Poached Egg Pea Shoot Salad

Left to right: Christine Illich from Heirloom kitchen, me, PR, Shane Hughes from Liberty Delight Farms, Aaron Kushner from MeatCrafters and Lizz.

Left to right: Christine Illich from Heirloom kitchen, me, PR, Shane Hughes from Liberty Delight Farms, Aaron Kushner from MeatCrafters and Lizz.

I encourage guest bloggers and recipe creators to join our blog from time to time. In fact, one of my favorite things to do with this blog is collaborate on recipes. Most of the time, it’s a simple conversation with a couple of vendors – I ask them what’s new and in season and we discuss great ways to use their products. This particular recipe I got from someone different at our market – our Market Concierge, Piyush Rangra (known to his friends as “PR”).

PR and I attended the same Hospitality Management program at the Universities at Shady Grove. He is one of my biggest helpers when it comes to figuring out what do to for a recipe each week (and one of the biggest reasons that everything runs so smoothly at the markets). Not only does he know the market and vendors extremely well (he works at the Info Tent at both Pike and Bethesda Central Markets), but he also happens to be a fabulous chef.

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Last year, he began the arduous process of starting his own personal chef company, Chef 4 Tonite. Over the past months, I’ve watched him prepare every aspect of his business, experiment with seasonal recipes, and eventually launch his great new company. I share with you one of his recipes in an effort to introduce his company and perhaps shed some light on the quality of food that he offers.

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The recipe is a Poached Egg Pea Shoot Salad. The recipe is so simple, with just 5 ingredients, yet so complex in it’s flavors. I chose this one because I love to use greens from Young Harvests, especially in such a pure form as this. Rob’s pea shoots are always at the top of my grocery list when they are available. Earlier this year, I shared a recipe for Pea Shoot Soup that got a lot of great feedback. It really is true that using simple, farm fresh ingredients create the most delicious dishes.

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One more thing I’d like to point out – PR’s original recipe calls for bacon. Since I don’t eat pork, I was more than happy to substitute lamb bacon in the recipe. If you have yet to try this amazing product, I highly recommend stopping by the Bethesda Central Farm Market and grabbing a package. Chaim Silverberg and his brother Hillel are almost always at the market, ready with samples and songs that will leave you wondering how you ever went without it. Trust me, even the biggest supporters of “regular” bacon have enthusiastically endorsed this delicious, smoky product. You can obviously substitute the lamb bacon in this recipe for whatever your palette prefers.

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Poached Egg Pea Shoot Salad

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Eggs (Liberty Delight Farms)
  • 4 Cups Pea Shoots (Young Harvests)
  • 10oz Bacon (Lamb Baaacon or Springfield Farm)
  • 1⁄2 Container of Mozzarella (Blue Ridge Dairy Co.)
  • 5 Tbsp. Spring Onion Vinaigrette, divided (Two Acre Farm)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Set a pot of water to boil. Wash and dry the pea shoots. Roughly chop the bacon. Small dice the mozzarella.

In a medium cold pan, cook the bacon. Soon, it will begin to release some of it’s fat. Cook the bacon in the fat, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and in a small bowl. Toss the bacon with 2 Tbsp. of the vinaigrette.

While the water is boiling, prepare the eggs. Put a piece of plastic wrap over a bowl and spray it with cooking spray. Crack the egg over the surface of the plastic wrap. Salt and pepper the egg. Gather the plastic wrap and tie the excess in a knot. Place egg, in plastic wrap, in the boiling water for about 5 minutes, or until firm. Remove the egg from the boiling water, still in the plastic wrap) and put it immediately into a cold water bath to set. Repeat with remaining egg(s).

In a large bowl, combine the pea shoots, bacon, mozzarella, and remaining 3 Tbsp of vinaigrette. Toss to coat all ingredients. Plate the salad with the poached egg on top. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

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The Rabbit Operation at Liberty Delight Farms

I started writing Dishing the Dirt almost exactly a year ago. The purpose was to visit farms and tell the stories of the farmers. I also wanted to share some great recipes using items from the markets. It’s been a great year and I’m so grateful for the people who follow and read my blog regularly. You are the reason I do this.

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My very first post last year was about Liberty Delight Farm in Reisterstown, MD. I got a great tour from the farm’s owner, Shane Hughes, and learned so much about what it takes to maintain a farm. I would go on to visit many other of our fabulous farms, but I always looked at my first visit as a starting point and just built on my knowledge from there. Shane taught me the ins and outs of cow breeding, what it takes to raise healthy animals, and the dedication that is necessary to manage and own such a large farm operation.

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At last year’s visit, Shane was just starting to raise rabbits. There were five or six of them at the time. He showed me the skeleton of a building that he and his staff were constructing that would eventually house their next project, the Rabbit Operation. I returned to Shane’s farm last week, one year later, with my best friend, and found that they had built an amazing house to raise healthy, well cared for rabbits.

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The operation has grown immensely in just a year – there are now nearly 150 rabbits! The rabbits range in age from a little over a year to just a few days old. I can’t tell you how great it was to hold a two-week-old rabbit in my arms! I was careful not to get too attached…

Some people aren’t too keen on introducing a “new” meat into their meal routine. But rabbit is not as new as you might think – back in the 1940s and ‘50s, rabbit meat was nearly as common as chicken meat! Shane told me that the market for rabbit meat has grown substantially in the Washington, DC area. People are becoming accustomed to rabbit on menus in our restaurants. Shane sells many of his rabbits to these restaurants, some requiring 20 or more a week to keep up with demand! Here are some reasons why rabbit meat is a good choice:

  • It is one of the most sustainable forms of meat. Rabbits reproduce like…rabbits – therefore it is easy for farmers to continuously maintain a high level of output.
  • Rabbit meat has a high percentage of digestible protein and contains significantly less fat when compared to other meat.
  • Low sodium and low cholesterol levels mean that rabbit meat is a great option for those trying to maintain a heart healthy diet.
  • It’s fun to try new things! I’m looking forward to creating dishes with rabbit meat and bringing you great, creative recipes in the near future.

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While we were there, we took another little tour of the farm and checked out the two month old piglets. You really haven’t experienced the sight of farm animals until you’ve seen little pigs like this playing around, jumping on each other, and just generally acting like happy little creatures. It is so clear that Shane and his workers go to extensive lengths to make sure their animals are well cared for and happy. The smell of the pig sty, however, is something I could do without. In Shane’s words “pigs smell much better as bacon!”

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I loved revisiting Liberty Delight Farms. Stop by their stand at all three markets and have a chat with any of their great staff. Check out the rabbit meat too and try creating something delicious with it. I’m really interested to see what everyone has to say about their recipes with this “new” meat.

Old Bay Shrimp & Veggie Pasta

A new vendor – Bushdogs – recently joined the Pike Central family. George Bushwaller has been in the food industry since 1971. He had a restaurant in Frederick that he sold in 1990 when he moved down to Florida. For the last 4 years he and his wife Joanna have been selling to farm markets in Florida, where MD style seafood is extremely popular. Recently, they decided to come back to George’s hometown to spread the love.

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They specialize in fresh, Maryland seafood. Nearly selling out the last few weeks at Pike Central Farm Market is something they are used to – people love their veggie-based MD Crab Soup and their Crab Bisque. They sell huge crab cakes with less than 1% breadcrumbs, and two different kinds of shrimp – Chesapeake Shrimp Salad (Imperial Style) and Old Bay Shrimp Cocktail. I chose the latter to create the recipe below and I was quite happy with my decision.

OBS 2This time of year, Spiral Path Farm has amazing Sun Sugar Tomatoes available. These tomatoes won a taste contest last year and it is no surprise why – each one is bursting with the most unbelievable flavor. These tomatoes are one of my favorite snacks! I also used Spiral Path’s snow peas – another great snacking item. These legumes are peas that are eaten whole, shell and all, and are delicious raw or cooked. If you are unable to make it to Bethesda to grab these items from Spiral Path Farm, you can get the tomatoes from Mock’s Green House and the snow peas from Twin Springs Fruit Farm – both are at all three Central Farm Markets locations.

