The Farmers’ Markets are really a fine resource for gifts; in addition to the seasonal craftspeople who come to the markets at this time of year with handmade jewelry, pottery, glass, and clothing, many of the regular vendors put out a little something in the gift line, as well.
Every market has premium hand-made soaps for sale; there are beeswax candles and lavender sachets; and preserved foods like jams, jellies, sauces, pickles, dry sausages and holiday breads are always welcome holiday gifts. New World Bakery is selling these festive Christmas Stollen in shiny Christmas Tree boxes at the Barton Creek Market. The stollen (of course I had to buy one for research purposes) is chock full of dried fruit, almond paste, and honey. It is covered with powdered sugar and wonderfully addictive–it only lasted about one day at our house. The Dad’s Premium Granola folks tell me they’ve been going through three stollen a week. (Their booth is directly across from the New World Bakery table) Speaking of Dad’s, he has two limited-time new flavors for the season: Walnut Granola and Cashew Granola. Now, all of Dad’s flavors have some cashews, but the Cashew Granola has lots more. Get them while you can. Twin County Dorpers is taking pre-orders for lamb roasts for the holidays. Cuts included half and whole racks, boneless leg, bone-in leg, and boneless shoulder. Of course, you can also order chops, ribs, and steaks if you are having a more intimate gathering. Richardson Farms also has just a few geese for sale for your Christmas dinner; Jim says he has just seven or so, if you would like to put your name down for one.
Flying Pig Provision Company is smoking hams for your holiday delectation. Flying Pig makes the best sandwich ham, smoky and sweet with a wonderful fresh flavor, and I can only imagine their whole hams are incredible, too. Pre-order from Jerome this week for holiday pick-up. Last Saturday, you remember the day that got up to a high of 25˚? I have to admit it, the Farmers’ Markets were extreme that morning; extremely cold and extremely small. The tables of produce were laid out invitingly, and then proceeded to freeze and turn shiny and ruined before our very eyes, because it stayed below freezing for the whole morning. It was particularly grim to see the Fruitful Hill Farm table freeze, because they always bring so many greens, which were naturally the first things to freeze, being leaves.
This Saturday Fruitful Hill will be bringing eggs, cabbage (red and green), cauliflower, lettuce, mei choi, bok choi, kale, sweet potatoes, mustard greens, green onions, Louisiana shallots, radishes (watermelon, red, daikon, and purple), turnips, cilantro, broccoli, kohlrabi, spinach, swiss chard, carrots, green garlic, and a variety of winter squash (butternut, buttercup, neck pumpkin, sweet dumpling, acorn, and spaghetti.) Let’s show them a little love this weekend at either Sunset Valley or Barton Creek. The other intrepid souls who showed up to sell and buy have my enduring admiration, talk about dedication. One such is Protima Wagh, owner of Brand of Silk, who came to the Barton Creek Market to sell these beautiful silk scarves. It was also the debut of a new vendor, The Wooden Spoon, a company making and selling stocks and soups. Making stock is sometimes hard to fit into your schedule when you have a full-time job. Sadly, the stocks available at the grocery store are little better than salty water, when compared to a robust, home made stock. The difference is vast. Many is the time that I have needed some good stock, but have run out of my own. Well, now there is a vendor to fill that very need. The Wooden Spoon makes their stock from organic chicken and grass-fed beef, and I believe that if they stick it out, they will find their niche. Besides plain stock, they also have ready-to-eat soups, and I hear the Tortilla Soup is fantastic. Find them at Barton Creek. Staying with the Holiday theme, it is the time of year when you don’t want to forget to buy your holiday cheese balls. All year round, Full Quiver Farm makes their unbeatable Jalapeño Cheese Balls and their Chipotle Cheese Balls, both rolled in salty nuts. Made from Farmer Sams’ delectable cream cheese, these are the best cheese balls going. And what is a holiday party without a cheese ball? Another unique food gift is one of Brenham Kitchen’s enchilada sauces. I was intrigued by their Tomatillo White Chocolate sauce a few weeks ago at the Sunday Bluebonnet Market; it sounded like such a bizarre combination. I waited to write about it until I had experienced it on a variety of dishes–chilaquiles, enchiladas, tacos–and it is hands-down, without a doubt the best tomatillo sauce I have had thus far in life. My husband doesn’t even like verde sauces, and he loved it. It is the kind of sauce that you want to keep permanently in the pantry, besides being a great gift.
For those of you who have read all the way to the end to discover the amazing gift I've already purchased and teased in the preview - I think these are the greatest gift of the year. THE “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH” DOG TAG!
Gift-wise, these are something very Austintatious for the dogs in your life (or the dogs of your friends and family), they say it all, and only cost $8. Available at the Mueller Farmers’ Market on Sundays at the South Austin Gallery table. They also have a lot of other Austin souvenir gifts likely charm the money right out of your wallet.
Breakfast & Lunch at the Market
Breakfast Sandwich Country Style breakfast sausage, a scrambled egg, and Stryk pepper jack on a Gougere roll;
Chicken Posole with cabbage, cilantro, and lemon;
Taco Dorado with coffee-braised venison, crema, and carrot top salsa;
Beet Red Soda and Cafe a la Olla
See you at the Markets!
Copyright © 2014 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.