Tag Archives: Ann Arbor Farmers Market

Ground Tomatoes

Ann Arbor Food

Ground Tomatoes

I was at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market yesterday getting my fix of my favorite salsa from Nightshade Army Industries. I bought four jars, 3 red 1 green and Stefanie threw in a bag of ground cherry tomatoes.

The have a paper like husk wrapper like tomatillos, but are sweeter and are better raw.

They are sweet and fun to eat because of the wrappers, which makes them a fun party food.

Some say they have an almost tomato cross with a mango flavor. I think they have more of a sweet tomato with an sun dried tomato flavor.

They are my new thing. I try to try new vegetables each year. Last year was amaranth stem.

Drying Mint for Tea

Ann Arbor Food

Ann Arbor Food Mint

Emily and I have been organizing our efforts toward developing Tea blends. I kind of went nuts buying mint at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market last week. I jumped into drying mode. The taste of fresh “dried” mint tea is soooo much better.

Here how to do it.

1 Wash your mint

2 lay out on dried towels to dry

3 Place on screen racks and direct a fan at them until the leaves are dry

4 Tie up in bunches, hand them on sting and have a fan on them.

You can opted not to have a fan on them, but the quicker you dry them the better. Mint can turn brown quickly.

Within a few days, the mint will be crackle dry.

De-leave the stems and store in a dry tin.

Use 1/8-1/4 cup of mint leaves per 8oz cup of tea.

Dried full leave mint tea has a lot of air in it, so the amount may seem more then you think.

Ann Arbor Food

Ann Arbor Food Drying Mint

Ann Arbor Food

Ann Arbor Food Harvesting Dried Mint

Ann Arbor Food Fresh Dried Mint Tea

Ann Arbor Food Fresh Dried Mint Tea

Nettles Tea

Ann Arbor Food

Ann Arbor Food

Here’s a pick of a dried nettle leaf. I don’t know why I never thought of drying out my nettles until now.

I am a big fan of fresh nettle tea as a cleansing tea to make the seasonal transition. I always buy a bag full when they appear at the Farmers Market some time in the Spring, but I always get too much. I do make some tea, but most has gone bad.

Stinging Nettles are a pain to harvest because they have sharp tiny burs that sting the skin. But they go away after they are cook in a tea or if they are dried.

To dry the nettle leaf (don’t dry the streams), I simple place them on a bakers cooling rack for a few days.

Once dry it is crumpled up and stored in a tin, which can last for at least a year. I combine my nettles with dried mint with a 1:1 ratio.

You’ll need a lot to make a tea, like around 1/4 cup because they are very light.

Ann Arbor Food

Ann Arbor Food

 

Emily and I are in the works with starting our own Tea Company. More on that later.

Local Food: Tell a Friend

I am a big fan of local food.

I picked up my Thanksgiving Turkey this year from the farm it was raised. And the pumpkin, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cranberries, eggs and corn meal in the meal were all local.

With that said, I really, really want to see the local food movement grow.

But do Local Food Eaters really want it to grow?

I have been thinking about that lately and part of me thinks NO.

The reason I say this is because I question the incentive for individual local food eaters to bring more people into the fold.

Are local food eater like myself telling friends, increasing our numbers, dragging reluctent friends to the farmers market?

A few years back, I belonged to a food club that offered raw milk. The club was kind of secretive, and I got the feeling that most in the club wanted to keep it that way.

More local food eaters means more competition for the limited supply of locally produced food.

Would the good nature local food eater (myself included) feel OK when they can’t get into a CSA, or they can’t get local eggs, or they get shut out of a community garden plot, or if there is a wait list for chicken when it once was easy to get?

Promoting local food feels like shooting ourself in the foot.

It’s like telling everyone about our favorite restaurant, which results in us never getting a table.

The incentive to not share in our good thing is strong.

But this mentality has a risk because we need more local food eaters.

Without more local food eaters, the movement is sunk because more local food eaters means more local farmers and larger/more farmers markets to meet demand, more local food restaurant, more prepped food products and more access all around for locally produced grown food.

There currently is not enough farmers market shoppers in my town to buy up the current farm production.

There are simply more food shoppers shopping some where else then from local farmers at the farmers market.

So perhaps the current group of local food folks have little to worry about, but that is my point here.

I feel that local food eaters and the movement enjoys the current size of the local food movement and I am one of them, I have to admit.

There is plenty of local food for us now, but not if our numbers grew.

Indeed local food access has grown. It is easier to eat more locally (in some areas). And without the work of local food advocates for years, the current folks like myself who enjoy access to local food would not be able to enjoy their local Thanksgiving.

But I do feel that the movement is vulnerable to stall because of an inclussive and hoarding mentality.

What I say, eventhough it may be shooting ourselves in the foot in the short run, is to tell a friend about local food. Get more folks to eat more locally.