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Another gem in this recipe is the spice blend from Two Acre Farm. Nicole Olson makes some of the most interesting amalgamations of spices and sells them in tiny bags with cute labels on them. In the recipe, I left the spice blend choice open-ended because there are so many different options. I used Ragin’ Cajun, a blend that Nicole said would work very well with the Old Bay used to cook Bushdog’s shrimp. She was not mistaken. Other flavors include Honey Garlic and Coffee Cocoa.

One of my favorite things to do during the week is challenge myself to create dishes using only ingredients from the market, without a single store-bought ingredient. I am happy to say that this delicious recipe fits that bill – everything can be found at one or all of the Central Farm Markets locations.

Old Bay Shrimp and Veggie Pasta

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Pint Shrimp Salad (Bushdogs)
  • 1 lb. Tagliatelle (Cavanna Pasta [Bethesda] or Pappardelle’s Pasta [Pike and Mosaic])
  • 1 Large Zucchini (Two Acre Farm)
  • 1 Pint Snow Peas (Spiral Path Farm)
  • 1 Pint Sun Sugar Tomatoes (Spiral Path Farm)
  • 2 Large Pearl Onions (Westmoreland Berry Farm)
  • 4 tsp. Spice Blend of your choice (Two Acres Farm)
  • 5 Tbsp. Olive Oil, divided (All Things Olive)

Optional Garnish:

DIRECTIONS

Cook pasta according to instructions. When the pasta is cooked and drained, immediately toss it with 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil. Set aside.

Using the coarsest side of a box grater, grate the zucchini. Thinly slice the pearl onions, using only the white parts. Pick the stems off of the snow peas. Cut the tomatoes into quarters.

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Add 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil to a large pan. When the oil is hot, add the onions and 2 tsp. of the Spice Blend. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are tender and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add the snow peas and shrimp to the pan and toss to coat. Add the remaining 1 Tbsp. of Olive Oil and another 1-2 tsp. of the Spice Blend (depending on your taste buds – I like a lot of flavor so I added more).

When the snow peas begin to get translucent and the shrimp is heated, turn off the stove and add the zucchini. Cook for 2 minutes, to keep the crunch of the zucchini. Toss the pasta into the pan and mix everything together. Add salt, pepper, and Spice Blend to taste.

Plate your dish and garnish with delicious sun sugar tomato slices and if desired, asiago cheese shavings.

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Westmoreland Produce

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Westmoreland County, Virginia is a particularly beautiful county. Located between Washington, DC, and the Chesapeake Bay, Westmoreland County is an ideal place for farming. Arnulfo Medina came to here from Florida 27 years ago to pick berries and cantaloupes. Enamored with the beauty of the land, he decided to stay. He leased four acres of land and began farming in the most minimal way – no equipment, no trucks, just some hand tools.

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Over the years, through hard work and almost bare hands, Arnulfo was able to grow the farm, buy some equipment and today Arnulfo and his children, Christina and her husband Alfonso, Esther and Angelica, grandson, Arnulfo, Jr. and the young ones Nataly and Juan Pablo own about 120 acres of prime farmland in Westmoreland County.

IMG_0995As on most farms, the works starts in early February. Five large greenhouses are filled with “transplants” that will later go into the fields when the weather gets better. With the past two years of extreme cold, getting these plants out to the fields is no easy feat. The hope is for the first week of April.

Mitch and I toured the farm on a road trip through the northern neck of Virginia last summer. We are lucky to have farms from as far south as this area at our markets, as they are able to bring in produce and berries before the northern (Pennsylvania) crops are ready. This extends the growing season at the market and gives our patrons a longer season to enjoy fruits and vegetables early on.

The Medina farm is expansive, well kept and well run. Running eighteen trucks a week to farm markets in the DC area is complicated, but as you can see from the trucks lined up in the fields, the Medinas know exactly how to do this. Each day trucks are loaded under the guidance of the watchful eyes of whoever will be taking a particular truck to a particular market. Market patrons differ from farm market location to location and the Medinas know how to accommodate each market. They make sure that each truck is filled with produce and fruits that are specially selected for each market.

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Once the trucks are loaded, they head out at 4 am for a 2 1/2 hour ride to the Washington markets, where they are the first to set up expansive tents filled with plants, heirloom tomatoes like the purple cherokees, brandywines and german stripers. Westmoreland Produce also grows a vast array of hot peppers and tomatillos.

