Our Winter CSA from Main Street Farms ended in February, but we are still reaping the benefits. Vegetables like carrots and beets keep for a long time, and we loaded up on onions and potatoes at our final Saturday pick-up at the Central New York Regional Market.
All that's left to do until spring, then, is cook! Here's a look at some of the things we have made and enjoyed with our winter bounty. (We never did try the kohlrabi, but there's always next year. We will DEFINITELY sign up for the winter CSA again.)
Note: Now is the time to sign up for Main Street Farms' regular-season CSA. Pick-up is available all over Central New York -- in Syracuse, Liverpool, Onondaga Hill, Fairmount. Elbridge, DeWitt, Fayetteville, Homer, Cortland and Binghamton. Those who prefer a market-style CSA (with eight selections, like the one we enjoyed this winter) can pick-up at several locations rather than receive a box share. Vacation stops are available, and new payment options include weekly billing for those who do not wish to pay for the whole season upfront. CLICK HEREfor more information.
Carrot and Fennel Soup
Main Street Farms salad greens with roasted beets and walnuts
'Tis the season for cookies and candy and rich meals. But vegetables can be in short supply. That's one of the reasons we decided to sign up for the Winter CSA offered by Main Street Farms, in Cortland.
Main Street Farms offers a "market style'' CSA that runs six weeks -- every two weeks from December to February. In Syracuse, pick-up is at the Central New York Regional Market, where Main Street Farms owner Allan Gandelman and his team set up each week. While there, we can pick up our favorite yogurt and cheese curds from Wake Robin Farm and check out all the other offerings at the market.
The winter share isn't a typical box share, with the contents selected for you. Instead, bring your shopping bags to the Main Street Farms stand and make eight selections from what is available. On December 1, our first week, we came home with onions, carrots, kale, cabbage, beets, Brussels sprouts and spaghetti squash. I used the carrots to make one of our favorite soups. And a recent dinner at Moro's Kitchen in Skaneateles inspired the beet bruschetta appetizer (below), which we enjoyed with a side dish braised kale and fried potatoes.
Each week of the CSA share includes a "value added'' local product. The first week, it was naturally fermented sauerkraut from local producer Food and Ferments -- look for them in the market's C Shed each week. On subsequent weeks, we're told, we'll enjoy local pasta, pesto, goat cheese and more.
This is our first experience with a CSA and we're loving it so far. Every two weeks works well for us -- the vegetables keep well and there isn't the pressure to do something with them immediately. We can always use things like carrots and onions and Main Street Farms grows salad greens year-round in greenhouses and using aquaponics -- a definite plus. I am not a turnip fan, but we'll give them a try, roasted with beets, onion and potatoes or sweet potatoes.
Did I just Google kohlrabi? Yes, I did! This member of the cabbage family looks like a pale green alien from outer space. The CSA is an opportunity to try new things. Maybe a slaw with apples and toasted walnuts? Or stir-fried kohlrabi seasoned with chili powder or crushed red pepper?
The six-week CSA costs $150, or $25 per week. Considering what we come home with and what we could/would spend at the grocery store for food that has traveled thousands of miles, it's a great value.
We'll keep you updated on what we're doing with our winter CSA produce. For more information on Main Street Farms, CLICK HERE or call 607-218-2101.
Roasted Beet Bruschetta Salad for Two
(Inspired by an appetizer at Moro's Kitchen, Skaneateles)
Diced, roasted beets (roast in advance; see below)
8 slices from a baguette of your choice, sliced diagonally
Goat cheese (I used Lively Run Goat Dairy)
2 cups arugula for salad
Balsamic vinaigrette dressing (see below)
To roast the beets: Wash beets, trim them if necessary and dry lightly. Pierce the beets with a fork. Place in a foil-lined pan and roast, covered, in a 450 degree oven. This will take an hour or more, depending on the size of the beets. Cool beets, remove skins and dice a couple of them -- how much you use depends on how much you like beets!
For the vinaigrette: Combine one-third cup olive oil and one-quarter cup balsamic vinegar or blended balsamic vinegar (like fig balsamic) in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well. Place the arugula in a bowl and toss lightly with dressing.
