By the Secretary of Agriculture of the United States of America

Whereas thousands of American farmers markets offer affordable and healthful products sold directly from the farm in their freshest possible state, increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables for children and families, which can help promote child health and reduce childhood obesity; and

Whereas farmers markets play a key role in developing local and regional food systems, support family farms, revitalize local communities, provide important outlets for producers and the opportunity for farmers and consumers to interact; and

Whereas the United States Department of Agriculture strongly supports farmers markets and other direct-to-consumer marketing activities for agricultural producers; and

Whereas farmers markets offer fresh healthy food via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, and Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program and address hunger through donations of unsold food;

Now, Therefore, to further awareness of farmers markets and of the contributions farmers make to daily life in America, I, Thomas J. Vilsack, Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, do hereby proclaim the week of August 1-7, 2010 as National Farmers Market Week. I encourage the people of the United States to celebrate the benefits of farmers markets with appropriate observances and activities.

In whitness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this 16th day of July 2010, the two-hundred thirty-fifth year of the Independence of the United States of America.

Thomas J. Vilsack, Secretary



I Never Thought The Day Would Come, But It Did.

One of the stands at my Farmers’ Market has the sweetest corn, temptingly sweet. Each week I buy two or more ears, with four being the maximum since there’s only one person doing the eating.  And every week I simply cook it in a little water until it is just barely done. It has been so sweet  that recently I haven’t even wanted butter or salt on it. This has been going on for weeks now. But this last week I’d had enough of corn on the cob. I didn’t think I would get to that point but I did. Trouble was I still had a couple of ears that needed to be eaten so, I fell back on an old favorite, a sauté with smoky bacon and sweet scallions. It was the perfect transition.

Sautéed Corn With Bacon and Scallions

Serves 2

In a heavy skillet sauté 2 slices of bacon, cut into 1/4” slices, until well they are browned. Add two scallions that have been sliced into 1/8” slices. Sauté until wilted. Add 1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 3 ears). Add a pinch of dried hot red pepper flakes (don’t be afraid to add these, it won’t make it too hot). Sauté for 1 minute then cover for another minute. Stir and serve.

You don’t have to wait until your sick of corn to try this and if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers they’re great in a salad.


Ichiban eggplant

Abundance, when defined in an ecologic way, refers to the relative representation of a species in a particular ecosystem. That’s what’s going on in the ecosystem that is my backyard. My Japanese eggplant is producing like crazy, which is good and bad at the same time. How much eggplant can one person eat? The other veggie that is producing heavily is a Butterstick zucchini. This abundance is one of the reasons I sometimes wish I didn’t’ have my own plants and could just buy what I really want at the Farmers’ Market. But then there’s that other part of me that just loves being able to pick something and then take it straight to the kitchen. This year that is the side that won out so, I’m dealing with my abundance by eating a lot of eggplant and zucchini and sharing with my friends for as long as they will accept. Abundance has brought about need, the need to find interesting ways to fix both zucchini and eggplant.

About three years ago I found this recipe in Bon Appetite and have been using it every summer since. But, while the recipe is only focused on eggplant preparation I want to recommend that you also try it on summer squash. For this version I used the Japanese eggplant and the Butterstick zucchini in almost equal amounts slicing them to ½-inch thickness then placing them in a zip-lock with the marinade and refrigerating it for the afternoon, if you can, for 1-hour minimum. Bring the package room temperature before you grill. I usually take it out about an hour before grilling time. Grill until they are browned nicely on one side then turn. As in the original these are good right off the grill or served at room temperature.

Enjoy your weekend and don’t forget that shopping your local Farmers’ Market is the best way to buy the freshest fruits and vegetables possible. The only way to get fresher is to grow your own. Another bonus of shopping the Farmers’ Market is you can  sample before you buy and you can’t do that at your local market.

