Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wednesday market 4/29 and Thai cabbage salad

Market purchases from this Wednesday: strawberries from Whitted Bowers Farm; asparagus from Lyon Farms; rainbow chard and sugar snap peas (first of the season!) from Brinkley Farms.

I zoomed over to the Whitted Bowers farmstand first thing this week. Rob Bowers was there, strawberries spread out on the table in front of him. "Hey!" I said. "Hey!" he said back. "I visited your farm last weekend and had a great time!" I said. "Yes, I remember!" he said. We are friends now. I love it.

Sadly, though, as I predicted, no more asparagus from them this year. They have planted two more acres of asparagus for future harvests, but for the most beautiful asparagus of all time, it'll be another year of waiting. So goes seasonal eating. I'm glad I bought my two bunches last week after all. I happily bought my quart of strawberries. Rob recommended I try the asparagus next door at Lyons Farms.

For some reason, I just don't like this farmstand very much. Nothing against the produce, nothing really against the farm. I just don't find the farmers very friendly. Nonetheless, I suppose if they're a friend of Rob's, they could be a friend of mine. I stepped over to the Lyons Farm stand to check things out.

They have asparagus, alright. Yes, it's the same green stalk that grows on Whitted Bowers farm. But really? How can you compare the loveliness of Rob's biodynamic, long and slender stalks, with the uneven, mostly green stalks of other farms? I happened to still have a few stalks from my previous asparagus purchase from Whitted Bowers, so I took a side-by-side photo for comparison.

Now of course, both of these bunches are far more tasty than any asparagus shipped to the US from Peru in December, or even from Mexico in April, and bought at the grocery store. Of course, buying from the local farmer's market will garner the best and most delicious asparagus one can get. But just look at the difference! Same region of the country, same plant. But obviously the biodynamic TLC given to Rob's asparagus pay off. My few remaining stalks of his mighty asparagus look better a whole week after I purchased them than the bunch I picked up from another farm.

Sigh. There's always next year.

I still had the head of Savoy cabbage I bought last week, and it took me a while to find a recipe that I really wanted to try. Most of what I found involved cooking the cabbage, and I just wasn't feeling like making a hot meal in this weather. Finally I looked in my CookShop manual, and found a great cabbage recipe in the "January - cabbage" section that would also use my almost-wilted cilantro from Saturday's market.

CookShop is a program I utilized at CASES when I was serving in AmeriCorps. Basically, it is a curriculum that teaches low-income food stamps recipients how to cook using vegetarian, local products and easy recipes. The program was created by an organization called FoodChange, which I believe no longer exists and was taken over the the FoodBank of NY. Either way, I have a copy of the curriculum we used to teach these recipes to our mentally ill ex-offenders at CASES, and I often go back to the recipes. They are easy, tasty, and generally reliable. (And isn't it funny that in New York, cabbage is the vegetable for January? Again, seasonal eating changes so much based on where you live... my New York buddies inform me regularly that this blog makes them jealous of our Southern markets, as they're still wading in apples and potatoes!)

Thai Cabbage Salad from CookShop

1 small green cabbage, core removed and sliced very thin
5 green onions, both green and white parts, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced in thin matchsticks
2 carrots, shredded or cut in matchsticks (as I'm typing this up, I realized I forgot to put carrots in my salad! Whoops!)
1 cucumber, seeds removed and cut into matchsticks
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 red chili pepper, sliced (optional -- I didn't go for it this time but might next time)

3 limes, juiced
1 Tbsp honoey
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil

1. Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl.
2. To make the dressing, combine the lime juice, honey, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add the olive oil slowly while whisking.
3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
4. The longer it sits the better it will taste!

Isn't this a great recipe! Simple language, easy-to-follow directions, delightful results. CookShop is a fantastic program, and bringing it to CASES was a big accomplishment for me during my AmeriCorps year.

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