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rlibkind

2011 Farmers' Markets

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I was out of town when Headhouse opened the first Sunday in May, but made it there this past Sunday.

The big surprise was seeing strawberries at A.T. Buzby, $6/quart iirc. They were grown under plastic, so I'm going to what a couple weeks more before induling.

Tom Culton was there in spades, with plenty of asparagus spears (pick the individually, rather than pre-packaged in bunches) I picked up a small handful which I used with pasta (cooked in homemade beef broth out of the freezer, then finished with a knob of butter, tossed with penne and doused in immoderate quantities of parmesan reggiano. Tom had gorgeous tiny radishes, also, about $4/pound iirc, including the tender, spicy leaves, which I add to salads and may also be cooked as any other green. Greens and roots were exceptionally good.

I couldn't resist a bunch of lilacs for SWMBO from Queen Farm, $5 for a small bouquet, but the aroma was worth every penny.

The previous Thursday I got to the first Fairmount market of the season (Fairmount and 22nd, opposite the Eastern States Penitentiary historic site) where Earl Livengood had ramps, for only two-thirds the price Iovines was charging, and Sam Stolfus's offerings included bibb and leaf lettuce (hoophouse).

I also picked up veal liver from Birchrun, the cheese-maker, at just under $10/pound. Expensive, but the quality can't be beat.

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Although the Livengoods, who now limit their venues to outdoor markets, no longer sell lilac blossoms -- because the petals would be denuded exposed to the wind -- Dwain Livengood did have Lily of the Valley plants. I picked up a couple of bunches, with their altogether different but just as pleasureable scent, at the Fairmount Farmers' Market yesterday.

Last week Dwain told me he's now selling lamb raised by a neighbor, and plans to run his own flock. Among the cuts Dwain had yesterday was lamb breast, either in whole or riblet form; I bought the former and plan to indirectly grill it this weekend.

Although I've enjoyed chevre many times in the past, I had never tasted its source milk before yesterday. Thanks to Sunny Side Goat Dairy, operated by Joseph and Joanna Mack, I sampled some raw goat milk, and found it fresh and delightful with no "goaty" flavor at all (nor should it have any). In addition to various chevres and the milk, the Macks also sell goat meat (lovely in curries) and yogurt. That's Joseph in the photo below.

110512goatfairmount.jpg

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Radishes? Check.

Asparagus? Absolutely.

Rhubarb? Of course.

Strawberries? Pushing it.

Zucchini? Get outta here!

Still, in making its 2011 Headhouse Farmers' Market debut Sunday, Blooming Glen Farm featured little summer squashes, a.k.a. zucchini, at $3 a pound. I think I'll wait until my neighbors are giving them away in August.

In the meantime, one can be perfectly happy with the profusion of asparagus, early lettuces and other greens of all sorts, the ravishingly red radishes and fresh, green varieties of allium -- green garlics, green onions, chives -- which could be found not only at Headhouse Sunday, but at Rittenhouse and Clark Park yesterday, Fairmount Thursday and all the produce stalls at the Reading Terminal Market.

Another sign of the season being pushed just a tad (besides the grown-under-plastic strawberries offered by A.T. Buzby at Headhouse) were snow peas Noelle Margerum displayed at Clark Park. She returned from a brief vacation to find them ready to pick, so to market they came.

Tom Culton's radishes were a tad larger than last week, of course, but they looked just as fresh and the greens just as tender. He and co-farmer Matt Yoder also had what they labelled as "framps," in actuality a wild garlic. Asparagus, salad greens, rhubarb and parsnips helped fill out the stall. Tom's foie gras production has started, though his limited quanity was sold out yesterday, with most of his output marked for restaurant customers, I presume. He hopes to have some at tomorrow evening's "for the trade" Local Growers/Local Buyers event at the RTM sponsored by Fair Food.

Queens Farm was back with its pristine and colorful mushrooms, as well as greens, spring green onions and garlic, and flowers.

Blooming Glen's offerings, besides the summer squashes, included cilantro, parsley, tatso, green onion, thyme, oregano, garlic chives, bok choi and various lettuces.

Of you've got your own garden in need of feeding, you could have stopped by a stall that's new this year, Bennett Compost.

