes available this season.  Besides adding them in wedges in a simple fresh green salad or alternating the wedges with slices of mozzarella as an appetizer, here’s a tasty way to serve them as a companion dish:

Tomatoes Provencal

1 T. each, minced garlic, chopped parsley and fine dry whole wheat bread crumbs.  Add a sprinkling of salt and a dash of pepper.

Core and halve 4 medium sized tomatoes; squeeze gently to remove seeds and juice.  Place tomatoes cut side up in a small baking dish and drizzle with 1 T. olive oil.  Bake uncovered in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle crumb mixture over tomatoes and continue baking 15 minutes more or until tomatoes are soft throughout.  Serves 4.

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 I was raised on simple steamed carrots with butter and salt.  Mama said if I ate them all, I would have curly hair.  (She lied!)  However, here’s an interesting recipe for you to try.  I can’t guarantee the curly hair, but this is pretty tasty and a bit different.

Curried Carrots and Fruit

Cut 4 carrots in ¼” thick slanting slices; makes about 3 c.  Drain 1

 

 

 

 

11-oz. can mandarin oranges, reserving 3 T. of the liquid.

In a wide fry pan over medium heat, melt 2 T. butter.  Add the carrots and the reserved orange liquid.  Cook, covered, until carrots are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated – about 5-6 minutes.

In a cup, blend and stir together 1 t. curry powder, ½ t. salt and 1 t. lemon juice.  Stir into carrots along with 1 c. whole seedless grapes. Cover and cook just until heated through.  Stir in orange segments and 1 green onion, thinly sliced.  Serves 6.

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I’ll bet you’ve never tasted a potato salad like this one.  Usually potato salad is soft and pale.  Not this one because it’s crisp and tangy with lots of other stuff to make it special.  The only way I can figure it’s called “Russian” is the presence of – beets!

Russian Potato Salad

1 lb. thin-skinned potatoes

2 med. apples, unpeeled

3 medium carrots, thinly sliced

1 small red onion, chopped

 

 

 

 

 

1 med. green pepper, seeded and cut into strips

1 can (1 lb.) pickled beets, drained and diced

Place potatoes in 1” boiling water, cover and cook just until tender, 20 minutes or so.  Meanwhile, prepare Dressing (below).  Drain potatoes, cool, peel and dice directly into dressing.  Also dice apples into dressing.  Add remaining ingredients, stir, cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours.  Serves about 10.

Caper Dressing for Russian Salad

Stir together 3 T each, white wine vinegar and capers, ½ c. salad oil, 2 t. sugar, 1 t. each dry mustard and salt, ½ t. dill weed and a pinch each pepper and paprika.

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This just in:  A survey to determine which foods can be aptly called “comfort foods” has been released!  I’ll give you a few in alphabetical order each week.  This week’s foods are Apple Pie, Baked Beans, Banana Pudding and Beef Stew.

End of the Season Here

It’s hard to believe that we are just a short time away from our Thanksgiving holiday!  And so, too, we have come to the end of Martinez’ Pacific Coast Farmer’s Market Thursday event.  Luckily we are in an area where other nearby Markets are still in session, but it was certainly nice to host our own for this past season.  Thanks must go to Market Manager Sameer Poudyal who made ours a varied and attractive place to get our fresh fruits and veggies for this past season.

            All the friendly vendors (as well as the live musicians who made our shopping a happy place to stroll) will be missed, so stock up now if you can with the staples they present.

            “Way To Life Natural Foods” will supply you with rolls, puddings, granolas and other goodies for nutritious eating.  Great Harvest Bread, , Mayer’s BBQ, Gold Rush Kettle Korn and many local farmers will be bringing their products for your last chance to take home their special offerings.

