summer salad x 2 = delicious

20140629-134717-49637031.jpg

I purchased some amazing produce at the West Chester Growers Market yesterday. So I decided to share with you some simple summer recipes to turn farm fresh veggies into delicious salads that were inspired by what I purchased and by the herbs growing in my garden.

Before I begin I am going to add a footnote about the parking. Last year, the lot adjacent to the market was open for parking. This year a lot of the spaces are marked off reserved….and are always empty. I don’t know whose parking lot that is adjacent to the public lot which the market sits upon but it would be nice if the Borough of West Chester maybe helped a bit more in the parking cooperativeness on Saturday mornings? After all, this market brings people to town every week.

Anyway, at the market I found the most beautiful red and yellow beets that were small and firm. I also found terrific young onions (sometimes known as spring onions) , and fresh cucumbers.

These ingredients have made two summer salads: old fashioned cucumber salad and mixed beet salad.

Mixed Beet Salad

2 bunches of smaller sized fresh beets
(Trim the tops and root ends off the beets after washing any dirt off the beet. Roast them at 350 degrees in a foil packet on a baking pan. All you do is salt and pepper the whole beets and sprinkle with olive oil. The beets take 30- 40 minutes to roast.)

1 red onion or large red spring onion chopped small

1 clove garlic minced fine

Dill (fresh), salt, pepper

4 tablespoons of olive oil

6 tablespoons red wine vinegar

After beets are roasted and cooled, peel them. Slice into thin, uniform slices. Add the onion and rest of ingredients and toss and chill.

Cucumber Salad

2 Cucumbers peeled and sliced thin

2 teaspoons of white sugar

Salt, pepper, fresh dill

1 red onion or large red spring onion chopped fine

7 or 8 tablespoons red wine vinegar

After you peel and slice the cucumbers dress with salt to taste and sprinkle the sugar over them. Toss.

Add the onion and dill to taste, add salt only if you think you need more and crack some fresh pepper over everything. Toss and chill.

Both of these recipes can be increased proportionately. Keep refrigerated and these salads are good for a few days.

Enjoy!

first strawberry!

20140522-085303-31983838.jpg

When I was little I planted strawberries in the garden beds. As a child I delighted in picking the fresh berries that the birds didn’t get.

This year I decided to plant strawberries again. This morning I picked my first ripe berry. I have to admit it was just as much fun picking that berry this morning as it was when I did the same thing when I was about 10 years old!

Strawberries make an attractive plant, and they are an easy groundcover in flower beds. They like to grow among perennials and roses in particular.

I grow them mostly as a decorative ground cover. I don’t know how many berries I will get in the end every year because I have a lot of birds, but it’s fun to grow them.

When I want delicious fresh strawberries (as in more than one or two) I can either stop and visit Sugartown Strawberries on Sugartown Road, or pick them up at the East Goshen Farmers Market or West Chester Growers Market!

time to put the garden to bed

20131113-162603.jpg

It’s November.

Hard to believe that the growing season is done, and in a couple of weeks it will be Thanksgiving. All this means it is time for my garden to go to sleep for the winter.

I have been doing it in bits and pieces, planting bulbs, mulching, trimming things back, raking leaves, piling leaves into the beds to give them an extra winter blanket.

I have been a little under the weather the past couple of days, so I haven’t been doing as much as I should have. But today I decided I needed to do a little more work in the garden, as among other things I had some clay pots and ceramic pots to empty and bring in.

Today is also a weird day for myself and members of my family because today marks eight years since my father passed away, and six years since a cousin we were very close to passed away. So I decided I needed to occupy myself with something I love to do. I love to garden.

When I was a little girl, gardening was something I did with my father. So it was only fitting in fact if I did do a little gardening today.

I harvested some remaining herbs to hang in the basement to dry. I love the smell of lavender, thyme, and oregano as it dries. I emptied out and washed out the remaining clay and ceramic pots that need to be put away inside for the winter. I also did a little trimming.

Now my garden moves into it’s late fall and winter mode. A garden in late fall and winter is a mere skeletal bit of itself, but nonetheless interesting.

