Hoboken Farmers’ Market

28 July 2011 § 3 Comments

Earlier this week The Ladies™ and I went back to our old stomping ground, Hoboken, New Jersey.

When they were babies, we spent a lot of time at the Farmers’ Market, as I found it was perfect for a bit of much-needed grown-up conversation with the market vendors and with other moms, even if that did revolve around comparing how little sleep we were getting.

It was during that sleep-deprived period of time that I first decided to write this blog. Friends had been asking me what I was going to cook with all the fresh produce I’d bought and others asked for advice on what was good for making fresh baby food.

Set against an urban backdrop (quite a contrast to the rolling hills of Delaware County for the Pakatan market or the historic Stockade District that houses Kingston’s market), Hoboken Farmers’ Market is small and friendly. The stalls sell mostly fresh fruit and vegetables with next to no meat or cheese vendors. It was good to see some familiar Montclair Farmers’ Market faces though—Sally from the Montclair Bread Company, John Krueger from Starbrite Organics and of course, Picklelcious, whom I must thank for letting us eat through their entire stock of samples.

Our trip was special as we visited the Farmers’ Market with their oldest and best friend—lifelong Hoboken resident Princess Protea—who is also four and a half. It was so funny watching the three of them eat their way from stall to stall, like so many Eric Carle caterpillars, savoring the samples at Picklelicious, smelling the overgrown basil plants and munching on apples and carrots with the big green tops still on.

By and large, the produce on sale was a reminder that summer is flying by: huge fragrant melons, mountains of Jersey peaches, basil, plums, and apples – a sure sign of seasonal things to come. Fall flavored evidence that summer is nearly over.

One of The Ladies™ strong-armed me into buying some baby artichokes.  I will remind her of that fact when she refuses to eat them.  Watch out for a baby artichoke recipe later this week and some tips on patient parenting.

The big purchase of the afternoon involved some juicy Jersey plums. I used them to make these delicious honey and cinnamon plum cakes. Like so many other Nigel Slater recipes, they are worth making for the smell alone. The wafting aroma of golden syrup simmering with butter is rich beyond words. So much so, I can’t even bring myself to write up the recipe until tomorrow.

The Hoboken Farmers’ Market is located on Washington between Newark and First Streets and is there all summer from 3pm to 7pm every Tuesday. It is very close to the PATH, NY Waterways and NJ Transit, so you have no excuse not to visit this very urban outpost of the Garden State.

Go west little piggy

18 July 2011 § 9 Comments

This weekend, This Little Piggy herded the grass-fed family and went to Pakatan Farmers’ Market in Upstate New York.

I was determined that for once we did not arrive just as everyone was packing up, and so for the first time in a long while, we made it to a Farmers’ Market before noon. You’d think it would be easy getting two four-and-a-half-year-olds into a car, wouldn’t you? Or perhaps you wouldn’t depending on your knowledge of twin toddlers…

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The market is set in the beautiful rolling hills of Delaware County, NY — the perfect backdrop for the big, round, red barn that provides the focal point for its vendors.

The market grows all the time with new farmstands appearing with each new visit. As well as fresh, locally grown produce and plants, there were crafts – ranging from scarves, soap, jewelry, the obligatory tie-dye (I do wonder if anyone specifically goes out to buy tie-dye) to cute little felt drinks coasters with bears on.

Of course there was the usual array of tempting snacks — ice creams, waffles and several bakeries plying their wares — but one thing struck me as odd: no doughnuts. A farmers’ market without doughnuts? How can that be? That said, the smell of the burnt sugar from the waffle stand more than compensated for the doughnut-free zone.

The Ladies™ were extremely happy petting a tray full of  yellow ducklings. These cuties drew every market attendee under 10 years of age to Lilac’s farmstand. When asked how soft they were to touch, The Ladies™ replied: “softer than a puffy pillow” and “softer than a fluffy cloud.” What more proof do you need?

All the while, Tundra Brewery – rookie brewmasters from Stamford, NY,  kept King Marv happy with their free beer samples and the six-pack he took home.

