Thursday, August 2, 2012


Asheville City Market


     Summer time......can it get any hotter?  Head out to your local farmers markets early in the a.m., before the heat of the day wilts either you or the fresh, fresh produce heaped in baskets and on display.       
     I'm like a kid in a candy store when it comes to farmers markets.  I want something of everything.  I've learned to bring enough cash, small bills, and a basket or bag, along with a chilled ice chest in the back of the car whenever we hit the larger NC State Farmers Market.  My hubby says he's my mule, for he'll take loads of produce from me to take back to the car, so I can continue to shop unencumbered.


Charles Church of Watauga Farms
One of my favorite farm tours, so check them out at  

Load up the car with friends, kids and coolers, and head to the Boone area Sat and Sun afternoons from 2 to 6 p.m.

Check out "Chicken Tractors," pet alpaca's, see tomatoes growing upside down and on strings, and meet and greet those hard-working folks that bring such marvelous produce and meats to your table. 

A Chicken "Tractor"


Saturday mornings, I love to explore the diverse farmers markets that have popped up all over my neck of the woods.  Judging from the crowds I am encountering, many have found their audience, folks like me, hungry for a tomato ripened to perfection, green beans with a snap, cucumbers that are crisp, colorful squash, okra so fresh it's begging to be taken home.

Other days of the week, I'll slip over to CRAZY LADY'S, a produce stand that started out small at Taylor's,  our local filling station cum wine store.  After a couple of years, Crazy Lady now has farmers coming to her, making deliveries fresh daily, and the busy parking lot proves she's got a great business going.  I love having a great selection of squash, berries, peaches, watermelons, fresh corn, you name it, that is LOCALLY grown.

One thing I've loved about her is that she will pass on produce or fruit that is perhaps just a second past its prime, what she calls "ugly," but still good if used that day.  Our peach pie last week was made from her gift, with ugly, soft peaches with bruises that did not taste ugly at all.  In fact, those peaches were perfect in my eye.  Waste not, want not, huh?


Figs and Smeared Goat Cheese, drizzled with honey.
Figs, Smeared Goat Cheese, drizzled with honey . . . could not be an easier appetizer.  If' you're not lucky enough to have your own fig tree in the back yard that you've protected from birds and squirrels, you'll find fresh figs make a brief appearance at farmers markets now.  I snap them up whenever I see them.  They bruise easily, so treat them with care, and expect a few in each basket to be not too pretty.  I've gently boiled the too-soft and uglies with a bit of sugar or honey in water, until the figs are all syrupy, and used those over goat cheese or vanilla ice cream or with pound cake.  
     I first had an appetizer like this at The Little Hen, a fantastic Farm-to-Table restaurant in Apex.  
     To create this appetizer, soften some local goat cheese and spread it over flat crackers.  Slice each fig in half, or quarters, and place on top of the cheese.  Drizzle with local honey.  I found some unusual Bay Bush honey at the State Farmers Market from BEE BLESSED HONEY.  Beekeeper Barry said he had left his hives sitting after gathering honey when the gall berry season was over, and when he returned, he found this dark, richly flavored honey which he finally figured was from the bay berry trees in blossom.  What a nice surprise for him, and for me!


My daughter, Kate, treated us to a delicious dinner of patty pan squash stuffed with ground turkey and grated veggies with quinoa.  She adapted several recipes using ground turkey for stuffing veggies to come up with this delicious version:

HANDY TIP:  Grate the garlic and ginger root using a micro planer or small grater.

4 large patty pan squash (or large bell peppers or portobellos)
1 lb ground turkey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced ginger root
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup green onions, thinly sliced
1 medium zucchini, finely chopped
4 cups warm, cooked quinoa or three-bean pilaf (or a combination thereof)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  
2.  Wash patty pan squash.  Cut a small opening around the tops, creating a little "cap".  Using a spoon or melon baller, scoop out the insides and seeds. Place squash into boiling water for about three minutes.  You may need to hold them under water with a spoon.  Drain, then run cold water over each, or plunge into an ice bath, until they are completely cool.  Pat dry and set aside.
3.  In a saute pan, heat olive oil.  Add onions and cook over medium low heat until onions have begun to soften.  Add the ground turkey, soy sauce, garlic and ginger.  Stir, and cook until turkey is browned. Add cilantro, curry powder, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.  Stir well, then cover and simmer over low heat for about three minutes.  Remove the mixture from the heat.
4.  Add the cooked quinoa or mixture to the ground turkey mixture and stir to combine.
5.  Stuff each squash with the turkey mixture, packing it down with the back of a small spoon.  Place stuffed squash in a baking dish.  Drizzle any remaining liquids from the turkey mixture over each.  Place the caps on the squash, cover the dish with aluminum foil, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until squash is tender and stuffing is hot through and through.  If there is any stuffing mixture left, place that in a separate dish and bake, also.
YIELD:  4 servings.

No comments: