Sometimes I’m just not up for the Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning – either it’s too hot (I start to wilt when it’s over 82 degrees without a breeze), I don’t feel like being in a crowd, or I was incredibly lazy and didn’t get going until early afternoon. But never fear – there are lots of farm stands around the area where you can stock up on a variety of vegetables for the week. Many farm stands are open seven days a week, from morning to early evening, so you can stop by on the way home from work, or head out on the weekend.

Peaches, Peppers, Potatoes, Eggplant and Green Beans at Munson Farms

Overall, I think my favorite farm stand is the one at Munson Farms. Located at 75th and Valmont, there is ample parking, a great selection of produce, reasonable prices, and always friendly service. I had the opportunity to talk to Mike Munson the last time I was there, and got the chance to ask a few questions about the farm. It really does make you feel connected to the area when you meet the people who grow your food.

Tomatoes Galore! – Munson Farms

Munson Farms specializes in sweet corn in the summer, and squash in the fall. But you can also pick up some tomatoes and basil for a caprese salad, bell peppers, onions, potatoes, and lots of other items.

A small preview of Munson Farms’ fall squash supply

I had to include the following picture, since it’s one of my favorites. I took this last fall at Munson Farms – it’s a great display of each type of winter squash they grew last year. If you’re in the market for pumpkins or winter squash, Munson Farms is THE place to go.

Squash Display at Munson Farms

Squash Display at Munson Farms

One of my favorite farms at the Boulder Farmers’ Market is Red Wagon Organic Farm. They have quite a large farm stand at 95th & Arapahoe in Lafayette, with a pretty vast selection of produce.

Onions, Apples and Pears at the Red Wagon Organic Farm Stand

As we found out at a farm dinner at Red Wagon a couple of years ago, they like to try different varieties to explore which ones taste best and grow well locally. This makes checking them out at either the Farmers’ Market or their farm stand a rewarding endeavor.

Summer Squash and Onions at the Red Wagon Farm Stand

The Red Wagon Farm Stand also has produce from other growers in Colorado, which reinforces the cooperation and respect among local farmers I’ve noticed when I’ve heard them talk about their businesses.

Beets, Peppers, and More Peppers at the Red Wagon Farm Stand

The are lots of other farm stands to check out in the area in addition to Munson’s and Red Wagon:

Advertisements

Between stress at work and the holiday business, I’ve had a little trouble with inspiration for creative meals and post topics for this week. (On a side note, the ‘business’ in that sentence was intended to convey that things were busy. I started to type it out and then went, ‘Wait a minute? How do you spell business then?’ (Business as in where you work). So I looked it up. My desired use is apparently obsolete. How rude! I don’t want to have to use ‘busy-being’ or something cutesy sounding like that in my sentences. I want to use business! Well then, there was holiday bus-i-ness!) A few weeks ago I signed up for Plinky, which sends you questions that are supposed to spark your creativity and help you get past writer’s block. At first I was thinking that pretty much none of them were in any way relevant to my food blog, but after a while I decided that actually, it might be kind of fun to use a few of them, modified as necessary for food, in a post. Whether or not anyone else finds this fun or interesting, remains to be seen. So here we have it – some Plinky questions, and my answers:

Q. What drives you crazy?

A. The answer to this one came to me nearly instantly, as it’s been bothering me for over a year now. After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I started looking at the stickers on produce (or the signs next to it), to see where it originated. When it’s available, I buy produce from Colorado. When I have to, I buy produce from California, and failing that, I will by produce from Mexico or Canada (obviously bananas and other tropical items are only available from Latin America, so I always give in on that). But over the past year, I’ve been astounded and horrified that the bell peppers in grocery stores almost all come from Holland. Something around 4800 miles away, as the crow flies! And I’m pretty sure it’s not crows transporting these guys over the pond – it’s petroleum based, whatever method it is. I know that peppers can be grown domestically, as I bought them all season from 2R’s Farm at the Boulder Farmers’ Market. So what gives with the Dutch bell peppers in grocery stores? Really? Seriously?

Q. What are the top five websites you’d hate to live without?

A. Well, technically it’s a search engine, not a website, but my first choice is, without a question, Google. I look up a huge amount of cooking information on Google. I search for how to choose, store, and prepare vegetables, cooking techniques, recipes, ingredient substitutions, spice combinations, you name it. I also use Wikipedia more than I would have thought. It has some surprisingly thorough information on vegetables, fruits, spices, and herbs. More often than not, when I search for a recipe and find one I like, it turns out to be on Allrecipes.com. Besides being a huge repository of recipes, it has some great search functionalities. You can enter ingredients you want in recipes, as well as ingredients you don’t want. There are advanced search options which let you filter to show just the course you want, as well as specify special dietary considerations such as low-fat, vegetarian, gluten free, and many more. There is even a filter you can use for preparation time. Next would probably be OpenTable. I always prefer to make dinner reservations online vs. calling – I just find it more low-key with more immediate results. And the really nice thing is after you book enough reservations, you get a dining check you can use at any restaurant on OpenTable. (Granted it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what we spend dining out, but hey – free money is free money). And last, but not least, would be Zagat. You can’t trust Zagat blindly, since the reviews are largely user provided, and in smaller towns the highest ranking restaurants will be your Olive Garden or your Applebee’s. But in larger, more cosmopolitan cities, where there’s a bigger dining scene, the results are fairly reliable. When we go to a city on vacation, my routine is to do a search on Zagat for restaurants in the neighborhoods we’ll be in (or can get to via the subway), which have a food rating of 24 or above (out of 30 – I think I’ve only seen one 29 in my searches). Then I use the link on Zagat to the restaurants’ websites, and check out the menus. This method has worked remarkably well for us, and I’ve found some pretty great places.

Q. Make a list of movies you believe everyone should see at least once.

I’ve got several food-themed or food-centric movies that I highly recommend. First and foremost is Eat, Drink, Man, Woman. This is a wonderful Taiwanese film by Ang Lee about a chef and his three adult daughters. Gradually each daughter becomes involved with a love interest and leaves home. Meanwhile the chef is dealing with his loneliness as a widower, as well as the loss of his sense of taste. The truly beautiful part of this film is the gorgeous, elaborate, and mouth watering banquet he cooks for the family each weekend. I was completely fascinated by how gorgeous the food was (and very hungry after seeing it). An American remake of the film, Tortilla Soup features a Mexican-American family, many parallel plot themes, and food that is different, but just as visually compelling as that of Eat, Drink, Man, Woman. What’s Cooking is a very engaging film about four families celebrating Thanksgiving in LA. The Vietnamese, Latino, Jewish, and African American families have unique cultural roots, but the tensions around each table, as well as the eventual resolution, reveal more similarities than differences. And it’s Thanksgiving – so there are wonderful spreads of food that are enchanting to look at. Of course any food movie list must include something with chocolate, and indeed my list features Chocolat, the mystical, sensual, and gorgeous film based on the book by Joanne Harris. It’s got a wonderful story, and who doesn’t like looking at a huge array of chocolates!

Q. Are there any reality TV shows you’d try out for?

A. Ha! There aren’t any I’m remotely qualified for. (Hopefully that goes for ‘Worst Cook in America’ as well as all the shows with actual chefs.) At any rate, that answer works for all non-food related versions as well. I’m a bit of a planner, so the last thing I would need is people filming me in real-time!


I didn’t make it to the Boulder Farmers’ Market every Saturday this season, but I made 18 visits starting in June, as part of my attempt to eat more local foods. I was never really a regular or serious Farmers’ Market customer in previous years. My husband and I would go once a year, and stop by if we happened to be downtown while it was going on, but that’s about it. I’m so glad that I started going regularly. I feel like I got to know more about many of the local farms, farmers, and what crops are grown locally, as well as discovering a few local products I wasn’t familiar with.