After a full day of touring we were treated to a barbecue with Esther’s fresh salsa with fresh roasted vegetables, complete with those hot peppers!

westmoreland produce grill

In the coming weeks you will find the Westmoreland Produce tents bursting with spring and summer vegetables and the smiling faces of the Medina family working hard to make sure their customers leave happy.

Westmoreland Produce is located at all three Central Farm Markets.

Pea Shoot Soup

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Hurray!!! It’s Spring again at Central Farm Markets! The Bethesda Market has been open all winter, but we’re getting ready to open the Pike and Mosaic Central Farm Markets in just a few weeks. All of the vendors are starting to return and we are so happy to get the season underway.

Two of the first things we see at the beginning of Spring – pea shoots and green garlic – are both great ways to welcome the warmer season. Both are featured in this delicious, simple Pea Shoot Soup. Also featured is the hardy, flavor-packed bone broth from Painted Hand Farm and the insanely fresh, delectable milk from Woodbourne Creamery.

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Pea shoots are the leaves that sprout from the traditional garden pea plant. Garden peas usually take all of Spring to grow. At the Young Harvests farm, pea shoots are harvested after just a few weeks, when the leaves are tender, young and literally bursting with a distinctive pea flavor. Pea shoots are packed with Vitamins A, C, and folic acid. They have a low energy density…in other words, they have fewer calories per mouthful. Pea shoots can be eaten hot or cold, in salads or just as a snack.

Pea Shoot Soup 3Green garlic is collected before the bulbs start to mature. Chop or slice white, light green, and the first few inches of the dark green leaves (as long as they are tender, not soggy or brown). The taste of green garlic is quite garlicky, but more moderate with a less intense bite. Whenever cooked, the green garlic sweetens, adding a brand new layer of depth to whatever dish you choose to make with it. Green garlic is well known as a natural health remedy that has long been used to treat various ailments. It boosts the immune system, is rich in iron, and has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities that can help prevent infection.

This is a perfect dish to make on a sunny afternoon after you leave the market. Pair it with a slice of Upper Crust Bakery bread and you’ve got yourself a fabulous meal. Pack it in a thermos and take it on a picnic. Enjoy the weather- finally!!!!

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Pea Shoot Soup

INGREDIENTS

  • 2½ cups Bone Broth* (Painted Hand Farms)
  • ½ cup Whole Milk (Woodbourne Creamery at Rock Hill Orchard)
  • 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 6 heaping handfuls of Pea Shoots (Young Harvests)
  • 4 Green Garlic bulbs, chopped (Twin Springs Fruit Farm)
  • 2 heaping handfuls of Spinach (Young Harvests)
  • 3 Tbsp. Butter (Springfield Farm)

*Use store-bought vegetable broth to make this soup vegetarian

DIRECTIONS

In a large saucepan, bring stock and milk to boil; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.

Add green garlic to hot oil and cook until it starts to become translucent. Add pea shoots and cook for 1-2 minutes or until pea shoots wilt and green garlic is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add pea shoots mixture to stock mixture. Simmer uncovered for 2-3 minutes or until heated through. Add raw spinach to mixture.

Using an immersion or regular blender, blend until vegetable mixture is almost smooth. I prefer to stop blending just before the soup is at the point of being pureed.

Stir butter into soup and season to taste. Garnish with a small handful pea shoots and serve hot.

Future Harvest CASA Conference 2015

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Last September, Central Farm Markets teamed up with Future Harvest CASA to put on an amazing Farm to Fork fundraiser at RJ Cooper’s fabulous restaurant Gypsy Soul at Mosaic District in Virginia. Among the attendees were many of CFM’s vendors – Shane Hughes from Liberty Delights, Aaron Kushner from Meatcrafters Markets, Alan and Susan James from Stonyman Gourmet Farmer and more. The dinner featured local food in dishes created by five award-winning chefs with food provided by CFM vendors and artisans! It was a great time and it raised a lot of money for a great organization.