I accomplished a lot in my garden this year, and hopefully my hard work will pay off next spring and summer. It is always a bit of a crapshoot to see if everything will survive over the winter, and all those bulbs you plant will come up. But I am hoping for the best. With the exception of the bulbs and a few other things, my plants are locally sourced.

The two places I buy from the most are Woodlawn Nursery and Garden Center on Paoli Pike in Malvern, and Applied Climatology which is from Delaware, but they can be found at the West Chester Growers Market.

I buy bulbs from places like Brecks and also a place called Brent and Becky’s Bulbs out of Gloucester, Virginia . I buy Hostas from Bridgewood Gardens which is near Strasburg, Virginia. For things I can’t find anyplace else I can always rely on White Flower Farm. They are located in Litchfield, Connecticut. But White Flower Farm is only an occasional habit as they are extraordinarily pricey I think.

I know a lot of people do not do their own gardening anymore, and I almost feel sorry for them. They have no idea the experience they are missing.

Gardening, overall, is so rewarding. It is good for your head, it is good for your soul, and it is a creative outlet. Digging in the dirt is a very primal thing, but there’s nothing better than to be able to sit back and watch what you’ve done grow…. literally.

When you garden you’re creating your own personal haven. Who can complain about that?

My garden is definitely one of my happy places. And that’s all year-round.

There is always something to be done in the garden. And even if it’s cold and snowy outside, I can plan and dream and wish for next season inside.

20131113-162621.jpg

additional fun for july 4th: east goshen farmers market is OPEN! (and there is a cookbook swap too!)

DSC_0612

How totally fun!  The East Goshen Farmers Market is OPEN this coming THURSDAY JULY 4th from 3 pm to 7 pm!!! 

cookbooksThey will feature BBQ recipe handouts, special surprises, fabulous food and produce and a COOKBOOK SWAP!  (Sorry but I am madly excited to go to a cookbook swap!)

The deal with the cookbook swap is bring cookbooks that are gently used but in good enough condition to go to a new home. Bring any  food-related books that you’re ready to trade –  cookbooks, foodie memoirs ,cooking reference books.  Add them to the table.  In return, take your pick from books others have brought. Each home chef is welcome to take as many books as they bring is the unwritten rule of cookbook swaps.

Cookbooks are EXPENSIVE and a lot of the cool ones are out of print, so I hope this becomes a regular market feature here.

4th of July is not just about celebrating America’s birthday and our freedoms, it is also a time of family, fun, friendship, and community. So why NOT head out to the East Goshen Farmers’ Market?  If you are usually working it is a great way to check it out, if you are feeling like you want someone else to bring that little something something to a BBQ or picnic or cook out, why not either check out the amazing produce or maybe find something already prepared to contribute?  Or just come to hang out at a community activity at probably the best municipal parks in multiple counties?

PLEASE NOTE THE MOST UP TO THE MINUTE UPDATES FROM THE EAST GOSHEN FARMERS’ MARKET ARE ALWAYS FOUND ON THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE!  LIKE THEM TODAY!

East Goshen's Market Manager HeidiAnd I have to say a shout out is in order to Heidi, East Goshen’s market manager and her crew of volunteers.  They have done an amazing job fixing a market that some might say was deliberately left in a shambles following the purple huff departure of the former market managers.  And they are all so pleasant, welcoming, and helpful. They want you to have a good market experience.
The layout of the East Goshen market is fabulous and welcoming – you can stroll along as if you are in a more European style market and every week it gets better and better.  I am also discovering a lot of my favorite  vendors from West Chester Growers Market and the West Chester Artisans Market are calling East Goshen home on Thursdays.  As a matter of fact, check out West Chester Patch this morning for a great article about one of the shared producers, Sunny Slope Farms:

Buy Fresh, Buy Local Means Sunny Slope Farms at 2 Local Farmers Markets

These farmers don’t bring food to market the way big stores and growers do.

Posted by Bob Byrne (Editor), July 1, 2013 at 09:50 pm

This is the peak time of year for buying fresh and local summer produce. One Lancaster County farm has a unique “community” business model that puts some of the freshest fruit and veggies on West Chester and other area tables every week.

Sunny Slope Farms of Christiana, PA in Lancaster County is a regular vendor at Thursday’s East Goshen Farmer’s Market and the West Chester Artisan Farmers Market on Saturdays.

