Farmer’s Market Find: Helping Hunger

I opted to skip the Farmer’s Market this week- gasp! My fridge is still full of vegetables from last week (I overbought) and decided to do something a little different this Sunday morning. I finally got a chance to volunteer with Boobs4Food, a passionate volunteer organization committed to fighting hunger in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The founders are four women (Boobs) who are striving to “unite the food-loving community with those for whom the next meal is an uncertainty” (Food). All of the volunteers met at Out The Door for brunch, before we headed to the Fort Mason Farmer’s Market to pick up and deliver food to Harbor House and Friendship House for Food Runners. Food Runners  picks up perishable and prepared food from businesses such as the farmers markets, restaurants, caterers, etc. and delivers it to shelters and organizations that feed the hungry. As a dedicated farmer’s market shopper, it was really great to see where to all of the unsold produce and food end up.

Over brunch, the ladies of Boobs4Food and I discovered that all of us grew up in the same town, went to the same elementary, junior high, and college!

Out The Door is the quicker, sister restaurant of the famous Slanted Door. I really like OTD, because they use fresh, local ingredients and the menu is really healthy. Their new brunch menu is amazing; it has favorites like beignets and Vietnamese coffee, eggs in a hole, a variety of Pho, and green papaya salad. The menu offers plenty options for vegetarian and gluten-free diets.  Restaurants like OTD inspire me to epxand my cooking horizons and explore different flavors in the kitchen.

Boobs4Food organizes volunteer events monthly. Join them on Twitter or Facebook to find out about upcoming events.

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Farmer’s Market Find: The Thanksgiving Table

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The power was out in parts of the city last night due to a brief, yet tumultuous storm. I was thoroughly exhausted from organizing and hosting the Music and Pancake Benefit for Doctor’s Without Borders, Pakistan and just wanted to sleep for all of Sunday. Though, I woke up at 8AM this morning, temperatures were in the 40’s, and I really tried talking myself into staying under my covers. But, I knew if I did, it would be at the cost of my farmer’s market Thanksgiving menu. So I got up, finalized what I really wanted to make for our Thanksgiving dinner, put on my puffy down jacket and woolen hat, grabbed my reusable grocery bags, and headed out the door. I was so glad that the clouds were clearing and the sun was coming out stronger, because I had big plans to create a festive Thanksgiving table arrangement with Phantom Floranista and I did not want to fight the Lighting Gods.

I haven’t been to the Fort Mason farmer’s market in 3 weeks, so I was really curious to see all of the new additions and the familiar farmers.  Just saying hello every Sunday to these farmers and farmhands has become the equivalent of keeping in touch with friends (without social media channels). It’s very heartwarming and real.

I have to admit, today was the earliest I have been to this market in a long time and it was really quiet. However, by the time I made it to Rio de Parros Organics to buy their colorful carrots, they were all sold out! I am planning on making roasted carrots and potatoes, instead of mashed potatoes. I was  also really hoping to get fresh herbs from Hollie’s Homegrown, but she wasn’t there. I wonder if she is returning this year. My backup plan is to go the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Tuesday.

Olives were just harvested in Northern California and this really is the time to buy olive oil. Olive oil is the freshest and even more nutritious right at harvest, and the taste is just divine. I did a little olive oil tasting last weekend at Long Meadow Ranch and I was convinced that fresh olive oil is the way to go. California Olives and Olive Oils is at the Fort Mason Farmer’s market every Sunday, selling fresh olive oils, uncured olives, cured olives, and lemons. Today, I tasted olive oil that tasted just like the whole Piccholine olives. I don’t think I ever tasted an olive oil that tasted so close to form.

These Viking Potatoes would make a beautiful side dish.

I picked up tiny apples (Rainbow Orchards and Billy Bob’s Organics), mandarins (Ken’s Top Notch Produce) thinking they would make  simple appetizers or snacks,  a pomegranate (Hamas Farms) for a salad,  and a pumpkin (Swank Farms) for a side dish, but they all ended up as accents for my special Thanksgiving table arrangement.

