Cheesy Market - a cheese table for the ages

A little inspiration for the Cheesy Market Challenge happening this week at Eagelview Farmers Market, a brag book of sorts.

This past Christmas, and yes I realize this is the first day of summer, I created a cheese and charcuterie table for my family's Christmas appetizer. My goal to feature the local food available at the famers markets I coordinate. I'm very proud of my gaggle of amazing producers and this seemed like the perfect time to showcase them.

The Cheesy Market Cheeseboard challenge can be as simple as one cheese with perfect pairing, or as elaborate and over the top as my Christmas version. Creativity reigns!

So here are a few photos from the "table", use them for inspiration, or just enjoy. 

Sunday Suppers, Market Kitchen: Early June

Sundays in the market kitchen are so inspiring with a fridge full of treasures from Saturday farmers markets. And, Sunday dinners, are a perfect time to take a relaxed approach to playing in the kitchen with all of your market finds to create a dinner for friends and family!

To start, a simple snack of Stoudt's Roasted Thyme Cheese, sliced, room temp; served with Crisp & Co. Pinot Noir Pickled Beets! I love this cheese from Stoudt's, delicious for snacking and melting in sandwiches. Slightly sweet and nutty, with a definite note of thyme.

The sides, well, its all about the veggies! Both of the sides are based on vegan dishes from Phaidon's Vegan cookbok, however, this meal is far from vegan as you will see!

Veg #1: A salad of Down to Earth Harvest's radicchio, grilled, and topped with Old Homestead Farms cherry tomatoes, B&H Organic's radishes and mint from my "garden" - the only thing that grows in my garden.  To grill the radicchio simply cut in half, drizzle with olive oil and grill till it begins to char. Remove and cut into 1 inch sections. Slice the radishes, quarter the tomatoes, sliver the mint and toss with a simple mustard vinaigrette. Plate the grilled radicchio on one half of the platter and the tossed veggies on the other. Drizzle a touch of dressing on the radicchio too.

Veg #2: Peas, Asparagus and Shiitake Mushrooms with Penne in a Saffron Cream Sauce.

  • Ready the cream sauce by heating about 1 cup of cream - real cream! When warm take off the heat and add about 1 teaspoon saffron threads to infuse.
  • Cook about 1/2 pound penne pasta, fresh from Aunt Mamie's Italian Specialities.
  • Ready the vedge. I used a mix of sugar snap peas and snow peas, purple and green, as well as the last of the season asparagus from B&H Organics, cut into bite size pieces. In a large saute pan, heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil, add about 1/4 cup chopped onions or leeks, saute till translucent. Add slivered shiitake mushrooms and brown slightly. Add the peas and asparagus and toss, sauting to slightly tender.
  • Add the pasta and cream sauce. Season with salt & pepper. So easy and so delicious.

You can stop here and make a vegetarian very happy, but I bought meat from Carnicopia, beef, expertly butchered, grass fed goodness, tri-tip steaks. These steaks were beautifully marbled with fat. They grilled up perfectly - wish the photo was a bit better - a perfect medium rare. Salt and pepper, nothing more, the meat has all the flavor. 

Dessert - the easy button! Peach Cream Croissant Tarts from Malvern Buttery and Vanilla Strawberry Shortbread Cookies from Flour & Oats!

Aldebaran Farm - What's in the Bag?

Don't be bashful - introduce yourself to Heidi and Dan from Aldebaran Farm! There's lots of delicious goodness in those bags on their table. We've asked to the explain what's in the bags - have a quick read:

Come to Aldebaran Farm this week for all of your salad greens! Our mouths are watering every time we look at this week's crop of pea shoots. Pea shoots are basically tiny pea plants: they have all of the sweet flavor of a pea, and they are commonly used anywhere you would use a leafy green, such as in a salad, wrap, or sandwich. The same goes for microgreens, which we will also have this week. These tiny vegetables offer the flavor of their full-grown counterparts, and have 4-6 times the nutrient content. Our microgreens include radish, broccoli, red cabbage, red and green kale, mizuna, chard, mustard greens, and pac choi. As a special treat, this week we will also have cilantro microgreens! 

In addition to "micro" greens, we will have an assortment of "baby" greens, including arugula, baby red Russian kale, and mesclun mix. We are extremely happy with the quality of our mesclun mix: you will be hard-pressed to find salad greens with such a beautiful variety of delicate leaves. Don't miss out - make sure you pick up a bag and see what we're talking about! Our arugula is small and delicate, with just the right amount of spice. We will be harvesting the first batch of spinach this week, which we consider a true delicacy and well worth the labor-intensive harvest. A small quantity of mustard greens will be available for those of you who enjoy cooking with them. Lastly, we will have bagged kale. Our bagged kale consists of the small, first tender leaves of our kale plants, and is a special item in the spring and fall.

We will be bringing transplants as well, so think about what you need in your garden this week!

Beet It!

We love beets here at Growing Roots - it is the veggie of choice that stands as our logo, it's the name of the Growing Roots blog, The Market Beet, it's everwhere. Everything about them is just so appealing - their beautiful red color, or gold for golden beets, or red and white for chioggia beets. So tasty, and so good for you too!

Well a good friend of Growing Roots, Nicole Riegl, from The Riegl Palate posted a great recipe last week for Roasted Beet Hummus. And, since we're just entering beet season, we though this was a perfect time to tip our hat to the beet, and show you something new to prepare using the humble beet!


Just look at this beautiful hummus featuring beets! Imagine how delicious this would be with rye crackers, or on bread with a crumble of goat cheese! 

Please visit The Riegl Palate for this recipe and to explore more of Nicole's beautiful blog! 

B&H Organic Produce - get to know them!

After 15 years of farming, I have finally learned to look at the beginning of each season as the beginning of a journey as opposed to being anxious of what is to come.  I know what is to come.  There will be joy and sorrow, there will be great bounties as well as crop losses.  In several months I will look back at this time and feel that years have gone by.  I am ready to embrace this year and all it may bring. I spent most of the winter focusing on managing the soil in our hoop houses and it truly paid off to provide us with a great selection and bounty for the Spring. Now I am ready to focus on the fields.

Bumps and repairs along their farming journey at B&H Organic Produce

Bumps and repairs along their farming journey at B&H Organic Produce

A peek at the spring crop of kohlrabi - alien like!

A peek at the spring crop of kohlrabi - alien like!

We have been blessed with the best staff a farm could ask for and they were so eager to return. The farm has been busy this spring with markets, CSA harvests and plant sales. Now we are ready to get down to business and get some serious planting done. I love to watch the fields transform from their winter slumber into a new shape for a new year. We use crop rotation to its fullest. It feels like we are redecorating a house and who doesn’t love a fresh coat of paint.

We are hoping to offer pick your own strawberries this year.  There are few if any pick your own organic strawberry farms in the area. Considering that strawberries are one of the most sprayed crops I can’t imagine picking strawberries in a non-organic field.

Lettuce eat veggies!

Lettuce eat veggies!

Let’s all hold peace in our hearts and healthy veggies in our mouths. We hope you’ll join us for this ride!

If you haven’t signed up for our Summer CSA don’t wait.  We have a few spaces available.  Support organic agriculture and improve your health.

Spring Rhubarb - the only rhubarb!

The folks at B&H Organic Produce sent me some photos of their rhubarb and I wanted to share with you how this vegetable grows.

A rhubarb plant

A rhubarb plant

The rhubarb plant has a center stalk, with multiple leafy stems growing out of that center stalk. It is the stems of the leaves that are the edible portion of the plant. They are red, pink or greenish in color, and look a lot like a stalk of celery without the ridges.

Rhubarb 2.JPG

The plant has huge leaves, and, yes, the leaves are poisonous. They contain very high levels of oxalic acid which, if ingested in a large enough quantity, can damage the kidneys. So if you ever wondered why rhubarb is missing it's leaves at the market - that's the reason. 

Now, if you've ever taken a big bite of raw rhubarb to see what all the fuss was about, well, you'd be sorely disappointed. Why? It's terrifically tart, seriously TART! But relax - sugar calms the beast!

Most of us are more than aware of the deliciousness of a rhubarb pie - it's a spring treat not to be missed. Plus rhubarb pairs intensely well with strawberries in strawberry rhubarb pie. And, if you don't feel like baking a pie, I can strongly recommend the rhubarb pie from Nomadic Pies - it's exceptional!

But there's more to do with rhubarb than bake it in a pie.

A flowering rhubarb! Looks kind of alien!

A flowering rhubarb! Looks kind of alien!

  1. Push the easy button and stew it. I love stewed rhubarb alone, over ice cream or mixed into yogurt for breakfast
  2.  Roasted Rhubarb - a more intense flavor and to die for over ice cream, vanilla or strawberry ice cream!
  3. Pickled Rhubarb - a real treat and so easy!
  4. Rhubarb Salsa - great on chips, grilled chicken or fish too!
  5. Rhubarb Fizz - gin, it must be good

So there are a few recipes to get you started experimenting with rhubarb.

FYI - rhubarb is super low in calories (without the sugar addition) and is a good source of folate, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, thiamin, and pantothenic acid, as well as vitamin K.


Introducing Aldebaran Farm to Downingtown Farmers Market

Meet Heidi from Aldebaran Farm, homegrown in Downingtown, PA!

Meet Heidi from Aldebaran Farm, homegrown in Downingtown, PA!

Hello Growing Roots Partners Farmers Market Enthusiasts!

We are Aldebaran Farm, and we would like to introduce ourselves to you as this is our first year with Growing Roots Partners.

Who are we?

Heidi Ochsenreither and Dan Risser are the owners and operators of Aldebaran Farm.

What kind of farm is Aldebaran Farm?

Aldebaran Farm is a small (one acre) diversified vegetable farm committed to sustainable growing practices. We grow microgreens, pea shoots, salad greens, cut flowers, and other mixed vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower, peas, tomatoes, squash, peppers, kohlrabi and all of the other vegetables you would find at a typical farmers market.

When was Aldebaran Farm created?

Aldebaran Farm is in its first year of business! Needless to say, this is an exciting and scary year for us, and we truly appreciate you stopping by, getting to know us, and trying something new.

Where the heck is Orwigsburg, and why are we selling at Downingtown?

Orwigsburg is located in Schuylkill County, PA, and our farm is just five miles from Hawk Mountain. We are farming in a temporary rental situation this year. Finding farmland is one of the most difficult hurdles for young farmers, especially those of us like Heidi and Dan who did not grow up in farming families. In the future, we hope to move closer to Chester County, both for the farmers market and also because Downingtown is where Heidi grew up!

That’s right, Heidi is returning to her roots: her Downingtown history goes way back to attending elementary school at West Bradford Elementary, through graduating in 2003 from Downingtown Senior High School. Dan is no stranger to Downingtown, either. Heidi and Dan met while working as apprentices at Two Gander Farm in Downingtown in 2013, the same year that Downingtown Farmers Market began. Some of you might also recognize Dan from Malvern Farmers Market that year, as he sold produce for Two Gander Farm on Saturday mornings.  


Heidi and Dan are passionate about sustainable agriculture. We both learned about the environmental impacts of agriculture as young adults, and felt motivated to be a part of the positive change that is needed for the environmental and food security of our local community, our nation, and the world. It took some time for us to find our way: Heidi worked as a textile designer for many years before becoming involved in sustainable agriculture. Dan was involved in restaurant work and landscaping, and in addition to the farm, just started an organic landscaping business in 2017 (“Dan’s Organic Land Care.)

What makes you say you are “sustainable,” and why are you not certified organic?

Our love of nature propelled us into the field of agriculture. We would never spray synthetic pesticides or fertilizers because it goes against everything we believe in. We believe that when a farmer creates a diverse and healthy ecosystem, crops remain healthy and resilient. We are experimenting with many different techniques in these first years in order to find a system that works best for us. For example, we will not use the plastic mulch that many farmers, even organic farmers, typically use. Instead, we are trying a system that includes straw, leaf mulch, and wood chips. This method of mulching suppresses weeds while building up soil biology. We also use landscape fabric as a mulch because it is reusable for many seasons and allows moisture and oxygen to circulate. We also prefer not to till our land. While we had to do an initial tillage on the land because it had not been farmed for three years, we will not do any more the rest of the season because it is damaging to the soil biology. We could geek out about our methods for hours, but we will keep it short here. Feel free to ask us anything at market!

We considered getting organic certification this year, and went so far as to purchase all organic seeds and cover crop. However, we do not think that the certification cost would be worth it to us because we could potentially have to leave our land as early as November. If we had hoop houses to extend our season, or if we had a guarantee of staying on this land for another year, we would get certified.

What will you have at market on Saturday?

We hope that you will bear with us as May will be a slow month! Unlike many farmers, we do not have access to hoop houses for season extension. So while everyone else is growing beautiful greens and starting their cucumbers and tomatoes in the hoop house, we are reliant on good old Mother Nature this year. That being said, we have some beautiful microgreens and pea shoots growing this week (a little slower than we would have hoped for with the cloudy weather…) and some transplants. At the very least, we will be there to say hello and meet all of you wonderful supporters of local farmers! We can’t wait to meet you!

Down to Earth Harvest: Everything is Growing, including the Family!

Bob and Amy invited me over for a walk ab=round the farm this past weekend, and to meet the newest member of the D to E Harvest Team, Nelle.

Bob, and his helper Zac, have been pretty busy on the farm as one could expect this time of year. Last week, in just 3 days, Bob, Zac and Bob's Dad surrounded the farm with deer fencing - no small feat, but you've got to keep those critters out. They see Bob's veggies and think salad bowl! Two can play that game - I see those deer and think venison!

Bob's crops are coming in beautifully. Are you breathlessly awaiting the arrival of tomatoes, not those foamy tasteless orbs the grocery tries to pass off as a tomato. Well here are Bob's, and they are looking good!

Take a look at some of the other crops growing at Down to Earth Harvest - it's going to be a good growing season, Mother Nature willing! Down to Earth Harvest is located in Downingtown, and participates in the Malvern Farmers Market and the Eagleview Farmers Market.

Alnwyck Farm: Spring Season Snooping!

Bet you wish we had a farmers market today! Our farmers are taking advantage of this last Saturday "off" from markets, getting ready for the new season. Here's a message from Mike and Jacqueline of Alnwyck Farm:

Looking forward to the start of the 2017 Market season. We will have many new items this year as well as our popular items from past years. Hopefully the rabbit problem has been solved and we will have greens and lettuce all year with many new hot weather greens. We will also have many new melon and winter squash varieties for this year. Have a peek at what's going on this spring on the farm!

Our produce probably won't be ready to the second or third week of the market; however we will be there the first week with our new item, organic mushrooms, sourced locally from a grower in Chester County. We will be offering several types of freshly picked mushrooms including crimini, portabellas, shitake, royal trumpet, maitake, pom pom and oysters.

Thanks for your support Mike and Jacqueline

Dreaming of Asparagus

Number one reason I can't wait for the 2017 opening of the famers markets - ASPARAGUS! It's such a short season, but what a veggie! Delicious and power packed full of nutrients including folate, and vitamins A, C, E and K.  It's loaded with anti-oxidants too!

And what a versatile vegetable. You can steam it, roast it, stir-fry, saute, or eat it raw! It's delicious at every meal! In omelets and quiches at breakfast and in a wide variety of recipes for lunch and dinner!

