This Week at the Smart Markets Oakton Farmers' Market

Several new magazines will give you a bounty of ideas for cooking with the healthy and delicious egg.

This Week at our Oakton Market
Saturday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
2854 Hunter Mill Road

We are balancing rather precariously on the cusp of spring with new veggies showing up each week at the Heritage Farm tent — did you see the gorgeous radishes last week? But at the same time, we are anxious along with Max about all those peach and apple trees in full bloom with three more weeks to go before the last frost deadline. As Max has been saying, we will either have peaches in May or nothing at all.

We will have new vendors joining us this spring, including our first local sustainable farmer, a great cook and teacher who will be bringing us her spice mixes, a vendor of gourmet popsicles, and healthy smoothies made at the market from market ingredients. Ignacio of Montoya’s Produce will be back as early as mid-April, and I am working on some new recipes already.

Uncle Roger will not be with us for a few weeks — he has a contract job which will keep him working through the weekends for a while, but I will give you some notice about his return as soon as I know.

Nyall of Celtic Pasties, as always, has sent us his menu. This week he’ll be offering Beef & Guinness, Cottage Pie, Corned Beef, Chicken Alfredo, Chicken & Leek, and Cheese & Onion.

And a word to the wise — this is the week each year when the church hosts an outside group for a day-long retreat. They are expecting more people this year than ever. They will block off the first row of parking spaces beyond the school for our shoppers, and there may well be spaces throughout the lot. They are planning to park their flock from the back forward and will have parking attendants on hand until the event begins. They have also reserved spaces at the library for their group. So we should be fine, but be prepared to drive around a little looking for a space when you come to shop.

We may also have a little weather to deal with, but at this point we are not complaining. It will be warmer than it should be for sure!

From the Market Master

Not since that catchy “incredible edible egg” campaign years ago have I seen so much homage to the lowly egg — lowly in this case only because of where it sits when it enters the world. Let me count the ways for you: The April editions of both Living and Bon Appetit magazines have entire sections devoted to eggs with lots of good information, advice and recipes. The April Eating Well magazine has a great picture of an egg-salad sandwich and four variations on the easiest salad in the world to make. And Mark Bittman, writing for the New York Times Magazine, created an elaborate chart that can lead to 400 combinations using eggs for every meal of the day. It makes clear that eggs can be the star of any meal at any time of day and can still entertain at a party, too.

Bon Appetit gives us insight into the architecture of the egg, from which I learned about the chalazae, those little white squiggles that anchor the yolk to the egg. And I now know how to recognize a fresh egg from an older one — the inner white of a very fresh egg will be cloudy. But that doesn’t mean that older eggs don’t have their uses. In the informative section, Jean-Georges Vongerichten imparts the secret to the “softest scramble” of eggs, and we are treated to yet another foolproof guide to the perfect boiled egg. In addition to some great recipes, we also learn how to interpret the language on an egg carton. Need I remind you at this point that we have our own secret? Buy fresh eggs from the the farmer, and not only will those eggs represent the best of what an egg can provide naturally, but if we wish, we can meet the chickens that laid them.

In addition to laying out all kinds of lovely ways to present eggs at an Easter-egg-hunt party, Living magazine includes a lovely essay by Rory Evans about the “odd couple” of egg and yolk in one shell. The recipes are presented under the title “Divide and Conquer,” and all of them highlight either the whites or the yolks, or a combination of the two, but used separately.

And if you like egg salad and remember your mother’s fondly, check out the variations in Eating Well including Cobb, Niçoise, veggie and sweet southern.

I hope you pick up at least one of these magazines to learn more about using eggs as protein in a balanced meal. The introductions to all of the articles reiterate that the cholesterol “scare” some years ago was just that. And some caution about looking for eggs that are labeled cage-free or omega-3 enhanced. Here again, if you buy them from a farmer, they are already healthier eggs from healthier chickens. Eggs are easy to work with unless you are trying your first pavlova — and do stay away from meringues on a humid day. Even at this time of year, they can be a centerpiece of a frittata (like this one or this one) or poached or hard-boiled and added to a salad of sauteed greens and a lemon juice-based vinaigrette. We will have more egg recipes at the markets this week and at our seasonal markets, which start opening in April.

I have given you lots of leads today and welcome your own creative takes on the egg as the answer. The question being: According to Bittman, “Eggs are simple, almost infinitely useful … why do people have trouble embracing them?” Good luck with transforming them from incredible to embraceable in your own kitchen.

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