Farmers Market Finds: Strawberries!

It was a slow, quiet morning at the farmers market today. Partially because of the intermittent rain and the Easter holiday. Even though, I literally only had 30 minutes to get to, shop, and return from the farmers market, I decided it was worth the hustle. The alternative would have been to make time to shop at the grocery store for the week. I resist going to the grocery store, because the quality and prices of the produce just are not as good as what I get at the farmers market. Let’s just say I have been spoiled by shopping consistently at the farmers market for over 3 years now. Plus, I like to see all my farmer friends weekly.

It’s definitely full-blown spring now. Strawberries, artichokes, English peas, asparagus, avocados, fava greens, spring onions, green garlic, fresh herbs, and ramps are just some of the vegetables and fruits you will find at the stalls and stands. I’ve already pinned many recipes to include these vegetables in our diet. Photo Mar 31, 11 12 12 AM

Organic strawberries are just coming into season. Serendipity Farms

Strawberries are one of the fruits I refuse to buy non-organic. The 54 or so pesticides sprayed on strawberries are outrageous and dangerous for your health, the health of the farm workers, and the health of the environment. Tokyo-based Arysta LifeScience Inc, the company producing the fumigant pesticide methyl iodide, decided to pull out distribution in the United States after a year-long battle with farm workers, consumers, scientists, and environmentalist. However, Arysta still continues to market methyl iodide in other countries for strawberries and other crops. This means methyl iodide can still end up in the United States, which is another reason to eat local fruits and vegetables.

I liked eating strawberries as a kid, but most of the time ate them because my parents made us. I am pretty sure I was not eating local, seasonal, or organic strawberries most of the time. Some of the times the strawberries were super sweet and delicious, but other times the strawberries left a bad taste in my mouth. I remember telling my dad one day to stop buying strawberries and he was really surprised. Maybe, he thought all kids like the cute fruit and should eat them. Aside from the bad taste in my mouth, I started experiencing a tingling sensation on my lips, inside of my cheeks and tongue. It was not until I discovered farm fresh, seasonal, organic strawberries that I fully enjoyed them again. I have not experienced the tingling sensation again. I really do think it has to do with all the pesticides that are sprayed on conventional strawberries.

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There are many varieties of avocados other than Haas, something I only learned by shopping at the farmers market. The produce at the grocery store can get monotonous. Avocados really come into season during spring through autumn. They are not natural in the winter as they need warm climates to grow, something to keep in mind when you eat those guac and chips at Super Bowl parties.

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Beautiful, colorful radishes at Happy Boy Farms.

Photo Mar 31, 11 33 05 AMThe market basket, my Instagram post of the day.

What do you plan to cook this week?

 

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Farmers Market Finds: The Color Green

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This is going to be an exciting week for me. I am starting the Nutrition Consultant program in Berkeley and we are having a good friend, Andreas, stay with us for a few days. Each time Andreas visits from Italy, he brings us amazing olive oil and coffee. This time he brought me gluten-free pastas to try out. Apparently, there is a high prevalence of celiac disease in Italy and the quality and selection of GF products are better than here. I made a pesto from pea tendrils (pictured below) and had it with the pasta (pictured above). It was delicious!

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Before I headed out to the farmers market this morning, I took a look at my Pinterest recipe boards to figure out what we will eat this week. I collect recipes from all over the web, which inspire and teach me to cook delicious foods. It also helps organize my cooking thoughts and plan my trip to the market. This week, I am going to focus on one-pot meals and salads.

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Since I got to the FM a bit late again, I was very surprised to find pasture-raised eggs. They are always gone an hour or so within the market opening. Though, I was not as fortunate with the asparagus. I was definitely attracted to the greens today. I bought Dino kale, rainbow chard, baby spinach, cilantro, and the very last stalk of asparagus. Currently, my Spring Cooking board on Pinterest looks very green too. I think I counted five types of kale today. Dino/Lacinato, purple/Redbor, Curly, Red Russian, and Premier kale.

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Of course, to brighten things up, I got one bunch of yellow ranunculus.


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Blood oranges are no longer available, but I think there are still a few weeks left for the other citrus fruit. This winter, I became obsessed with blood oranges and came up with a variety of ways to use them. I made margaritas, salads, brownies, and recently my first original gluten-free cake (pictured below) using blood oranges.

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What are planning to cook this week? What’s available at your farmers market?

Farmers Market Finds: Cusp of Spring

Today was the perfect Spring day. Bright and sunny, without the iconic San Francisco fog. The farmers market was bursting with activity and I feared I was too late for the first crop of the asparagus. Things like asparagus, pasture-raised eggs, and squash blossoms always go super fast at the markets.