Check out Hamlow Farms, Schletewitz Farms, Garcia Farms and the J.M. Ibarra stalls featuring mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, onions and just about every seasonal veggie you might want.  J.J. Ramos will have fruits and nuts from the 1500 hundred acres the Ramos family has been working down in the valley in Hughson.  And don’t forget to stock up on those tasty appetizer nut assortments from Malik Ranch.  The assortment of dried fruits are also very handy to keep on hand for syrups, toppings and tasty additions to meat dishes.

             While you are at it, choose some flowers from Abel Fernandes’ booth.  His many dried flowers and foliage as well as the freshly picked ones will help make your home a visually festive place to welcome family and friends.  Don’t forget Abel’s advice regarding fresh flowers to change water daily and add a bit of 7UP to feed them.  They will definitely last longer.  His lilies and sunflowers make impressive bouquets, and who wouldn’t love an arrangement of fresh roses.

            And – speaking of flowers, don’t pass up the lovely sprays of many colored orchids at Fleur de Lourdes.  Who on earth doesn’t think orchids are elegant!  And of course, what else could be more elegant in winter but fresh strawberries?  Get some at Medinas stand, dip each washed and dried berry in some melted chocolate and have an orgy!

            The Ibarra booth will be offering their usual varieties of salad mixes and mushrooms as well as organically grown greens.  Also it would be a good idea to bring home a variety of tomatoes that will sparkle up your salads and are absolutely marvelous for garnishing platters of food as well as adding our necessary daily Vitamin C.  Alternating little tomatoes and bunches of parsley around the edges of a platter of meat is a “no brainer” – so easy to do and so pretty to serve.

            And by the way, don’t forget to grab a little bucket or two from the variety of salsas and tasties 4 offered by Cha Cha Salsa and Home Maid to jazz up your appetizer tray.  You have choices from mild to volcanic flavors to choose from so you can please everybody on the guest list.  Speaking of appetizers, treat yourself and guests to some of the exotic flavors found at Quick & Ezee Indian Foods and East/West Gourmet Food.  

 

 

Stuffed Mushrooms

 

1 c. minced cooked ham
1 T. each, minced Chutney and Dijon mustard
1 t. vinegar
2 green onions, minced
sour cream and/or mayo to bind
1 dozen (approx.) medium mushrooms, stemmed

            Mix everything (except mushrooms) and mound in mushroom caps.  Chill.

Marinated Cauliflower

1 large head cauliflower, trimmed, soaked in salted water for about 1 hour, drained
2 garlic cloves, mined
6 T. olive oil
2 T. dry white wine
1 T. lemon juice
paprika

            Drop cauliflower into boiling water and cook until stems are tender/crisp.  Drop into cold water, cool and drain.

            Saute garlic in olive oil and pour over cauliflower, sprinkle with wine and lemon juice.  Salt to taste, mix well and dust with paprika to serve.

Nut Mix

1 ¼ lb. shelled walnuts
½ lb. each, shelled almonds and pecans
¼ lb. each, sunflower seeds , pumpkin seeds and raw cashews
½ lb. raisins
 Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Combine everything but the raisins in a large roasting pan.  Roast, stirring occasionally, until nuts are golden – about 20 minutes.  Cool, then add raisins and mix well.  Can be stored in airtight containers.

Organic Offerings

             For those of you who wish to prepare foods from organically grown fruits and produce, the Pacific Coast Farmer’s Market on Thursdays at Court and Main Streets has just what you are looking for. 

            Medina’s booth brings you a lovely array of their current crop of raspberries, strawberries (huge!) and blackberries from their fields in Watsonville.  Picked in the early morning before the sale, you couldn’t find fresher or tastier berries for your table.

Whether you will use them for pies, cobblers or other desserts or just as a treat piled into a lovely sherbet glass, these appetizing berries are beauties.

            J and M Ibarra – also organic farmers – are bringing a bounty of vegetables from their fields that are not only nutritious but beautiful enough to make into a striking centerpiece for your holiday tables.  The bright shiny skins and luscious hues of their eggplants and many colored bell peppers can make an arrangement worthy of a still life painting by any budding Rembrandt. 

