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Mid Autumn


Heather
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It's a morning full of loveliness here in Takoma Park despite the lack of sunshine. I took my mom for a leisurely stroll around the market this morning and filled my basket with mutsu & honeycrisp apples, beefsteak field tomatoes, apple cider and a dozen perfect bartlett pears (all from Toigo), salad turnips, fresh eggs, pear cider, and a loaf of Atwater's cranberry & pecan bread to eat with goat cheese. Every stand had greens and all looked delicious. I stopped on my way out and had a chat with Vas from Toigo who will be working Takoma this winter. What a gorgeous time of year.

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Truckpatch at Mount Pleasant had Orange Cauliflower today that stays orange after cooking -- it is sweeter than the white variety, according to Brian. They also have beautiful purple broccoli and newly dug red potatoes. Quaker Valley has very good walnuts in shells there as well. Lots of greens in the market -- collards, kales, chards of different colors, and lots of salad greens. Tree and Leaf has pink and yellow carrots, Scarlett and Purple Top Turnips, beets.

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Happily, I found a gigantic, beautiful cauliflower this week at the little stall set up in front of Bonaparte's bustling tables and beside its long lines. White since the farm folded over the leaves as it grew to keep out the sun, but I saw a little purple left under a head I didn't buy. I always overlook the stand, so it's nice to buy from someone new!

Toigo was also a source of unexpected pleasure; quinces!!!!! Yes, Zora! I picked up three stunning ones that Mark said should take about a week to ripen to a uniform gold. I just started preparing this fruit for the first time last year and find its transformation magical no matter what I made.

I also bought a pint of their cranberry cider to make applesauce.

Spring Valley Farm brought the last of their Roma beans . They also had huge, fluffy bouquets of arugula that was field-grown, so it had that harsh bite it develops late in the year that I like. There will be no cranberry/shelling beans due to the drought. Several other farmers mentioned crops that were ruined or which they had to sacrifice, though, all pretty philosophically.

Lots of other great produce, including fennel and cardoons (featured in one menu in November's Gourmet), raspberries, little white turnips, beautiful winter squash, colored peppers and new varieties of apples. Gold Rush should be coming in next week.

Mushroom stand was back.

Butterfield 9 served as Chef at Market--an unannounced event. Pumpkin soup w drizzle of maple syrup, goat cheese dollop and tiny, bead-like cluster of diced pancetta. Plus elk to promote a big game day at the restaurant on November 1.

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I bought a few quinces from Toigo today, too. Eric, from Country Pleasures said he would bring some of his quinces next week or the week after--he is the only orchardist who doesn't spray his trees at all. His heirloom apples are all spotted and "imperfect" as a result, but I admire them. Today I bought some Black Twig apples from him. They have blackish maroon skin and bright white interiors. I can only admire their aroma as others eat them, however. Eric said he just had a steer butchered and will be having a short rib and roast sale next week. His beef is very fairly priced, compared to other meat-sellers at the market.

I bought some red, ripe poblano chiles from the smoking farmers at non-organic Sunnyside Farm. I might have to make chiles rellenos this week--they are beauties.

The mushroom stand had fresh porcini (boletus edulis) for sale. I admired them, but could not pull the ol' wallet-trigger at $20 for a scant pint box.

My daughter has requested Russian cabbage borscht, one of our Fall favorites. She even specified that I make it with a piece of beef. I am happy to oblige. I was able to get all of the needed ingredients except celery at the market. Since no one had a small piece of stewing beef with a bone, I bought a single buffalo shortrib from Cibola. I make kind of a hybrid borscht, adding beets that I have cooked separately, just before serving, so that the cabbage isn't stained red. Now, I just need to find some good rustic rye bread to serve with it.

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Has anyone seen any interesting squashes or pumpkins at the farmers markets? I am looking for something that would do well in a soup.

My favorite winter squash is Kabocha, which is similar in texture to butternut but with flesh even deeper in flavor and orange color. There are both orange and green-skinned Kabochas.

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