This means dragging your friends to the farmers market until they become regulars, and then not complaining when it gets hard to get some of your local food items.

Be patient supply will grow to meet the increased demand and that is better for all of us.

Eat Your Garden Veggies

Garden season is here again and that means veggies.

One of the good things, yet challenges with gardening is the amount of fresh veggies that seemed to all come in at once.

I have been thinking about this dilemma ever since I joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) and I found myself with a random section of veggies that I had to figure out what to do with.

I needed a way to get a variety of veggies into my meals before everything went bag (and to make room in the frig for the next CSA BOX)

Out of this came what I call: 

Gardeners Essential Veggie Recipes/Techniques.

I felt all gardens needed to know them to best use their veggies. The list is not complete, but here is a start.

Recipe will follow in later posts.

Cole Slaw

Veggies: (Cabbage, carrot, radish, onion, scallion, beets, turnip, apple etc…)

Cole Slaw is not just green cabbage and mayo. In fact, you don’t need to use mayo at all. I prefer an Asian slaw made with a soy vinaigrette. The great thing about a slaw is that it will keep for a few days and you can use a food processor to prep the veggies.

Curry

Veggies: Root veggies especially potato, squashes, green beans, peas, carrots, cauliflower, onion, peppers, broccoli, spinach and leafy greens, mushrooms

There are a number of types of curry like Indian and Thai. Serve over rice, with meat, seafood or in a soup

Pizza

Veggies: Tomato, onion, pesto herbs, broccoli, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, spinach, etc…

Pizza is one of those great way to sneak veggies into a meal for kids

quiche

Veggies: Spinach, dark leafy greens, broccoli (kale, collards, mustard greens, beet greens, chard), onion, tomato, root veggies, peppers, corn etc..

Quiche is a two-fer because it also allows you to use up all of those eggs on a CSA or if you have chickens. They also freeze well. They are a great way to use up all of those dark leafy greens you have especially late in the season when your kale is on the tougher side.

Roasted root vegetables

Veggies: Potatoes, Onion, garlic, carrot, celery root, sweet potato, radish, turnip, squashes, parsnip, parsley root, beets, rutabaga, pumpkin, corn

Roasted root veggies make great leftovers, so make a big batch. They can be a huge mix of veggies. I rarely use just one veggie anymore. This is my go to when the veggies start pouring in. And it works with a ton of meals like chicken, steak, fish, tofu, sausage etc.

Stir Fry

Veggies: broccoli. carrot, celery, peppers, onions, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, cauliflower, cabbages, eggplant etc..

Stir fry is similar to curries. It is served over rice or noodles. A huge number of veggies can work in one dish. The trick is timing when you put in the veggies, so they are done at the same time.

It can be all veggie or served with beef, fish, chicken or tofu and top with nuts and seeds for a more satisfying vegan meal.

Salad Dressing

Veggies: Fresh Raw veggies, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, in slaw, etc…

Lets face it. Most of our fresh veggies are going to be washed, cut and eaten raw, so having a list of some basic salad dressing and stocking the frig is an order of the season. A basic vinaigrette of good olive oil, vinegar (or citrus) salt, pepper, red pepper flake and fresh chopped herbs is my go to.

Mashed Veggies

Veggies: Root veggies

Mashed veggies are an alternative to roasting. The veggies are boiled until tender and mashed. You can selected a combination of veggies or just one. Add butter, salt and pepper and a touch of maple and honey and you are good to go.

Others:
Omelettes
Pot Pie
Soups

 

Farmers Market Vendor Bartering

I am a bartering machine.

For two seasons, I have been a vendor at the Westside Farmers Market in Ann Arbor.

The market is Thursday from 3:00-7:00p.m. As closing time approaches, I jump into action. I look at my inventory and I start to walk around and see who has what and who (other vendors) might want to trade.

This practice came about because I sell sprouts, which will not last until next weeks market. I can only eat so much, so the leftovers will go to my backyard woodchucks.

This means that anything I could get in trade would be a bonus (sorry woodchuck).

I also make baked goods, which includes seasonal fruit and berry pies and other items like cookies, and breads. These are also on the list for trading at markets end because I only sell fresh made that day baked goods.

My rule for barter is that I trade for equal cash value for my items for their items. For example if my pies are $5 I say, “Give $5 worth of zebra tomatoes.” Usually I throw in extra and so do other vendors.

Most vendors are happy to trade for their extra produce.

Bartering is something that I just did and I did not think much of it, but it seems that I started a trend. Other vendors have followed my lead.

Before my bartering, most vendors would pay cash with other vendors usually at a slight vendor courtesy discount and not even consider trading, but now since I started trading many offer to trade first.

Every body wins.

A vendor is not required to trade and many don’t until the market is about to end, but many other vendors do and trading takes place during market times.

Many times I trade for my baked goods during the market to hungry vendors who want a snack. We settle up after the market.

The great thing about bartering is that we all get goods at a discount price. My pies did not cost me $5. Nor did their potatoes, lettuce etc…

It is great way to unload excess produce, which in many cases need to be sold that day or the vendor will take a loss.

I even now bring items to market with the intent to trade. Like for example, this week I made extra cookies more than I thought I could sell so I could trade them.

I feel that a side benefit of trading is that it helps to create a market where there is more variety. If everyone is selling the same thing then there will be little trading for example.

There is also something very farmy about trading. Before Big Ag took over, bartering was a way of life for farmers. Most farmers could not afford to pay cash for everything, so they barter. “You plow my field, I’ll help you harvest yours…and so on.”

I feel that bartering can make a come back. It will not work for everything, but in these days where global capitalism cannot seem to figure which way is up, bartering can take us back to a simpler way of doing things.

Here is a breakdown of this weeks bartering
1 pie, 1 cookie for home-made granola
3 cookies for 3 1/4 pounds of apples
1 pie and 1 cookie for jar of turnip pickles
1 pie and 1 cookie for 1 LB of chicken sausage
1 pie and 2 cookies for 7 acorn squash
2 cookies for heirloom garlic bulbs
1 cookie for 1 bag of french green beans

I figure that I bartered for $41.50 worth of farmers marker fresh food. This was a little more than average, but I will say this.

On days that it rains, which usually is a wash for most outdoor markets, I bring extra baked goods with the assumption that vendors will be primed to trade.

What I lose in sales I make up for some what in extra trading.

Slider Buns Recipe

OK. I have to admit that I am a huge slider fan. Sliders are smaller sized hamburgers on smaller buns and 2oz patties.

But sliders do not have to be burgers. I made salmon sliders last night.

poached salmon w/tarter sauce slider

When thinking sliders, think of your favorite “bun” sandwich, but in miniature.

Slider sandwich ideas:
-Fry chicken breast with ranch dressing or white gravy
-Steak with crumpled blue cheese
-Buffalo Chicken Slider (chicken breast with Franks Redhot w/ranch or blue cheese dressing
-Shrimp Paw boys
-The Slider Club: Turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato (avocado optional)
-Corn beef Rueben
-Salmon Slider: poached salmon with cumber dill yogurt sauce
-Mini meatball sub slider: Turkey, beef or pork meatballs with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil
-Pulled Pork with hot slaw
-Grilled Mushrooms w/goat cheese and balsamic reduction
-Crab Cake with spicy mayo
-Fried Fish w/ tarter

Vegan Sliders:
-Baked tofu w/vegan slaw
-Grill mushrooms with teriyaki  sauce and pickled veggies
-Pan fried vegan risotto cakes with spicy vegan mayo
-Vegan sloppy Joes: Saute crumpled silken tofu w/thinned BBQ sauce
-Tempura Slider: Mix veggies tempura (sweet potato, potato, carrot, onion, mushroom) with asian dipping sauce. (1/3 miron, 1/3 tamari soy, lime juice and water or dashi both, minced ginger)
-Peanut butter, banana and maple (dust with cinnamon)

I have been thinking about offering slider buns at my both at the Westside Farmers Market to create a cross promotion with McLaughlin Farm who sells beef at the market.

So last night I tested a recipe that turned out well. Look for them at the Westside Market on Thursday 3:00-7:00PM while they last.

Slider Bun Recipe: Makes 16 slider buns (or 8 full size) 

3 1/2 cups AP Flour (King Arthur or Bob’s Redmill or use Bread Flour)
3/4 to 1 cup water
2 tablespoons butter (melted)
(For vegan option use olive oil or melted vegan shorten)
1 large egg
2 TBS sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast

Plus 2 TBS melted butter to brush
(For vegan use olive oil or melted vegan shorten)
Sesame seeds (optional)

Procedure:

Mix the yeast, flour, salt, and sugar in a mixing bowl of a mixer with dough hook attachment. With the mixer running, add the egg, melted butter and slowly pour in the water. Mix in high for about eight minutes.

Place the dough in a bowl and coat little with olive oil. Cover with plastic or a damp towel and let set in a warm place for 2 hours or until the dough doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and place on a clean counter. Cut the dough into 16 equal pieces.

Mine dough came out to 28oz, which figured out to approximately 1.75oz (using a digital scale) per roll, which comes to 16 rolls.

Roll the dough into rounds balls and flatten them into disks. See below.

Place them on sheet pan lined with parchment and cover with a damp clothe and let them rise for about an hour. Don’t worry if the touch a little.

Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake at 375 degrees for 15-18  minutes.