           The blue lake string beans are slim, straight and uniform.  Tie small individual servings with a lightly steamed green onion (to make it bendable) and serve the little bundles sprinkled with crisp bacon bits.  It’s a very pretty presentation.

            Ibarra’s also brings bagged salad mix, fresh and ready for your table, and crisp red chard that’s loaded with Vitamin C.  There are tiny white button mushrooms and large fat portabellas along with little baby bok choy.  This is really the season for all those wonderful fresh vegetables that our bodies need for vitamins.  The choices are so varied in textures and colors that you may be tempted to fix a completely vegetarian meal for a change.

Old Fashioned Stuffed Peppers

4 nicely shaped, squatty bell peppers (that can stand straight)salt/pepper
thyme or curry powder
1 c. cooked rice1 t. minced onion
1 c. ground cooked meat (substitute cubed cheddar for meat-free peppers)
tomato sauce or mushroom soup or gravy to moisten
grated cheese

            Cut off a slice from the top of each pepper and remove ribs and seeds from inside.  Place peppers in a saucepan with ½” of boiling water, cover and steam for 5 minutes.  Drain well and dust inside with salt, pepper and a little thyme or curry powder. 

            Combine rice, onion and meat with enough sauce or soup to moisten.  Fill the peppers and top with cheese.  Place in a pan with ½” water on the bottom.  Bake 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Serve with more of the sauce or gravy used in the filling.

 

Glazed Berry Pie

4 c. fresh berries, washed (hull strawberries)
½ c. sifted powdered sugar
1 c. water
1 ½ T. cornstarch
½ c. granulated sugar
8” piecrust, baked

            Add sugar to 3 c. of the berries and let stand for 1 hour.  Crush the remaining cup of berries and cook them with 1 c. water for 2 minutes.  Mix cornstarch and granulated sugar and stir into the cooked berries.  Cook gently, stirring constantly for about 20 minutes or until clear.

            Fill the baked piecrust with the whole berries.  Cover with the hot sauce.  Cool.  The sauce will become a lovely clear glaze when cold.

Fall’s Bounty at the Farmer’s Market

Fall’s Bounty at the Farmer’s Market

          Even if you don’t plan to cook, do come down to the Pacific Coast Farmer’s Market at Court and Main on Thursday and feast your eyes on the fruits and produce this season has for us.  Such bounty!  Such variety! Such color!

            At the Main Street end, do look over the vegetables that Garcia Farms is bringing to us straight from the fields.  Bell peppers, cabbages , perfect little red and white potatoes, long slender straight carrots, crisp slim string beans, snowy white cauliflower, and (my favorite) little Brussels sprouts still on the stalk.  If you have a long slender lobster pot, steam them on the stalk for a striking presentation at your next dinner.

            Then, as you stroll the aisle, gathering fresh fruits and veggies that you cannot live without, stop at Home Maid’s stall and stock up on some of their tasty spreads and sauces for your upcoming holiday meals.  And of course, don’t pass up their wonderful olives for pre-dinner munching.

            Last Thursday, Sim (of the Market’s staff) had a delicious presentation he offered for preparing Brussels sprouts.  He shreds the little “cabbages”, sautés them in butter and combines them with lightly sautéed chopped almonds.  It’s a tasty combination that is an interesting flavor/texture to add to a meal.

Brussels Sprouts with Honey-glazed Walnuts

1 c. coarsely chopped walnuts (or nuts of choice)
½ c. unsalted butter
1 ½ T. honey
1 t. salt
2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, shredded (sliced fine)
fresh pepper
1 T. cider vinegar

            Toast nuts in a hot and dry saucepan, stirring frequently to prevent burning.  When toasted, remove walnuts to a bowl and return saucepan to flame.  Melt 1 t. of butter and add honey and ½ t. salt.  When well melted and mixed, pour over nuts and toss to coat.

