Farmers' Market Report: March 15-16, 2014

Asparagus, green garlic, dandelion greens, and milkweed for Monarchs

Pink Lady apples at the Bluebonnet Farmers' Market
by Kate Thornberry
There is a lot going on this weekend at the Farmers’ Markets, by which I mean, winter vegetables are still producing nicely, and the spring produce is finally arriving in earnest.

The above photo says it all: autumn apples (in this case Pink Ladies from the JBG stand) right next to spring beets, beet greens, and young cabbages, with a crate of sweet potatoes in the distance.

But what is the hottest news off the presses today? I can’t believe I am telling you this, because it means that I probably won’t get any: Farmer Willie McKemie from will be bringing the first young shoots of asparagus rom his farm near Dale to the Mueller Market this Sunday. Fresh, locally-grown asparagus is a completely different vegetable than the imported variety; it has a fresh, fiddlehead-fern-like flavor, and you really do wait for it all year. Farmer McKemie will also be bringing kale, bunching onions, and dried tomatoes.

Tomatoes like these, only dried!
by Kate Thornberry
 Engel Farms (Cedar Park and Downtown) will be bringing more strawberries and Brussels sprouts. Last Saturday, they brought so many strawberries that they actually still had some when I got there, around 10:30am.

Gary Rowland from Hairston Creek Farm will be bringing green garlic to both the Sunset Valley Farmers Market and the Cedar Park Market. Green garlic can be used the same ways as dried, it just has a milder flavor, and the greens can be used, as well.

Before I forget to mention it: Dewberry Hills Farm will not be attending any markets this weekend, having sold out of their fabulous chicken entirely. Perhaps next weekend.

Dandelion greens- the cure for what ails ye!
by Kate Thornberry
Continuing the spring produce round-up: all JBG stands presently have fresh dandelion greens. Long a staple of American kitchens, dandelion greens are just now coming back into favor.

I don’t know how much longer this will be true, but as of last weekend JBG still had organic Rio Grande Valley grapefruit for sale. As far as I am concerned, grapefruit season is never long enough, and it is about to end, so get them while you can!

Ruby Red Grapefruit at the Bluebonnet Market
by Kate Thornberry
Lone Star Nursery (Cedar Park, Mueller, and Barton Creek Markets) will be bringing starts to the markets this weekend, including Tropical Milkweed. This is important news, because the Monarch butterflies, who migrate through Texas every year on their way to Mexico, are facing extinction due to lack of habitat. Their primary food source and habitat is Tropical Milkweed. All across the state, concerned Texans are being encouraged to plant milkweed in gardens and yards to give the Monarchs a fighting chance. Lone Star Nursery will also have tomato, pepper, corn, squash, and cucumber starts.

 New World Gelato (Cedar Park and Mueller) will be featuring limited quantities of a special St. Patrick’s Day flavor: Guinness Gelato. They will also have a dozen other flavors including Sea Salt Caramel Gelato and Blood Orange Sorbetto.

The Mueller Market’s newest vendor, Yegua Creek Farms from Elgin, have a 1,500 pecan tree orchard. They will be bringing fresh pecans, spicy pecans, champagne pecans, caramel pecan popcorn, two different kinds of trail mix, a variety of cookies and breads, and Blackberry Cobbler to the Mueller Market Sunday.

Little Strawberry Pies from Curious Confections
by Kate Thornberry
 Brazos Valley Cheese will be back at the Cedar Park, Downtown, Sunset Valley, and Mueller Markets this weekend, with fresh Mozzarella and five different cheese spreads: Mango Jalapeño, Spinach, Blueberry, Salmon Chive, and Maple Pecan.

Windy Acres will have fresh pasture raised chicken, duck eggs, and goose eggs at the Cedar Park Farmers’ Market.

Gorgeous Croissants from Laleigh's Patisserie
by Kate Thornberry
New Bakeries have been popping up at all of our area Farmers’ Markets, faster than I can write about them. Laleigh’s Patisserie is the newest baker at the Bluebonnet Farmers Market, making classic croissants, macarons, cinnamon buns, and cookies. Bluebonnet also has a new cupcake baker, Bodacious Cupcakes, and a new British baker, Let’s Get Pie.

Speaking of British bakeries, Curious Confections at the HOPE Market will be making Hot Cross Buns all the way unti Easter, as they proved to be very popular at last Sunday’s Market. In addition to the Hot Cross Buns, Pain au Chocolate, and butter croissants, Gemma will be making Lemon Curd Breakfast Tarts, Rock Buns, Chai Scones, Chocolate Marshmallows, Candied Pistachios, Scottish shortbread, Ore-Ohs, and Ginger Brownies.