We bought a pound of grass-fed ground beef from Sap Hollow Farm to make burgers (see recipe below). I spent some time chatting to the very wonderful Shannon Hayes who runs the farm with her husband. She is a writer and farmer and an expert on grass-fed beef. I bought a copy of her book The Grassfed Gourmet because, as a former pescetarian, I needed to brush up on my meat cooking skills. Her book not only offers lots of delicious recipes and advice on how to handle and cook grass-fed meat, but also the simple reasons why you should buy it over the ubiquitous bland, processed, corn-fed variety.

Best beef burger recipe ever below….keep reading…

Other goodies we came away with were fava beans, black raspberries and tiny perfect round plums. The kind duckling lady from Lilac also gave The Ladies™ her last two zucchini flowers.

There you go that burger recipe (from The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook)

Best-Ever Beef Burgers

Makes 4 hamburgers

  • 1½ lb ground beef preferably 80% lean (20% fat)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dried, minced onion
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh breadcrumbs

Place the beef in a mixing bowl. Whisk together the egg, oyster sauce, Worcestershire sauce, minced onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Pour over the ground beef; add the bread crumbs. Using your hands, lightly mix all the ingredients together.

Grill or fry over a medium-high heat. Leave the grill uncovered while the burgers cook. 2 ½ minutes on the first side and 3 minutes after flipping will yield a medium burger.

Don’t press the burgers with your spatula while you are cooking – you’ll squeeze out the juices.

Serve in a toasted bun.

Pakatan Farmers’ Market is open from 9am to 2pm every Saturday throughout the summer. Located on Rte 30 just south of Roxbury, NY in Delaware County.

Well worth the trip and not just for the stunning setting.

Summer Pasta (Squash and Basil)

10 July 2011 § 1 Comment

Nothing says summer like an abundance of summer squash. It was out in all its greenish golden glory at Kingston Farmers’ Market yesterday.

See my post on What’s for Dinner? on Barista Kids for the recipe for this summer squash with basil pasta. This light summer dish tastes so creamy, you’d swear it has cream in it.

Here’s the recipe.

I found rhubarb (and Roobarb)

3 July 2011 § 4 Comments

There were slim pickings at Kingston Farmers’ Market yesterday. It was busier than normal due to the blue skies and the holiday crowds. Many of the stalls were packing up by the time we got there. Among the greens, baby fennel and radishes healthy I found some rhubarb. I have a bit of a rhubarb fixation. I have been dreaming of rhubarb pie and crumbles, basically anything to act as a vehicle for custard.

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I then spotted redcurrants and blackcurrants, those rare, tart little jewels which remind me so much of home, I swear you can taste the Vitamin C in them. I was told that next week they should also have gooseberries, I seem to miss them every year as they are only around for a short burst. But this year I’m going to make sure I’m there early next Saturday.

Back to rhubarb, I think my rhubarb obsession might have been subconsciously fueled by this weird kids’ show we were brought up on, called Roobarb and Custard. Just take a few seconds to listen to the opening music. Genius.

Kingston Farmers’ Market is located on Wall Street in Kingston NY, and is open from May 28 thru November 19,every Saturday, 9 am – 2pm (rain or shine). There is plenty of free parking there.

This Little Piggy went upstate

18 June 2011 § 2 Comments

We were traveling upstate NY and stopped at the Kingston Farmers’ Market, just off exit 19 of the NY Thruway. You can tell I’m an honorary Jersey girl by the fact I use exit numbers to denote location.

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The historic Stockade district has a faded, shabby elegance to it. The flat wooden roofs over its sidewalks give it a feeling more akin to New Orleans than upstate New York. Nestled among the pawn shops, tattoo parlors and bizarre costume shops are some signs that a cultural renaissance is bubbling under the surface: a dance studio, coffee bean shops, upscale cafes and the wonderful Fleisher’s Grass-fed and organic meats all hint to a rosier future.

Located on Wall St in the historic Stockade district, the market spans a full block. With over thirty vendors offering organic and natural fare such as meats and cheeses, fresh fruits and vegetables, breads and other baked goods, honey, fresh-cut flowers and so much more, it had everything you’d expect to deliver a great Farmers’ Market experience.