I bought my first Fairy Tale Pumpkin. I’ve never cooked any type  of pumpkin, but this one just called my name. Also, the farmhand from Swank Farms explained the cooking process, which was no different than of a butternut squash. So I carried home my 8 pound Fairy Tale Pumpkin, eager to show Satish and make a home for it.

The mandarins, apples, and pomegranates became the accent pieces on my Thanksgiving table arrangement. The Fairy Tale pumpkin took center stage.

 

thanksgiving table

I got these little guys with the intention to use them for the table setting.

What are your Thanksgiving plans?

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Farmer’s Market Find: Full Blown Autumn and Pummelos

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The air cool and crisp, the streets quiet from the raucous night before, and the faint smell of pumpkin pie being baked somewhere… It really was a good day to take a brisk walk over to the Farmer’s Market.

Buddha's Hand, can be used to make Limoncello- Hamada's Farm

Meyer Lemons make their first apparence! They are wonderful in a array of dishes, especially their zest.-Hamada's Farm

Isn't this just the cutest, funniest looking persimmon?- Ken's Top Notch Produce

Heirloom Sun-dried tomatoes from Serendipity Farms, my absolute favorite! You know I filled up my brown bag!

Sweet carrots, I will turn you into a delicious soup!- Happy Boy Farms

Raw olives- California Olive Oil

 

Fresh pastas from Santa Cruz Pasta Factory.

Can you guess how much this pumpkin weighs?

Persimmons, pomegranites, and a new discovery!

Pomelo or Pummelos look like a green grapefruit but are sweet in taste. However, the white skin is very bitter, so peel it off before eating the juicy, sweet fruit.

Happy Halloween

 

Farmer Market Purchases:
-Baby spinach, carrots, heirloom and Peach Boy tomatoes, Carnival squash, Ambercup squash, Cipolline onions (Happy Boy Farms),
-Gala apples (Billy Bob’s Organic)
-Pummelo or Pomelo (Rhode’s Family Farm)
-Lemon and dried, cured olives (California Olive Oil),
-Lacinato kale,  heirloom sun-dried tomatoes, Red Kuri squash (Serendipity Farms)
-Variety of red, green, and purple bell peppers (Rio de Parros Organics
-Fresh, Italian herb pappardelle (Santa Cruz Pasta Factory)
-Lingcod Fish
-Fresh cut flowers

Weekly Dinner Menu:

Sunday- Linkcod Fish (watercress pesto), Fresh Herb Pasta (spinach, sundried tomatoes, summer squash), and homemade pumpkin bread

Monday- Quinoa (butternut squash, lemon, herbs), Salad (olives, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, watercress),

Tuesday- Saturdays left over chicken curry and buckwheat rotis (for Satish), leftover herb pasta, lentils, sauteed veggies

Wednesday- Left over quinoa, herb potato slices, simple roasted acorn squash

Thursday-  Lemon-Kale Salad, lentils and squash, carrot soup

Friday- Dinner at my parents’ for Diwali; lots of childhood favorites

Saturday- Dining Out

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Farmer’s Market Find: Stevia!

I cooked a lot last week, almost every single day!  (I usually cook every two days). This week, I have a super tight schedule and I don’t want to think about making meals like I did last week (Saag Paneer, Roti, Chicken Curry, Baked Stuffed Tomatoes, French Toast, Pizza, Salads, Lentils). We have a ton of leftovers too. So I kept it light at the FM today and really restrained myself from going “gaga” over all the fresh, colorful summer  produce. It was truly melon madness at the market- at least 10 different types were spotted. The most surprising and unique find was Stevia! Stevia is a native South American plant grown in desert like conditions. The sweet plant does not thrive in moisture and is 30-45 times sweeter than table sugar and has been touted as safe for those who want a healthy alternative. I am going to experiment this week to see how I can use the leaves, as it’s typically found in powder and liquid form at stores. It can’t get more natural than having Stevia leaves! I don’t normally add sugar to anything I make, except in the occasional homemade lattes and chai. If you have tips, suggestions, or opinions on Stevia let me know!