The friendly folks from Thornbury Farms

 

pondering farmers markets

DSC_0081I decided a little more farmers market pondering was in order.

Farmers markets are a wonderful idea in their true form of promoting sustainable agriculture in communities and all that good stuff.

But lately there has been farmers market drama and intrigue which detracts from the positives.

The most recent drama involves West Vincent Township.  But what did I expect it’s West Vincent and drama and intrigue go hand in hand, don’t they? Now if the folks who originated this market idea would just slow down, and if West Vincent would just do something the right way (as in the way everyone else does things and not their definition of the right way) there would be no drama and this market would probably be open already.  But the horse is out of the barn on that one, so only time will tell.

The other market drama is the thing going on between the East Goshen Farmers Market and their former market managers who have started Malvern Farmers Market in the borough of Malvern and Downingtown under a for profit entity called Growing Roots Partners, which by their own description offers “farmers market management and event management in Western Philadelphia Suburbs”.  They also say:

In addition to farmers market management, Growing Roots Partners also offers farm to table dinners, education in sustainable nutrition, event management, culinary and farm tours, and artisan craft shows.

From what I can surmise Growing Roots Partners is a for profit business model that I find oddly similar to my friend Janet Long’s Clover Market. And if that is the case, just woman up and admit part of what drives them is the all-American dollar. Who doesn’t get that?

Growing Roots in their own mission statement says:

Growing Roots Partners is dedicated to community education that nurtures the importance of sustaining our local agricultural food system.

As a weekly community event, our Farmers Markets offer vital economic opportunity to regional farmers and food producers while playing an important role in revitalizing a community’s economic profile.

But given the drama and who shot John over if you are in Malvern’s market you can’t apparently be in East Goshen’s Market, are they living their mission statement?

After all if you are pro-farm and pro-farmer how can you tell them if they want to sell in a particular market they basically have to be exclusive to that market and no other?  And why is it Malvern Market sends people to “shop” East Goshen Market every week like it is a competition versus sustainable agriculture and connecting the community to local food sources, i.e. the localvore movement? Not only is that ethically and morally wonky in my opinion, we are a country based upon a free market system aren’t we?  I mean wow that is like telling little girls they can’t be in a Brownie troop because it’s full but in fact you can’t deal with some of the moms, right?  And who would do that?

I did not pull this drama out of thin air, I have had farmers and other food vendors tell me and people I know flat-out that this is the case.  As a matter of fact someone from where I used to live whom I do not speak to very often called me this week after she had a similar kind of conversations with a vendor who participates in  Oakmont and Bryn Mawr Farmers Markets, which are Farm to City Markets.  They called me up because when they had asked a couple of farms if they were doing East Goshen this year their was this long dance and mumbling about how it all got “too political” so they were doing Malvern instead. How embarrassing that they are even talking about this drama in non-related Main Line markets, right?

Huh?  Who made it political?  Certainly not East Goshen. I mean the ladies of Growing Roots Partners even seem unable/unwilling to take down the East Goshen Farmers Market blog spot from when they ran the market and isn’t that petty?  Is this done to confuse people into thinking there is no East Goshen Market? Or to make it difficult for people to find the REAL East Goshen Farmers Market Web Page?

And why is it o.k. that the Growing Roots folks have in essence poached a lot of farms and vendors from Farm to City Markets and that is o.k. (and they did it last year as East Goshen Farmers Market) but it is not o.k. for these farms, farmers , and vendors to go to East Goshen if they wanted to? East Goshen has crossover vendors with West Chester Growers Market and others and that is because that is the name of the game isn’t it? Exposure for farms, farmers, vendors and multiple market choices for the public is win-win for all?  After all I don’t know about you, but don’t you have certain vendors or farms that are favorites and if you miss them at one market, you catch them at another?

