Market Finds

If you’ve visited this site before (first, thanks for coming back), you may know that we LOVE farmers’ markets, orchards, produce stands, dairies, and even all kinds of groceries and markets. Now that local farmers’ markets are back in full swing, we’ve had fun checking out different ones all over the area. Many we can reach by Metrorail or bus. And while we always love fresh produce, it has been especially fun exploring local dairy, including these lovely farm fresh eggs from Maryland producer, Evensong Farms, and available at the Silver Spring Saturday market. The different colored eggs are from different breeds, and the yolks ranged in color from deep orange to deep yellow, depending on what the free ranging chickens were eating.

Another Maryland producer we found at the Saturday Takoma Park farmers’ market was Cherry Glen Goat Cheese Co. that makes this striking goat milk chevre with a layer of vegetable ash. The cheese has a mild barnyard essence which was pleasant, but not very ripe. We would like to try this again and try to ripen it ourselves to give it more character. (My question is, where are the sheep’s milk cheese producers?)

From slightly farther afield was Pennsylvania’s Keswick Creamery (TP Saturday market) from whom we bought a thick and mild full-fat yogurt, sweet ricotta and aged cheddar.

A new salad green for us were these lamb’s quarters (top left), which went into both a salad and one of our all-time favorites, the Greek cornmeal and greens casserole called Plasto (bottom left). The rainbow chard joined in on the medley for the Plasto, but was also the star of a spicy pasta dish with currants (bottom middle). The last veg there are salad turnips, which are eaten whole and added incredible sweetness to a salad which included the turnip greens, lamb’s quarters, and mixed baby greens (bottom right).

Another new find for us are these green garlic stems which we’ve bought at both the TP farmer’s market and Korean Korner supermarket. The green stems can be pickled, but we’ve been cooking with them in everything from sauces, plasto, soups, and pasta. Most recently it replaced garlic when we cooked up a batch of local periwinkles (recipe soon).

Market goers in Northern Virginia and Baltimore may recognize the name, Reid’s Orchard, for their fresh produce and potted and snipped herbs in farmers’ markets in their area, but they may not know that this southern Pennsylvania producer has introduced its first vintage of some truly lovely wines. Sadly, these wines will not be available at the farmers’ markets due to byzantine and archaic interstate alcohol regulations. We stopped by the orchard when we visited Gettysburg — there is a tasting room about 15 miles in the rolling hills west of the national park at Gettysburg. Reid’s Orchards joins several other wineries in the neighborhood that also have tasting rooms, so you can make a nice afternoon of tastings after a morning exploring battlefield history. We’ve tried several Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia wines and have found many of them too sweet for our taste — these 2 blends from Reid were a welcome surprise for their dryness and round fruit. More about them soon.

Just today I discovered the Dutch Country Farmer’s Market in Burtonsville, MD, which is an indoor marketplace for individual producers, including a dairy, several bakeries, beef and pork butchers, poultry butcher, bulk foods and jams, prepared salad deli, hot cooked and BBQ meats, fresh candies, and a small cafe. As its name implies, the foods invoke the Pennsylvania Dutch Country ambience. Brought home unsalted churned butter, a loaf of whole wheat bread, and pot pie noodles. The crockpot is prepping the chicken and broth for our pot pie dinner tonight!

This last photo is just a strange thing we found at one of the Korean markets nearby — it’s a mega loofah bath sponge sold as a whole piece. For less than $2. I couldn’t resist this one because it was just like the ones my mom used to send me from her garden when I was in college — it’s fully dried, but still has some residual seeds in the interior. Mom’s never grew quite this large, though! This will be cut up into about 5 sponges so this should last about a year, though T. suggested keeping it whole and using the small end as handle so you can scrub your own back. When this vegetable is still young and edible (it may be called bottlegourd, luffa or upo), it makes a soul-satisfying soup squash.