Farmers’ Market Report – October 21st, 2010

22 10 2010

Cortland apples and bosc pears from the farmer's market

As we near the end of October, many of the farmers’ markets in Ontario are beginning to wrap up for the year (there are a few that operate year round but the variety of local produce drops off considerably by November). I visited a small one this week and was pleasantly surprised to find there was still a lot available.  These were some of the highlights:

Corn

I was a bit taken aback to still see local corn at the market.  The husks looked sad and tired but the farmer ensured me that the corn was in fact sweet and tasty.  I was skeptical but at $4 for 7 cobs, I figured it was worth giving them a try.  I husked the corn and cut the kernels off the cob, sautéed them in butter and dressed them simply with some salt and pepper. Much to my surprise, it was delicious!  I expected it to be dry and tasteless but it was sweet and juicy (although the cobs were quite small).  It was almost certainly the last of the year and a sweet reminder of how much I will miss local corn over the next nine months or so.  However, canned and frozen corn are usually decent enough to tide me over.  Check out the Corn Archives for some tasty corn recipes.

Apples and Pears

 

A bosc pear

Apples and pears were abundant at this week’s market.  There were many different varieties available and the farmers were offering samples so it was a great way to make comparisons.  My favourite apples to eat out of hand are Cortlands – they are the perfect balance of sweet and tart. However, sometimes they can be a bit mealy and I prefer ones that are perfectly crisp and juicy. This week’s specimens were pretty good; I will eat a few and use the rest to bake with.  Perhaps a classic Apple Pie will be on the menu.  I also picked up some bosc pears after sampling various types including the always popular Bartletts.  Pears are delicious with nuts and my recipe for Pear and Pecan Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce is sure to be a hit at your next dinner party. An unusual pear cocktail is another fun way to incorporate pears into your menu.

Root Vegetables

Not surprisingly, there were a lot of root vegetables such as carrots, beets and potatoes available.  Because they can be harvested late in the season and store well, they are staples throughout the winter.  Why not make an interesting salad out of roasted beets or some carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting?

Pumpkins and Squash

 

Pumpkins are at their peak in October

October is peak pumpkin season and the sunny, dry weather this year has produced some nice specimens.  Large jack-o-lantern pumpkins aren’t very good for eating but they’re fun to carve and you can roast and eat the seeds.  Sugar (or pie) pumpkins can be turned into a delicious pumpkin treats such as pie, pumpkin french toast or pumpkin spice muffins.  My favourite winter squash are butternut squash – they can be used to make a variety of dishes such as soup, salads or gratins.

There are a few more weeks left for local produce so I’m looking forward to testing some new ideas I have using the best of the season.  Enjoy!

A black squirrel enjoys a snack in the park near my house

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Welcome to Fall…

22 09 2009

P1010089

Ah, the first day of fall.  Every year I anxiously await autumn with its cooler days, beautiful foliage, fabulous fashions and hearty food.  I’m always happy when the oppressive heat and humidity of summer passes and the nights become comfortable for sleeping. I love pulling out my favourite boots, sweaters and scarves to wear on chilly mornings. Crisp apples, delicious braises, butternut squash, rich mushroom dishes and Thanksgiving are just some of the culinary highlights of fall.  I love putting a fire on in the fireplace in the evenings and lingering with friends over dinner on rainy nights. This year there’s only one problem with this picture: I’m not ready.  

The summer of 2009 was a complete washout where I live.  The weather was incredibly cool and wet – hot summery days were few and far between.  Toronto experienced a lengthy city worker’s strike for the first month and a half of summer which closed pools, halted waste pick up and filled parks with huge piles of smelly garbage (and led to an explosion in the wasp population, which has caused problems recently).  I live a block and a half from the beach and didn’t go once this year. Ironically, September has been the best month of the season so far; it’s been dry, sunny and warm every day. Unfortunately, everyone is back at work and school and can’t enjoy it.  

I wish we could hold on to summer just a little longer but time marches on.  So I will embrace the joys of autumn.  Soon the fall markets will be piled high with great produce and I can make favourites such as Braised Short Ribs and Apple Pie again (I’m actually more partial to braising than grilling anyway). And before you know it, we’ll be enjoying the first asparagus and fiddleheads of spring again!

Check back in the coming weeks for lots of new autumn ideas and tips. You can also visit the fall archives for the best of last year’s recipes.

(I don’t want to forget my readers in the southern hemisphere: Welcome to Spring for you!  May your spring and summer be better than ours was!)

Ciao,

Trish