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      Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.


      Showing posts with label greenmarket. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label greenmarket. Show all posts

      Thursday, September 30, 2010

      PUTTING UP WITH THE FARMERS MARKET

      ESP with just a few of her purchases at River Garden Flower Farm stand, North end of the Union Sq. Greenmarket, New York City. Photo courtesy B.B. Platt.

      Not just drawn to the fruits and vegetables, I'm pulled as if by magnets to the flowers of the farmers market.
      Not so long ago I was the proud owner and chief weeder of working farm. In addition to the rows of flowers & herbs I raised for drying in my barn, I grew
      fresh cuts, partly so I could bring them by armloads into my home.
      © Alan & Lind Detrick, all rights reserved)

      Now living in New York City I go to any greenmarket for my lilacs, peonies, sunflowers et al. In fall when Other Ellen is busy preserving her fruit harvest, making wines and jams, I'm preserving flowers for the fall and winter seasons. At the River Garden stand on the last Sat. in August I had a choice of cockscomb in jewel box colors, globe amaranth, blue salvia, mixed grasses, ageratum, amaranthus, and double sunflowers. All I need is a place to hang them that is WARM DARK & DRY. For everything you've ever wanted to know about drying flowers see my first book Flower Crafts.

      Don't Tell
      My favorite is a secret spot in my building that is locked and dark most of the time, and about 110 degrees. Fleshy flowers like cockscomb will dry in four days in that setting, smaller flowers even faster.Flowers shrink somewhat and lose the vividness of color as they dry but I know this and account for it by purchasing enough flowers to make a full arrangement and flowers that have a strong color to start with.
      Here are a few of the arrangements I made: Grasses, feather celosia with tansy picked wild from the back of Dave & Linda's house in MA. Grasses in a Japanese bamboo container hanging on my living room wall. Cockscomb, tansy and grasses in the bathroom.
      Sorghum under a photo by Jen Platt Hopkins.
      At the Santa Fe Farmers Market I was enchanted by these chains of double marigolds. Double click on the image to read the lovely sign.

      Sunday, September 26, 2010

      THE CHARACTER OF A FARMERS MARKET

      Some people collect 17th century French porcelain; I collect farmers markets. Whatever country I visit, whatever state or town, if there's a farmer's market, it's at the top of my must-see list. Even if I'm staying in a hotel room far from home without a fridge, I find something to purchase. Last week in Dallas TX it was ripe heirloom tomatoes that I could snack on out of hand between symposium sessions.
      Ubiquitous
      In late summer in the US every market seems to offer sunflowers, tomatoes and peppers. While I love those, when I travel I seek products that are characteristic of that area, products that I may not see in my NYC Greenmarket.

      Iconic
      In Canterbury NH, pop. 2297, the market is under individual tents in Town Center, between the Town Library and the Town Hall. Here I can replenish my stash of Jill's delectable maple sugar candies. The Saturday market in Concord is sited next to the gold-domed State Capitol. It seems like a perfect statement: New Hampshire supports its farmers. We bought sweet corn for dinner and I reinforced the message of the Worm Lady who was trying to convince skeptics that worm composting was easy to do.In Santa Fe NM the market is in the old railroad yards, complete with quintet playing country & western.I saw both hot and sweet peppers roasting in front of a gas flame, in a cage hand-cranked by the farmer, and hot pepper powder in bags large enough to last a week or two.

      In Raleigh NC, both yams and peanuts seemed right at home. while kids on a field trip tasted testing the fresh apple cider. Last week in the sheds of the Dallas Farmers market, I was somewhat startled to see a stand that sold only Texas Longhorn beef bones, slow roasted for dogs, advertised at 1/2 the calories of regular beef, 80% less fat, and 30% less cholesterol....What a Wonderful Town
      Back in New York City in my favorite market at Union Square I was searching for true NYC flavor. By 8:15 am when I arrived, the chefs in their white coats, trailing disciples with baskets and hand carts, had already departed with their selections.

      Then I spied it, the Lower Eastside Ecology Center Compost stand. New Yorkers bring their garbage, dump it in containers; the ecology center makes the compost, then bags it for resale at the market. Garbage! It made me proud to be a New Yorker.

      Wednesday, May 6, 2009

      ON RAMPS

      Other Ellen forages in the wild; I’m more likely to forage at the Greenmarket. Mid spring takes me to my favorite, Union Square, to seek ramps also known as wild leeks, (Allium tricoccum). Ramps are the first of the outdoor greens to be offered for sale in spring, prized by chefs and home cooks alike.

      They have a sweetish, but
      strong onion flavor, used by
      AmerIndians and Settlers for
      cooking, spring tonics, and
      cures for colds, fevers, and
      worms in children. They
      grow wild from Nova Scotia
      to Georgia and West to
      Minnesota according to the
      Audubon Field Guide to
      North American Wild-
      flowers.