For the toast: Heat a skillet or griddle over moderate heat on the stove. Butter both sides of the bread slices and grill until nicely browned. Remove grilled bread from pan and spread one side generously with goat cheese.
To serve: Place the arugula in the middle of a medium-sized plate. Arrange the cheese-topped bread slices around the salad and top each slice with a spoonful of diced beets. Drizzle a little vinaigrette on top of the bruschetta. Enjoy bites of the bruschetta with bites of the salad.
Long before there was the express lane and self-checkout at the grocery store, there was the self-service farm stand.
You've no doubt stopped at a place like this: You pull off the road, seduced by a sign with an arrow that says ASPARAGUS -- or sweet corn, tomatoes, pumpkins, potatoes, eggs, honey... or all of the above. You look around for someone, then walk to the table or into a small shed or makeshift store, and find a notepad, pen, adding machine and cash box.
This is what is known as The Honor System, and it's a time-honored tradition: The farmer trusts us, the customers, to do the math, make change and deposit the money in the box, in exchange for the farm-fresh goods.
In this fast-paced, digital age, when people commonly pay for purchases by a swipe of their credit or debit card or by using their smartphone, The Honor System is a quaint reminder of days gone by.
In addition to being a charming slice of Americana, The Honor System allows farmers to work in the field or in the kitchen rather than mind the store, which is usually open all day, every day.
Most of the time, The Honor System is a system that works well for all parties. But, as with anything else, there can be bad apples that threaten to topple the cart.
A farmer in Madison County told me she has had an occasional problem with marauding youth squeezing tomatoes and doing minor damage to her merchandise and displays.
She is quick to add that she has never had a problem with money -- or, more specifically, with money being stolen. In fact, she says, it often happens that people over-pay -- and leave a note with instructions to keep the extra or to consider it a pre-payment for their next visit.
Some farmers, as you can see, have installed cameras so The Honor System isn't dishonored.
Another farm whose stand I frequent installed a camera system for a short time last year after both produce and money in the cash box was stolen more than once.
"To our most valued customers,'' a sign read. "Due to a few people who don't understand what we're trying to do here... We're sorry to have to record you... Thank you for your honesty.''
The cameras have not been in use this year. The Honor System tradition carries on, even when trust has been breached.
Said a friend who visits that stand regularly: "Folks who are farm stand thieves should be sentenced to community service and work on a farm.''
Many people come to Seneca Falls to visit the National Women's Hall of Fame, the Women's Rights National Historic Park and the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Many more pass through on their way to the wineries that make up the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail and the Seneca Lake Wine Trail -- and to their camps, cottages and homes in the Finger Lakes.
Sauders is a destination for food adventurists, "a unique country store'' that has grown from 10,000 square feet to 40,000-plus square feet -- the size of an Aldi or small Tops store. It's not a restaurant, but it ranks No. 1 on a Trip Advisor list of top restaurants in the Seneca Falls area, perhaps for its over-stuffed subs and deli sandwiches.
We've been hearing and reading about Sauders' expansion for a year now and stopped to check it out on our way to Seneca Lake. There's more parking, a covered drop-off and entry area and wide spacious aisles. If you're using a shopping cart, you'll no longer clog the aisles and bump into your fellow shoppers.
You might find yourself thinking the new Sauders reminds you of Wegmans. The store is big and more glossy, for sure, but still quaint and charming.
Sauders, open since 1978, was founded by Mennonites who moved here from Lancaster County, Pa. John Sauder, one of the owners, told the Finger Lakes Times last year the family has been wanting to expand the store for about five years and decided the time was right.
Basically, you'll find all the things you loved about the original Sauders -- on a larger scale.
You're greeted by a display of seasonal, local produce when you walk in the door. Next stop is a greatly expanded produce department.
There's an in-store bakery and an eat-in cafe called the Country Cookin' Cafe. The cafe also offers ice cream.
Grandma Sauders Candy Shack department has dozens of choices of bulk and packaged chocolate and candies, including every kind of "gummy" treat imaginable.
In the market for grains, pasta, rice, cereals and spices? You've come to the right place.
