April was another kinda weird month for me. Revolving door visitors (whom I thoroughly enjoyed) and the ‘flu both played major roles in last month’s shopping. I still managed three shopping trips, had some lovely conversations, learned some things, and began to truly enjoy the start of the spring and summer produce seasons.
Wednesday, April 15: Springdale Farm & Boggy Creek Farm
As most of us do, I try to do things to distract myself from Tax Day. I mean, my taxes were filed a month prior, but it’s still the visceral reaction to the day that gives me shudders. At least internally.
My first stop that day was Springdale Farm. I felt like I’d hit the jackpot with the fava beans for sale. I’m guessing I bought 3 pounds. There was lots of fennel for sale, too. But, since fennel is part of my torture meal, I skipped it.
Fennel seed? Fine. A few Fennel fronds? Excellent with shellfish.
Fennel Bulb? Licorice. Yuk.
My purchases at Springdale this time around were: carrots, garlic chives, green garlic, escarole, and fava beans.
I didn’t really wander around the farm as I usually do. The gate to the chicken coops and the fields were closed, so I didn’t want to be presumptuous and just walk in. But, I did have a lovely conversation with Glenn Foore about the role of fava beans in Middle Eastern cuisine.
Boggy Creek Farm was my next stop. In fact, the two farms are less than a mile apart from each other. Very convenient.
I was talking with Carol Ann about the strawberries. She said that if she got any more rain, her plants would die out. (I think a day or two after we talked, it happened.) Her husband, Larry Butler, has a second farm about 80 miles outside of town, she said, where the soil is sandier. Because strawberries like sandier soil, any future strawberries would come from his farm instead of the one in town.
After I made my purchases (eggs, strawberries, dandelion greens, arugula, curly mustard greens, pork chops), as is my wont, I wandered around the farm for a few minutes.
Friday, April 24: Boggy Creek Farm
This was the day that I learned what breeds of chickens laid what color of eggs.
I was having a lengthy conversation with Carol Ann Sayle about the farm, getting advice on the best way to start a garden (clean the area, cover with soil & compost, let sit for a couple of months, then begin planting in the fall), talking flowers, and, finally, the chickens.
With all the rain we’ve had here in Austin (few are complaining about this), she lets the chickens run loose so that they can scratch and roost in drier areas. By doing this, the coop can dry out and be cleaned. When the chickens are out, they’re extremely entertaining to watch do their chicken thing in their chicken way.
When I showed her the eggs I bought, she explained to me that different breeds laid different colored eggs. Well, the shells, anyway. It makes sense. I honestly thought the color of the shell always depended on the diet.
So, here are the breeds:
During my shopping, I saw that the artichokes are starting to come out in profusion, too. It’s not a vegetable that I use much because of the time it takes to prep them, but, I figure if I go all Italian and give them a good fry-up, they just might be worth the trouble.
Saturday, April 25: SFC Farmers Market Downtown
Once again, I found myself downtown. This time, I decided that because of all of the construction, I was going to make this my last time at this market for now. Too bad, really. I enjoy this market.
But, it will be good for me to check out other markets, too. Silver linings and all.
However, once I finally arrived, I was quite happy with what I saw. The spring and early summer produce is coming into its own for the year. Plus, breakfast.
I came across a stand I’ve never noticed before: Animal Farm Organic Market Garden.
They had the most lovely cut flowers and something I’ve never tried before: kohlrabi. I bought 2 bunches along with a large bag of arugula.
I read up on how to prepare kohlrabi and saw that most of the preparations use it raw. So, I just grated it with some carrots, tossed them both some thinly sliced red onion and a lemon vinaigrette, let everything sit for about an hour and came up with slaw. Delicious.
My next stop was at one of my favorites: Johnson’s Backyard Garden.
I only bought 3 things this time: elephant garlic, mint, and romaine. They still have quite a bit of winter produce, but I just couldn’t. As much as I love my beets and kale, I’m done until the fall.
Generally, with elephant garlic, it’s best to roast the cloves. It generally has a milder flavor than other types of garlic; so, while you can use it raw, you’ll have to use more to get the same flavor in the dish. I like to take the peeled cloves and slowly poach/roast them over low heat on the stove in a combination of grapeseed and olive oils. This way, not only are the cloves roasted, you also get garlic-flavored oil.
The next stand to catch my eye was B5 Farms.
For me, here were the first heirloom tomatoes of the summer. They had three varieties available: Valencia, Cherokee Purple, and German Johnson. I love heirlooms because they all have their own very distinct flavor, are in general drier (fewer seeds), and while they are a bit pricier, they have more yield than the usual grocery store tomato. They’re not perfectly round, blemish-free specimens, but, heirloom tomatoes have their own knobbly beauty.
B5 had a few peppers, too. I didn’t buy any because I didn’t have a need for them, but they looked bright and fresh. It looked like they had a variety of bell, jalapeno, and poblano peppers.
After buying the produce, I headed to Tamale Addiction to buy breakfast for Husband Steve & I. Their tamales are very good and hefty. Two will set you up for quite a while.
So… On to May. I hope to be visiting some new places and seeing some new vendors.
Now, for a quick recipe:
“Tossed” Caprese Salad
As we all know, traditional Caprese Salad is a layered salad of sliced of tomato, fresh mozzarella, and basil leaves drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. Occasionally, a little salt may be sprinkled over the top.
I like to use heirlooms for this salad because they are at their best here. It’s a simple salad that’s perfect for summer.
Now, my version is more of a tossed salad. So, purists beware.
1 1/2 – 2 lbs. tomatoes (heirloom, if you can), cut into roughly 1″ pieces
1 – 1 1/2 lbs. fresh mozzarella (I used perla size in this example), cut into roughly 1″ pieces depending on the size you buy
1 small bunch basil, torn or cut into julienne (thin strips)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, as needed
Flaked Sea Salt (i.e. Maldon), to taste
Basically, toss the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil together. Add as much olive oil as you like (I just eyeball it). Add a little of the salt, mix the salad, and taste. A lot of mozzarellas available have salt already, so you want to be judicious when adding it.
I like to serve this with some crusty bread.
See you in May!