Stevia! - $2 Hollie’s Homegrown

Look at the beautiful colors! - Happy Boy Farms

Piel de Sapo, super sweet! -$3 Happy Boy Farms

No fog today!!! It was a good day for a picnic, but it was still chilly in the Marina.

Padron Peppers, I used these last week in Saag Paneer and Chicken Curry -$4 Happy Boy Farms

Eat Safe!

Farmer’s Market Finds:
-Heirloom Tomatoes, mixed salad greens with edible flowers, Padron Peppers, Butterball Potatoes- $11.50 Happy Boy Farms
-Stevia Leaf Stem and marigold- $2.50 Hollie’s Homegrown
-Squash blossoms- $2 Serendipity Farms
Total: $16

*I will make one grocery run this week to pick up organic chicken breasts typically costing me $8

Farmer’s Market Find: Cooking Indian Food

We were traveling in the North Coast last week, and came back to a stark empty fridge.  I was happy to return to my FM today and stock up my kitchen with fresh veggies, eggs, cheese, olives, and fruit. It’s also a special week- Satish’s birthday, and I plan to spoil him with food that he loves. Each birthday, I make him an elaborate brunch of all of his favorite things. The first year, I made goat cheese bruschetta, beets salad, mushroom omelets, and a few other things. This year, I am going for the “less is more” theme for brunch. Though, I am going to make a healthier version of Saag Paneer and Chicken Curry for the rest of the week. So off to the market I went with a specific grocery list (usually I just buy whatever appeals to me). Recipe follows.

Today, the fog lifted and it was a full 8 hours of bright sunlight.

Mango Peaches- Ken's Top Notch Produce CCOF

I took a pizza sauce making class recently and couldn't resists these perfect tomatoes. I am actually going to make a thick gravy for the Chicken Curry- Happy Boy Farms CCOF

The fig season is short-lived, so hurry get them fresh while you can!

Beets contain higher amounts of natural sugars, along with beta-carotene and deliciousness. Serendipity Farms CCOF

Other Farmer’s Market Finds:

-Spinach, heirloom tomatoes, San Marzano tomatoes, salad mix with edible flowers ($15.00)- Happy Boy Farms
-Mixed stone fruit ($5.00)- Ken’s Top Notch Produce
-Beets and strawberries ($5.25)- Serendipity Farms
-Dried olives and lemon ($4.50)- California Olive Farm
-Zucchini and one pint fresh salsa ($6.25)- Swank Farms
-1 large marigold ($0.50)- Hollie’s Homegrown
-Figs $4.00
Total: $40.50

I will have to stop by Whole Foods to pick up eggs, yogurt, and chicken breasts later this week.

Healthier Saag Paneer

I have to note that paneer is not the healthiest food you can eat. Paneer is firm, mild Indian cheese. A three ounce serving contains 300 calories and 15 grams unsaturated fat. Though, paneer is also a good source of calcium, protein, and vitamin A. It’s cheese, to be enjoyed in moderation on occasion. You can substitute the paneer for tofu. The paneer dishes often found in restaurants is made with a lot of heavy cream and ghee/butter, making it unhealthier. I took a traditional recipe found on multiple sites and substituted ghee for olive oil (and drastically reduced the amount) and heavy cream for yogurt. I like to make this dish once in every two months, and keep a block of paneer in my freezer. Paneer can be found in Indian grocery stores and sometimes Whole Foods. I don’t use a heavy hand on the spices and keep the flavors subtle, yet mouthwatering. The key is in the freshness of the spices and vegetables. Indian food isn’t so daunting or a time-consuming process if you have all the basic ingredients at home.

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces paneer
  • 2 lbs fresh or frozen spinach (fresh preferred)
  • 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
  • Salt and red chili powder to taste
  • 1 tbs cilantro/edible flowers for garnish (optional)

Directions

Simple Indian spices to have on hand: turmeric, coriander, cumin, and red chili powder, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and whole cloves. Store in an airtight container in the dark.