Perhaps the most fun aspect was seeing the progression of crops during the season. I’m re-reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, and with perfect timing, have gotten to the chapter where she describes the conceptual vegetannual. The vegetannual (which would be a really handy plant to grow in your garden, by the way), represents the evolution of crop types during the growing season. The season evolves as a plant does, first sprouting shoots and leaves, then flowering, then growing small fruits (or vegetables as the case may be), which progress to larger, more colorful versions, and then finally to hard-shelled produce. And as I looked back at the pictures of what I brought home from the market each week, I could see the progression of color from green to more and more vibrant colors, and then finally to fallish colors. I didn’t necessarily buy the best representatives of each stage (I’m missing good examples of the ‘flowery’ vegetables, like cauliflower and broccoli), but in general, I could see the pattern. My purchases for the season went from leafy/shooty garlic scapes, and greens, to chard and kale, to more vibrant and diversely colored eggplant, green and yellow wax beans, sunburst squash, red, yellow and orange bell peppers and heirloom tomatoes, and then to more fall-colored, hard-shelled pumpkins and winter squash. (Granted the hot-house grown tomatoes kind of threw things out of whack in the early months, but hey – tomatoes!).

Boulder Farmers' Market

Boulder Farmers' Market

Boulder Farmers' Market

Boulder Farmers' Market

Boulder Farmers' Market

Boulder Farmers' Market

Over the course of the season, there were multiple stands I visited every week. 2R’s Farm kept me well supplied with early tomatoes, purple potatoes, and red, orange, and yellow bell peppers. I loved Far Out Gardens’ herbs, heirloom tomatoes, and wild arugula. From Red Wagon Organic Farm, I bought a huge amount of beets, greens, carrots, and cherry tomatoes. Munson Farms was my corn supplier (and I got most of my pumpkins from their stand at 75th and Valmont). Discovering the variety of garlic at Wee Bee Farms started a new obsession with garlic. After attending a farm dinner at Aspen Moon Farms, I started visiting them for hot peppers, onions, and winter squash. Hazel Dell provided wonderful mushrooms, and I discovered a couple of varieties I hadn’t eaten before. I also made frequent stops at Cure Organic Farm, Isabelle Farm, Black Cat Farm, Growing Gardens, and Oxford Gardens. On the non-produce front, I replenished my supply of cinnamon-cayenne almonds as needed at Olomomo, tried many varieties of pasta from Pappardelle’s, and regularly procured a six-pack of mini cupcakes from Street Fare.

What a great season of local food! Thank you to everyone associated with the Boulder Farmers’ Market for a great year, and I look forward to the 2012 season!

Sunny (yes, really!) Seattle

September 8, 2011

Over the Labor Day weekend, my husband and I headed to Seattle for a 5-day getaway from reality.  I know that Seattle is known for being continuously rainy, but I’ve been lucky in that it’s pretty much been gorgeous and sunny both times I’ve been there.  It sprinkled for about 10 minutes this time, but that was it for precipitation.  In fact, we managed to be there for 5 of only 11 days of 80 degrees or above since July 2nd.  So it was perfect weather for our 5 miles of walking every day to make up for all the eating we do on vacation!  And we certainly did eat.

I always like going to the west coast because of the focus on fresh, locally grown food (and the more relaxed dress codes, which fit quite well with my wardrobe of mostly jeans, shorts, knit tops and the occasional blouse).  My husband and I both love seafood, so any trip to either coast is always good for that.  We have much more freshly flown-in fish than was available in Colorado 20 years ago, but nothing beats fresh fish from the local environs.

Of course as foodies, one of the first activities for us when in Seattle is a trip down to Pike Place Market.  I love visiting Farmers’ Markets in other cities.  I have been completely delighted by my trips to Pike Place Market in Seattle, the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market in San Francisco, as well as foreign visits to the the Vancouver Farmers’ Market in British Colombia, the Viktualienmarkt in Munich, Germany and a wonderful market in Bratislava, Slovakia.

