Hey friends of local food! Sorry I've been AWOL for a month. I've been doing a lot of cool stuff but haven't been writing about it. Honestly, I have been pretty tired, being almost five months pregnant with twin boys! Here's an update:
Yesterday, Chef Christine from the Kitchen Studio gave an AWESOME demo at the North Market Farmers Market and made both panzanella and corn salad. The dishes were simple, super-fresh, and they brought out the best in seasonal flavors. In other words, the samples went really fast! Chef Christine really knew how to draw in both kids and adults, and I realized while watching her demo that I would really enjoy taking one of her classes, maybe the farmer's market class, or the sushi class...
This past Friday 9/3 I worked with our Office of Sustainability at work (I work for Frederick County Government) to put together a brown bag lunch about local food. We had a panel that included Chef Bryan Voltaggio from Volt and Zoe Brittain and Sally Fulmer from the Common Market. These folks talked about how they work with local farmers to get local produce into their establishments, and what they get out of it. It was really a very smart conversation about how to create direct relationships that benefit the farmer, and how it these relationships benefit a local restaurant and grocery store. More than that, the speakers talked about intersecting profit with purpose, and it was a very engaging. We also talked a little about the loss of family farms, and other outlets to access farm products directly, including farmers markets, CSAs, and direct farm sales. One resource we shared was the 2010 farm guide published by the County's Office of Economic Development. Get a copy if you don't have one.
I didn't grow a garden this year- I started a bunch of seedlings in my friend Chad's greenhouse and then got caught up in things like making babies. Chad ended up planting some of my stuff (especially the lettuces) on his farm and got some enjoyment out of them. So I've been shopping a lot at the farmers markets this summer, more than I usually do, because I am determined to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables while they are in season so that the babies get lots of good nutrition! Right now, I am obsessed with tomatoes and honeycrisp apples and watermelon.
I discovered Spriggs Delight Farm goat cheeses and am totally hooked. I am a cheese lover, and finding out I had a dairy sensitivity last year was a total bummer! But I was happy to discover that I could still eat goat and sheep's milk cheeses, and that has saved me from getting too skinny. I am a big fan of a lot of local goat cheese producers like Caprikorn farms. Each farm has totally different products despite using the same basic ingredient, and that's very exciting. Spriggs has very rustic, old-style cheeses with complex flavors. I tried the Hillside Feta and Torre cheeses yesterday for the first time and was so impressed. The Hillside Feta is smooth, creamy, and goaty without having the metallic tang that can sometimes infiltrate goat milk. It is honestly better than any other feta I have tried. The Torre is an aged, complex cheese with lots of character, despite being mellow- It's solidly in the stinky cheese category, in a good way. And the dairy also makes goat milk fudge- needless to say, I spent all of my farmer's market money there yesterday and then had to walk past the Cortland apples at Lewis Orchard and all of the other market goodies with a blind eye.
Three words: FRESH LOCAL EGGS. With the disgusting conditions revealed on a daily basis at the mega poultry operations in the midwest, I am SO GLAD to be eating local, free range, organic eggs. They also taste better. I got my last batch from Persimmon Pond at the West Frederick Farmers Market from Wendy and they were wonderful.
I hope you are enjoying the harvest season! Corn is coming to an end, but melons and squashes are reigning supreme. Tomatoes will be good until the first frost and then a little later as the green ones ripen. Enjoy apples- the different varieties will phase in and out- right now you have to try Cortland and Honeycrisp. Ooo, and don't forget peaches! And I see all of the summer vegetables are still hanging in there because of all the heat we've had. It's been a hard summer for your local farmers because of the heat and drought. It's a good time to appreciate your local farmer.
P.S. Sweet Potatoes.