My two favorite preparation methods for asparagus are raw in salads, or roasted to bring out the sweetness. Need some recipe ideas? Here's a few of my favorites:

  • Oven-Roasted Asparagus - so simple and so delicious. Better than French fries!!! A squirt of lemon juice adds a lot, as does a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
  • Shaved Asparagus Salad - so pretty and fresh
  • Pickled Asparagus - this way I get to eat it well after the season!
  • Asparagus and Ramp Soup - ramps, my second favorite spring edible, together here with Asparagus - what's not to love! 
  • Got a favorite asparagus recipe? Share it with us in the comment section!

A side note: Pee, 'er urine.  OK - let's have a frank talk, here, not at the dinner table, about the after effects of asparagus. Yep, asparagus can make your urine smell. Asparagus contains asparagusic acid, and when our bodies break down this acid a lot of sulfur containing compounds are produced creating the smell when you pee. It's not bad for you, and a small price to pay for such a delicious and healthy veg!

Now that I've made you hungry for asparagus, you'll have to wait until markets open next week, May 4th in Eagleview and May 6th in Malvern and Downingtown. 

Amazing Acres' Goat Dairy Brag Book

After a very busy April welcoming some of these little cherubs into the world, we're excited to get even busier bringing our delicious goat cheeses to our Eagleview Farmers Market customers starting May 4th! Can't wait to see you all!

Amazing Acres Goat Dairy, located in northern Chester County, Pennsylvania, creates fresh-aged artisan goat cheeses inspired by classic French styles. Our goats are fed on pasture, grain and hay. They get plenty of daily exercise, fresh air, love, brushings and treats. We allow the kids to remain with their mothers for at least three months. Though this reduces our supply of milk for cheese making, we believe that this practice produces healthier kids and happier mothers and reduces stress on both. Our goats receive no hormones, steroids, antibiotics or any drugs unless medically necessary. We consider our girls (and boys) to be part of the staff and family of Amazing Acres and we treat them as such.

Kneehigh Farm Joins Eagleview Farmers Market this Year!

Meet Emma!

Emma Cunniff is the owner and operator of Kneehigh Farm, a Certified Naturally Grown vegetable farm in Chester County. Emma founded Kneehigh Farm in 2013 on 1.5 acres at the Seed Farm, an agricultural incubator program in the Lehigh Valley. Kneehigh Farm now rents 7 acres from Lundale Farm Inc, a non-profit that provides land access to sustainable farm operations. 

Emma grows over 160 varieties of diversified veggies for her CSA, Farmers' Markets, as well as for restaurants in and around Philadelphia. Her priority as the owner of Kneehigh Farm is to create a viable model for women interested in pursuing organic agriculture as a possible career. She prioritizes soil health, land regeneration, and delicious food. Stop by the Eagle View Market and try some of her favorite veggies, or join the CSA and become an integral part of Kneehigh Farm's community. For more details on what Emma grows and how, visit or follow her on Instagram @kneehighfarm. 

Stop by and say HI to Emma at the Eagleview Farmers Market. The market opens for the 2017 season on Thursday, May 4th, in Eagleview Town Center from 3 - 7 PM.  Eat LOCAL, Eat FRESH, Eat HEALTHY - - - EAT UR VEGGIES!

the daily dish: Easy Dinner with the Help of Sorelle Cucina

We're cooking from the market and your pantry today - Sundried Tomato Pesto & Sausage, and Grain & Greens

What you're going to need:

  • Sorelle Cucina Sun-dried Tomato Pesto (or any of their delicious pestos)
  • Sausage - I used Merguez from Canter Hill Farm, about 1 pound, but you can use your favorite tube meat
  • Greens - anything will do. I used Pok Choy from B&H Organics, and the tops from a bunch of Hakurei turnips chopped. Kale or Swiss chard would be delicious
  • Grain - 1 cup dry, cooked according to package instructions. For me, pearled barley, but you could substitute rice, pasta or any other grain

This is super simple:

Step One: Cut your sausage into bite size pieces; saute until thoroughly cooked. Want to make quick work of this - use a kitchen shears to cut the sausage! Works great!