            In the same skillet, heat remaining 3 T. butter.  When foam subsides, add shredded sprouts, salt and pepper and stir until sprouts are barely wilted yet still tender-crisp.  Add vinegar and stir for another minute.  Then add nuts and any leftover glaze and stir for 1 minute and serve.  Yum!

 

Old Fashioned Glazed Carrots

1 lb. young carrots
2 T. unsalted butter
salt/pepper
1 t. sugar
1 t. chopped parsley

            Wash and scrape carrots and cut into ¼” slices.  Melt the butter in a saucepan; add the carrots and season with salt, pepper and the sugar.  Add enough cold water to just cover the carrots.  Bring to a quick boil, cover the pan with a lid and simmer gently for 15 – 20 minutes.

            Remove lid, increase the heat and cook the carrots until all the liquid has evaporated.  Do not allow the carrots to brown.  Remove from heat, add the parsley and toss with the carrots in the butter glaze.

 

Brussels Sprouts with Sour Cream

1 ½ lbs. Brussels sprouts
1 T. salt
½ – 1 t. freshly grated nutmeg
½ c. sour cream

            Peel and wash the sprouts.  Bring a large pan of water to a boil and add salt and the sprouts.  Bring back to a boil and cook for 5 minutes until the sprouts are just tender.  Drain well.  Stir nutmeg into the sour cream and place in the saucepan. 

            Return the well-drained sprouts to the saucepan, toss to coat well and heat gently for 1 minute before serving.

 

            The season of our Martinez Thursday Pacific Coast Farmer’s Market will be coming to a close on November 19.  BUT PLEASE SAVE THE DATE OF NOV. 12.  I will be demonstrating the method of preparing and cooking a 22 plus pound turkey in 2 ¼ hours.  This method was taught to me by my late friend and colleague Chef Ken Wolfe.  It’s a wonderful timesaver and guarantees a moist and tender turkey for your holiday table.  I’ll also have some pretty presentations for the vegetables on your menu.  See you then!   

Time’s a Wastin’

            Of course, I’m not referring to your stocking up of trick or treat goodies, nor am I urging you to finish your scary costumes for your prowl on Halloween.  I’m sure you are well prepared.  I’m thinking that the last day of the Pacific Coast Farmer’s Market on Thursdays on Court and Main Streets is coming up in the middle of November which is only a few weeks away.

            Of course, you can’t stock up on fresh veggies for more than a few days, but I urge you to enjoy as many of them as you can in the remaining time.  Our supermarkets will indeed continue to have fresh produce, but the local stuff is really great and we should have been enjoying it to the max.

            In case you haven’t been downtown to the Market lately, let me remind you of the many vendors that bring good stuff to you for one stop shopping.  Alhambra Farms – our own local gang – still have lovely fresh pears, and Medina Berry’s big fat strawberries and raspberries are available for yummy treats.

            Malik has all those great varieties of nuts for munching and cooking.  Holiday time is very near and nutty snacks are definitely staple goodies for the season.  For those of you (such as me!) who are not gardeners but do love and appreciate fresh flowers, Fernandes Flowers should definitely be on your list.  Abel will give you good hints to make your fresh blooms last for weeks.  Also check out Fleur de Lourdes for their gorgeous orchids of all sizes and colors.  (And you thought orchids only came in lavender!)

            Organic produce is featured by J & M Farms; the Fruit Factory and Garcia Farms also bring their freshly picked fruits and veggies for your table.  For those of you hankering for some ethnic and/or other interesting flavors to augment your menus, be sure to stop at the East/West Gourmet stall, Cha Cha Salsa  and Myers Barbecue (plan to stand in a long line here – their stuff is really popular!).  Then get yourself some Gold Rush Kettle Korn to munch as you stroll down the aisle.

            Great Harvest Bakery continues to bring their freshly baked breads, cookies and cupcakes and Way To Life Natural Foods and Home Maid Olives will be there as well.  November 19 will be the last day of our Thursday Farmer’s Market, so don’t get caught short.  It’s not too early to begin gathering the staples you’ll need for your holiday meals.