We ambled along Wall St, stopping to buy doughnuts and strawberries from Davenport Farms. I was rather taken with the pig painting at the Northwind Farms stand so I bought some bacon for King Marv’s Father’s Day treat. In terms of produce, there was some beautiful rainbow-colored chard and plenty more scapes, but after my ‘scapades of the other week, I felt we’d had enough of them. The Ladies™ were happy with their doughnuts and King Marv was happy at the prospect of a visit to some guitar shops and the temple of meat that is Fleisher’s.

The Kingston Farmers’ Market is located on Wall Street in Kingston NY, and is open from May 28 through November 19, every Saturday, 9 am – 2pm (rain or shine). There is a municipal parking lot and plenty of street parking close by.

This Little Piggy will DEFINITELY be going back. It is well worth the visit and I recommend it!

The Full Farmers’ Market Returns!

4 June 2011 § 2 Comments

Today was the official Summer opening of the Montclair Farmers’ Market. The NJ Transit Walnut St. parking lot was transformed from gray tarmac into a glorious Technicolor feast for the eyes with vibrant plants, cut flowers and fresh produce to herald the first hint of summer.

The overall mood was one of back-to-school buzz. Old friends were welcomed and new ones made. All my old favorites were there – Sally from the Montclair Bread Company; Vacchiano Farms (who of course, deserve a medal for braving out over the long, cold winter) and Ginger from Tree-Licious Orchards.

Sally, baker and artist, from the Montclair Bread Company

Ginger from Tree-Licious Orchards

There were a few newbies there such as Lulada (delicioso-looking empanadas that I will try next time round) and The Everlasting Garden who brought with them a blaze of fresh-cut flowers grown in NJ – including some glorious peonies.

Jean-Claude Tassot from Tassot Apiaries, purveyor of all things honey

As usual, The Ladies™ snacked their way around: honey sticks from Tassot Apiaries, pickles on sticks from Pickle-Licious and Kielbasy on sticks from Stefan & Sons. To add some variety, Matazzaro Farms dispensed with the notion of serving their sugar snap peas on sticks. Stick or no stick, they were eaten just as heartily.

Another debutante was a woman promoting laying chickens. It was great to get some decent information on how to raise these wonderful little egg machines in the suburbs. The chickens hypnotized The Ladies™ for a good while so I could get some shopping done and dream up a way to convince King Marv that having hens would be a good idea.

Next up was Shore Catch from whom I bought scallops, clams and shark. To accompany our fish fest I bought some eggplant, and garlic scapes from Farmer John (the organic grower). Obviously, there’s not very much local fruit around yet – it is still a bit early, but I did find some beautiful little strawberries at Matazzaro Farms.  Now what to do with those garlic scapes – any suggestions please? Pesto maybe – but almond or walnut?

The recipes to accompany this haul will follow later this week — the shark and the scallops are on the grill as I write.

In the meantime, I’ll be working on my campaign to convince King Marv about keeping hens…

The Montclair Farmers Market is at the NJ Transit Walnut St. parking lot every Saturday from 8am to 2pm.

New at the market yesterday….sunshine!

22 May 2011 § 4 Comments

After what feels like an eternity of soggy, gray days, the sun managed to haul its sorry self out for a sunny morning at the Montclair Farmers Market yesterday. The number of vendors had crept up to four – Vacchiano Farms,  Shore Catch, Picklelicious and Stefan & Sons.

We bought some Polish Kielbasy from Stefan & Sons. It was really good to see Mario and Lisa back there. The Ladies™ had really missed them, well actually they had missed their sizzling samples of Kielbasy.

Mario and Lisa from Stefan & Sons

Little by little the selection of fresh produce at Vacchiano Farms is growing, they had radish, lettuce, asparagus, rhubarb as well as a good herb selection. I had time to browse their fresh produce, while my mother supervised The Ladies’ sampling of all the pickles and olives at Picklelicious. They agreed the half sour pickles were their favorite, followed closely by the Kosher dill.

As my parents are visiting we stocked up on chicken, eggs, NY strip steak and English style sausages. King Marv requested we buy sausages as he has decided to cook dinner – a major event in our house as it happens so rarely. He is cooking an English speciality – the bizarrely named Toad in the Hole – a combination of two of his favorite foods – Yorkshire Pudding and bangers, basically a popover with sausages. It looks nothing like a toad, more like worms in sand. And based on that tempting description, I bet you can’t wait for that post.

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