Whats a merguez sausage? It's a fresh sausage originating from North Africa made from lamb usually, but beef is also used. The heady flavors come from a mix of forward spices including coriander, cumin, paprika and cayenne. This sausage brings a lot of flavor to the dish and isn't too spicy.

Step Two: Steam your greens, just a light steam, till they turn bright green. Over cooking kills nutrients.

Step Three: While everything is cooking combine your cooked grain with a container of pesto from Sorelle Cucina - use the entire container. Toss to incorporate. The flavors compliment the merguez sausage beautifully.

Step 4: Using a slotted spoon to leave the fat behind, add your cooked sausage to the grain; then add your steamed greens. Combine thoroughly.

Step 5: Taste to adjust the seasoning. Add salt and pepper as desired. A drizzle of balsamic vinegar adds a nice bright note. And a splash of olive oil makes it shine! Enjoy!

the daily dish: Spring - Cucumber Turnip Salad with Mint Vinaigrette

Welcome to the daily dish, - simple food, local rootsrecipe suggestions from the farmers market featuring the freshest ingredients available. Each week we'll feature a special recipe highlighting ingredients available at the Growing Roots Farmers Markets.

Shopping List: 2 cucumbers, one bunch Hakurei turnips, one bunch mint, olive oil and honey. 

Our feature dish: Cucumber Turnip Salad with Mint Vinaigrette

Spring has arrived so get your taste buds ready. The tender herbs of the season are here to wake up your mealtime. This week we're teaming up mint from Old Homestead Farm's greenhouses with some of their delicious hothouse cucumbers, absolutely perfect in every way so early in the season; and Hakurei turnips, sweet little orbs of goodness. 

Prep the veggies first. Cut the leafy greens from the Hakurei turnips and reserve for another purpose - I steamed mine and added them to a power bowl. Have a food processor - this is the perfect dish to use it as it can make quick work of slicing the veggies and prepping the dressing. Use the slicing blade to slice the turnips and the cucumbers. 

And now for the vinaigrette - and back to the food processor. This whole dish is made using your processor - you'll only need to wash it once! Put a big hand of mint into the bowl of the food processor, add 1/4 cup lime juice (you'll need to get this from the grocery, sorry), 1 tablespoon honey (I used a dark honey from Exton Bee Co.), a sprinkling of salt and grind of black pepper. Put the lid on the processor and whirl; slowly adding 1/2 cup of olive oil. Now this is going to make more dressing than you'll need for this recipe, you're welcome! It is so delicious you'll be putting it on everything! Pretty too!

Place your veggies in a shallow bowl and pour on just enough dressing to coat. I used about 3 tablespoons. Gently toss the veggies to distribute. Taste it - spring - right - it tastes like spring! A nice addition to this would be radishes for a pop of color. Have some goat cheese on hand - a crumble would be great. If you tried the recipe, please feel free to leave a comment!

Field Trip: Canter Hill Farm!

I wanted to drop by Canter Hill Farm to visit their turkeys - after all, it's getting close to the big day, Thanksgiving. Driving up to the farm, there is no mistaking you have arrived when you are greeted by their herd of ostrich. You read that correct, they raise ostrich, for meat. Why? Well Wayne, the muscle behind Canter Hill Farm, is from South Africa where he raised ostrich; and his ostrich herd makes him feel at home.  Want to have an interesting conversation - ask Wayne about his life in South Africa. He may be the most interesting man, and he's certainly a great story teller! 

Back to business, we're here for a different bird, the turkey. Here'a a look at the flock of turkeys at Canter Hill Farm. The white turkeys are conventional birds. The black turkeys are called Black Spanish turkeys. 

CHF turkey 3.JPG

Black Spanish turkeys are becoming more prevalent on turkey farms as the birds are quite tasty. They are a beautiful bird with glossy black feathers and a very red wattle - that's the proper name for their double chin! Of note, they are considered an endangered variety of heritage turkey. Farmers, like the folks at Canter Hill Farm, play an important role in helping to keep these lovely birds part of our turkey culture. You can order your Thanksgiving Turkey from the folks at Canter Hill by visiting their website for the pre-order form. Please note, pre-orders are highly recommended. Many of their birds are already on reserve for Thanksgiving.