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There comes a certain time each quarter of the year when I begin to anticipate the arrival of new crops as I become bored with the current selection. Subtle signs like hearing more birds chirp outside the window and cherry trees blossoming throughout the city, get me thinking about all of the recipes I can revisit. As I walked through the market, I was mesmerized by the subtle changes taking place at each stand.

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The cusp of a seasonal change is the best time at the farmers market. Vegetables such as rainbow chard and broccolini are still available as the pea shoots and asparagus become abundant. This kind of availability can really kick up the creativity in the kitchen and lend to more variety in your meals.

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Nevertheless, I was able to get a few of the remaning stalks and texted my friends to come over for brunch. I made grilled asparagus topped with sautéed onions and fried eggs. We also had a salad made out of roasted watermelon radish, arugula, walnuts, and feta cheese. My husband did the honors of pouring freshly squeezed Cara Cara orange juice.

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Real eggs are supposed to be this rich in hue. Pale, neon yellow eggs are the biggest signs of low-quality, factory-farmed eggs. Eat vibrantly!

What are you anticipating for the Spring season?

Farmer’s Market Finds: Squash Blossoms, Peaches, and Art

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I went with my farmers market newbie friend, who didn’t bring enough of her own reusable bag. I gave her an extra bag and taught her how to carry her goods so they made it home undamaged.

I went to the Fort Mason farmers market with a childhood friend, who also lives in the neighborhood. She is sort of a farmer’s market newbie and we couldn’t have picked a better day for her to explore the market. There were new vendors, the sun was out, and overall conviviality was contagious. The whole market was literally bursting with sweet, plump fruit. Raspberries, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, green plums, peaches, and the last of the lingering citrus crop. A grocery store can never make one smile like an open air market, with just picked fruits and vegetables. Just something so special and magical about the air at farmer’s market.

I made a sad mistake and left out the memory card of my camera. Though, I did take these with my iPhone 4 and used a filter from Instagram on some of them.

Also, the Fort Mason Center Farmers Market was awarded Best Cool Market by SF Weekly! I

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Grape leaves from CMC Farms. You can make dolmas with these babies.
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Butter lettuce- Swank Hill Farms
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Royal Rainer Cherries- Hamada Farms
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Purple Basil, absolutely beautiful. Purple is nature is incredible.
20110523-061609.jpgRaspberries- the perfect snack when coding late night.

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Chive Blossoms- Happy Boy Farms. Just use them as you normally would use chives. They are just so pretty as an edible garnish.
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Peaches! I am surprised to see them so early in the year. I always associated peaches with summer. -Hamada Farms
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Green Plums; they taste like green apples. -CMC Farms
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I love eggplants!

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Farmer’s Market Find: Blueberries and Peaches

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During the middle of the week, I went to the Castro Farmer’s Market after seeing a post on Facebook from Serendipity Farms. It’s an evening market, open from 4-8PM, so it’s great for those who can’t wake up early.

I loved the Castro Farmers Market, because of it’s character. The market is set up on a quaint looking street that is lined with trees and homes. The weather was chilly, but sunny and windless. It felt very romantic.

I recognized most of the farmer’s, but was happy to discover new ones. Blueberries, peaches, cherries, raspberries, and strawberries were on the scene.

I wish these were not packaged in environmentally unfriendly plastic containers.

Herbs are available in abundance now!

Zucchini

Pastured, organic eggs. These are the best eggs I have ever brought home. Satish said to me, “Isn’t this how eggs are supposed to be… it was like opening a jewel box, so many colors, shapes, and sizes.”

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Farmer’s Market Find: Raspberries, Cherries and Babies!

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Satish and I met up with a really good friend and her baby at the Thursday Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market. We were having a nice heat wave so we thought it would be fun to get breakfast there, before Satish and I had to get back to work. We shared Namu’s Okonomiyaki and Pizza Politana’s Margherita pizza with a farm fresh egg. After breakfast, we walked around the marketplace and played with my friend’s baby. It was my first time at the Thursday market. The pastured eggs looked so good, but we were going straight to our office so I couldn’t get them. Which, I am still a little bummed about.

Since we celebrated Mother’s Day early, we had Sunday to ourselves. We met up with another good friend at the Fort Mason Farmer’s Market with his baby. They were giving mommy alone time for Mother’s Day.  We hadn’t seen their baby in awhile and it was so much fun playing with him. He was so sweet and playful.