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Last weekend I attended Future Harvest CASA’s Cultivate the Chesapeake Foodshed Conference. It was held at the College Park Marriott and an incredibly diverse group of farmers, artisan food producers, farm market owners, chefs, agriculture educators and technicians attended. The main thing that amazed all of us was how many young people were at the conference! I bet I wouldn’t be mistaken if I told you that over 50% of the conference attendees were between the ages of 22 and 35. This is huge, considering the reason we were there was to introduce the next generation of farmers to resources that will contribute to the growth of the business and more access to fresh local food.

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Future Harvest CASA (Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture) is an organization who’s mission is to provide education, networking and advocacy to help build a sustainable Chesapeake foodshed, where food flows from farm and fishery to table in ways that strengthen farming and the regional food economy. The organization is run by a board of directors that includes farmers, food business owners, health care professionals and educators who work to advocate for policy change, teach new farmers and support small businesses.

IMG_7387The conference was split into two days with sessions and keynote speakers on both days. I attended three sessions on the first day; the first was a talk given by our very own MeatCrafters owners, Debra Moser, Mitch Berliner and Stanley Feder!  They told the audience what it took to start their sausage and salami-making business. They talked about everything from the financial aspect of starting up a local food business, to working with the USDA, to their meat sourcing techniques. This discussion was held under the “Made Local: Artisanal Foods” track, which also included sessions on local liquor, cider, beer, and cheese. Another member of the CFM family, Susan and Alan James from Stonyman Gourmet Farmer, led the cheese making discussion!

Later, I attended a session on climate change and it’s effect on the farming industry, and a group discussion about farmers markets. It was so interesting to hear from people who run or work for other markets. There are so many different types of farm markets. From six vendor operated Amish markets to larger markets, everyone was very interested to learn tips, tactics, and information from one another to improve on.

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The highlight for me was the Local Fare Fair that took place right before dinner on Friday evening. It was open to conference attendees and showcased the many items they had been hearing about throughout the day. Central Farm Markets vendors were quite prominent in this fair, as well; Meatcrafters sampled their salamis, Stonyman Gourmet Farmer sampled their cheeses, and Sophia Maroon from Dress it Up Dressing sampled her new delicious Blackberry Vinaigrette. There were local spirits from Catoctin Distillery, hard cider from Distillery Lane Ciderworks, delicious craft beer from Lost Rhino Brewing Company, and many more artisanal masterpieces.

I learned a lot at this conference, like the nutritional quality of local food and how climate change and pest control can alter a farmer’s crops. I learned that there are so many young people working hard to start a farm; a challenge for some because they need to pay student loans or they can’t afford the purchase of land, unless it is inherited. The most important thing that I learned, however, is that there is an organization, a group of dedicated people, working hard to make sure that our next generation of farmers has the education, financial stability, and support that they need to continue supplying us with the local fresh food that has grown fast in this country. Future Harvest CASA is doing something extremely important and I do believe they are well on their way to achieving many of their goals.

Kiparoo Farm

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Annie Kelley has lived on her farm in Middletown, MD for 4 years. Kiparoo Farm is “the home of beautiful sheep, shiny fleece, and lustrous yarn.” Annie raises Border Leicester sheep, a breed that is known for their wool, which is prized by spinners for its high quality. Having grown up on a farm in the Mid-West, she has been raising sheep and working in the fiber business for 40 years. She got her first lamb as an Easter present when she was a child and grew up knitting, raising animals, and working outdoors. She says she is lucky to have been able to do what she loves her whole life.

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The farm is a beautiful, quirky little place that houses 27 dairy cows and more than 100 sheep. Annie has the sheep sheared twice a year and spends the rest of the year dying the yarn in her own little dye factory located behind her house. The yarn is painted and hand-dyed and each skein is then “lovingly packaged and labeled.”

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This was by far one of my favorite farms to visit. Driving up to it, it was so clear to me that it was a woman’s farm; beautiful flowers in planters, heart-detailed gates in front of the house…I took a tour of the farm – where Annie hosts knitting clubs, ice cream socials, and art studio tours – and was extremely impressed with the amount of work Annie does herself on the grounds. “I can do anything on this farm, believe me,” she says, when I ask her how she makes it all happen. She has help, of course, but the majority of the work is done with her own two hands. Two hands that I can imagine are also very busy knitting!