A visit to Canter Hill Farm is not complete without checking in on their pigs, they always seem to be up to something. A few days ago they decided to go for a swim in the duck pond - if you ask me they look more like hippos, not pigs! And the ducks, well they are just not impressed at all!

CHF Pigs.jpg

For Love of Fennel

Tis' the season for fennel, or anise as some refer to it. While it looks like a bulbous celery, fennel is really a member of the carrot family. It has a sweet, mild anise flavor, a crunch like celery; and can be eaten raw or in cooked dishes. I love it!

On my recent field trip to Old Homestead Farm I saw it growing in their fields, wispy, delicate fronds of fennel as far as the eye could see. But the real prize here is the fennel bulb.  

Today I want to share a few fennel recipes with you. When fennel is as abundant as it is this time of year, I like to pickle it using Marissa McClellam's Quick Pickled Fennel with Orange , although I do admit to altering the recipe. Marissa does not add any sweetener in her recipe, and the final result is a pretty strong hit of vinegar. I add 1/4 cup of local honey (love the dark honey we're seeing at the market these days - a much stronger flavor!) to the vinegar. The honey really brings out the sweetness in the fennel and the orange, it's is a beautiful balance. This would be amazing on a tuna sandwich or grilled cheese sandwich!

Nicole Riegl from RieglPalate just shared one of her favorite fennel recipes with me and it looks amazing, French Lentils with Sausage and Fennel. Talk about comfort cooking - this recipe will warm your soul! For her sausage, Nicole used the lamb and garlic sausage from Canter Hill Farm, a perfect pairing if you ask me! Nicole is an avid farmers market shopper and features many market recipes on her blog - you can subscribe to her blog to stay up to date with Nicole and all of her culinary creations. 

And, not to be outdone, Juliana, Downingtown Farmers Market manager, just made a scrumptious fennel dish in the slow cooker, Rustic Kale, Fennel and Sun Dried Tomato Sauce. This is perfect comfort food, and good for you too!

Labor of Love Eggplant Parmesan

Submitted by Juliana Pash, Downingtown Farmers Market Manager

It has been a warm fall but what made me decide to endeavor eggplant parm on one of the last summer-like days? Maybe the picture of the many beautiful layers? Maybe the idea that summer produce is almost gone so I needed to make the most of it?  Whatever had attracted me, I decided to cook Bon Appetit’s Best Of Eggplant Parmesan.

The main ingredient of eggplant was truly my starting point.  They are such a beautiful, seductive vegetable with their shiny, deep purple skin.  Although not my favorite vegetable, the idea of a truly good eggplant dish intrigued me to endeavor a few hours of enjoyable cooking.  Thank you Nuneviller Farms for the beautiful eggplant!

If you could smell the aroma!

If you could smell the aroma!

This is dish that you can make in one day but I chose to make the marinara sauce the night before.  As dinner was cooking I got the sauce to the point of getting in the oven while I watched a couple of hours of TV before going to bed.  The house smelled wonderful and I was getting excited about putting the dish together the next day.  (Note, I carefully used an immersion blender to puree the sauce the next morning.)  Now the real fun was about to begin!

Sauteed Eggplant 

Sauteed Eggplant 

I peeled and sliced the eggplant then, while it was “draining”, I gathered all the other ingredients and tools I would need to assemble the dish.  I grated cheese, chopped herbs, and combined these with the breadcrumbs as preparation for the sautéing of the eggplant.  This step was the most time consuming, but the most mouthwatering, as the eggplant fried up to a golden brown with a wonderful smell.  I ate one piece straight out of the pan!  It was now time for assembly.

Ready for the oven . . . 

Ready for the oven . . . 