Brook Cherries- Hamada Farms

Sugar Snap Peas- Happy Boy Farm

The tiniest cauliflowers! – Happy Boy Farm

First sighting of raspberries!

Zucchinis already?! I am taking out the grill this week.

The yummiest thing at the market today!

I also bought raw, unpasteurized almonds (Cipponeri Family Farms), red flame raisins (Hamada Farms), red onion, cheddar cauliflower, and cluster tomatoes (Swank Hill Farms). I still have produce from last week so I didn’t need to stock up as I usually do. Bumper from Swank Hill Farm was really sweet and gifted me a container of their shelled English peas. I am really excited to try out a few recipes with them! Right now, I am thinking a cheddar cauliflower and English pea curry served with a quinoa pilaf. I will keep you updated on Twitter and Facebook!

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Farmer’s Market Find: Lavender and Mint

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San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market on a Saturday afternoon.

It’s been two weeks since I made it to the farmers market and almost a month since I’ve been to the Saturday Ferry Plaza Market. I like to visit this market once a month to stock up on things that I can’t normally find at the Fort Mason Farmer’s Market. After a really stressful workweek, I was looking forward to hanging out at the market yesterday. Though, I made a rookie mistake and went one hour before closing time. Almost everything was picked over or just gone. Also, there were more people then usual at the market since the weather was super nice. Short spring dresses and sandals nice.

I was being hard on myself for showing up so late to farmers market and started to explain the farmer at Eatwell Farm about my morning. All he said was “It’s okay, it doesn’t really matter.” I smiled and agreed. He then asked to see my wrists and dropped a few droplets of lavender essential oil onto them. That just made my day.

I love cooking with lavender. It adds magic to food. Even though culinary lavender isn’t expensive, it tastes luxurious. And  you only need a little bit for flavor. I discovered the power of lavender in food while in college when I made a simple meal for a friend using Herbs de Provence, which has lavender as one of the herbs in it. He was really impressed and couldn’t put his finger on that flavor. Lavender has been my secret ingredient eversince. Lavender has also long been used for its medicinal properties in Eastern medicine. I suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome  (IBS) in college and natural remedies were my best cures. I used lavender in a variety ways to soothe and calm my system. Lavender helped me sleep easier, reduced my stomach spasms, and aided  in concentration. (Ayurvedically, IBS is experienced by Vata constitutions and lavender is balancing for Vatas.)

Unfortunately, I didn’t any pictures of the lovely lavender Eatwell Farms had. I did buy a bunch and will save 1/3 of the flowers for cooking and put the rest on my bedside stand.

I also got my hands on really fragrant herbs.

Flowering sage- Eatwell Farms

Spearmint- Star Route Farms

Sadly, I found out that last week was the last of the Cara Cara oranges. They were my best fruit find in the entire last year. If I had known, I would have had Satish stop by the market last week and grab as many of the Cara Caras as possible. At least cherries are here now.

I went a little late, so the cherries were practically all gone.

Since we have been working around the clock, popcorn has become our go-to snack. I would never eat processed, microwaveable popcorn. We pop ours over the stove. It takes two minutes and we can flavor it with whatever we are in the mood for: extra virgin olive oil, Irish butter, lavender salt, smoked paprika, etc.

Blue popping corn makes a for a great, whole grain snack.-Tierra Vegetables

I also bought hummus to snack on with vegetables -Affi’s Marin Gourmet

Sweet William flowers, the same ones Kate Middleton used in her wedding bouquet to marry Prince William at the Royal Wedding. (We also released the Royal Wedding game.)

The warm weather made me crave a refreshing, crisp salad. -Twin Girl Farms

Fiddlehead Fern- Far West Fungi

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Farmer’s Market Find: Raw, Local Honey

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The whole row of flowers was buzzing with bees today!

I just happened to be at the Ferry Plaza during their Tuesday farmers market, so I browsed a little and ended up getting raw honey. I actually had been searching for raw honey with pollen. Honey has been revered in Eastern cultures for thousands of years. In Ayurveda, honey is used for many ailments and preventive measures. Raw honey with pollen is prescribed to those suffering from allergies to scrape mucus and to build resistance and immunity. Of course, thousands of years ago, there wasn’t a concept of industrial farms, adulterating food with additives and fillers,or pesticides. Also, honey was never radiated or cooked. Actually, all of this only happened in the last 150 years. Unfortunately, there is now the issue of Colony Collapse Disorder where worker bees are mysteriously disappearing from their hives. The issue of CCD goes beyond just consuming honey. Bees pollinate other many other food (apples,  lemons, chestnuts) and are very vital to our food supply ecosystem.