There's an expanded meat/deli department and cheeses galore, including local favorites like Muranda Cheese Co. and Yancey's Fancy cheeses. We spotted cheese curds and yogurts from Stoltzfus Family Farm, in Vernon Center.
Like to bake? There's an entire aisle of flour, sugars, sanding sugars, cookie and cake decorations in a kaleidoscope of colors, as well as candy-making supplies.
Are you "putting up summer"? There's canning and preserving gear and supplies galore.
No Mennonite store would be complete without jams, jellies, pickles, mustards, sauces, condiments and more -- Sauders has them all, including specialty items like pickled eggs.
Maple syrup, honey, nuts, dried fruit, trail mixes… the odds are good you'll go home with a thing or two NOT on your shopping list.
The "Book Nook" has Mennonite, Amish and community cookbooks.
The check-out area runs smoothly and is staffed by friendly young Mennonite women in their traditional white caps and calico print dresses. The store accepts debit and credit cards.
If you're in the Seneca Falls area and need some food/grocery items -- or even if you don't -- Sauders is worth a detour.
Sauders is at 2146 River Road, Seneca Falls. The store is open Monday to Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m. Information: 315-568-2673
Note: East of Syracuse and also worth checking out is the Troyers Country Store, 5518 Nelson Road, Cazenovia. The store offers meats, cheeses, baking supplies, bulk foods, nuts and a popular DIY nut butter grinding machine. The store is open Monday to Saturday. Information: 315-655-0346
You love goats. You love how they bleat as they greet you. You love how frisky and friendly and sometimes naughty they are. They nibble the buttons on your shirt and climb all over you and your car and clamor for your attention.
You also love goat milk and goat milk cheeses: crumbly chèvre spread on a bagel, feta crumbled on a salad, halloumi fried or grilled as an appetizer.
If you love goats, goat milk products and the Central New York countryside, mark your calendar and get to 2 Kids Goat Farm, in Cuyler, on Sunday (August 2) for the second annual Goat Fest.
Yup. Goat Fest!
The family friendly celebration of goats and community is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will include a petting zoo and other activities for children, live entertainment and a "pop-up" marketplace featuring local produce, baked goods, pastured meats, maple syrup, craft beer, hard cider, coffee, wine, plants and more (members of the local 4-H will be selling milkshakes). There is no admission charge and all are invited to attend.
2 Kids Goat Farm was launched several years ago by Barry and Amy Sperat. The farm takes its name from their two school-age sons, Finn and Bergen, and the goat "kids" that helped them get their start.
The Sperats started small, with just a few goats (mostly Nubians and Alpines) and learned how to milk them by watching YouTube videos. They quickly learned how to make cheese, beginning with their signature Plain Jane chèvre. Before long, they started adding mix-ins, like black peppercorns, garlic and chive, cranberries and pumpkin.
The 2 Kids herd now numbers about 50 and they're milking about 30, Barry says -- twice a day, every day. Recent additions include two dairy cows, so they can make cow's milk cheeses, as well. Barry makes the cheese -- which has expanded beyond chèvre to include feta, halloumi, cheese curds, farmers cheese and special varieties like Finnaberg, a goat milk cheese made in a fashion similar to cheddar and Amy Lynne, which Barry calls a "wine-soaked drunken goat cheese.''
Amy, meanwhile, is responsible for the 2 Kids line of personal care products, which includes goat milk soaps, lotions and balms. She recently started making liquid soap in addition to the bar soaps. Just as goat milk is favored by people who are lactose sensitive or intolerant, goat milk soaps and lotions are are favored by people with eczema, psoriasis and other skin sensitivity issues. (My own sensitive skin responds favorably to the Plain Jane bar soap, a good value at $4 each, or three bars for $10.)
But back to the goats. They are the big draw for Sunday's event and will be out for everyone to see -- and pet. The Sperats are expecting a crowd of about 500, which is no problem for goats. The more people, the more goat love.
"Goats are very social animals,'' Barry says. "They all have names, and they all know their names. They love people.''
On Sunday, be sure to bring a cooler (for possible purchases) and wear good shoes for walking.
