Farmer’s Market Finds: Orange Raspberries, Gravenstein Apples, and a Field of Lavender

I had a crazy June- teaching six classes weekly at Mission High School, going to school, commitments for each weekend, and life in general had me on my toes. I am looking forward to a more mellow July. The first weekend of July was perfect. On Sunday, Satish and I went up to Sebastopol to visit one of my instructor’s farmhouse. Nori has a large lavender field that needed harvesting and she invited her students for an u-pick. On the way to her farmhouse, we stopped by the Sebastopol farmers market. Nori had told me it’s large and I thought it would be a good idea to pick up lunch to eat at the farm.

apples

For the last three years, I have mostly only highlighted farmer’s markets in San Francisco. It’s always a good surprise when I do visit farmer’s market outside of the city. Even though apples and pears will not be available at most farmers markets until late August, Sebastopol’s farmers market already had these fruits. The town is known for their Gravenstein apples and you can see apple trees all over  town.

raspberries

There were all sorts of berries, such as these orange raspberries. They are sweeter than red raspberries.

chiliChili peppers.

Plums

These are all varieties of plums, which I haven’t seen in the city’s farmers markets. Definitely eating the rainbow here!

Photo Jul 07, 12 38 43 PMThese huge things caught my eye- I thought they were large oysters or seashells. Turns out they are mushrooms. Wild.

entertainmentThe Sebastopol farmers market is run every Sunday in the town’s plaza. They have entertainment such as belly dancers, too!

After getting fruit and food to eat and share at Nori’s farmhouse, we made the short drive over there. Nori’s place is gorgeous, with lavender bushes lining the driveway up to the house. I had brought a book to read out poolside while I bathed in the warm sun that San Francisco desperately lacks. Though, I got too caught up in the conversations and touring the farm to pull out by book. Nori is growing a few varieties of squash and apple, pumpkin, jicama, strawberries, loganberries, amongst the vast lavender field. I, somehow, did manage to get sunburned shoulders.

pumpkin

loganberriesI would declare loganberries my new favorite fruit, except they are so hard to come by. I can’t wait to have my own farmhouse. One day.

lavenderThere are two varieties of lavender on the property. The Grosso variety (pictured) is much darker and fragrant. It also gives out more essential oil than the Provence variety. Lavender can be used in cooking. My favorite way is to add a few sprinkles to omelettes and asparagus. Lavender has a very calming effect and is recommended for people who are feeling anxious, nervous, or stressed. While in college, I used to rub lavender oil on my stomach to ease symptoms of IBS.

There were thousands of bees throughout the fields. Bees are so crucial to our environment and food supply and it was really nice to see them buzzing happily. They are actually quite harmless. Checkout the Instagram video I took while picking lavender. You can actually here the harmonious buzz of the bees.

Photo Jul 07, 3 37 27 PMWith a tiny bundle of lavender next to my bed, I will have a restful night’s sleep. I am using the rest to make lavender salt and to give away to friends. There is nothing more therapeutic than sharing!

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Farmers Market Finds: Stunning Apricots

I didn’t spend too much time at the market this week. These brilliant hued apricots caught my eye. They actually look like peaches.

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It was also nice to find several varieties of cucumbers. I picked up these lemon cucumbers. Maybe it’s the warmer weather, but I’ve had major cravings for crunchy food with high-water content. I’m looking forward to melon season.

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Anything caught your eye this week?

Farmer’s Market Finds: Heirloom Tomatoes and Boysenberries

I skipped the farmers market last week, because I was in LA. If I had more time, I would have made it a point to go to the Main Street Farmers Market in Santa Monica. Not to buy groceries, but just to visit an old favorite from when I lived in LA.  Usually, my time in LA is spent eating with friends at the latest hotspots or at my sister-in-law’s place. This time, we just decided to stroll Abbot Kinney (one of my favorite places) and go with the flow. My friend Katrina suggested we eat at Axe, a restaurant supporting local farmers and sustainability. The food was exactly what the body and soul needed that day. I love eating out at restaurants that inspire me to replicate the meal at home, which is exactly what we did a few days later.

restuarantA soul satisfying brown rice bowl with fresh vegetables, wild Alaskan salmon, and sesame lime dressing. I am going to make this over and over again until I can perfect the taste. I will try it will all sorts of protein sources- tofu, garbanzo beans, chicken, and other types of fish.

veniceAbbot Kinney in Venice, CA.

A few friends, Satish, and I went to Half Moon Bay yesterday, a scenic 45 minute drive from the city. On the way to a brunch, we ended up stopping at a farm stand.

farm stand

We were a little surprised to find fruit like mangos and bananas (not local) at the stand, but they did have plenty of local, non-organic produce too. Most people assume that cute, farm stands off-the-road are all organic, but it’s always a good idea to look for the organic sign or label and ask about the farming practices. This farm stand was situated right next to a farm, but it was unclear if they were related. Half Moon Bay is really beautiful!

farm

Lately, I have been craving green leafy vegetables and blueberries more than usual. I actually managed to get to the farmers market early today and was rewarded with plenty of eggs, asparagus, and squash blossoms. There were even boysenberries, which I don’t normally see at this farmers market. Boysenberries look just like blackberries, but they are larger and more tart. They are also a cross between blackberries, raspberries, and loganberries, thus having a reddish color to them. The tartness makes them less popular and are not commercially available. I think they make great desserts.

berries

As we are edging closer to summer, more and more stone fruits are available and the first of the heirloom tomatoes. I couldn’t resist getting some of the tomatoes, despite knowing that it is a little early for their season. Tomatoes taste like sweet fruit when they are harvested in July-September, when the weather is dry and hot. Nevertheless, I already used up half of them to make a delicious, thick tomato sauce to eat with eggs for Sunday brunch. I call the sauce my Magic sauce, because I can use it a thousand different ways.

tomatoes

tomato sauce

My tomato magic sauce.
plumsPlums are a purple food. I love the darker, juicier versions, where you have to eat them over the kitchen sink.

Green Beans

I am not a fan of green beans. For some reason, I just cannot get the bland taste from the school cafeteria out of my head. Truthfully, the real problem lies in the fact that I don’t know any good recipes for green beans. I love it at restaurants, just not to cook with. At my husbands request, I bought a couple of handfuls of them. I just don’t know what to do with them. Please share any recipes!