Now to what started me thinking about this today.  I still go once in a blue moon to Bryn Mawr’s Farmers Market which is Farm to City run.  Not only because friends of mine were the driving force behind getting it established, but also because it is a nice market with some farms I really like.  Anyway I received an e-mail this morning of who this week’s vendors/farmers this Saturday  are:

Amaranth Bakery

Birchrun Hills Farm (yuck)

Brulee Bakery

Canter Hill Farm (awesome farm)

Davidson Exotics

Good Spoon Seasonal Foods

Freshapeel Hummus

Jenny and Frank’s Artisan Gelato (super yummy)

John and Kira’s Chocolates (delightful but VERY tasty in price)

Philly Fair Trade Roasters

Sea Findings (new – fresh seafood, know nothing about them)

Shellbark Hollow Farm (hmmm one of the Growing Roots Partners partners, yes?)

Two Gander Farm & Apiary

Wimer’s Organics

Wild Flour Bakery

Vera Pasta

So now here is the line up for Growing Roots Partners Malvern and Downingtown markets ( I am not segregating by market, you can go figure that out if it interests you):

Blueberry Hill Farm (used to be at East Goshen and Bryn Mawr, also found at Oakmont)

Canter Hill Farm (at Bryn Mawr, and Bryn Mawr used to be their only market because they are small)

Down Home Acres

Down to Earth Harvest

Frecon Farms (used to be at Bryn Mawr and East Goshen)

Kimberton CSA

Longview Center for Agriculture

Oley Valley Mushrooms (can’t remember if they were at East Goshen, Bryn Mawr or both)

Two Gander Farm (at Bryn Mawr)

Daily Loaf

dia Doce (used to be at East Goshen and was most recently at East Goshen’s Winter Market)

Laura’s (used to be at East Goshen and I know from the now closed food business Panache Foods)

Market Day

My House Cookies (think they were at East Goshen)

Saint Peter’s Bakery

Lindenhof Farm

Wyebrook Farm

Birchrun Hills Farm (at Bryn Mawr and elsewhere – I personally do not care for and choose not to patronize this farm and their price points are also a bit steep)

Shellbark Hollow Farm (at Bryn Mawr)

Blue Cafe

FreshaPeel (at Bryn Mawr)

Jenny & Franks (at Bryn Mawr used to be at East Goshen)

John & Kira’s (Bryn Mawr, used to be at East Goshen)

MomPops (used to be at East Goshen, forget where else they are)

Naughty Nutty Love (used to be at East Goshen – good but price points are high)

Old Mill Gourmet

Pureblend (used to be at East Goshen, used to be at West Chester Growers Market – not sure if they still are, and are in Lancaster Central Market among others)

Vera Pasta (at Bryn Mawr and not sure where else – I make my own pasta so I do not buy a lot of fresh pasta from outside sources)

Ellen April (used to be at East Goshen I thing and has been at West Chester Growers Market and Kennett Square Market)

Rustic Bunch

Veronica’s Doggie Delights (was at East Goshen and East Goshen winter market and Artisan Exchange)

So you see the majority of the vendors and farms and farmers at Malvern and Downingtown came to these markets from other markets didn’t they? Do we see those other markets making farms, farmers, and vendors choose in either overt or passive aggressive manners?  And seriously Farm to City could be justifiably annoyed here right?

Look, what happened is simple: the women who used to run East Goshen developed a for profit business model to benefit themselves.  That is totally cool, it is the American way in a free market economy.  From what I understand, their business model is not how East Goshen Township wanted to operate their township sponsored market so they went in a different direction.  That is East Goshen’s right.

So the former managers of East Goshen got their model picked up by Malvern and Downingtown so why can’t they be happy with that?  After all why make so much issue with your home township of East Goshen? (at least one of the Growing Roots Partners partners lives in East Goshen do they not?)

I like going to multiple markets and would love to go to Malvern’s market but I just do not feel I can in good conscience do that until the farmers market wars which they seemed to have started calms down.

The ultimate point of this post is all these farms came to these markets because people either patronized them directly or found them at other markets.  Local farmers markets on different days don’t have to be utterly exclusive, live and let live and everyone get over themselves and have crossover.  After all Growing Roots Partners did not invent the idea of community farmers markets and therefore shouldn’t be able to demand exclusivity of farms, farmers, and vendors like that should they?