"People can interact with the animals, walk to the top of the hill and see the gorgeous view and sample cheeses and other foods,'' Barry said last week. "We'll have a blast.''
Goat Fest, hosted by 2 Kids Goat Farm, runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday (Aug. 2). The farm is at 682 Cowles Settlement Road, Cuyler. For more information, call 315-447-3364.WEBSITEFACEBOOK
Can't make it to Goat Fest on Sunday? Look for 2 Kids Goat Farm products at the Downtown Syracuse Farmers Market (Tuesdays), Fayetteville Farmers Market (Thursdays) and at Side Hill Farmers Meats and Market, in Manlius.
Cheese and crackers, with 2 Kids Goat Farm black pepper chèvre
One of the things I miss the most about working downtown is the Downtown Syracuse Farmers Market. I've been trying to get there for more than a month now, but relentless rain on Tuesdays has kept me away.
Today, at noontime, it wasn't raining (at least for the moment). So I headed downtown with my market basket, allotted market allowance ($20) and a fist-full of change for on-street parking.
This vibrant and bustling market, at Clinton Square, features more than 40 vendors, many along West Water Street, and always draws a good crowd.
Before making any purchases, I scoped out the market and returned to make purchases of items that a) appealed to my eye and b) I know for certain we'll use in the next day or two. (See farmers market tips.)
• Two cousa squashes ($1) from Hahn Farms, Baldwinsville. Cousa squash is smaller, lighter in color and a little more sweet than zucchini, according to the young woman who waited on me. Use them the same way you use zucchini, she said. I'll probably make cousa "boats,'' stuffed with rice, Italian sausage and tomato sauce, later in the week.
• A pint of blueberries ($3) from the vendors sometimes called "The Blueberry Guys.'' These growers, from Oswego County, have the most beautiful blueberries. They sell half pints, pints, quarts and BUCKETS ($20) of blueberries at the downtown market and at the Central New York Regional Market on Saturdays.
• A quart of yellow beans ($3) from Haas Farms, Red Creek. This vendor is always quick to say hello and never disappoints. Today, he had red currants, red raspberries, peas, green and wax beans, flat Italian beans, garlic scapes and more. So we'll be having wax beans, steamed until crisp-tender and tossed with a little butter, salt and pepper, with supper.
• A container of black pepper chèvre ($7) from 2 Kids Goat Farm, Cuyler. Market associate Chelsey always has samples and always takes time explain products, from cheeses to goats milk soaps, lotions and balms. Today she sampled various chevres and a newer offering from 2 Kids -- goats milk cheese curds (delicious!) She also shared a tip: To make "inside out" cheeseburgers, stuff four 2 Kids cheese curds inside each burger when forming patties. About the chèvre: It's slightly crumbly and spreadable. I like it on crackers, on bagels in place of cream cheese and as a garnish for salads.
With no rain in sight and a few minutes left on the meter, I decided to visit the newly opened Liehs & Steigerwald Downtown -- a combination butcher shop, small grocery, pub and grill. The downtown location is a new project for the family-owned meat market, a fixture in Syracuse since 1936.
The meat case has all of your L&S favorites, like roasts and chops, German franks, bratwurst, chorizo and other sausages and some of the best bacon you've ever had. People were lined up for sandwiches (eat-in and takeout) and a few people were eating lunch at the small bar.
I got four of the German franks to go, but will be back after work some evening for a pint of beer and Mug O'Bacon, one of the signature appetizers.
The Downtown Syracuse Farmers Market, presented by the Downtown Committee of Syracuse, continues Tuesdays through Oct. 13. Hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., but some vendors leave early, just FYI.
Liehs & Steigerwald Downtown is 117 E. Fayette St., near Bank Alley. Information: 315-299-4799.
When Stephanie Weidner Lipsey, market manager of the Fayetteville Farmers Market, asked me to go on "Bridge Street Live" (News Channel 9 - WSYR TV) with her to help promote the market -- and make a dish using ingredients from the market -- the answer was a no-brainer.
Sure! Why not?
