Tomorrow at the Town and Country Farmers’ Market we will have sweet corn. Lots and lots of sweet corn. Sean planted four acres of it at the Hope Spring Farm at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America and it is beautiful. You don’t have to do much to enjoy it – just shuck it and throw it in boiling water for a minute or two. Or you could enjoy it Aidan’s favorite way… grill the shucked corn for about a minute on each side, then roll in a shallow dish with a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt, parmesan, chopped mint and a touch of red pepper. That is a summer staple in our house.
We will also have quite an array of peppers (beauties like Aconcaqua, Corno di Toro and Poblano), basil, all sorts of summer squash, eggplant, and cucumbers, especially those wonderful lemon cucumbers. If you haven’t tried the lemon cucumbers, get one before they are sold out and you will understand why they are so popular. And, of course, add shishito peppers to your list. They are on a number of menus right now as an appetizer, but they are so easy to make that you can enjoy them at home. I love these. Just pan-roast them in a little olive oil until they are a little blistered and the sprinkle with sea salt and a squeeze of lemon. You can also roast them in the oven at 450-degrees for about five minutes, until they have slight char marks, or throw them on the grill in a basket for just a moment. They are mild in flavor, but every now and then you will get one that will make your eyes water. This usually happens at the end of their season, so don’t worry about them just yet.
And tomatoes… it is that time again. We have quite a number of beautiful varieties coming to the market, Garden Peach, Punta Bandas, and Golden Nuggets, and my favorite the Sun Golds. I grab them straight from the basket while I am cooking.
On a different note, many of you have asked about the incident that happened at the Town & Country Market on Wednesday, May 22nd. One of our regular customers Bill, who is a long time friend of Bob’s, was leaving the market after finishing his shopping and the collapsed over his steering wheel while backing out his car. Some quick thinking people were able to get him out of the car and lay him flat. Our cashier Chris Davia, who has long been active with the Boy Scouts, saw what was going on and quickly began to administer CPR. Bill was not breathing nor did he have a pulse. To all who saw the ordeal it was quite harrowing and did not look good for Bill. Chris had seen a video on the new Chest-Compression-Only CPR method that was e-mailed to him just two weeks prior. He followed the instructions and continued the chest compressions until the paramedics arrived. When Bill arrived at the hospital, his doctors noted that those chest compressions saved Bill’s life. Bill is now recovering nicely and will hopefully be back at the markets soon.
We want to commend Chris Davia for his heroic efforts that day and thank everyone for their concern and well wishes for Bill. The video that Chris watched is on the Sarver Heart Center website and is linked here at http://heart.arizona.edu/cpr-video. It is only six minutes long, but well worth watching.
Summer is approaching and as the days are getting longer our time at the markets is starting to near an end for the season. We have two more markets in Scottsdale. Our last market at the Old Town Farmers’ Market will be Saturday, May 25th. We will be at Town & Country until Wednesday, June 26th. We look forward to seeing you!
Bob just got a new toy for the farm that has been three years in the making. In 2010 he ordered a specially modified seed cleaner to be used for cleaning bee pollen. Three years later it arrived. This cleaner is hand-made with wooden frames and metal screens to use agitation and air to clean our bee pollen. The man who built this for us has a long history in doing this. His grandfather made the first seed cleaner in the 1920′s and while ours is a little more high-tech, the same basic principles and design are used in the one we now own.
The bee pollen is shaken and sifted through several sizing screens by airflow with any waste separated and disposed. For decades, farms have used this type of device to remove the chaff and excess plant material accompanying harvested seed so that it may be sized uniformly to fit in planters. It also allows for inspection of the quality of seeds. Our cleaner will be used to remove any bee material or wax while leaving the pollen granules whole.
Bee pollen, along with nectar, is the total source of nutrition for a bee and is the most complete food known to man, containing amino acids, vitamins, minerals, folic acid and it is a richer source of protein than any animal source. It is credited with helping everything from athletic performance and the immune system to treating skin inflammation, but the two main reasons people consume bee pollen to treat allergies and to use as a nutritional supplement. It takes about a teaspoon a day for three months to see any benefits from bee pollen, and consuming raw, locally harvested bee pollen is best since the bees are gathering pollen from the same regional plants that may be causing seasonal allergies. Of course, the best way to find out how bee pollen would benefit you personally is to consult your physician.
At the markets we have heard of all sorts of uses and benefits from our customers. Since it is such a richly packed nutritional food, it is advisable to introduce it to your diet slowly and to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction. It is wonderful to add to a multitude of dishes, I have had bee pollen on everything from yogurt to salads, but do not add to anything hot since heat will destroy the active enzymes and reduce the nutritional benefits. It can be stored for about six months, and it can be frozen safely for later use.
Also, here is a quick note about the markets…
It is getting close to that time of the year when the temperatures rise and our days at the market are coming close to an end. Our last market at the Old Town Farmers’ Market will be on Saturday, May 25th. We will continue the Wednesday markets at the Town and Country Farmers’ Markets until Wednesday, June 26th.
This past weekend we held the cooking class and farm tour that were auctioned at the BASIS Peoria school fundraiser. Chef Payton Curry graciously offered his time and talents and created an amazing menu of dishes using produce picked that morning from the farm. Payton showed how to love your veggies roasted and raw. He taught the class how to make perfectly roasted beets, rutabaga and turnips, gave a lesson in how to hand-pull mozzarella, and made a dish that I have obsessed about for two years. He also did some simple dishes that made our veggies shine… like drizzling honey over grilled fava beans in the shell or adding whipped honey butter to a plate of raw radishes. He taught us when to use vinegar for roasting beets and why not to use it when roasted rutabaga, and he gave some tips on how to use green garlic. At the end of class, Bob, Sean and I got pizzas going in the wood-fired pizza oven using sausages from the Brat Haus, Payton’s pickled onions, the mozzarella made in class and veggies from the farm. The pizzas, along side all of the wonderful dishes Payton made during class, left the class smiling and full. You know the food is a hit when there is a quiet happy contentment that passes across the table after a meal.
Bob got the event started with a quick tour of the farm, starting with the high tunnel that is filled with our heirloom tomatoes.
Payton educating and entertaining the class
Turnips roasting in the fire
Perfectly roasted and tossed with a little green garlic
A wonderful assortment of mushrooms that were cooked in the fire. Eaten on their own and on the pizzas.
And my favorite dish…
We first had this dish two years ago when Payton was at the Welcome Diner. We loved it so much we ordered a second bowl for our table. We then went back to the diner for it again. I may have asked Payton about it so feverishly that he made me a gallon (no joke!) to take home. Sean, Aidan and I made short work of that gallon. I have tried recreating it at home since then, but it wasn’t the same. And then as a gift, Payton taught it to the class, and this student took note… yellow eye Steuben beans, grilled Favas, pecan pesto, lemon zest, a little love. Sounds simple, but done right it adds up to pure happiness. It was just as I remember and totally worth two years of obsessing. (We may have had it again with dinner last night.)
Much thanks to Chef Payton Curry and his always lovely wife Shantal for a wonderful afternoon. And a big thank you to all of the auction winners who bid on the class and came out to the farm. We were thrilled to help the BASIS Peoria school… and to have so much fun doing it!
After months of work trying to get the ground prepped and ready, the new farm land out at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America is really taking off. We had our first harvest in February, and since then one thing after another is starting to come up. After all of the planning and work we have put into this new venture, it is so wonderful seeing that once hard, dry land showing signs of life. Take a look…
Rows of the new Salanova lettuce heads are so vibrant and beautiful.
The four acres of sweet corn doesn’t look like much now, but this will soon be a field of green.
Purple and cheddar cauliflower heads hiding under their leaves.
The patient garden has a mix of everything from onions to calendulas.
Celery, kale and carrots all in leafy green rows.
The Hope Springs Organic Farm is starting to become everything we had hoped. It is exciting to see it come together and even more so to share it with the patients, caregivers, and staff at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, along with our family of farmers’ market customers and restaurants that we have been working with for so many years.
Right now the farm smells like orange blossoms, or roses, or basil, or even garlic depending on where you stand. The birds are in constant chorus hidden in various trees. The sounds of spring training baseball from the stadium just beyond our fields have been roaring and applauding for the past month. Marsha’s Lady Banks’ roses look like a waterfall of flowers from her back windows. Their perfume follows you around. I can smell it the minute I pull up to the farm every morning. In every field there is something new going in the ground and something else making one last appearance for the season. Today we just spotted the first purple iris open right in time for Easter weekend. Even with an early Easter, somehow they knew. I love everything about spring in Arizona. Sean and I sat on our back patio last night and watched the sky change colors and were grateful for the moment.
This is why we live here.
In that spirit, I ditched my desk this morning and wandered around the farm with my camera instead. Wouldn’t you?
The first one of the season.
P.S. Come early to the market this Saturday! We will have plenty for your Easter brunch… but this market tends to be a busy one every year!
Years ago Bob and Sean took a semester class about date palms that they still refer back to regularly. I have written about our date palms before on the blog (you can find that piece here). Date palms have an interesting history and are plentiful in the valley. Bob and Sean have made the most of that class by knowing how to pollinate, harvest and care for the trees themselves. You don’t have to have a farm, though, to take care of your date palms and to enjoy their wonderful fruit.
ASU has a Date Palm Germplasm grove on their Polytechnic campus in Mesa that started collecting rare varieties of date palms over 20 years ago and is one of only four date palm germplasm collections in the U.S. Germplasm is the living tissue from which new plants can be grown. To date there are more than 65 date palms on the ASU campus in Tempe and 138 date palms from more than 40 varieties at the Polytechnic campus. ASU harvests the dates and sells them at the ASU Farmers Market and at their campus bookstore.
The ASU Arboretum is offering outreaches classes free to the public on date palms. If you have backyard date palms, these classes would be good information on how to harvest the dates, how to care for the palms throughout the year, and how to remove offshoots and propagate new palms. They will have date palm experts on hand, and a special guest speaker Arthur Futterman from Futterman Farms in Indio, CA, who has worked with these trees since the 1970s. James Badman, brother of FnB’s Charleen Badman, is also an instructor.
The classes are free this year and attendees will be given date palm offshoots. The classes offered include:
Pollination and harvest – 9:00am, March 30th by Arthur Futterman
Tools and Offshoots – 8:00am, April 13th by James Badman
Tools and Offshoots – 8:00am, April 27th by Arthur Futterman
The classes will be held at the ASU Polytechnic Campus at 7127 E. Upton Avenue, Mesa, AZ 85212. To sign up for the workshops, click here or call 480.268.4165.