I missed East Goshen’s market yesterday but hope to get to West Chester Growers Market tomorrow.  I also hear raves about Phoenixville’s market.  I will tell you that I got the most fabulous shrubs and perennials from Applied Climatatology at the West Chester Growers Market.  I also got fabulous herb plants from TWO produce purveying farms at East Goshen Market – Brogue Hydroponics and Sunny Slope Farm- I recommend them all highly!

Let me know where you farmers market and what some of your favorite farms and farmers are and why.

simple joys

DSC_0029I was at the East Goshen Farmers Market taking photos (and shopping!) yesterday.  It was a fabulous market and the layout is even better than last year (it would remind you of more of an European market)  and I really liked that there were more actual farmers and fewer prepared meals people.  I like to cook, so that is my preference.

The East Goshen Farmers Market is under new management which I am very excited about because they are so nice and working so hard for everyone – East Goshen’s market is township sponsored.  Some of the new faces I saw yesterday included North Star Orchards whom I visit on Saturdays in the summer at the West Chester Growers Market. Of course I also had to visit Carmen of Carmen B’s Honey which is pretty much the best local honey available!

DSC_0032

Anyway, in spite of the many silly rumors that East Goshen wasn’t having an outdoor market this season, it had a large crowd yesterday and many new vendors.  And it’s all about the farmers (or should be) so I hope you check them out!

If you were on LAST year’s market list for notifications and what not, you will need to register again.  Apparently something corrupted the old list, which happens.  Send an e-mail to marketcoordinator@eastgoshenfarmersmarket.org or click on their website http://www.eastgoshenfarmersmarket.org/ and follow their site for the same thing. Or your third choice is to message them through their Facebook page.

DSC_0039

I know it gets a little confusing because the former market manager who left to form her for profit business with a model oddly similar to my friend Janet’s Clover Market has somehow forgotten to take down the OLD East Goshen Farmers Market website/blog (http://www.eastgoshenfarmersmarket.blogspot.com ) can you believe it?  Anyway, I heard there is a lot of drama going on with that new Malvern market and I don’t understand why that Market Manager can’t live and let live?

I really want to support all three markets, but heck even with Kimberton Whole Foods as a named lead sponsor, until they work out those issues, how can I?  I attend these markets to support (and follow) certain farms whose products I like and I don’t have time for middle school turf wars do you?

DSC_0046

Anyway enough of the vinegar, enjoy these first photos.  I snapped them of the Amish children who were playing as their parents worked their booths.  These kids were just so lovely and I loved the fact they could enjoy the simple pleasures of a nice afternoon without having their heads in an iPhone or video game.

I call the photos Simple Joys.  I will have more market photos later. Support your local farmers markets wherever you live – it supports local farmers and we need them in our communities!

Enjoy the beautiful weather today!

 

 

 

west chester growers market at risk! help save the market!

marketAs shocking as it may sound, the Borough of West Chester might do something exceedingly dumb and horrible where the West Chester Growers Market is concerned.  The buzz around Chester County is that they are purportedly considering selling the lot that the market calls home!!!

How dumb is that?

I have been busy and was playing catch up with e-mail when I all but fell out of my chair last night.  I had received an e-mail from Melissa at Applied Climatology LLC – I buy plants from her at the West Chester Growers Market.  Here is what the e-mail said:

Hello Garden Club members!

We received some very concerning news last Friday.  If you are already on the West Chester Growers Market mailing list, then you may have already received this news via the market newsletter.

The borough of West Chester is entertaining offers for the sale of the parking lot where we hold our market each Saturday morning.

I’ve attached a copy of the official letter that the market vendors have composed for you, our valued customers.

Letter_to_the_Public

We hope you will consider writing to your local representatives to let them know what the market means to you. Even if you live outside of the borough, please consider writing these officials, as they need to hear from all of our loyal customers.  The borough website in the attached letter will provide you with both email addresses as well as a general mailing address.

If you are as concerned about the market’s longevity as we are, please contact the borough as soon as possible.

We are grateful for all of your support – past, present and future!

Thank you very much for your time

wc1

Seriously??  Could the Borough Council and Mayor of West Chester be such whores that they would render homeless one of the BEST things about the town of West Chester in fair weather months?  Would they really jettison the Grande Dame of local farmers markets? The market that inspired so many OTHER markets?

fresh veggies

With all the emphasis on eat local, buy local (you know that little thing called the localvore movement) why would West Chester Borough be so dumb?  Is all the borough wants to be known for something like that college party turned riot from last weekend?

The West Chester Growers Market has been a goodwill ambassador and champion of downtown West Chester since before there was a Business Improvement District isn’t that correct?  Speaking of the West Chester BID, what do they have to say? Are they ALSO that dumb that they would be behind a decision that if made would take feet off the street in a town they are supposed to promote and support businesses in?

jam

For Sale, Free, or Trade Chester County has posted a petition on Change.org.  Please consider signing it and sending it along to everyone you know.

This is what the petition letter says:

To: Carolyn Comitta, Mayor Holly Brown, West Chester Borough Council Member Cassandra Jones, West Chester Borough Council Member Charles Christy, West Chester Borough Council Member Jordan Norley, West Chester Borough Council Member Thomas Paxson, West Chester Borough Council Member Stephen Shinn, West Chester Borough Council Member John Manion, West Chester Borough Council Member Staff, Borough of West Chester

Keep The West Chester Grower’s Market at Church & Chestnut Street!
We, the residents in Chester County, would like to ask for your consideration in keeping the West Chester Grower’s Market at it’s current location.  The possible development no matter how high of a dollar figure can’t replace the community out reach that this market has created and sustained for 19 years.
Keep The West Chester Grower’s Market at Church & Chestnut Street!
We, the residents in Chester County, would like to ask for your consideration in keeping the West Chester Grower’s Market at it’s current location.  The possible development no matter how high of a dollar figure can’t replace the community out reach that this market has created and sustained for 19 years.
As residents and fellow business owners, we ask you to sincerely think about our community. The Grower’s Market brings not only families and locals to West Chester, but it brings residents from all over Chester County.  These residents then stroll the streets and patronize the local businesses around the Market.  Local West Chester neighbors have found a sense of community on that lot like no other.
We ask you to reconsider this decision.  When making the decision, think of how many businesses have not be able to sustain and have had to cave to the economy and close in West Chester over the past 19 years, and then think about what it takes to keep something going for 19 years in a town, the West Chester Grower’s Market has pulled it off!  Please do not stop them from Growing!

Sincerely, [Your name]

West Chester Does is also talking about this.  “Market Faces Possibility of Losing it’s Place in the Community” and they provide a link to West Chester Borough’s public officials contact information.  I like to go to the top so let’s start with the mayor:

Carolyn T. Comitta, Mayor

115 S. Brandywine Street
Tel: (610) 692-6521
ccomitta@west-chester.com
Term to expire 2014

I don’t feel like putting up every e-mail as I am a little pressed for time, but go to the web page where you get contact informationContact the borough council members and the Mayor. Sign the petition.  You can politely remind them that a fair number of them are up in 2014. To me it is never too early to start election issues if they are thinking about things as dumb as getting rid of the farmers market.

people

I have to ask is West Chester Borough really poor or something?  They can’t afford to keep this parking lot?  Or are they just that greedy and short-sighted?

I also would like to know what developer wants this lot.  They should be contacted too.  Is this a developer who has also bought up a lot of land in the borough or a new Johnny Jump Up?

Do you all know that some of this market’s vendors do good things like participate in the Pennsyvania Farmers Market Nutrition Program? This program, the  Pennsylvania Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) distributes checks to eligible seniors and Women, Infants & Children (WIC). These checks can be used at participating farm markets and roadside stands to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables which are grown (or are growable) in Pennsylvania.

This market is also about community, and no developer sucking up to a bunch of politicians can really create that except in the false, made for marketing material sense.

Please help save the market!  If you tweet try a hash tag like #SaveTheWCGrowersMkt

Together we can save this market.  It is a shame someone couldn’t buy the lot from the borough and give the market a 99 year lease or something, right?

The other alternative is if you own land this market could move to close to this lot with parking, please step forward.  The easiest and most properly right thing is for West Chester Borough to sit down and leave the farmers market and that parking lot  alone, but in case that doesn’t happen, it would be good to have alternatives that  could save this awesome market.

Thanks for stopping by. it’s a sin truly the way politics can potentially ruin a good thing and tradition like this…..

more market