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I think my favorite part of the farm tour was meeting her cows. Each one has a name and a personality. They were clean, friendly creatures that were clearly happy with their living situations. Very affectionate, too! And the sheep were singing to us as we toured their living quarters! It really proves what a great farmer Annie must be, to be able to keep her animals so happy and healthy.

Kiparoo 5Her stand at the market is full of beautiful multi-colored yarn in different shapes, sizes, and patterns. She also sells hand-knitted hats, scarves, and blankets. Patrons can buy finished hand-knits and can also custom order items. A friend of hers takes the milk from her dairy cows to create some of the best soap I’ve ever used. Annie and her knitting partners love to help new knitters get into the hobby, teach classes, talk about patterns, and discuss life on the farm.

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Buying yarn from Annie at Kiparoo Farm is another, albeit unknown, way to support your local farmers. What a unique opportunity Central Farm Market has to be a part of this extremely creative farm. Everyone knows a knitter, and anyone can become a knitter. So stop by and take stock of the amazing amount of work Annie puts into her product. Talk to her about her sheep, ask questions about her knitting club, feel the quality of the product that she so lovingly brings to us at the market. And don’t forget to pick something up for the knitter in your life!

Two Acre Farm & Spaghetti Squash Marinara

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If you haven’t stopped by the Two Acre Farm stand at the Bethesda Central Farm Market, you are really missing out. Absolutely everything that Nicole Olson is sampling – jams, mustards, dressings and sauces – is made with homegrown ingredients right in her very own little farm kitchen- and it’s all absolutely delicious!

FOO farmersTwoAcres.jpgNicole’s grandmother canned all her life and taught her how to start canning herself. Nicole doesn’t use recipes, but just flies by the seat of her pants, creating culinary masterpieces from scratch. Two Acre Farm is located in Keymar, MD and Nicole lives there with her husband and two sons (who come to the market with her frequently). She and her husband bought the overgrown farm 13 years ago. After a lot of time spent weeding and planting, the farm (situated on two acres of land) became a glorious, intermingling blend of herbs, veggies and fruits.

Nicole calls herself an “Artisan Agriculturalist.” She makes handcrafted products depending on her mood and what’s in season. She doesn’t waste a thing, either. Rather than let something rot, she will dehydrate, can, emulsify or blend it into something all natural, healthy and unique.

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Nicole’s Roasted Garlic Marinara is made almost entirely from products grown in her garden. The Big Beef Tomatoes she uses in her sauce have the seeds left in them to add to the nutritional value. The fresh, whole slices of garlic, layered throughout, distinguish her sauce from others. She dries oregano, basil, and parsley in her little farmhouse kitchen during the season. Her sauces are fresh and one-of-a-kind, clearly made with love and artistic expression.

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Spaghetti squash is a variety of winter squash best known for the spaghetti-like strands it’s flesh produces after being cooked. With healthy eating on everyone’s mind, spaghetti squash has become a very popular alternative to traditional pasta dishes. The flesh itself has very little distinguishable taste, allowing it to be a healthy, low-glycemic substitute for pasta. Spaghetti squash is low calorie, low-carb, low-sodium, and full of all the essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. This makes it an excellent option for anyone on any kind of diet. The spaghetti squash Nicole sells at her stand comes directly from Glade Link Farms in Ladiesburg, MD.

I ran a few taste tests before deciding to use Stonyman’s Farmhouse Muenster as the cheese for the spaghetti squash recipe below. To me, it combines best with the garlic and basil, allowing the flavors to come through. The cheese is a semi-hard, rindless cheese, made from raw cow’s milk and aged 6 months. It is ideal for cooking as it’s flavor can stand up to other strong ingredients. It also just happens to be delicious on it’s own, like all of the other amazing cheeses found at the Stonyman Gourmet Farmers tent!

And now it’s time to put everything together. As always, I’ve put where I purchased all of my ingredients in parentheses, and these are subject to change depending on availability. I’ve also included a meat option for anyone that would like to add a little more protein and extra flavor to the meal.