If you are one for order, this part of the recipe is for you.  You have 3 layers of sauce, cheese and eggplant topped with a final layer of cheese before putting it in the oven.  A bit of non-stick spray on the underside of the foil so it wouldn’t stick and the hard part was done!  Since it needs to cook for more than hour, you have plenty of time to clean the kitchen and relax before dinner is ready.  As the recipe states, letting it sit for at least 30 minutes before serving is best, even letting it cool and then reheating it the next day if needed.

The final product was impressive.  My family loved it and I have enjoyed the leftovers.  It really does stay in place so that it looks pretty on the plate. There was plenty of sauce and I would recommend serving this extra on the side or spooning a bit on the top of each serving.  

Why a “Labor of Love”? Well, working at the market is something that I love and believe in and my family supports me and enjoys all of the foods that are sold at our market.  Although eggplant is the main attraction here, this is just one of amazing items that I bring home.  Truth be told, this dish was a lot of work but with some good music and a bit of extra time this “labor of love” was worth every bite!   I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  


Field Trip: Old Homestead Farm, October

It's always my goal to visit all of the farms throughout the growing season, capturing all of their seasonal changes for our market shoppers to see. Unfortunately the market season starts rolling and before I know it, autumn is here and I've yet to visit the farms. And while you may think there is little to see on the farm in autumn, you're wrong. The folks over at Old Homestead Farm have lots going on, in their fields and their greenhouses.

Everyone loves Old Homestead Farm's salad mix - and let me tell you, this is a labor of love. What a tedious process - grow a multitude of different greens to seedling size, then meticulously cut off the baby leaves for salad mix! All of this is done in their hydroponic greenhouse.

It's celery season on the farm. They grown the celery to maturity. Once mature, they tube the plants to blanch the celery. Blanching will lighten the stalks and make them sweeter. Local celery is a prize - be sure to pick some up at the market!

Do you know how broccoli grows? Take a look at the broccoli field to get a first hand view - Jenelle will have plenty of broccoli at market this week.

Thanks so much to Jenelle for taking the time out of her busy day to take me on a tour. It was a great day!

Field Trip: Lindenhof Farm - Turkey Season!

Enjoy the photos from our trip to Lindenhof Farm to check out the Thanksgiving turkeys. One of my favorite things to do when I visit the turkeys is to make them laugh - have a chuckle with me! Of course that's Axel in the video and his helper, Mark.

Here are some more photos of the trip - hope you enjoy them!

Souper Squash!

If you've ever arrived early to the market, it's likely you'll hear the vendors trading recipes of all of the great things they made with their ingredients from the market. And this time of year, we're all a buzz with squash recipes. Autumn's chill has got us going soup crazy. 

We love winter squashes: acorn, buttercup, butternut, delicata, hubbard, kabocha, lakota, turban, red kuri, spaghetti, pumpkin and so many more. And, what's not to love about them! Nutritionally they are amazing; an excellent source of Vitamin A in the form of beta carotene, high in fiber, low in calories and packed with a wide variety of nutrients. They're good for you, and they taste great too!

Lleyna from Winsome Tea Co. is a great cook! She was ooooo'ing and ahhhh'ing about a fantastic Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup recipe she had made, chock full of squash, apples and carrots from the foodie blog Gimme' Some Oven. Look at this yummy soup she made, and so easy, in a slow cooker! Perfect for weeknights! Your family will love it.

I had also just made a delicious squash soup recipe with some smoked kielbasa I had bought from Canter Hill Farm, Smoked Sausage, Butternut and Wild Rice Soup, an Emeril Lagasse recipe. This recipe also had 2 cups of sweet corn, and luckily I had some from Old Homestead Farm frozen. It is a perfect main course soup. To accompany this soup, yummy grilled cheese sandwiches: pumpernickel bread and cheese from Stoudt's Wonderful Good Bakery, and smear of Sour Cherry Chipotle Bourbon preserves from Small Batch Kitchen - - - OMG - - - heaven! 

Remember, if you're cooking up something special with your market ingredients, please share the recipe with us. We'll post it on our blog, The Market Beet!