Sesame eggplant & zucchini

Sesame Eggplant with Green Onions

Bon Appetite, Jun 2007

½ cup olive oil

4 large green onions coarsely chopped

2 T soy sauce

2 t Asian sesame oil

2 t sesame seeds

2 eggplants (about 2 ½ lbs cut crosswise into ½-inch thick slices

Puree olive oil, chopped green onions, soy sauce, and sesame oil in blender. Transfer mixture to small bowl. Stir in sesame seeds; season mixture with pepper. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Generously brush 1 side each eggplant slice with green onion mixture. Cook until tender and charred in spots, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to platter. Serve warm or at room temperature. Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Serves 6

Pasta L’Estate (Summer Pasta)

Normally I don’t eat a lot of pasta during the summer months. It can be too filling and many days it’s just too hot to cook. But, there is one summer pasta I do fix, Pasta L’Estate, or summer pasta. It’s very much like something I tried at a restaurant once. Ever since then I have been trying to recreate it and have tried on my own and through various recipes. The closest thing I have found is a recipe from The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook, although you will see I’ve even modified it a little. It’s a wonderful dish for those hot summer evenings.

A quick trip to my garden brought a harvest of Sweet 100’s and lush basil. It was time to fix summer pasta. The recipe description says “We invented this pasta to preserve our favorite pesto flavors without having to put everything in the processor. A happy result with lots of texture and pizzazz.” I would agree. The only thing to keep in mind is that it takes at least 3 hrs or so to mingle the flavors in the sauce. Allowing less time will greatly compromise the flavor and that’s what sauce is all about, the flavor.


Serves 4

2 cups fresh basil leaves cut into ¼ inch strips

5 oz Parmesan cheese, cut into tiny squares

¾ cup pine nuts (pignoli), lightly toasted*

6 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 cup best quality olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1-pound linguine (I prefer spaghetti or buccatini)

Cherry tomato halves or tomato wedges

Combine the basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, and garlic in a medium-sized bowl. Pour the olive oil over all. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 3 hours.

Cook the linguine in boiling salted water until tender but still firm. Drain and toss immediately with the sauce. Place on a large serving platter and arrange the tomatoes around the edge. (I toss the tomatoes with the sauce. I have also marinated, cherry or chopped, tomatoes in the sauce and liked the outcome.)

*Toast pine nuts in a skillet over very low heat, shaking the pan frequently, until evenly golden, about 2 minutes.

Pick up some fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic and maybe even some pine nuts at your farmers’ market this weekend. Some markets may even have cheese and fresh pasta for sale.

103° Today!

Is there anything that tastes better than a slice of icy cold watermelon,

on a hot,

hot summer day?

I don’t think so. Do you?

The summer heat isn’t one of my favorite things about summer but it does bring us watermelons. Watermelon may just be the perfect summer food. We all know it’s sweet and juicy but did you know that watermelon contains higher levels of lycopene than fresh tomatoes?

Check out the site for information on nutrition, selection & storage, how watermelons grow, recipes and a fun facts kid’s page. And, don’t forget to pick up a watermelon this weekend at the Farmers’ Market.

Cool Asian Slaw On A Hot Day

It’s hot today and so I opted for a cool salad for lunch.  I had a small cabbage, some carrots, a bit of broccoli, sweet red pepper and a left over cooked chicken thigh all needing to be used and so inspired by a few Asian style slaw recipes I have read of late I started slicing and tossing and this is what I came up with. I used chives instead of onion because that’s what’s in my garden. Besides, the flowers look pretty in the mix. Sliced red onion, or a sweet white onion would work just fine. I think the addition of Thai basil would be a nice touch but my garden’s supply isn’t ready yet. It also would be tasty to add some sliced nectarine or mango if you have some. I’d definitely try this again. Maybe next time with some salad shrimp.

Please let me know if you have any ideas for additions. I’m sure there are lots that I haven’t even thought of. Enjoy and stay cool!



2 T rice vinegar

1 T honey

2 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp soy sauce

¼ cup canola oil (if you substitute peanuts for the cashews then substitute peanut oil for

the canola.