Although not all available spaces at Headhouse were filed today, it's getting close. Vendors at today's Headhouse market included: Root Mass Farm, Savoie Organic Farm, Rics Bread, Garces Trading Company, Hurley's Nursery, Honest Tom's Tacos, Renaissance, Sausage, Made in Shade Lemonade, Three Springs Fruit Farm, Patches of Star Goat Dairy, Hillacres Pride Farm, Busy Bee Farm, John + Kira's, Happy Cat Organics, Griggstown Quail & Farm Market, Market Day Canele, Philadelphia Fair Trade Coffee, Mountain View Poultry, Weaver's Way, Talula's Table, Longview Flowers, Birchrun Hills Farm and, Young's Garden. Among the missing was Wild Flour Bakery.

So, how to use some of those veggies? Pasta is always a no-brainer, and it shows up the vivacity of early produce wonderfully.

Earlier this week I used Culton's asparagus in penne. While the pasta water came to a boil I started warming up maybe a cup of homemade broth (I used beef, but no reason not to use chicken or veggie), to which I added cut up asparagus and thyme (fresh would be best, but I only had dried) when the pasta was nearly done. Drain the penne or other cut pasta when done, swirl as large a knob as butter as you can in good conscience consume into the asparagus and broth, and toss everything together with an obscene amount of freshly grated parmesan and maybe a grind or two of black pepper.

It's an infinitely variable recipe. Had I felt like doing a bit more prep work, carrot juliennes would have been a welcome addition, as would some of Noelle Margerum's snow peas. Just add the veggies to the broth in order as required for timing purposes. Voila! Pasta Primavera.

You could also sauté veggies rather than simmer. That's what Mark Bittman does in his New York Times Magazine recipes today.

Radishes at Blooming Glen today:

110515bloomglenradish.jpg

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Additional farmers' markets begin seasonal operation this week, beginning Tuesday in Mt. Airy. That market, under the auspices of Farm to City, runs from 3 to 7 p.m. in the William Allen plaza of Lutheran Theological Seminary, on the 7200 block of Germantown Avenue.

On Wednesday, the Food Trust opens Schuylkill River Park (25th & Spruce, 3-7 p.m.) and Broad & South (2-7 p.m.) and Farm to City debuts at East Passyunk at 11th and Tasker (3-7 p.m.), Oakmont in Havertown (Oakmont Municipal Parking Lot, Darby Road just west of Eagle Road, 3-7 p.m.). Earlier this month, Farm to City opened University Square Farmers' Market (36th and Walnut, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.)

This full schedules can be found at these links:

Food Trust markets

Farm To City markets

The Food Trust page includes a cool Google map locator; click on each market mark for location, days and hours.

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That lamb breast purchased from Livengood Thursday turned into a Saturday night pulled lamb fest. Because it was well-trimmed and much leaner than expected, the piece (a tad less than a pound) yielded three servings. Keep in mind the rib bones are not at all dense, so they don't make up much of the weight.

With the oven set at a temperature 275 F they cooked directly in an open roasting pan (no need for a rack when there's so little fat) for two hours before I added salt and pepper and covered the pan with foil. (Some recipes would add chopped onion at this point, which is good idea, except this lamb was so lean the onions would have burned.) After about an hour and a half more they were removed from the oven and allowed to cool.

While the lamb was in its last lap in the oven I made a Carolina style mustard-based barbecue sauce, figuring it would provide a nice counterpoint to the rich lamb which a tomato-based sauce would not. When the lamb cooled enough to handle I pulled it off the bone and shredded it with hand and fork, then tossed the warm sauce and lamb together. Served with cornbread and a beer (Victory's high octane 9.5 percent triple, Golden Monkey) it made a tasty dinner. All that was missing was the slaw.

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Enter the Sunday Headhouse Square farmers' market from the Lombard Street side and find yourself enveloped in an over-populated mass of humanity, squeezed between Blooming Glen's pristine display of greens, squashes and radishes on the left and Wild Flour Bakery's baguettes and brioche rolls on the right.

Wander just a little further down and join the line where they must be giving produce away. Oops. No, it's Tom Culton and Matt Yoder's lengthy stall, filled with exotic produce you never knew existed. And they are definitely not giving it away.

In manoeuvering through the Times-Square-on-New-Year's-Eve conglomeration you've also got to contend with double-wide prams and dogs on leashes threatening to trip passersby flat on their derrières.

But keep on walking. As you draw nearer to Pine Street the crowd thins, making shopping at Headhouse almost pleasurable.

Vendors at the far end of the Headhouse market suffer from their location. Just ask Dave Garrettson of Beechwood Orchards, who saw his sales increase when he obtained a slot nearer the center of the Shambles.

