Heading into August, we are coming up on the least fruitful time of our agricultural year; it’s just too damn hot for most crops to thrive. But all the markets are bursting with cucumbers and onions; this must be the time of year that your Grandma had ice cold cucumber and onion salad on the table every night.
Here’s a simple recipe: Slice up cucumbers and onion. Mix together half a cup of sugar, a cup of white vinegar and two cups of water. Pour over cucumber and onion slices and set in the icebox until dinnertime. (On the too hot to thrive note, Johnson’s Backyard Garden is having a half-price tomato sale until the end of July. Come August 1 they will be pulling up all the tomato plants and re-planting for the fall harvest. Click here for details.) Another thing that is at its peak right now is watermelon. 2 Happy Children Farm has crates and crates of the sweetest watermelon you have ever tasted (as well as gigantic cantaloupes and some honeydews.) If you would like to get a watermelon but think you can’t fit it all in your fridge, here is what I do: I cut up half of the watermelon into cubes for snacking and dessert, and I make the other half into watermelon juice. A pitcher of ice cold watermelon juice takes up far less room that half a watermelon, and there is nothing more refreshing on earth. In Central Texas, midsummer is the one time you can’t get locally grown lettuce (because it is too damn hot.) There are a few farmers who have mastered growing lettuce in the summer hydroponically, though: Bella Verdi Farm has live Bibb Lettuce for sale, and sometimes Lily Pad Farm does too (though lately they have been specializing in robust fresh basil plants.) Back to pulling up tomato plants and replanting for fall: there is a new plant vendor at the Barton Creek Farmers Market: Amalia’s Garden. She has sturdy tomato plants for fall planting (as low as $2 for pretty big ones!) as well as purple basil, lime Basil, Delicata squash, Serrano peppers, and marigolds. She also makes and sells her own soap. If you are going to replant tomatoes for fall, definitely check Amalia’s Garden out; she will only have the tomatoes for a few more weeks. The peaches last week were small and intense, due to the drought. This weekend, after 8 inches of rain in the Hill Country, they ought to be a bit plumper. Farmer Caskey says he will be having peaches all the way until the first of September, and the freestones are starting to come in now. If you haven’t canned of frozen peaches yet for winter use, the time is ripe, especially as freestone peaches are so much easier to work with. All the Markets are beginning to have a goodly amount of peppers too, though September is usually the bumper crop time. Farmers are starting to have bags of them, as opposed to selling them singly. Sweet Italian sausage can be purchased from Full Quiver Farms, Peach Creek Farms, RIchardson Farms or Dai Due Butcher Shop to make a big pot of Italian sausage and peppers. WIth all the heirloom tomatoes and basil around, just add some fresh mozzarella from Full Quiver Farms or Mill-King Dairy, and you could serve a fresh Caprese Salad with your sausage and peppers. Speaking of Richardson Farms, they have lots and lots of pastured pork chops and pork tenderloins this week. Chops are $7.50 a pound and Tenderloins are $8.50, a great deal for premium pork. Richardson Farms is at Barton Creek, Downtown and Sunset Valley. If perhaps you were thinking you might like to make some cole slaw, several farmers including Fruitful Hill and Johnson’s Backyard Garden have cabbage and carrots still, even though those are generally winter vegetables around here. The cool spring we had this year has carrots still in the ground, and cabbages (like onions and potatoes) store well. I think this is the first time I have ever been able to make cole slaw in the middle of the summer with all local ingredients! I have always been a fan of Casa Brasil Coffee, but Saturday was the first time I ever tasted their cold brew coffee. There is no doubt in my mind that it is the best coffee at the Farmers Markets. It’s incredible! They have had so many inquiries into just how do they make their coffee so good, that they have made a little handout explaining how to make cold brew at home (interesting fact: it is recommended that you grind the coffee very coarsely, even perhaps just crushing it with a rolling pin.)
What does Dai Due have this week? (Downtown on Saturday morning, at the Mueller Farmers Market on Sunday morning)
French Toast with Fig and Maple Syrup with Country Style breakfast sausage; Cheeseburger with Bibb lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, mustard, and mayonnaise; El Deguello! Bean and cheese quesadilla with a fried egg, ranchero sauce, chorizo, bacon, onion, crema, and queso fresco; Brisket Taco with egg, potato, cheese, chilies, onion, and garlic pasilla salsa; Goat Sloppy Joe with onions and pickles; Cafe a la Olla Mexican coffee with molasses, brown sugar, and spices; Cactus Fruit, Lime, and Basil Agua Fresca
Dai Due has a new ordering system; click here to see their packaged offerings this week and to place and order. Orders can be picked up either Saturday or Sunday. This week they have Boudin de Chevon, Chile and Lime Sausage, and Fresh Herb Italian Sausage(all $12/lb.)
See you at the Markets!
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