In a small bowl or glass measuring cup mix all the ingredients and whisk until dressing is well combined.


½ small head of savoy or regular cabbage, cored, and shredded

1 medium carrot julienned

½ red bell pepper julienned

1 stalk broccoli, peeled and julienned (optional)

½ to 1 cup shredded cooked chicken

¼ cup unsalted roasted cashews

2 tsp toasted sesame seeds (you could also substitute unsalted sunflower seeds)

1 Tablespoon chopped chives (plus the flowers)

Toss ingredients together; add dressing and toss again. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings

An Occidental Adventure

Last Friday evening my sister, Gwen and I headed west in search of Gerard and his infamous giant paella pans. This search was sparked when I read an article about the Occidental Bohemian Farmers Market. It mentioned Gerard\’s Paella as being one of the vendors. Paella, I love paella.  I checked out Gerard’s website. The photos were enticing. I could almost smell and taste the paella. We just had to go and try some.

And, so the adventure began as we traveled the Bodega Highway towards the setting sun, dreaming of the giant pans of paella that awaited us. Arriving, we found the little town of Occidental bustling with shoppers and couldn’t wait to check it out.

The market included about eighteen vendors; farmers with their fruits and vegetables, ranchers with meat,  sellers of prepared foods, several crafts people and a couple of  community service groups, all lined up in two tidy rows along the main street.

We slowly made our way up one side of the market to the end, watching carefully for Gerard and the giant paella pan. Then, down the other side enjoying chatting with farmers and tasting samples. No giant paella pans anywhere. Was I mistaken about him coming to this market? By chance, we ran into a friend of my sister’s and she asked about Gerard and guess what. He wasn’t going to be there that night. WHAT? I came all the way from Sacramento and he’s not going to be here. My dreams of paella for dinner that night were not to be. And, so with my paella dreams dashed, we headed towards the car, stopping only at the mushroom grower to buy some of his incredible shitake mushrooms.

Now what do we do for dinner? Running into Gwen’s friend again we asked for recommendations and she gave us several. We chose to drive to Graton, just down the road, and try the Underwood Bar and Bistro, which has outdoor dining, and a small plates menu.  As we sat outside, enjoying a glass of wine, we read through the menu.  It all sounded so good. We finally decided on a selection of several small plates, including a lovely roasted beet, endive, walnut and feta cheese salad and Hoisin glazed baby back ribs with a Napa cabbage and mango slaw. It was the perfect ending to the evening.

As for Gerard and his paella, we’re not going to give up. We’ll be going back to Occidental for another try. The market is open through October.

Pantry, Counter, Fridge? Where To Store Produce For Maximum Shelf Life – Frugal Foodie on 7/7/2010

If you’re unsure on how to store those peaches you just bought at the Farmers’ Market here’s a  handy guide that the Frugal Foodie just posted on The guide, designed to help you understand how to store fresh fruits and vegetables and how long they will keep, was compiled from chefs’ experience, as well as research by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources,, Self magazine and the Food Marketing Institute. I thought it had some great information and hope you will check it out.

If you have some tips of your own you would like to share please share them in the comments.

Thanks to the Frugal Foodie for this timely post. Pantry, Counter, Fridge? Where To Store Produce For Maximum Shelf Life.

A California Gal Makes Hawaiian Muffins

Pineapple-Zucchini Muffins With Coconut and Macadamia Nuts

The other day I was thinking about a very old recipe I have for Spicy Pineapple-Zucchini Bread (Sunset Magazine, September 1974). I really like this recipe and thought it could be the basis for a modification I had been thinking about.

My idea was to make a Hawaiian style muffin, all be it a California version. To this end I dropped the cinnamon, nutmeg, currants and walnuts from the ingredients and added macadamia nuts and coconut. I also substituted pineapple juice for the vanilla. The final result was definitely one I’ll try again. They were very light, moist and delicious. If they don’t all get eaten the first day, they’ll keep well stored in an airtight container for several days. They also freeze well.

