Farmers’ Market Report: Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 2013

Greens and winter squash, frozen custard, finishing salt, and basil

Rainbow chard from Johnson's Backyard Garden (Photo by Rebecca Wood)
After the week’s cold weather, the farmers’ markets will be dominated by cold-loving green vegetables – broccoli, broccoli rabe, fennel, cabbage, spinach, Swiss chard, and kale – along with root vegetables, like carrots, turnips, sweet potatoes, beets, parsnips, potatoes, and onions.

There will also be plenty of winter squashes like Butternuts, Delicatas, Sweet Dumplings, and Acorns, which were picked before the freeze, but keep well during the winter months.

Organic Citrus from the Rio Grande Valley (Photo by Rebecca Wood)
Probably the most important news this weekend is, which markets will be open? The Saturday Cedar Park Farmers Market will not be held, nor will the Sunday Mueller Farmers Market. All their regular vendors and farmers will have the weekend off; or at the very least, they won’t be selling their wares at those markets. The SFC Downtown Farmers Market, the SFC Sunset Valley Farmers Market, and the Barton Creek Farmers Market will all be open for business on Saturday morning, and the HOPE Farmers Market and the Bluebonnet Farmers Market will be held as usual on Sunday.

The Barton Creek Market tells me that there will be one more Saturday of those delicious Top O' Texas apples, then the crop will be completely sold off. The last few weeks they have had Jonagolds and Cameos, both sweet apples.

You really need to try this smoked salmon! (Photo by Kate Thornberry)
After eating turkey for a few days, the appetite naturally turns to seafood. Celtic Seafare (Barton Creek, Bluebonnet) has smoked salmon of many types: Scandinavian gravlax, cold-smoked Lox, hot-smoked salmon filets, and salmon candy. K & S Seafood (Barton Creek) sells a variety of seafood, which nearly always includes shrimp, oysters, and soft-shell crabs, among an array of Texas Gulf seafood.

Twin County Dorpers is taking orders for holiday lamb roasts starting this Saturday. Reserve one ahead of time if you want to make sure you will get one.

Kimchi is all the rage! (Photo by Kate Thornberry)
Oh Kimchi is turning regular kimchi lovers into zombie slaves with their exquisite, home-styles kimchis. Did I say kimchis? Yes, they make a number of kimchis from local organically farmed vegetables including cucumber, braising greens, Daikon radish, and cabbage. All are made with recipes handed down from Grandmother, and I am not kidding, this kimchi is the talk of the town. It is also loaded with naturally occurring probiotics and very good for you.
Look at all the kinds they make (Photo by Rebecca Wood)
You know what else is good for you? Bison. Bison meat has more omerga-3 fatty acids, less fat, and more flavor than conventionally raised beef, and bison are far easier on grasslands than cattle. High Country Bison (Barton Creek) has amazing bison sirloin tip steaks for sale, in addition to the bison hot dogs, chili meat, short ribs, and ground meat that you can always count on.
Look! BISON (Photo by Rebecca Wood)
Vital Farms (purveyors of Austin Blues™, the unforgettable blue eggs) will be selling ten pound packages of chicken breasts, thighs, and wings this weekend. That is enough chicken to last the winter, or, enough to make gallons of chicken soup.
Yeti Frozen Custard. (Photo by Rebecca Wood)
The Yeti Frozen Custard truck was at the Barton Creek Farmers Market last month, where I got this amazing cup of frozen custard. Yes, it is as good as it looks. I was a little ambivalent about having frozen custard for breakfast, but one taste dispelled all my doubts. I wish I could say that they would be at the Farmers Markets every weekend, but no. All during the month of December they will be serving this amazing frozen confection, rich and velvety as you only imagine soft-serve could be, at the Trail of Lights. If you ever see the Yeti truck anywhere, stop and get some, it is that good.
Spicy Carrot Relish (Photo by Rebecca Wood)
Another great product to try is Moru Foods’ Spicy Carrot Relish. The flavor profile is Indian, with pronounced cumin, chile, and garlic. Each jar holds a pound and a half of dehydrated carrots, mixed with oil and spices. This relish is very different, and very delicious. I really like in on eggs, and it also makes a great party dip blended with sour cream or yogurt.

Now lets talk about Confituras' Finishing Salts. More than a year ago I figured out that economy was better served by buying half-pints of Confituras' artisan, locally sourced jams and jellies, than by putting up my own and never being able to eat it all. Plus, that way you also get the benefit eating a variety of jams and jellies, rather than just one boring kind. So I should have known that the Finishing Salts are a worthwhile product too. After all, Stephanie McClenny makes them!

Confituras Finishing Salts (Photo by Kate Thornberry)
It wasn’t until I was given a jar by a friend that I actually tried Confituras' Cowgirl Salt. Since I had a jar of (free) fancy salt, I started putting it on everything, and what do you know? It is fantastic. I would say that using Cowgirl Finishing Salt makes everything you put it on 75% more delicious, sometimes twice as good! Made from Texas sea salt, lemon zest, and cracked pink peppercorns, this salt and all the other varieties are actually worth every penny they cost. They brighten up and enhance foods’ natural flavors.
The first round of winter squashes. The spaghetti squash is the long striped one. (Photo by Kate Thornberry)
And now it is time for the Winter Squash Challenge! This week: Spaghetti Squash. Years ago, the first time I made Spaghetti squash, I cooked it perfectly and it came out in strands, like a wonderful, light spaghetti. The next time, it spooned out of the shell in big, ugly clumps because I had overcooked it. This is a squash you have to cook for the exact right amount of time, but it is hard to pull off, because every squash is a different size.

In researching how long to cook it, I came across a trick: add the baked spaghetti squash strings to already heated marinara sauce. That way, you can err on the undercooked side, and they will cook more in the sauce if they need to. It worked like a charm, and the spaghetti squash dinner was a huge success. Spaghetti squash is also a great alternative to pasta for anyone following a gluten-free or Paleo diet.

Fresh, alive basil at the HOPE Market (Photo by Kate Thornberry)
But, what if you want fresh basil on your Italian feast? Well, in spite of the freeze, you can still get fresh basil from Wild River Farms at the HOPE Farmers Market. Wild River Farms grows their basil in hydroponic greenhouses, as does Lily Pad Farms, who sell at the Barton Creek Market.

See you at the Market!

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Farmers Market Report, Cedar Park Farmers Market, Barton Creek Farmers Market, Mueller Farmers Market, HOPE Farmers Market, Bluebonnet Farmers Market, Sunset Valley Farmers Market, Downtown Farmers Market, Celtic Seafare, K & S Seafood, Twin County Dorpers, Oh Kimchi, High Country Bison, Moru Foods Spicy Carrot Relish, Yeti Frozen Custard, Vital Farms, Wild River Farms, Confituras

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