The Fayetteville Farmers Market, now in its second year, is a good one, with nearly 40 vendors (no re-sellers) offering a diverse range of goods. In addition to in-season, local produce, the market has vendors offering meats, cheeses, eggs, yogurt, milk, honey, maple syrup, jams and jellies, salsa, pesto, bread, cookies, cakes and other baked goods, chocolate/confections, coffee -- everything you need, or could want, to make a meal.
I knew I didn't want to make something on camera and started thinking about something I could make ahead and take to the studio. Jam or jelly? No. Too fussy. Fruit crisp or cobbler? Maybe. Make-ahead frittata? Yes!
I met Stephanie at the market last Thursday, July 2, armed with a short shopping list for the recipe: new potatoes, onions or scallions, bacon or ham, red pepper, green and yellow squash, eggs and cheddar-style cheese. Everything was available except red pepper -- not yet in season -- so we grabbed a couple greenhouse-grown tomatoes (as well as a pound of new potatoes) from Stone's Farm and Greenhouses, Canastota, for color and to use as a garnish.
Mosher Farms, Bouckville, supplied the summer squashes, Hartwood Farm (Chittenango) had scallions and WW Longhorn Ranch, Bernhards Bay, came through with eggs. Any of the farmstead cheeses from Stoltzfus Family Dairy (Vernon Center) would work in the frittata, but we agreed the tomato-basil cheese would work best. The bacon in the frittata (and sausage served on the side) came from Drover Hill Farm, Earlville -- owned and operated by Stephanie and her husband, William Lipsey. They're known for their pasture-rasied beef, lamb, pork and chicken.
Earlier in the season, I might make the fritatta with spinach and ham. Later in the season, I might make it with heirloom tomatoes from Mountain Grown Farm, Jamesville. It's easy and adaptable. Give it a try!
Fayetteville Farmers Market Frittata
As featured on "Bridge Street" (July 7)
Olive oil for pan
4 slices bacon, cooked, blotted and crumbled (optional)
3/4 pound small new potatoes, sliced thin
2 bunches scallions, white part only, sliced (save some of the green tops for garnish)
2 small zucchini or yellow squash (or a combination), diced
9 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
4 ounces (1 cup) Cheddar- or Swiss-type cheese, grated
Sliced tomato, for garnish
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 9-inch glass pie plate lightly with oil.
Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until brown. Remove bacon from pan, blot on paper towels and crumble. Drain grease from pan, leaving enough to cook scallions and potatoes. Return pan to medium heat. Cook potatoes and onions, tossing occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 15-17 minutes. Remove potatoes and onions from pan and spread evenly on bottom of pie plate. Sprinkle the cooked bacon over the potatoes. Add a little more olive oil to the pan and cook squash over medium heat until crisp-tender.
Spoon squash over potato-onion base in pie plate. Add the grated cheese.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt and pepper. Pour over all. Bake until eggs are set, about 15-17 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving. Makes 6 servings.
Serve the frittata with green salad and crusty bread.
1. Arrive early. Or arrive late. At the CNY Regional Market in Syracuse, this means up and at 'em bright and early on Saturdays for a 7 a.m. shopping spree. This is when the fish monger has his best and brightest selections available. And you'll appreciate the emptier aisles. On the flip side, there are advantages to shopping later, too. The selection might not be the best, but some vendors discount their goods as closing time approaches so they don't have to cart everything away.
2. Case the entire market before making purchases. This might not be feasible at the Regional Market during the spring and summer crush, but is do-able at smaller markets. Make selections based on what looks the most fresh, vibrant and appealing to your eyes.
3. Bring a re-usable shopping bag and a cooler filled with ice or ice packs. On warm summer days, this allows worry-free purchases of items like yogurt, cheese and fish/seafood.
4. Carry smaller bills. Farmers will love you for "exact change,'' and you'll keep lines moving smoothly.
5. Don't haggle - this is not an auction or yard sale. Farmers work hard to grow the food we eat -- and make a living wage. A quart of strawberries for $4 and three zucchini for $1 is already a good deal. Pony up and pay the price on the sign!
6. Don't thump the melons, don't squeeze the tomatoes and peaches and don't peel back the husk on every ear of corn. Want a melon that's ready to eat today -- or one that will be ready on the weekend? Ask the farmer/vendor. They know their produce well.
