National Farmers Market Week

August 7 – 13, 2011

The Secretary of Agriculture of the United States of America has proclaimed this week National Farmers Market Week.

If you’re interested in the proclamation’s formal wording. you can read it in it’s entirety on  the official USDA website,  2011 National Farmers Market Week Proclamation). There is also a great link to the National Farmers Market Search Engine and lots other links with data on Farmers Markets. But, information and data won’t inspire you like walking through and shopping at a local Farmers Market will.  Celebrate fresh and local fruits and veggies this week, visit a Farmers Market near you. You just may find out why visiting and shopping Farmers Markets is one of my favorite things to do whether I’m here at home or traveling.

If you’re looking for motivation beyond the need to shop for produce, here are a couple of past articles highlighting some of the markets I have visited while traveling. These articles will give you an idea of the diversity of Farmers Markets and why they are so much fun.

Astoria Sunday Market
Occidental Bohemian Farmers Market
Placerville Farmers Market
Kauai Sunshine Markets
Ocean Beach Farmers Market
Capay Valley Regional Farmers Market
Widnsor Farmers Market

If you don’t have time or desire to go to a Farmers Market why not have your fresh produce delivered to your door. You can find out more about Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) here.

Support local farmers and ranchers, buy direct!

 

Shopping Placerville Farmers’ Market, Backroad Exploring and Baking Pudding Cake

After some late in the week conversations I decided to spend the weekend with my sister in Nevada. I left for her place early Saturday morning, stopping in Placerville to shop the Farmers\’ Market. I love this little market and often stop when I’m headed up Highway 50 on a Saturday morning. It has a delightful assortment of offerings; of course there’s a good selection of fruit and vegetables, this weekend there was also a nice selection of vegetable plants in various stages of development, several craft, jewelery and import vendors and some producers of very yummy foods. One of my favorites is Spicegrills, specializing in East Indian foods. They have great salesman and he’s very generous with his tasty samples. He’s very patient and explains everything with such beautiful adjectives it’s hard to resist trying everything, of course I never do. After a generous variety of tastings I promised I’d be back to buy a couple of items. A meander through the rest of the market filled my basket with one-half dozen duck eggs (which I haven’t had since I was a kid), 1 dozen free range chicken eggs, ½ lb sugar snap peas (which were oh, so sweet), 1 basket small, very fragrant strawberries and 1 lb rhubarb (which I needed for the recipe that is ultimately the subject of this post), then back to Spicegrills for a couple of samosas for my eat-and-go breakfast, a jar of Mango Ginger Chutney, Garlic Naan and 8 ozs of Pickle Chilli Chicken, which later became lunch.

After lunch we loaded up Miss El (Judy’s black lab) and took off for a backroads drive in an area around Monitor Pass. The views of the snow-capped peaks were spectacular and the high desert wildflowers added a rainbow of colors to the grey-green palette of the chaparral-studded hills. We stopped often to wander and photograph the wildflowers. Some were large and showy and others were very small and discrete, trying their best to hide from discovery. As we wandered  we came across a large patch of very fragrant wild onion in full bloom and after much concentrated effort, without the aid of a shovel or proper digging tool, we extracted a handful of the little beauties. Little they are, with the whole plant only standing about six inches or so, with a bulb the size of a walnut. I brought them home and will give them a try this week.

When we got back to the house we decided to make the Strawberry Rhubarb Buttermilk Pudding cake that I had recently seen on a post by Sassy Radish. Working as a team we chopped, measured and mixed and in no time the cake was ready for the oven. There was some discussion about the temperature, 400° F seemed pretty hot for baking with a glass pan, but we decided to give it a try and just keep a close watch while it was in the oven. The other thing that didn’t seem quite right was that the strawberry-rhubarb mixture contained, what seemed to us was, too much liquid. I always give a recipe the benefit of the doubt the first time, so into the oven it went, concerns and all. The results were spot on. It was beautiful and tasted wonderful. That night we had our pudding cake warm topped with vanilla bean ice cream (definitely good). The second night we had it warm again but this time with whipped cream topped with lemon zest. I really liked the last version and next time I think I’ll add lemon zest to the cake batter. I’d also like to try a blueberry-peach version when peaches come into season.

Rhubarb Strawberry Pudding Cake

Adapted from Gourmet Today by Sassy Radish
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
2 cups chopped rhubarb stalks (about 3-4 stalks)
1 cup chopped strawberries
1 cup AP flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (don’t discard the butter wrapper, use it to butter the baking dish!)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400F. Butter an 8 inch square glass or ceramic baking dish, using the butter wrapper from your stick of butter – it’ll have enough butter for adequately buttering the dish.

In a small saucepan, stir together water, cornstarch and 1/2 cup sugar, then stir in rhubarb to coat evenly. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Once simmering, stir occasionally and let cook for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in strawberries. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and remaining sugar.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla. Whisk in the flour mixture until just combined – careful do not over mix.

Add 1/2 cup of the fruit mixture to the baking dish, spreading it evenly over the bottom of the dish. Pour batter over fruit, spreading it evenly. Don’t just pour the batter in one spot, pour it over fruit throughout the dish and then use a spatula to make sure it’s spread out evenly. If you just dump the batter into one spot and then try to distribute the batter throughout, you’ll run into mixing the fruit with the batter. Spoon the rest of the fruit mixture over the batter, making sure to distribute that evenly as well.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until a wooden toothpick or a cake tester inserted into center of cake (not fruit!) comes out clean.

Cool in pan on a rack for 5 minutes before serving.

Here’s the info on the Placerville Farmers’ Market: Since they’re a seasonal market they opened May 8 and will close October 30. They are located at the Corner of Cedar Ravine and Main Street (Google map) every Saturday from 8 AM – Noon.