The big news this week is that Heritage Farm and Kitchen will bring freshly harvested morel mushrooms, a rare delicacy that has caused mayhem among foragers in the Northwestern U.S. who protect their secret morel harvesting grounds with force and guns. I haven’t read about such shenanigans in this part of the country, but I do know that those who know where to find morels are tight-lipped about their finds.
Heritage Farm will package them in 2-ounce packages, and while the price is high, enjoying them once a year in a bisque or cream sauce on toast points or biscuits or in a dish with herbs and chicken is worth the indulgence. It may be the only time you ever eat them fresh. We will have recipes and a handout about the care and eating of them, too.
We will also welcome for the first time this year one of our new vendors. Maria Romano will bring the first of her seasonal healthy-for-you popsicles, calling them eggsicles this Saturday to honor the season. She came to visit us last week and is already talking with Tyson Farms and Orchards about supplying her with wonderful fruit for her Whim Pops all summer long.
Nyall of Celtic Pasties will have Beef & Guinness, Cottage Pie, Corned Beef, Chicken Curry, Mango Chicken Curry, and Spinach & Feta. I am sure our bakers will have some specialty items for the holiday.
We will also continue to have recipes featuring eggs in a variety of guises, including some great ways to serve eggs and those great greens together in the same dish. And of course, you can’t look at a menu in a restaurant that doesn’t feature at least one salad that has a fried, poached or soft-boiled egg on top of it. I know you can do that at home.
We will also be visited by a young woman who is a student at Northern Virginia Community College’s culinary school. She is so full of enthusiasm for her field of study that she wants to teach cooking at our farmer’s markets. We would like to know whether you would be willing to pay for a class at the market — if so, please let me know.
I am looking forward to bringing new vendors over the next few weeks. We all wish you a happy Easter weekend.
From the Market Master
This week I am going to talk about greens about three weeks earlier than I would normally be able to talk about them. But then I will probably spend the entire growing season catching up — thank goodness my food magazines all arrive about a month early, or I would really miss out on the timely new recipes.
We provide a handout at our markets in the spring and fall that provides basic instructions for cooking greens simply and quickly, and now I have another good one clipped and copied from the April Eating Well magazine that has good pictures and short descriptions of the different varieties. This page about kale has links to pages about chard and other greens.
I can wax eloquently about greens. I spent several years of my youth in South Georgia, where greens were treated with reverence — even if that did mean cooking the flavor out of them and substituting the smoky flavor of a ham hock. That was still good, but not nearly so fresh-tasting and flavorful as the greens cooked the way I and others now recommend.
We now have examples at the market of those early greens and some of the best baby kale I have ever eaten. A package that will easily serve three people costs $2.75; it has been prewashed and is so easy to prepare.
We also have chard, which has many uses in sides, salads and soups. Here is a good spring recipe for young chard. Don’t worry about separating the stems in young chard, though — just treat the soft stems as part of the leaves.
I want you to hear from an expert on the nutritional benefits of greens, which make them one of the most effective products in your preventive medicine pantry. Greens are essentially medicine on the plate, which of course is the case with all healthily prepared vegetables. Please learn from our friend and occasional speaker at our markets, Debra Dennis of Indigo Lifestyle Solutions, who works with clients who want to adopt healthier lifestyles, including changes in diet.
Green vegetables are the foods most missing in modern diets. Learning to cook and eat greens is essential to creating health. When you nourish yourself with greens, you will naturally crowd out the foods that make you sick. Greens help build your internal rainforest and strengthen the blood and respiratory system. They are especially good for city people who rarely see fields of green in open countryside. Green is associated with spring, the time of renewal, refreshment and vital energy. In Asian medicine, green is related to the liver, emotional stability and creativity.
Nutritionally, greens are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are crammed with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals. Whenever possible, choose organic. But eating non-organic greens is much better than not eating any greens at all!
There are so many greens to choose from. Find greens that you love and eat them often. When you get bored with your favorites, be adventurous and try greens that you’ve never heard of before. Broccoli is very popular among adults and children. Each stem is like a tree trunk, giving you strong, grounding energy. Rotate among bok choy, napa cabbage, kale, collards, watercress, mustard greens, broccoli rabe, dandelion and other leafy greens.
I hope that you will seek out greens to brighten your Easter feast this week and learn to eat them more often as part of a seasonal diet. They really are tasty!
See you at the market!