7. Purchase things other than produce, if your budget allows. Markets in Central New York cast a wide net for local producers and vendors with a wide range of items. You'll find eggs, cheeses, yogurt, breads, bagels, baklava, cookies, coffee, shortbread and other baked goods, pasta, granola, hummus, honey, meat, maple syrup, jams, jellies, spices, sauces, salsa, chocolate, peanut brittle -- I'm getting hungry! The list goes on and on and on.
8. Keep your eyes open for new offerings from "old favorite" vendors. At the Fayetteville Farmers Market, for example, the owners of Lune Chocolat are offering homemade gourmet fruit and ultimate chocolate popsicles in addition to their signature artisan chocolates. And Tina Conte McPherson, creator of Primo and Mary's salsa, is offering fresh basil-garlic pesto and fresh bruschetta at the Fayetteville Farmers Market and the Farmers Market at Cottage Lawn at the Madison County Historical Society (Oneida) each week. She started growing hydroponic basil this winter and plans to incorporate fresh produce from both markets as the growing season progresses.
10. Know your farmer, know your food … and try something NEW! Never had kale? Kohlrabi? Garlic scapes? Spaghetti squash? Bison meat? Be adventurous! Ask the grower or vendor for advice on how to store, prepare and cook what they're selling.
Out with sandals... in with socks and fuzzy slippers to keep our feet warm. Out with windows wide open for a cross breeze... in with an extra blanket or two on the bed. Out with salads from the garden box... in with soup simmering on the stove.
We don't want to rush the seasons -- we're still savoring local tomatoes and will enjoy at least one more Caprese salad before fully surrendering to fall.
We also don't want to peak too early with soup, which is something we eat A LOT of in fall and winter. It's so easy to make and so versatile -- perfect with a grilled cheese sandwich or panini for supper and perfect to pack for the office. Because who needs a ho-hum lunch?
The guys at Main Street Farms, of Homer and Cortland, were offering two big, beautiful bunches of kale for $5 on a recent Saturday at the CNY Regional Market, and I couldn't resist.
We enjoyed one bunch with our supper that night, and saved the second one to make soup a couple days later.
This is a quick soup, ready in 20 minutes or so, after you've done the prep work. Enjoy it on its own, or serve it with crusty, toasted bread if you can afford a few more calories.
1 big bunch of kale, washed well and rough chopped
8 cups chicken stock or broth
Kosher salt, as needed
Parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional)
If using sausage: Remove the casing, break into pieces and brown over medium heat. Drain, blot with paper towels and set aside.
In the same pot: Heat oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and cook until it is translucent then reduce the heat a bit and cook until onion begins to caramelize. Add the garlic, the crushed red pepper and the black pepper and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the potatoes and toss with the onion mixture at the bottom of the pot. Add the kale and toss again. Cook for a few minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking. Add the broth, stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes and kale are tender. Add the sausage to the soup pot in the last few minutes of cooking.
Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve the soup with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, if desired. Makes about 8 servings.
Excitement has been growing for weeks -- months, really -- about the new farmers market setting up shop Thursdays at the Towne Center at Fayetteville. And customers came out in droves.
More than 20 vendors offering early spring greens, eggs, cheese, yogurt, grass-fed beef, bison, lamb and turkey, maple products, mushrooms, granola, honey, jams, jellies, salsa, baked goods, chocolate, coffee and more were on hand for opening day.
Market manager Stephanie Lipsey, of Drover Hill Farm, spent the winter months organizing the market. She surveyed the scene at Towne Center at Fayetteville, smiled and pronounced the first day a success. She expects to welcome several new vendors as the season progresses.
The good news, for those who missed opening day, is that the growing season is just getting started in Central New York -- and there are many more weeks of market season ahead.
The market will have its "grand opening'' June 12, featuring music, activities for children, a raffle for a local gift basket and a book signing with local author
Sharon Bailhe' (“The Great Dane and Little Turtle: Adventures in Cooking”).
The Fayetteville Farmers Market will continue 3 to 7 p.m. Thursdays, through Oct. 30. Enter the Towne Center from Burdick Street, near Bonefish Grill, and look for the tents.