There is a significant difference between honey produced on large industrial farms and honey produced on small, local family farms. Sadly, bees are treated like livestock on industrial farms. They are forcefully fed corn syrup, not nectar from wildflowers. Shocking. The honey found in most grocery stores comes from China and is adulterated with other substances. In other words, most of the time you are not getting pure honey. That is a huge reason why honey from large, industrial beekeepers is so cheap. The benefit of buying local honey is that you can trace it back to the beekeeper and know that the honey is pure. Pure, raw honey is full of antioxidants and enzymes that are good for your health. You can ask questions about beekeeping and honey cultivation. Also, most small beekeepers take care of their bees, do not use deadly pesticides or treatments and let their bees swarm and drink nectar. In the end, you get pure honey.

Sure, honey produced on small farms that use sustainable and ethical practices will be much more expensive. But then again, how much honey do you really need to consume? An 8 ounce jar of honey lasts us for a full year, if not more.Snyders Honey at the Ferry Plaza Tuesday’s market. Their hives are located at Crystal Springs Reservoir south of San Francisco. Super local. 

Gina and I at the Fort Mason Farmers Market. Gina sells Snyders Honey along with her family’s olives and olive oils.

For more information about bees and CCD check out the film  Vanishing of the Bees. You can also sign a petition to tell the EPA to get to the bottom of CCD.

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Farmer’s Market Find: Ranunculus, Purple Tulips, and Asparagus

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If there is anything more than desserts that I love photographing, it’s flowers. And flowers are everywhere. I really wasn’t expecting to find a flower stall at the FM today, but there it was, all bright and pretty. It was the most crowded booth also. “Mommy, I want the purple ones.” “Oh, these will be great for dinner tonight.” “I am going to buy myself flowers.” Everyone was buzzing around the flowers like bees. I actually had to step away and come back when it was a little less crowded and I could snap a few pictures without getting in someone’s way. Then I bought myself a bunch of pretty yellow ranunculus with hints of purple in it.

These flowers are organic and local, which is especially important for all of the same reasons organic, local produce is. Non-organic flowers are laden with harmful pesticides, which you do not want to bring into your environment. Also, pesticides from floral agriculture has as much negative impact on the land and farm workers as non-organic produce does.

My 11th grade English teacher asked us to look for the “color purple” in nature after reading the book “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker. At that time, all of us concluded that the color purple is a rare find. Ever since that assignment, I have always kept an eye out for the color purple. In the last year, I’ve changed my mind about it being rare. Purple flowers, radishes, carrots, lettuce, fruit, asparagus, artichokes it’s all over the market!

I didn’t notice a whole lot of change or new additions at the market this week. I did get two bunches of asparagus from the Fort Mason Farmer’s Market for winning an asparagus recipe contest on their Facebook page. Asparagus are one of my favorite vegetables. I didn’t grow up eating them, because they are not part of the normal Indian diet. Also, due to asparagus’ high Vata quality, it wasn’t suitable to my parent’s Doshas. Anyway, I love eating asparagus with eggs, in salads, with quinoa, and in almost anyway possible. The simplest way is of course by just grilling them, sprinkled with sea salt and black pepper, with a drizzle of really good extra-virgin olive oil.

I bought Pink Cara Cara Oranges (Hamadas Farms), Broccoli (Swank Farms), Cauliflower and Fingerling Potatoes (Rio de Parros Organics), and 1 bunch organic ranunculus (Thomas Farms) Total= $16

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Farmer’s Market Find: Fava Greens, Snow Peas, Pea Tendrils

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This weeks farmer’s market was definite evidence that Spring has arrived. Aside from all of the great new fruit and produce, everyone was out! The last couple of weekends were a stormy nightmare. It was cold, wet, and gray. It seemed like Spring would never arrive. It was making me depressed. I even contemplated moving back to Santa Monica (only being dramatic). Then all of the sudden we had a mini heat-wave. The ladies dusted off their bright dresses, the guys got out their aviators, and with an extra bounce in each step, everyone was out and about. I love seeing people all dressed up, strolling on streets lined with shops and cafes, or lingering over brunch. Also, the active ones were out on Crissy Field, jogging, playing soccer, walking their dogs, or going for a bicycle ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. This morning, I put on my gym shorts and ran to the market, only stopping to take a couple of pictures. It felt so great to take in the fresh Spring air.

I’m grateful to call this my backyard!

Red and Green Lettuce from Rio de Parros Organics. Continue reading