Sunday, September 16, 2007

A New Corn Variety at the Market

I didn't have much time at the farmer's market on Saturday because I was busy buying fruit to make fruit salad for 35 for my mother-in-law's 75th birthday. I had hoped to get some melon and hadn't found any from my favorite farmers. I was almost ready to leave the market when I ran into a former student, April. She wanted to buy a copy of my book The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment (shameless plug here so I went to my car to look for one, knowing that I hadn't brought any with me. I did, however, have a number of them in packages that I was shipping so I ripped one open and it became April's latest purchase.

I headed back into the market and was at Cliff Silva's stand, Ma and Pa's Garden, where I saw some corn and bought a couple of ears. In a last attempt to buy melon I took a walk around the corner and to my delight I saw Larry Fields at a small table with melons. I told Larry that I was happy to see him and he said that he hoped that I would come by. (I don't know if this is true but it does feel good when people say that, doesn't it?) He offered me an ear of corn and asked me to take a bite. I did and it was incredibly sweet. Now, just having bought corn, I didn't really want to buy more but Larry said that I could have the ear that I bit (great marketing tactic, I told him) and then I bought another couple ears, along with 5 melons including musk, Charentais and another kind that I can't remember.

Larry was telling me how much he liked this new variety of corn. I must admit that it was sweet and delicious. It had a name like Miara or Maira but definitely something with an M. I couldn't wait to get home to eat it.

While I was chatting with Larry someone saw me there and knew who I was. He said that if I liked it that it must be good. (I have to say that I didn't know who the guy was and he could have been a former student, seen me at a cooking demonstration or seen my photo in the paper.) I am glad to have some produce influence and share what I like.

The corn was delicious in my pressure cooked veggie dish with peppers, potatoes, squash, onions, garlic and Mexican type seasoning. Yumm.

The fruit salad that I made for the birthday party was also a hit. And honestly all I did was pick out the fruit and cut it up. But the fruit was in its prime and that's what made it delicious. Please remember that you can't make dishes that taste better than the ingredients you start with. Go for fresh and quality.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Fruitful Season for The Veggie Queen

I am about more than just vegetables. I am into all plant foods. This year there has been a bumper crop of fruit. Luckily I know a number of people that have trees and have been able to harvest all manner of fruit from peaches and plums to grapes, apples, pears and Asian pears, and I can't forget the figs. At times I have been overwhelmed with all of it. And at other times I have been thrilled to open my refrigerator and find a jar of homemade applesauce with cinnamon, as if someone else made it for me. (Ask me about my 5 minute pressure-cooked applesauce.)

The rhythm of the season is in full swing. I am sure that when canning was at its peak, mothers didn't have to leave their boiling pots to shuttle their kids from one activity to another. The Moms stayed at their task, cooking and canning until the project was done. But now, it doesn't work that way and with the advent of the modern freezer, sometimes canning doesn't seem worth it. Although unlike many people I do not have an extra freezer or refrigerator, so back to the jars and lids. If it doesn't fit in the space available, then I must can to preserve the harvest.

Pulling a bag of peaches out of the freezer mid-winter to make a tart, crisp or compote is a touch of sunshine in a sometimes bleak season. When I am up to my elbows in peaches on a hot summer's day, though, it's hard to think of winter and the enjoyment to come. There is always the dilemma that summer fruit brings but this year it has been exaggerated.

My wish and hope is that everyone can enjoy the bounty of the season in its abundance. And to that end, I hope to get some fruit dried in a solar dryer (built by a friend) so that I can have yet one more way to preserve the harvest for the coming months. It worked in the past and I have faith that it will continue to keep me satisfied in the future.