      If you do go out foraging in the wild, seek them in moist woods, often under maple trees. Note that like many decorative Alliums, the leaves die back before the flowers appear. To mark a patch in summer for next springs’ harvest, look for flower stems with cream-colored umbels, leaves dead or dying back. Even then, it's hard to differentiate them from wild garlic (Allium canadense) and wild onion (Allium cernuum) which is unpleasantly strong. Use a good field guide.Check for a definite onion aroma of ramps to be safe from Death Camass.

      Buy ramp bulblets or seeds for your own garden from the Ramp Farm. Although this farm still has seeds they're no longer taking orders for '09 shipments of the starters.

      Usually one or
      two stands sell
      ramps in the
      Greenmarket, often mobbed by area chefs, laden with a week’s supply. Edible parts are young leaves, stems and bulblets, as in scallions. Tasty varieties of mushrooms are available in the market simultaneously.

      The New York Times offers a recipe or two every April. Here’s one of mine, a simple but delicious combination featuring ramps and mushrooms.Spring Rice Pilaf with Ramps
      From Garlic, Onions & other Alliums by Ellen Spector Platt,
      Stackpole Books, 2003

      2 cups white or brown rice
      4 cups boiling water
      4 tablespoons butter
      ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
      Ground pepper to taste
      15 ramps, more or less
      Two medium onions peeled and chopped
      ½ pound assorted mushrooms, washed, trimmed and sliced
      1 cup dry white wine, such as Muscadet
      Grated Parmesan cheese

      1. In a saucepan, saute the onion in 2 tablespoons of butter until golden.
      2. Stir in the rice until coated with butter. Add salt and pepper.
      3. Pour in boiling water, cover the pan and cook gently for 30 minutes. Don’t lift the lid. After thirty minutes turn off the burner.
      4. Meanwhile, prepare the ramps. Wash carefully, cut off roots and slip outer skin off stems. Cut off stems with bulblets and chop them. Chop leaves keeping them separate
      5. In a shallow pan, saute the mushrooms in the rest of the butter for about ten minutes, and add the chopped ramp stems. Cook another minute or so, then add the wine and reduce. The mushrooms and ramps should be ready about the time the rice is ready.
      6. Fluff the rice with a fork, add the mushroom mixture, fluff again. Then pour into serving bowl and sprinkle with chopped, uncooked ramp leaves. Serve with the grated cheese on the side.

      Serves 8 as a side dish, or 6 as a main dish.

      Thursday, April 30, 2009

      YES AND NO AT THE GREENMARKET

      YES, to Union Square Greenmarket, between 14th-17th Sts. along Broadway, Manhattan. Open Mon. Wed. Fri. and the big day, Sat. 8am-6pm.

      NO to cut flowers in full
      bloom. Expect to get only 2-3
      days in a vase
      before they'll expire. YES to
      cut flowers in the bud stage
      just starting to unfurl, so you
      can enjoy them for a full week.

      YES to a tasty,
      colorful selec-
      tion of potato
      varieties, care-
      fully stored
      since last sum-
      mer.(Double
      click on any
      photo for
      close-up view)




      NO to any variety of basil plants
      unless you're willing to baby
      them for three weeks until time
      to place in the garden. Basil is
      the herb most damaged by cold
      weather and cool soil. YES, buy
      for cooking now if
      you like.
      YES to tasty, hydroponically
      grown tomatoes.

      YES to a wide variety of salad
      greens, red and white kale,
      Swiss chard, all greenhouse
      grown. YES to mushrooms
      and pungent wild ramps.
      More about those next week.

      YES to thyme and other
      perennial herbs that are ready
      to be planted
      immediately.
      Use creeping
      thyme be-
      tween the
      cracks of any
      garden path
      for an aromatic
      and cushiony
      walkway.

      YES to an orchid, though it may not feel like a spring flower. If you've been itching for one, try Silva's Orchid Farm.
      I've known them over the years
      for their fantastic displays at the
      Philadelphia flower show, never knew they sold in New York City. At Union Square they have a
      wide selection of healthy and attractive plants. Select one with lots of buds and little bloom, to get the most enjoyment this season.

      YES to a sweet treat before
      you go home. From all the
      muffins, scones and lemon bars, I opted for a small sack of pure maple sugar candy studded with pecans from the Deep Mountain Vermont maple syrup guy. They've been coming every year for 25 years, Grandfathered into the New York City Greenmarket despite their distance from the city. The 1/4 pound of deliciousness lasted for almost a week, as I nibbled my way through the bag wondering when I could go back for more.

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