So if you want to insure a variety of producers at Headhouse, be sure to patronize vendors near the Lombard Street end for more than tacos, lemonade or a sausage sandwich. You'll find great purveyors of produce and protein.

Like Otolith Sustainable Seafood, the peripatetic Alaskan seafood purveyor. Their blast-frozen frozen vacuum-packed seafood is usually no more expensive or within a couple of dollars per pound of the price you'd pay at retail fish stores. And if you buy prawns, rockfish, pacific cod, or sablefish (a.k.a. black cod) from Otolith, you'll be making your purchase from the same people who caught it: Amanda Bossard, Otolith's owner, and her husband, Murat Aritan, who fish Alaskan waters for those species on their 65-foot long-liner. The other fish they sell, primarily salmon and halibut, are purchased from other harvesters who "share our commitment to sustainability," says Bossard

Also closer to the Pine Street end is Happy Cat Organics of Kennett Square. You won't find the masses of produce that some other vendors offer, but what you will find is choice. This week Tim had lots of different onions and plenty of radishes, among other items.

Savoie Organic Farm is the place to go for potatoes, though that's hardly all Barry and Carol Savoie offer. This past week they had plenty of fresh greens and radishes, but the new potato harvest is getting underway, too. They typically produce 10 different varieties of specialty potatoes, including Onaway, Red Cloud, Rose Gold, Carola, All Blue, Cranberry Red, Butte Russet, and Rose Finn Apple fingerlings on their South Jersey farm.

Root Mass Farm in Oley offers all the good produce we expect this time of year: garlic scapes, salad and cooking greens, radishes, green onions, snap peas, asparagus, etc. But if you want to learn something about farming, check out

, all about how to use a broad fork to disrupt hardpan.

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Like Otolith Sustainable Seafood, the peripatetic Alaskan seafood purveyor. Their blast-frozen frozen vacuum-packed seafood is usually no more expensive or within a couple of dollars per pound of the price you'd pay at retail fish stores. And if you buy prawns, rockfish, pacific cod, or sablefish (a.k.a. black cod) from Otolith, you'll be making your purchase from the same people who caught it: Amanda Bossard, Otolith's owner, and her husband, Murat Aritan, who fish Alaskan waters for those species on their 65-foot long-liner. The other fish they sell, primarily salmon and halibut, are purchased from other harvesters who "share our commitment to sustainability," says Bossard

wait am i missing something? i've wanted to buy from otolith ever since i heard of them, at least a couple of years now. but when i go down there (or over at almanac market in northern libs) and look at their prices i'm stunned by them. am i misreading something and their stuff isn't prohibitively expensive?

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Otolith sells halibut for about $22/pound, about a buck more than at the RTM. Sockeye is also priced about a buck or two more per pound. When Yi @ RTM offers wild salmon on sale, you can save a couple bucks more. And you can't find sable there at any price.

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A little bit more on Otolith vs. John Yi at the RTM.

Otolith sells sockeye at $17.50. It's normally $15.99 @ Yi, though they had a sale last week at $14,99, iirc.

The halibut at Yi is usually $21; Otolith $22.

Alaskan spot prawns (U-30) are $19 at Otolith; I don't recall Yi's price, it may be about two bucks cheaper, but it's for farm-raised shrimp, not wild.

Now, I think John Yi does a pretty good job as a fish monger. And the Alaskan salmon and halibut I've purchased there have been pretty good. But it's gone through a lot of handling to get there, and any additional handling is not good, especially if its fresh fish, not frozen.

Blast-frozen, vacuum-packed fish (assuming it is kept at the proper temperature when shipped) is frequently better than "fresh" that goes from boat to processor to wholesaler to retailer.

At Otolith, you are also paying a small premium for "sustainable" seafood. And you also can grab some species you won't easily find at most fishmongers in town.

Here's a link to their Spring 2011 price list.

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In my opinion, the problem at Headhouse is not so much the number of people there (although there certainly are a lot) but rather the number of gigantic strollers and dogs (small to gigantic) which really clog up the flow of people.

I also want to add to your excellent summary that Three Springs Fruit farm is selling seconds this year via their website. They were selling strawberries for $1 a pound the past weekends. Not quite as aesthetically appealing as the regular fruit, but work just as well for jam, ice cream & pie. I've converted ~30 lbs of strawberries into said desserts and frozen puree for the winter. It's a great way to stock up cheap.

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A little bit more on Otolith vs. John Yi at the RTM.

thanks bob! i guess i WAS misreading their price list or something. i'll look more closely next time. maybe i also got that impression because they don't stock the cheap junk fish i often buy -- sea bass, sardines, mackerel, bluefish and the like. so i didn't have the $4.99/lb fish right next to the $22 stuff to distract me.

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These days I don't consider sea bass a cheap one, though it's certainly less pricey than wild salmon or halibut.

I love blues, but because they deteriorate so quickly I rarely but them. Do you have a good source? Or do you go fishing?

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well, like $6 or $8 a lb instead of $20 -- while granted you're buying a whole fish vs. filets, the perception is still that it's cheaper, you have to admit.

and no, i don't buy bluefish, generally. but it's there and it's cheap.

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Since whole fish is 50 percent trim, $8/pound ungutted translates to $16/pound filet.

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Summer's bounty of berries and cherries could be found at most markets this weekend.

Over at Beechwood Orchards at Headhouse I purchased $5/quart pie cherries, which I'll transfom into sherbet and/or cobbler. Beechwood also had them at Rittenhouse yesterday. Another stone fruit also made a Beechwood appearance, apricots, at $3.75/pint. Dave Garretson didn't have many, but expects more in coming weeks.

Beechwood's sweet cherries (red or the yellow-pink Rainiers) were $7/quart, compared to Three Springs Fruit Farm's $8 (two pint price) for reds. (Over at the Reading Terminal Market Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce sold reds Saturday for $6.99/pound, which translate to about $9/quart. His Queen Annes were pricier, at $7.99/pound.)

(Garretson said he sells Rainiers rather than Queen Anne's because the latter are easy to "fingerprint," i.e., they bruise as soon as you pick them with your fingers.)

Blueberries from local growers are also in season, whether they come from the commercial (but nonetheless quite tasty) South Jersey growers ($3.75/pint, iirc) or farmers market vendors (about $5/pint).

Raspberries, both red and black, could also be purchased. Beechwood's cost $5 for a half-pint box. Some vendors still feature strawberries for $6-$7/quart.

Asparagus has disappeared for all practical puposes, but there are lots of other veggies to replace them. Summer squashes are abundant, and eggplant is now available, too -- $1 apiece for Sicilian or regular at A.T. Buzby's Headhouse stall today. Green and yellow string beans, sugar snap peas, sweet or English peas (shelled or still in the pod), garlic scapes, cucumbers (regular "garden" cukes, kirby cukes for pickling and "seedless" varieties. The last type makes fantastic "quick" Scandinavian style pickles to serve alongside cold salmon. Boiled new potatoes (also abundant at local markets) makes another excellent accompaniment to that salmon. And you've got lots of choice in greens for both cooking and salads. Beets and turnips are also widely available.

Leafy herbs -- parsley and cilantro among them -- are also easy to find now, as are spring onions.

If you can't wait another month, corn is available but you'll pay dearly. Buzby had white ears today priced at 75-cents apiece. I'll wait for peak season when even Tom Culton will occasionally sell his (including the mirai variety) at less than half that price.

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Thanks to North Star Orchards at Headhouse Square today, I tried an apple new to me, a Pearmain. There are a number of varieties of Pearmans, and I failed to ask Ike which one this was. Perhaps it was the American Summer variety.

Mostly green (with plenty of red tinge) this apple has an appealing tart-sweet balance and pleasing crunch (though certainly not as hard as a Granny Smith). I'm adding to my list of sought after apples. After undertaking some web research, it's no surprise I enjoyed the Pearmain: it's a cultivar of my all-time favorite, the Cox Orange Pippin.

In other Headhouse observations, Matt Yoder went back to Maine earlier this summer, so this field-bean growing enthusiast has split from his short-lived partnership with Tom Culton of Culton Organics. It's left to Culton to sell all those beans: he had plenty of dried cowpeas today, which make a great succotash with the last of the summer's corn should you find any.

Although the corn is fading fast, it's that wonderful time of year when fall produce is offered side-by-side with the last of summer. Tomatoes and peaches will probably be the next to disppear, but eggplants and cucumbers are among the summer produce items still around, as is the late season raspberry. Crisp-tender root veggies like celeriac (celery root), winter squashes, and fall fruits (grapes, apples, pears) help ease the kitchen transition. This is also the time to get paw paws with which you can make a variation on banana bread, cookies, cream or custard pie, cake or ice cream. And with the disappearance of extreme heat, local lettuces are back, like the red-tinged bibb variety I picked up from Earl Livengood at Fairmount's farmers' market .

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Bob:

Who had paw paws at Headhouse?? I still have a few fresh ones in my fridge as well as a small baggie of frozen puree in the freezer. If I had a few more I might be able to make ice cream or something, provided I can figure out whether my ice cream maker is still functional. :wacko:

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I think it was Beechwood Orchards who had the paw paws; I saw them as I did a quick pass-through at around 10:45. It wouldn't surprise me if they were all gone by later in the morning.

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It was Beechwood for throws paws.

Btw, Lisa of North Star saw my blog entry about apples and said what I bought was the Adam's Pearmain.

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More vendors sold their goods at the Headhouse Square Farmers Market today than any other Sunday so far this season. Katy Wich, who manages the market for The Food Trust, said 34 different vendors showed up today, including one new one, PorcSalt, which has been an occasional vendor at the Rittenhouse Saturday market this year.

With produce tables groaning under the weight of apples, squashes, potatoes and other harvest goodies, it's my favorite time of year to wander farmers' markets.

Because the larder's rather well-stocked at home, my purchases were minimal. The only "must" item on my list was apples.

And what a selection! Three Springs, Beechwood and North Star all offered great variety, most priced at $2 to $2.50 a pound -- more than what you'd pay at the supermarket, but all fresh-picked off the tree.

My big score was an Espopus Spitzenberg. This apple holds a special place in my heart, but not merely because it tastes so good (definitely on the tart side, but enough sugar to balance it out, plus a crisp, dense flesh). No, it's among my favorites because its named for the creek (Esopus) where I used to swim -- or at least get into the icy cold water -- during family vacations in the northern Catskills, in the Big Indian-Oliveria valley. This apple, great for out-of-hand eating or baking, was available today from North Star. Of all the apples offered by North Star this week, it's the one true antique. It was reputed to be one of Thomas Jefferson's favorite.

Over at Beechwood Orchards, Dave Garrettson offered another American antique, the Northern Spy. Although it can be enjoyed as a dessert apple, i.e., eaten out-of-hand, and is an excellent storage variety, it's highest use is in pies. Since my available kitchen time this week is extremely limited, I reluctantly passed these beauties by.

Instead, I picked up some Macouns, Winesaps and the latter's even tastier offspring, Stayman, all from Beechwood.

Of course, if you're stocking apples for plain eating, you've got to get some cheese as an accompaniment. For that part of the equation I stopped by Sue Miller's Birchrun Hills Farm stall where I picked up her Red Cat. This is a washed-rind cheese, slightly pungent (most washed rind cheeses are stinkier) and creamy.

The main course for tonight's dinner also came from Sue: bockwurst, a traditional German sausage traditionally all-veal or mostly veal with a bit of pork. I'll cook it tonight with sauerkraut braised in unpasteurized apple cider mixed with mustard, maybe throwing in some carraway seeds. Which reminds me, gotta put some beer in the fridge. Although mashed potatoes would be the ideal side, I picked up some rye bread from Ric's.

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111114newtownpippins.jpg

There were apple varieties galore at the Headhouse Square farrmer's market yesterday at the three primary apple vendors: Three Springs Fruit Farm, Beechwood Orchards, and North Star Orchards.

When it comes to antique (a.k.a. heirloom) varieties, North Star always has a few surprises. This week I picked up an apple I've been waiting for: the Newtown Pippin, pictured above. This is a green but sweet-tart apple native to the Mid-Atlantic region (it's named after Newtown, which is a neighborhood deep in the heart of Queens: perhaps you've crossed Newtown Creek while snailing along the Brooklyn Queens Expressway en route to a Phillies-Mets game.

The beauty of the Newtown Pippin is its storage quality, indeed, this apple improves with age. North Star's Ike Kerschner said he picked his crop a month ago, but is only now bringing them to market because they weren't ready to eat then. But they'll get even better in a few months. Kept loosely bagged in the refrigerator these will make especially fine eating come January and February when most other apples will be well-passed peak flavor.

Another interesting variety from North Star this week was the Reinette Simerenko, a tart Eastern European variety for a welcome change of taste. North Star has a fine web site that includes spot-on descriptions of their apple varieties.

Golden Russet is yet another variety you are unlikely to find at the Acme, or even Wegman's. I bought some more this week from North Star. They are far from the classic red apple, but well worth seeking out, with a pear-like flavor and texture. Great with a good cheese, like Birchrun Hill's Fat Cat washed rind comestible.

Over at Beechwood Orchards (they also have a website with apple descriptions worth consulting) Stayman Winesap and Northern Spy were my apples of choice. Both are older commercial varieties (19th century). Although either can be eaten either raw or cooked, I find the former tops for consuming fresh, the latter best for pies, tarts and other applications involving heat.

Beechwood also had the original Winesap, which is a tad tarter than its Stayman offspring. I like it better for cooking than eating though it can be used either way. It's also a good "keeper" for two or three months. If you're into drying your own fruit, sliced Winesaps are ideal for schnitz.

Three Springs Fruit Farm isn't into the antiques, but Ben Wenk and family still offer a nice selection of commercial varieties. I'm not a big fan of Honeycrisp (too one-dimensionally sweet to me taste), but it's a favorite among a lot of apple shoppers, and Three Springs has them as well as Staymans and other popular varieties. (And if you want a taste of summer through the winter, buy some of their canned peaches: delicious.)

About apple storage: As mentioned earlier, I keep my Newtown Pippins in the fridge, along with all other apples. While some fruits improve with room temperature storage to come to proper ripeness, apples don't and will deteriorate. Keep them in the crisper either loose or very loosely bagged, allowing them to breath. If you like to eat your apple at room temperature, take them out no more than a day before you intend to consume them.

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As winter nears the number of vendors dwindle at the Headhouse Square Farmers' Market operated by the Food Trust. But that negative can be a positive: producers who can't get in during the height of the season can get a space.

That was the case yesterday for Stryker Farm of Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, which raises heritage breed pigs and meat goats. Young farmer Nolan Thevenet is new to farming, but he's enthusiastic. Because I had picked up enough meat for the week at the Reading Terminal Saturday, I abstained from indulging in pure pigmeat from Nolan, but couldn't resist picking up some scrapple.

Stryker Farms' scrapple, Nolan says, isn't made from innards like liver and heart, as is traditional, but from scrap meat, including jowls. Now, I have no objection to the innards in my scrapple, indeed, if you're going to keep it historic that's the way to go, adding a bit of livery savoriness. Still, I look forward to frying up a couple slices.

The farm raises their pigs out of doors and lets them forage in the fields and woods, supplementing their diet in winter with barley and grass feed, not corn. Like many heritage pig farmers Stryker Farm uses a Tamworth cross (in this case with Hereford), though Nolan said he'd like to get some Berkshire into his piggies' bloodlines.

Nolan plans to be at the final two Headhouse markets this season (the next two Sundays) and hopes to get a spot next season as well.

Also during my Headhouse visit Sunday:

111204blackradish.jpg

With the season winding down, the offerings at Blooming Glen Farm's stall were slim today, but what they did have was choice, including these black radishes.

When you find them in supermarkets, black radishes tend to be the size of bocci balls. They're good, but the smaller, freshly dug versions are superior.

You can roast them like a turnip, but they're probably at their best raw. I like to grate mine and mix into soft sweet butter, then spread it on good pumpernickel or rye bread. But I've seen some salad recipes that look like they're worth trying. Most call for the radishes to be thinly sliced (a mandoline comes in handy), then tossed with apples or oranges, placed atop a bed of escarole or similar green, dressed with a simple vinaigrette. And the green tops can be treated like any other cooking green.

111204persimmon.jpg

We're at the tail end of the season for local persimmons, like these found at Culton Organics.

The Fuyu variety can be eaten while still firm, but the Hachiya, which I prefer, must be allowed to ripen -- just shy of becoming rotten -- to be best enjoyed. I just lop off the stem end and dig in with a spoon, eating the gelatinous flesh like pudding.

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It's been nearly three months since I purchased my Newtown Pippin apples from North Star Orchards at the Headhouse Square farmers's market, and I'm down to my last four apples.

These great storage apples have gotten better with the time spent in the crisper drawer. Their skins are still shiny and waxy with little sign of age, and the flesh is a deep sweet-tart flavor, just juicy enough. I'm amazed I paced my consumption to still have a handful left, but glad to have this taste of autumn in mid-winter. Man cannot live by oranges alone.

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I ate the last of my Gold Rushes (from Beechwood Orchards, I think) a couple of weeks back. It had been hiding in the drawer in the back of the fridge, but was just as good as its brethren that I ate back in the fall.

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