Of the Earth: Farmers market finds, and more still to come
The Recorder, May 8, 2018, by Wesley Blixt
S’early yet. I went fishing on Saturday morning — for ideas, for inspiration, and most of all, for new recipes at the Greenfield Farmers Market. But as I said, it’s early.
Still, it would have been hard not to be inspired by the market’s color, optimism and good will, by the abundant product of cold frames, pansies and violas, lettuce, kale and young herbs straining at their containers even though the cold soil isn’t nearly ready for them. There were folks savoring the smells of fresh produce, and growers stretching in the morning sun and ready to chat.
Over at the Lyonsville Farm tent, Rachel Haas and Maria Topitzer were busy filling bags with fresh greens. Pea shoots were selling, they said, though the women disagreed on whether they were better raw-out-of-the-bag, as the finishing touch to a salad, or as part of an Asian sautee.
Topitzer — who is primary grower and manager at the Colrain farm, which is well-known for is Mesclun Mix, among other things — did offer this salad recipe:
Steamed asparagus, grated carrot and feta cheese, with a miso dressing. The dressing can be made with 1 rounded T miso, 1 T rice vinegar, 1 T fresh lime juice, ½ tsp. grated fresh ginger, a small pressed or minced garlic clove, a pinch of cayenne and 2 T dark sesame oil.
The yearning subtext to this discussion was one I heard throughout the morning: Asparagus. “Where is it? When will it be ready? What will we do with it when it is? We can’t wait.”
This is a discussion I would very much like readers to join. What is your plan for fresh native asparagus and what recipes can you offer?
Moving on to Conway’s Hart Farm, Anna Meyer explained the farm’s new “box share” program, a CSA-like arrangement whereby boxes of fruit, veggies, eggs and flowers, or even local meat and cheese, can be delivered to a participant’s doorstep. Vera Mark of Leverett stood at the counter extolling everything from the quality of fresh eggs in an egg salad to the “charm of the vintage egg carton.” Mark said that, no, she was not shilling for the Hart Farm.
“I just totally support them,” she said.
Finally, I visited Connie Sumberg and Sam Melnick of Bee Sweet Apiary of Deerfield, where Melnick has hives on Mill Village and Stillwater roads. By some magic that they are not sure how to explain, and are not sure they could replicate, the pair (or the bees) have created newly popular crystalline cream — honey with a creamy consistency, and crunchy top or crust.
“It’s new in our experience,” said Sumberg, adding that while lots of things affect the color and taste of honey, such as the flowers available to the bees, this seems to be the result of a different recipe of factors.
Which brings us back to my fishing for recipes. My success has remained limited. Without recipes, and the stories that go with them, a column like this remains a barren plot of newsprint. Please keep us fed. Please share yours.
In the meantime, here is what we ate this week. It’s a largely local and seasonal take on potato leek soup, but much lighter and richer at the same time.
Cauliflower Leek Soup
2 T olive oil
3 T butter
3 leeks, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large head cauliflower, chopped
3 cloves chopped garlic
8 cups vegetable broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup heavy cream (half & half is acceptable)
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the leeks, cauliflower and garlic for about 10 minutes.
Stir in the vegetable broth, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
Remove the soup from heat. Blend the soup with an immersion blender or hand mixer. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in the heavy cream, and continue blending until smooth.
The Cutting Board
Riddle: What is homegrown, covers about 80 acres, and may be far more valuable when it isn’t harvested?
Answer: Find out next week, or get the sneak-peek lowdown at bit.ly/2JYdPu7.
Wesley Blixt lives in Greenfield. He is a longtime reporter and is the author of “SKATERS: A Novel.” Send him recipes and story suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.