Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Farmers Market

Origins Farm's Produce 
Many people think as the leaves start to fall of the trees and the weather starts to get cooler that Farmers market season is over. It turns out this is not true. Fall is the beginning of a whole new season of local food. I live in Richmond Virginia. Fall here is a big deal. As you walk through the farmers market you can see the last of the summer produce: tomatoes, cucumbers and celery and see the first squash and apples on the tables.

Most every Saturday we go to St. Stephens Market in Richmond Virginia. This Saturday not only did we go to the Farmers Market but we brought about 100 recycled egg cartons from all of our friends for the farmers to reuse. We gave these to Faith Farm, a local producer of dairy and meat in Richmond. They responded by telling us that many egg cartons will last about a week. Who knew you could produce so many eggs in a week?

Egg Cartons 
As I continued to talk to Faith Farm the topic of Raw Milk came up. Faith farm only produces Raw Milk because they believe, as many others do as well, that the processing used in factories takes away from the nutritional value of the milk. This is partly true, when the milk is processed all the beneficial and possibly harmful bacteria is killed.  Raw Milk, what they sell,  comes directly from the cow into the bottle. All of the bacteria is still there and there is no extra processing involved. The milk bought in the grocery store is pasteurized, meaning it has been heated to a certain temperature to kill all good and bad bacteria. It is them homogenized meaning that it is mixed so much the the fat particles are broken into even littler particles and mixed in with the milk so it can no longer separate.

Reading this you may think, why would any one not buy Raw Milk? The major reason is that some of the bacteria in raw milk may be harmful and cause anything from  mild sickness to very rarely death. This is a big controversy today; it is worth taking the risk? Obviously the people at Faith Farms think so. I was (and still am) a little hesitant, partly because I am a naturally worried person, but I was really impressed with their knowledge and confidence in the milk and I decided I wanted to try some. Much to my surprise, that would be illegal. It turns out buying and selling raw milk is illegal in Virginia. Therefore in order to buy Milk you must own a portion of the cow. They sell shares equal to 1/20 of a cow and then bring the milk to the owners of the cow each week. I was very intrigued by this but I knew with the 10 dollars cash in my wallet buying a cow was not an option. I took their business card and they told me if I emailed I might be able to go visit their farm soon. I hope that this can work out, I would love to see everything in action, after all they do way more than just make milk. They produce meat, pasta, honey and many other dairy products.

Due to the fact I don't own own a cow I figured I would have to find something else to cook with this week. Big Piles of celery, squash, tomatoes, apples and a ton of other vegetables caught my eye. They were all on the table belonging to Origins Farms, a local farm that produces vegetables and fruits. I already knew a lot about Origins because we were a member of there CSA. I hope in  couple weeks I will also get to see there farm. Every week we come home from the farmers market with ton of food from Origins and every week I make something different. This week we came home from the market with tomatoes, celery, apples, onions, cucumber and eggs. Here is a picture:

This week I decided to make a Cream of Celery Soup (A recipe from a blog called Food 52) and an Apple Tart (a recipe from a blog called Smitten Kitchen) The soup Recipe is below:

  • 8large celery stalks cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/2bulb fresh fennel cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 2large whole garlic cloves
  • 3tablespoons olive oil
  • 1teaspoon salt
  • 1/2teaspoon black pepper
  • 3medium redskin potatoes, peeled and cut into a 1 1/2 inch dice
  • 6cups chicken broth
  • 1/2cup light cream or half and half
  • 2teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper for re seasoning if needed
  • Celery leaves and fennel fronds for a little garnish
  1. Place the cut celery, fennel and cloves of garlic in a 9x13 inch roasting pan. Add the salt, pepper and olive oil and toss to thoroughly coat everything. Roast in a 350F oven for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the edges of the vegetables just begin to brown.
  2. While the vegetables are cooking, cook the potatoes in the chicken broth until tender..about 10 to 12 minutes. Set the pan aside to cool a bit.
  3. When the vegetables have finished roasting add them to the potatoes and broth. Let everything cool a bit.
  4. In a blender puree the soup in batches. If you have a "liquify" setting on your blender use that. If you like you can strain the soup through a mesh strainer. Once pureed. return the soup to the pot and bring up to the boil. Stir in the cream/half and half and the lemon juice.     

      I adapted this recipe a little, I did not add lemon juice, I added 1/2 teaspoon oregano and I used water instead of chicken broth due to the fact that my family is vegetarian. Here are some pictures of the process:
       Here is the celery, fennel and garlic before they were roasted. As you can see the celery stalks are a lot smaller than the ones you buy in the grocery store and in my opinion they are also a lot more delicious. 

Celery, Garlic and Fennel before Roasting

    Below are pictures of  the final pot of soup. 

Finished Soup 

    I also made an apple tart. This apple tart required puff pastry but I decided I would make my own and it was surprisingly easy. I would have made it with the butter from Faith Farms but it was made with raw milk. The recipe was originally from the BBC. Here is the link to the recipe if you are interested, otherwise just use store bought puff pastry.  
Homemade Puff Pastry 

    The apple tart recipe is below. I did not change much in this recipe. I added one more apple and cut down on the sugar on top. Other than that is was delicious!
    Her tart may have been a little more beautiful but I guess you could say mine looks homemade and the apples from Origins make it taste amazing. 
My Finished Apple Tart 
    Stay tuned and next week I will post about 3 local farms I am touring this weekend!

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