Eat Fresh, Eat Local this September

I know the week ahead of us is forecast to be HOT once again. But September is only a few days away and alas, this STEAMY summer will soon be coming to an end. There are many plants that loved the heat and humidity this summer and now is the time that we get to enjoy them.

The fruits and veggies of late August (pictured left) will still be available, as well as many new delights.  Here’s a list from the Philly Homegrown website of what you can look forward to at the market:

FRUITS:  many varieties of apples, melons, pears and plums

VEGETABLES:  basil, chard, corn, cucumber, eggplant, fall salad greens, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, okra, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, summer and winter squash, tomatillo, tomatoes

Our New Winner Is…

Caroline Knower and her husband and son were on their way home from vacation when the message from the Media Farmers Market about being the market-basket winner popped up on their phone. She said she couldn’t believe her eyes and that she had to listen to the message twice. Caroline added, “I never win anything!”

Caroline is pictured left with family and some market treats that they won last week. Our generous vendors continue to donate their goods for the the benefit of a lucky market-basket winner.

Stop by the manager’s table this week to try your luck at winning one too!

Roasted Eggplant Soup

I recently discovered a perfect way to enjoy eggplant. It’s a recipe so simple yet rich in flavor – the best flavors of the late summer months! This recipe comes from the online recipe warehouse, epicurious. I topped my soup with some fresh basil and parmesan cheese (I had just used up my last bit of Shellbark Hollow‘s Sharp 2 Chevre – ugh!). The flavors of the roasted vegetables are so rich and satisfying, I found no need for the heavy cream. But the choice is yours to make!

Roasted Eggplant Soup

3 medium tomatoes, halved

1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds), halved lengthwise

1 small onion, halved

6 large garlic cloves, peeled

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

4 cups (or more) chicken stock

1 cup whipping cream

3/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place tomatoes, eggplant, onion and garlic on large baking sheet. Brush vegetables with oil. Roast until vegetables are tender and brown in spots, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven. Scoop eggplant from skin into heavy large saucepan; discard skin. Add remaining roasted vegetables and thyme to same saucepan. Add 4 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook until onion is very tender, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly.

Working in batches, puree soup in blender or food processor until smooth. Return to saucepan. Stir in cream. Bring to a simmer, thinning with more stock, if desired. Season soup with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with goat cheese; serve.

Heirloom Wonders

What’s up with the funny looking tomatoes being sold at the market? Why do they come in such funny shapes and sizes and in such an interesting variety of colors? Is there something wrong with these tomatoes because they aren’t perfectly polished, red and round? Are they okay to eat with their bulges, blemishes and cracks?
Just what kind of tomatoes are these? One simple word says it all: heirloom. The seeds of these tomatoes have been passed down for generations and generations – and lucky for us there is a voluminous variety of these unique fruits! Heirloom seeds have not been changed or altered in any way and the fruit they bear retains the same great flavor that they have had for years and years.

These tomatoes bear lovely and unique names – often coined for the region they are from, their coloring or a person known for saving their seeds: Blaby Special (from Blaby, England), Green Zebra, Purple Cherokee and Lillian’s Yellow. The unique varieties both above and at right come from Hillside Farm and Selene Coop.

The unusual shapes and colors are often indicators of distinct flavors. These seeds were passed down for generations for a reason: taste!  A tomato you might find in a supermarket was bred for a round uniform size and shape (easy for packing) and the ability to travel long distances in trucks and ripen off the vine.

So be adventurous and discover the richness and beauty of the heirloom varieties being offered at the market. These tasty tomatos do have a greater tendency to ripen unevenly or crack, so just cut around any spots; rest assured the majority of the fruit will be delicious.

As always, ENJOY!

North Star Orchard

We welcome North Star Orchard to the market this week as a new vendor! They specialize in unique and heirloom varieties of apples, plums, peaches, and Asian pears. This week, they’ll be bringing delicious yellow and white peaches, several kinds of plums, an early luscious pear variety called ‘Delight’, crunchy apples, and the first of their regionally famous Asian pears. Asian pears are ready-to-eat, as sweet as sugar, and as juicy as a ripe peach. Don’t miss the first sugary bites of Asian pear season!