Heat oil in large non-stick pan over medium heat, sautee onions until translucent, then add garlic, ginger, and spices. Sautee for another 2-3 minutes. The spices will brown and aroma will be pungent.

Liquefy washed/wet spinach and yogurt in the blender until it's smooth and creamy. Depending on the size of your blender, you may have to do this in batches. Gently pour into the pan of spices, stir well to blend the creamed spinach with spices. Simmer or medium-low heat for 5 minutes.

Chop the paneer into bite sized pieces and gently fold into the spinach. This is a checkpoint for salt. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes, stirring every 3-4 minutes. Just beforing turning off the stove, add the lemon juice.

Garnish and serve. Eat with roti, naan, flatbread, or rice. Eat slowly. 🙂

Serves 4

The lemon juice is optional, but really helps to lift up all of the flavors  without making the dish tangy.  The marigold petals add a beautiful pop of color, sweet fragrance, and a taste that makes you want to go back for more. It’s unexpected, looks fancier than it really is and impresses. (Inspired by Hollie’s Homegrown). The flavors only become more intricate with time, so the Saag Paneer will taste even better the next day.  Totally foodie moment: keep the cinnamon stick in the Saag Paneer and suck on it the next day. The flavors will be a sensual party in your mouth. Trust me.

What are your opinions on garnishes and edible flowers?

Farmers Market Find: Summer Tomatoes

August 1 2010
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I was in bit of a hurry today, so I could not shop leisurely or keep track of how much I spent at each farm. I am a little sad that I did not get the name of the ladies who were selling blackberries and boysenberries. Hopefully, they will be there in two weeks. I was very sad that Serendipity Farms no longer had their heirloom sun dried tomatoes. I really wish I stalked up on them last week, because their taste is phenomenal and add added mystery and depth to my lasagna, roasted veggies, chicken kebabs, pesto, sandwiches, omelets- I used them in everything! Italians first dried fresh tomatoes as way to store them for the winter.  Sun dried tomatoes also have the same nutritional value as fresh tomatoes- lycophene, vitamin B6, vitamin C, niacin, potassium, and folate.

These make me happy, great for Meatless Mondays

Heirloom Tomatoes- Wholeness Farms (CCOF Certified)

Beautiful squashes and eggplant- Wholeness Farm (CCOF Certified)

Couldn't resist these purple beauties- Happy Boy Farms (CCOF Certified)

Aren't these fun looking?- Happy Boy Farms (CCOF Certified)

Planning on making a blackberry sauce-?

Plouts and Plums- Cipponeri Family Farms (Non-CCOF)

Kale- Serendipity Farms (CCOF)

Beautiful squash blossoms- Serendipity Farms (CCOF)

Farmer’s Market Find

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Golden Gate Bridge is under there!

Purchased: mixed greens, lettuce gems, cherry tomatoes, lemon cucumber, summer squash, zucchini, cilantro, and thyme

I really like Happy Boy Farms

Purchased rainbow chard and Kale from Rio De Parros Organics

Replacing Greens

Spent a total of $46.60 and it's more than enough to last us until next Sunday!

I bought enough vegetables and fruit to last us over a week. On Wednesday, I will pick up a couple of chicken breasts or fresh fish. (We don't eat meat on Mon & Tues)

Maybe we should have friends over for dinner this week?

Other Purchases (not pictured):
Broccoli
Corn
Free range, antibiotic free ½ dozen eggs
French Baguette
Green bell peppers
Heirloom Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Nectarines
Pea Greens
Peaches
Plums
Roma tomatoes
Strawberries

Fort Mason’s Farmers Market

Last Sunday, June 6th, the Fort Mason Center Farmers’ Market opened with the support of thousands of San Francisco residents including the Honorable Willie Brown, and Senator Mark Leno. It was a perfect San Francisco day for the grand opening- … Continue reading