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Spaghetti Squash Marinara

Ingredients

  • 1 large spaghetti squash (Two Acre Farm)
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil (All Things Olive)
  • 2 cups Roasted Garlic Marinara (Two Acre Farm)
  • 4 large basil leaves, chopped (Twin Springs Fruit Farm)
  • 1 large handful of spinach, chopped (Two Acre Farm
  • ¼ lb Farmhouse Muenster Cheese, grated (Stonyman Gourmet Farmers)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Optional:

  • Chicken Basil Sausages* (Meatcrafters)

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Using a large knife or a cleaver, slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise down the middle. Use a spoon to remove the seeds and center strings. Drizzle the two halves with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the squash, open side down, on a cookie sheet in the middle of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and check to make sure the squash is soft and the “spaghetti” easily comes off with a fork. If it’s too hard to remove, return it to the oven for another 10 minutes.

When the squash is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool until you are able to remove the “spaghetti.” Use a fork to loosen it and a pair of tongs to remove it. Make sure to leave the outer shell of the squash intact, as you will need it later in the recipe.**

Turn the oven to broil and place the “spaghetti” in a large pan over the stove. Add 2 cups of the marinara sauce, the spinach, and the basil to the stove. Cook on high heat only until the spinach has started to wilt. Place the marinara mixture back into the squash shell, top with the grated Muenster cheese, and place in the broiler for 3-4 minutes, until the cheese is melted and slightly browned. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

*For a great meat addition, use Meatcrafters’ Chicken Basil Sausages. Simply cook sausages, cut into pieces, and add to the marinara mixture before replacing it in the squash shells.

** Depending on the size of the squash, you might not need to use all of the “spaghetti.” Use your judgment, keeping in mind that more space will be taken up with the addition of the sauce, spinach, and basil once you return the ingredients to the outer shell. Put any leftover “spaghetti” into an airtight container to experiment with some other spaghetti squash recipes!

New Winter Vendors

The winter hours have started at Bethesda Central! This means the market begins at 10:00am and ends at 1:30pm. It also means that we have some new vendors joining us for the next few months! I was so excited to meet them this past Sunday, but I’m even more excited to introduce them to you!

Sexy Vegie Menu

Jumping off their Baltimore-based food truck and into our market, Sexy Vegie is joining us to serve delicious vegetarian and vegan ready-to-eat cuisine. The owner and founder, Ashwini, delights in bringing healthy food options without meat to her customers. I was overjoyed to sample a few of her culinary treats this past week, including:

Sexy Vegie Holiday

The Holiday; multigrain bread topped with a delicious homemade black bean patty, cranberry relish, grilled Portobello mushrooms, greens, and something called the “Sexy Vegie” sauce. This was a wonderful mixture of sweet and savory that completely satisfied my taste buds.

Sexy Vegie Protein Express

The Protein Express; two corn tortillas stuffed with a black bean patty, avocado salsa, Sexy Vegie sauce, lettuce and tomato. Again, I couldn’t believe how satisfied I was after just a few bites of this delicious, nutritious meal.

Next week, Ashwini will begin selling take-home containers of her delectable lentil soup as well as pre-packaged homemade black bean patties. Stop by next week to try her healthy and tasty dishes!

Woodbourne Creamery

Coming to the market from Mt. Airy, MD, Woodbourne Creamery at Rock Hill Orchard is selling some of the best milk I have ever tasted in my life. It was as if the cows produced a cream-flavored milkshake without all of the sugar. The first thing I noticed was the color of the milk; a rich, creamy off-white. Not only was the quality clear, but the nutritional value provided by such a natural product could not be denied!

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I learned a little about the cows; a breed called Golden Guernsey that produces more milk with more nutrients than any other cow. The milk has high levels of Beta Carotene, vitamins B1 and B12, lower cholesterol and higher naturally occurring Vitamin D. The genuine happiness of the cows on the dairy farm is also evident. Woodbourne uses what is called a Voluntary Milking System, or “VMS,” to milk the cows. Essentially, whenever the cows decide they want to be milked, they simply step into the milking system! I cannot wait to learn more about this operation and visit the dairy farm in the future. Stop by their stand at the market for a taste of their regular or chocolate milk!

Red Bandana menu

Also new at our market is a local business that goes by the name of The Red Bandana. Jamie, the owner, graduated from culinary school and decided to open up a small, fun bakery business that caters to people who desire gluten-free, vegan and other healthy options. This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to try her Chocolate Orange Biscotti. As a pastry chef myself, I can tell you first hand how hard it is to make something tasty from gluten-free ingredients. This biscotti was a perfect balance of sweet and crunchy without being obviously gluten-free. I loved the chocolate orange flavor and I can’t wait to try the other treats this little bakery offers!

Red Bandana Products

Also coming to us from Pike Central Farm Market is DC Dills, a company that sells delicious varieties of pickles such as wasabi, bread and butter, and garlic spears. They are more than happy to give you a taste before you commit to a purchase, and they love to discuss their pickling process with you!

So stop by the market next week and come meet the new members of our family. Lets make them feel welcome and assure they have a great winter season with us!

Also, don’t forget about the winter customer loyalty card. Stop by the info tent to receive your card. Any four times you come to the market throughout the winter season, you’ll get a $5 gift certificate to use at any of our markets. Attend all the winter markets and receive an additional $10 gift certificate – so you’ll get a total of $25 to spend at the markets!

bethesda winter loyalty

We look forward to seeing you soon! Happy New Year and stay warm!

Shiitake, Bok Choy & Chicken Soup

Lets face it: it’s sick season. If you aren’t sick, chances are you know someone who is. There is a cold circulating through my group of friends at the moment and the only thing I can think of to make everyone feel better is a nice, healthy soup. As we get deeper into winter, the market is getting a little smaller but there are still so many great items you can find there! This soup uses some of those items with a few non-market elements and the result is a delicious, nutritious comfort soup that will feed even the worst colds!

I wanted to use mushrooms with some great health benefits, so I chose shiitake. Shiitakes have been used for centuries as an immune system booster. Recent studies have shown that they have numerous properties that help to prevent against cardiovascular diseases. They are also a very good non-animal source of iron. This is great news for vegetarians, who might have a hard time getting enough of the iron that they need to stay healthy.

 

Soup 3

I chose bok choy for this soup because this veggie has a lot of health benefits as well. This increasingly popular member of the cruciferous vegetable family (which also includes broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and cabbage) is an excellent source of omega-3s and the mineral zinc. Bok choy also has a great beta-carotene content, which ranks it very high on the list of veggies with strong vitamin A properties. This is definitely a vegetable that you want to include in your diet as much as possible!

As always, I’ve included where I purchased my produce from each vendor at the market. I chose a bone-in chicken breast because I like the flavor that roasting it on the bone brings to the meat. Bone broth from Painted Hand Farm is available in pork, veal, chicken, and beef. I chose beef because I like the flavor combination of beef and mushrooms. I’ve also added some optional Asain ingredients that I think work really well with the mushroom/bok choy combination. These can be omitted, although they really give the soup an added kick.

Soup 4

Shiitake, Bok Choy, and Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil, divided (All Things Olive)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced (Two Acre Farm)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (Two Acre Farm)
  • 6 cups broth (Painted Hand Farm)
  • 2 carrots, sliced (Twin Springs Fruit Farm)
  • 8 large bok choy ribs with leaves, finely chopped (Bending Bridge Farm)
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced (Twin Springs Fruit Farm)
  • 8 shiitake mushroom caps, sliced (The Mushroom Stand)
  • 1 bone-in chicken breast (Liberty Delight Farm)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Optional, for an Asian flair:

  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • ¼ tsp. Asian chili oil
  • 4 tsp. rice vinegar

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350. Wash and dry the chicken breast. Place in a oven safe dish, rub with 3 tablespoons of oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in oven until the internal temperature (measured using a meat thermometer) reaches 165, about an hour. Put aside to cool.

Meanwhile, place the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil (and the sesame oil, chili oil and rice vinegar, if using) in a large stock pot with the onion and garlic until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add broth, carrots, celery, and mushrooms and bring to a boil. Add the bok choy and simmer for 5 minutes.

When the chicken has cooled, shred it with your fingers into the pot. Make sure to get every delicious piece of meat off those bones! Serve warm.

Soup 5