Ah, shortbread. Sunniejane’s at the Cedar Park Market will be making Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate shortbread cups, Pecan Pie shortbread bars, Plain, Chocolate Chip, Pecan, and Chocolate-Dipped shortbreads this week.

Hot Chocolate Fudge Sauce from Kiskadee
by Kate Thornberry
In the chocolate arena, one of my favorite chocolatiers, Kiskadee Chocolates, who sell at the Mueller Market, have introduced a marvelous new product: Hot Chocolate Fudge Sauce. I don’t usually name prices, because they are often subject to change, but I have to tell you that this amazingly rich hot fudge sauce is only $5 for 8 ounces, a steal for single-source cacao fudge sauce! Seriously.

Last week I went into some detail about the various pastured meat suppliers at the different markets, but neglected to mention the Cedar Park and Lone Star Farmers markets. I also forgot to mention a few folks, and I've discovered some new information, as well.

Steaks from Wright Longhorn Beef
by Kate Thornberry
First: Peach Creek Farm is indeed back at the Downtown Market. I went last Saturday specifically to buy their excellent breakfast links; come to find out, they don’t have pork for sale yet, just beef. They will be restocking on the Berkshire Pork meats as they raise new hogs, but as of right now, they are an all pastured beef concern.

I also forgot to mention Thunderheart Bison, the very first bison supplier in Austin. Oops! Thunderheart Bison sells at the Downtown Farmers Market; in addition to bison meat they also sell bison leather goods.

Goat tenderloin form Windy Hill Farm
by Kate Thornberry
Pastured meat vendors at the Cedar Park Market include Countryside Farms, who sell chicken, pork, duck and rabbit; Smith and Smith, who sell pastured chicken and eggs; Southern Traditions, who sell grassfed beef; and Winter’s Family Beef, who raise Angus and Wagyu beef.

 The Lone Star Farmers Market in Bee Cave also boasts many of the vendors who sell in Austin on Saturdays. But if you live in Bee Cave or Lakeway, it is much more convenient to wait until Sunday! IO Ranch Lamb is an anchor of the Lone Star Market, selling lamb from the African Dorper Sheep; High Country Bison is also a Lone Star vendor, as is Richardson Farms, selling grassfed beef, pastured pork, pastured chicken, and eggs.

Granny Smith apples surrounded by fresh cilantro
by Kate Thornberry
I also have an exciting event to tell you about and will go into more detail in the coming weeks as this important event approaches. A huge festival with a crucial mission will take place at Simmons Family Farm on April 6th. It is called Farmgrass Fest 14, and will have an all-star bluegrass line-up, including headliner MilkDrive, The Lost Pines, the Bottom Dollar String Band, and others.

The purpose of the festival is to raise money to set up an emergency medical fund for area farmers. One of the dirty little secrets about our American healthcare system is that small farmers and ranchers are pretty much on their own, especially as they get older. If they own their farm or ranch, they own too much property to qualify for Medicaid. However, ff they are a small operation, they don’t earn enough to buy individual health insurance. When medical emergencies arise, such as when Jane from Dewberry Hills broke her arm, or when the Ottmer’s son was in a car wreck, healthcare costs are devastating. (Just breaking a bone when you are in your Fifties will set you back about $10,000.)

The Grower’s Alliance of Central Texas (GrowACT) seeks to set up, at the very least, an emergency fund that local farmers can access. The Farmgrass Fest 14 will be the first step in that direction. I will fill you in on more details in the coming weeks, and you can bet I'll be haranguing you to attend!

Flax Bread by New Bread Rising at the Bluebonnet Market
by Kate Thornberry
It’s that time again! What is Dai Due going to be making this weekend? OMG - Oyster Po'boys!

Breakfast & Lunch at the Market  

 Chicken Tinga Taco with cotija, cilantro, and cortido;

Achiote Goat Torta with guacamole, refried cream peas, crema, cortido, and cotija;

Chicken Menudo with chicken tripe, ash hominy, cabbage, and radish;

Sprouted Wheat Pancake with strawberries, honey, candied lemon, and cultured butter;

Fried Oyster Po'boy with horseradish mayonnaise, pickled egg, romaine, celery leaves, and spring onion;

and Cafe a la Olla.

See you at the Markets!


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