From the Market Manager—Belle Rita Novak
Thanks to those of you who contributed to Rachel's Table last week. Rachel’s Table is an organization that rescues food from stores, restaurants, farmers’ markets, farms etc. and delivers it to agencies that can use it.
They have been “in business” for 22 years, and have rescued millions of pounds of food. It is a joint effort between the Jewish Federation of Western Mass and Channel 22 (WWLP.) I have been driving for RT since sometime this winter, and it’s the best volunteer job. I pick up food and deliver it to agencies that can use what is available. Some are food pantries, some are elderly housing projects, and some are agencies that have residents that they cook for.
Including this week, we have 6 weeks left of our outside market. Our inside market begins on the second Saturday of November from 10 AM to 2 PM. In December, it will be the second and third Saturdays due to when Christmas falls, but otherwise it’s the second and fourth Saturdays. We will be back in the old monkey house. It’s the second building on the left when you come in the Trafton Road entrance.
HIP will be accepted there also.
I am selling my home-made applesauce for $6.50 per quart; orders taken.
RECIPE--Tortellini with Creamed Mushroom Sauce
Use homemade or commercial tortellini. Milano’s in the South End makes tortellini that they sell from their freezer; it’s excellent.
1⁄2 # fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 T. butter
3 T. butter
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cups heavy cream
Sauté mushrooms in butter over medium heat 3 minutes. Stir in the cheese; cook and stir 1 minute. Cook tortellini in a large pot of boiling salted water until just al dente, 2-3 minutes. Drain well, add to sauce. When all tortellini have been cooked, heat in sauce over medium heat to simmering. Reduce heat to low, simmer 2 minutes. Serve sprinkled with parsley and more Parmesan cheese.
HEALTHY SHOPPING IN A FARMERS’ MARKET
1. Browse the entire market before you buy. The way to get the best value for your dollars is also the way to get the most exercise. When you stroll the entire market first, you get a chance to compare prices as you taste and sample the produce from many stalls. Going around again to make your purchases gives you twice the exercise.
2. Talk with the farmers and their employees. Find out which tomatoes are best for sauce, or how to preserve some of the other vegetables. Some farmers will also share recipes and cooking advice. If you are a backyard gardener, you might even ask for a few tips on growing your own produce; most farmers know that gardeners make better farmers’ market shoppers because they appreciate the work and love that goes into growing wonderful produce.
3. Don’t bring a complete shopping list. Make a list of items you need, but be flexible and be prepared to be delighted by fining what’s especially good that day. Plan your meals around the best produce, and you’ll gradually begin to eat less meat and more fruits and vegetables. The more you shop, the more conscious you’ll become of cooking with the seasons to purchase produce at its peak of flavor. You’ll eventually regain your sense of seasonality that’s lost when shopping in supermarkets that carry all foods year-round because many items are imported from the world over. Eating more produce and fresher produce s another double benefit; your meals will taste better and also be more nourishing because farmers’ market produce hasn’t sat in storage losing nutrients before you even buy it.
Heirloom tomatoes have both a rich taste and a rich cultural history, although their widespread acceptance as a food crop is relatively recent. Tomatoes originated in South America in their wild form but were first domesticated and cultivated by Indians in present day Mexico. The name tomato comes from the Nahuatl (Mexican Indian) language and is the origin of the word tomato.
Tomatoes were brought from the Americas to Europe by 1544 or earlier and dispersed to many countries. These were probably the “ribbed” varieties seldom seen today. First called pomi d’oro, gold apple and later on love apples, tomatoes were sometimes feared as a poisonous fruit and cultivated only for ornament. But the mid 17th century, they were probably being eaten in Spain and the first tomato recipes were published in the kingdom of Naples in 1692-94, then part of the Spanish Empire. By the end of the 18th century, they were incorporated into Italian cuisine.
Tomatoes were not readily accepted into American cooking though occasionally cultivated. Thomas Jefferson was growing them in 1781. By 1835 they were being sold in Quincy Market, Boston and elsewhere. More varieties were eventually brought to this country by immigrants from Italy, Germany and France while seed companies were developing and selecting new types in the second half of the 19th century.
Tomatoes, are one of the leading “vegetable” (it’s a fruit) crops in the U.S. They are part of our food plant heritage which was passed along by individuals and families over many generations. Tomatoes come in a wide array of shapes, colors and sizes.
WHAT IS AN HEIRLOOM?
An heirloom is a variety dating to around WW2 or earlier, or handed down in a family from generation to generation. Typically, they are fairly rare, local adapted, and in danger of extinction. Recent revival amongst seed companies, seed conservation organizations and growers is bringing some of the varieties back into commerce and preserving the rest.
WHY DID HYBRIDS COME INTO BEING?
Hybrids are more suitable to a broader range of climate and soil conditions, allowing a single variety to perform the same in many different parts of the country regardless of its taste qualities. Heirlooms may do great at one location, and just okay at another. One must find which varieties grow best for the location. Some heirlooms, while having wonderful taste don’t have thick skins for shipping and may crack by the time they get to market.
These types are usually only suited for the backyard garden and specialty market stands. Heirlooms ripen less uniformly than some hybrid types which is not a major concern when hand harvesting. Heirlooms typically don’t yield as much as modern varieties, but seem to resist blight equally to modern types. Not all heirlooms taste better of have good texture, although many do.
THIS ‘n’ THAT
• Don’t leave the clothes dryer running when you leave the house.
• To minimize the change of a dryer fire, vacuum out the hose from the dryer to the outside.
• Always clean out the lint filter when a load is done.