Pineapple-Zucchini Muffins with Coconut and Macadamia Nuts

Makes 2 dozen

3 eggs

1 cup Canola oil

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons pineapple juice

Beat eggs to blend. Add oil, sugar and pineapple juice; continue beating mixture until thick and foamy.

2 cups grated zucchini

2/3 cup well drained crushed pineapple.

With a spoon stir the zucchini and pineapple into the egg and sugar mixture

3 cups all-purpose flour (unsifted)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

¾ to 1 cup chopped unsalted roasted macadamia nuts

1 cup shredded coconut

Combine the dry ingredients, nuts and coconut and gently stir into zucchini mixture just until blended.

Fill greased (or use paper liners) muffin tins 2/3 full and bake in a 350° oven for 25 – 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes; turn out on wire racks to cool thoroughly. Makes two-dozen medium sized muffins. If you would prefer to try this as bread, you can divide the batter equally between two greased and flour-dusted 5 by 9-inch loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Next time you have some zucchini that needs to be used and you know the family won’t put up with yet another dinner including it, try this. I’ll guarantee they’ll look at zucchini in a whole different way.

Funny Looking, Fuzzy and Flattened = Sweet, Succulent and Seductive

Donut Peaches

This funny looking, fuzzy, flattened peach is described on the  Specialty Produce web site as “scrumptiously delicious and almost candy-like”. That’s pretty much what I thought when I tried these Donut peaches last year. So, when I saw them at the market Sunday I gathered them up cuz if I remember rightly they weren’t available for very long.

The minute I put them in my bag I knew I wanted to share how good they are with you. So, when I got home I took this picture, and then did a little research so I could find out more about them; like where they came from, their nutritional value, and any other little bits of information that might catch my fantasy. I love learning more about the foods I really like, especially their history.

While researching I found this great list of the “Top 10 Reasons to Try a Donut Peach” from Mother Earth News. I couldn’t agree with this list more if I had written it myself.

1. They taste better than other peaches. They’re sweeter, with almond overtones.
2. They are lower in acid than other peaches.
3. The pit doesn’t cling to the flesh, so it’s easy to pop out with your thumb.
4. The fruit’s thin, red skin has little or no fuzz, so it doesn’t have to be peeled.
5. Their small size lends itself to being eaten out of hand.

The last five reasons have to do with growing your own Saturn (Donut) peach tree(s). Good reasons, but since I don’t have room I’ll just leave that part up to the wonderful farmers who do and, who bring these little beauties to the market for me to enjoy. If you have room then maybe you’ll consider planting one. I can’t think of anything better than being able to sit under your own tree and snack away.
6. The frost-hardy, highly pest- and disease-resistant trees are easy to grow in most areas.
7. You can count on Saturn peach trees to produce an abundant harvest up to twice as many peaches as other varieties.
8. The trees bloom earlier in the spring than other varieties, and put on an absolutely spectacular show of pink blossoms.
9. Most of the nursery stock is now grafted to dwarf roots, making easy work of pruning and harvesting.
10. By planting a rarer variety of peach, you are helping to preserve biodiversity and maintain diverse seed stocks for generations to come.

Now a little history: Originally from Asia, flat peaches have been cultivated for centuries. In the mid-1800s, several varieties were exported to the US, and Chinese flat peaches, as they were called, became popular for a brief period of time. The fruits fell out of fashion, however, and the flat peach was considered an essentially lost heirloom variety until the 1990s, when it began to enter widespread cultivation again. Definitely my thanks go out to those who brought this little beauty back into cultivation.

Nutrition: Like other peaches they are low in calories and high in vitamins A & C. And, this one is low in acid, which is why it tastes so sweet.

And, the best information I found was that they are grown right here in California’s central valley. Local and yummy!

If you find them at your market ask for a sample. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how sweet and juicy they are.