The Entrance to Pike Place Market in Seattle

The Entrance to Pike Place Market

The Pike Place Market has been around for over a century, covers 9 acres, and has somewhere around 100 farmers, as well as hundreds of craftspeople and permanent businesses. The market is open every day of the week (with Sundays being a bit lighter).  There is a dizzying array of gorgeous cut flowers, fresh vegetables, berries, cherries, peaches, nuts, and of course, teeming mounds of seafood.

Cut flowers at Pike Place Market in Seattle

Just a tiny fraction of the cut flowers at the Market

Vegetables at Pike Place Market in Seattle

Vegetables at one of the many stands

Colorful Peppers at Pike Place Market in Seattle

Colorful Peppers (you know me and color)

Lobster Mushrooms at Pike Place Market in Seattle

Lobster Mushrooms (and Chanterelles...but look at the Lobster Mushrooms!)

Fresh Fruit at Pike Place Market in Seattle

Fresh Fruit

Fish at the Pike Place Market in Seattle

Fish, Fish, and More Fish!

All around the main area with the farm and fish stands are nooks and crannies with shops (some just the width of a large counter) selling bread, Chinese, Russian or French pastries, Middle Eastern spices, homemade cheese, seafood chowder, candy, and any number of other culinary delights. And the original Starbucks is there, so on weekends you can stand in a huge line to take a picture and get coffee (or just go down a couple blocks to a less frequented one).

We decided to grab a few items during our stroll of the market and call it lunch.  First we stopped to get a red bean paste-filled sesame ball (my favorite Dim Sum item — I’m pretty sure I could just eat 8 of those and be satisfied with that as an entire meal) at Mee Sum Pastry.  Despite the heat and the extremely long line, we opted to get a small bowl of Manhattan clam chowder at Pike Place Chowder, which was really quite tasty.  We capped off our tour with a lemon curd and honey crumpet at The Crumpet Shop, which involved a complexly low-tech process of placing the crumpet in a toaster, popping it up after a short amount of time to ensure that it wasn’t burning, re-inserting it, and repeating until done.  After some pondering as to whether that was really the most efficient methodology, we dug in and enjoyed a pretty delicious crumpet.

We also made a trip to Uwajimaya, a 20,000 square foot Asian market, which we visited on our previous trip to Seattle.  While still awe-inspiring with the sheer amount of items they have, we actually thought that the Pacific Ocean Market Place in Broomfield (just down the highway from Boulder) didn’t stack up too badly against Uwajimaya.  I was mezmerized by the selection of Pocky they had, but left with my perpetual quest to find true Japanese green tea chocolate once again unfulfilled.  (I had no idea that the gift a coworker from Japan gave me would result in my complete inability to satisfy a new craving for years to come.  And every single American or European variety I have tried has fallen entirely short).

A Whole Lotta Pocky

A Whole Lotta Pocky

So our market visits in Seattle were great. Soon to come – dining out in Seattle!

Summer’s Last Hurrah

September 2, 2011

Okay, I know that technically summer doesn’t end until September 23rd (23rd?  good thing I looked it up, since my whole life I’ve assumed that all new seasons started on the 21st or 22nd).  But despite the fact that I have been out of school for many, many years (darn it!), to me summer still ends with Labor Day Weekend.  It was always the last big neighborhood get together when I was in in elementary school, the last weekend before classes really got serious in college, and is still the last major barbeque of the year.  But fortunately, fall is a great time for produce, so it doesn’t mean the end of local vegetables and fruit in the least.  I definitely look forward to the stuff that will start showing up at the Farmers’ Market during the fall months.

I’m going to be taking a 5-6 day hiatus from my blog during the weekend and early next week, but I’m quite certain that I will have some great things to post about when I resume. And, I look forward to all of the wonderful food that fall brings (I always start thinking about pumpkin pie spices and warm stews when I think of fall. Yummm…)

%d bloggers like this: