Unlike most of the rest of the country, Sunny Southern California offers its Farmer’s Markets all year long.
One such market is the Ventura Farmer’s Market which takes place on Saturday mornings. I made a trip out there from Thousand Oaks (about 30 miles) because I needed to purchase Eggs from my favorite Egg supplier (Canyon Meadow Farms). I usually purchase the eggs from them at the Thousand Oaks Farmers Market but from the week before Thanksgiving until the week after New Years, the Thousand Oaks Farmer’s Market gets displaced because of the Holiday Season. ( The space they use is needed for parking at the Mall).
One of the Vendors at the Ventura Market included sold California Produced Olive Oils which were made from olives grown in Northern California. Their stock included sizes from pints to gallons and gift packs including cooking oils and bath and body soaps and oils. I purchased a Gift Pack of a variety of oils which ranged from mild tasting to a very strong olive taste. I am a lover of Olives and Olive Oil and I think the stronger the taste the better. I think the recipient of this gift will feel the same way. Pictured below are some of the Oils that were being sold.
When you have Olive Oil, you start thinking about Salads and the fresh lettuces and other produce that were available were irrestible. They were bright green and purple and many other colors. The lettuce was perfect for Salads and I could not resist buying several bunches. I also purchased Chinese Spinach from Underwoods Family Farm Booth. Underwoods have two locations, one in Somis on the 118 and the other in Moorpark right off of Tierra Rejada. When Ik want fresh produce, I do not have to wait for the Farmers’ Markets, however it certainly is a little bit easier for me to purchase my produce at the Oaks Farmer’s Market when it is open. Unfortunately, it is not open during the Christmas Holiday Season.
Some additional Vegetables that were being sold were Leeks, Onions, Garlic and a variety of fresh Herbs which I love to cook with!
For years now Strawberries have been grown year-round in Southern California. The varieties differ from season to season, but the taste of our locally grown berries is delicious and sweet no matter what time of year they are grown in. Even though I had recently purchased several boxes of Blackberries at our local market I still couldn’t resist the Strawberries that were on display. I only bought one box however, just for eating out of hand.
All in All, it is worth a trip to your local Farm or Farmer’s Market to get fresh, delicious produce, especially if it is grown without chemical additives and pesticides! Most of the Vendors at the local Southern California Markets have become Certified Organic Farmers which means that they do not use chemicals!
SO, LOOK, SHOP, COOK & EAT!
Had a nice four days respite from cooking while traveling to the Bay Area with my Son, Joel, Daughter-In-Law, Nereida and my Grandson, Joey. We went up to visit my Granddaughter, Nesbyth and her boy friend and to attend a performance of the play that Nesbyth is performing in. The play is the first part of Tom Stoppard’s trilogy ‘Utopia’. The segment that they are doing now is called ‘The Voyage’.
While up in the Bay Area we found a wonderful Italian Deli in Berkeley that is like no other that I have ever been to. The lines were long, but the wait wasn’t. There were an ample number of employees to ensure that everyone was waited on in record time. The display of Italian Cold Cuts was so beautiful that it was hard to resist buying everything in sight. We ended up getting sandwiches for everyone (everybody had different ones) and several salads including an Artichoke Heart Salad and a Mozzarella/Tomato Salad plus a variety of Olives. We purchased so much food that we ended up eating some of it for lunch the next day.
In addition to the cold cuts, the Deli also had a variety of tortas and other cooked food as well as pizzas that you could order. On the way home from Berkeley, we stopped in Gilroy to purchase Garlic (a Braid and a small container of roasted garlic) and while we were there since it was close to dinnertime, had dinner there. Nereida and I chose a Chinese Noodle place (Joey stayed up in the Bay area for one more day and came home with a friend that had also gone up there) and Joel went to Dave’s Famous BBQ. The Chinese Noodle place turned out to be disappointing and we did not eat most of what we ordered.
For Breakfast the next day, I made up a batch of Crepes with caramelized Apple Filling. Those were quite good and went well with the Coffee that Nereida made.
Then it was time for me to go home (Son & family live in Lompoc). On the way I stopped at the Farmer’s Market and purchased some Baby Turnips and Young Carrots. When I got home, I turned the Turnips into Sunomono. (Sliced thinly and seasoned with Rice Vinegar, Salt and a little Sugar) For dinner that night (Sunday, April 1), we had Baby Back Ribs that I had frozen from the last time I had made them. (As always, there were too many and so they came in handy for this meal)
Monday, April 02, 2012 – back home and in the kitchen again. For dinner tonight I purchased Red Snapper Filets and seasoned them with Lemon Pepper and Lemon Salt along with a little Onion Salt. Then I lightly floured them, dipped them in an Egg Bath and then coated them with seasoned Bread Crumbs. (The Bread Crumbs were made from the ends of the Challah that I had made a couple of weeks ago. Just chopped up the bread scraps in the food processor and then froze them until needed.) I then refrigerated the filets until it was time to cook them for dinner. Refrigerating coated or breaded meats helps to keep the coating intact when you cook them.
The Red Snapper filets were very good and to accompany them we had baked potatoes and sautéed vegetables which included zucchini, mushrooms, carrots and onions. I also made Tartar Sauce to eat with the fish.
Tuesday, April 03, 2012 – Today is Cleaning Day and it is one of the few days that I like to give the kitchen a rest. That is, keep it clean for one day. So we went out to eat at our local Japanese Restaurant and had Beef Teriyaki, California Roll along with a Salad & Miso Soup. A nice change from constant cooking.
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 – Moroccan Meatballs and Israeli Couscous
These meatballs were a derivation from a Moroccan Lamb Kebob Recipe. I am going to teach a class at a local school that has no kitchen facilities for teaching, so I have to improvise with electric appliances. The Meatballs are a much simpler item to do than lamb Kebobs which would include grilling. Used the Middle Eastern spices to flavor the meat and the tomato sauce that I served with it.
The Couscous was made with Shitake Mushrooms and Onions. Also made Flat Bread to go along with the meals as well as Hummus that was flavored with Cilantro.
Also made Chocolate Chip Cookies to satisfy Ev’s Chocolate Cravings.
Thursday, April 05, 2012 – Shrimp Salad and Mac and Cheese was on the Menu this night. Ev wanted Pasta to go with the Salad and I do not like Pasta Salads very much so decided to make Mac & Cheese to go along with the Shrimp Salad. The Salad consisted of a variety of Artisan Lettuce, Cucumbers, Carrots, Red Bell Peppers and the Shrimp along with a Sesame version of Thousand Island Dressing.
The Mac and Cheese was made with Orichetti, the Italian Pasta known as ears. The Cheese Sauce was made with Colby/Jack and Gouda. Gouda helps to make the Cheese Sauce very Creamy. It was very good and there enough left over for Ev to eat for lunch the next day.
Since today was National Caramel Day, I also made some Cashew Caramel. To make the Caramel, I heated some granulated sugar in a medium fring pan until it liquified and then I added a small amount of heavy cream. Once the Cream was blended in, I then added the Cashews (roasted, salted ones). Once all the Cashews were covered with the Caramel, I poured the mixture onto a non-stick baking sheet that was placed on a cookie sheet. The mixture was then allowed to set up. If you love Caramel and Cashews as I do, then this is a very good confection to have.
Friday, April 06, 2012 – Red Chicken – found this recipe in one of the food magazines. Red Cooking comes from a region in China and includes the use of Mushroom Soy which is the essential flavoring in it. We found it to be a little too salty and would probably do again with have the amount of the Mushroom Soy and perhaps substitute a lite Soy for that half of the Mushroom Soy. Served this with Rice Noodles and Turnip Sunomono.
Saturday, April 07, 2012 – Crab Legs with drawn Butter, Carrot Salad and Baby Red Potatoes. Yummy! A very good dinner!
On Monday we woke up to the birds singing, the breeze wafting and the sun shining. This was the day that we decided that we would have breakfast out. We ended up at the Poipu Shopping Village and had breakfast at ‘Poipu Tropical Burger’, a restaurant that features much more than just Burgers on their menu. They opened early in the morning (6:30 AM) which was good since our bodies were still somewhere between California Time and Hawaiian Time. We both ordered the French Toast made with Portuguese Sweet Bread. It was egg battered and then dipped in cornflakes and served with diced Pineapple, butter and maple syrup. My preference for syrup would have been Pineapple or Coconut, but Maple is what was served and it was good.
After breakfast we made a stop at Whaler’s which is similar to the ABC Stores which are all over Hawaii. They have almost everything from suntan lotion to breakfast, lunch and dinner items. You can buy beach towels and mats, drinks, chocolates, coffee and then some. After our perusal of Whaler’s we went back to our condo and lazed out on the balcony until it was time to go to the Farmer’s Market in Koloa.
We were told that we should get to the Farmer’s half an hour before it opened because there are always a lot of people and the vendors sold out quickly. Since it was at the ball field in the town of Koloa, a couple of miles straight up the road from Poipu we decided to stop and check out Koloa first. Koloa is billed as the world’s largest small town. The business district is about three blocks long and has many types of shops including two full size markets, a deli, art galleries, ice cream stores and a real estate office.
Since we had an early breakfast, we decided that we should eat lunch while waiting for the Farmer’s Market to open, so we opted for the deli. Ev had macaroni salad, an Hawaiian favorite and I had a Chicago Dog, another strange choice for Hawaii, but what the heck? Chicago Dogs comes with tomatoes, usually peperoncini, mustard and onions. We still got to the Farmer’s Market half an hour before it opened and we weren’t allowed in until the official opening. It was well worth the wait as there were many vendors with fresh salad greens, tomatoes, tropical fruits and chilled coconuts with straws in them to drink the Coconut Water inside. In addition to the vegetables and fruit that I bought, I also purchased a couple of sprays of baby orchids which lasted for the whole ten days that we were in Hawaii. They added the right degree of atmosphere to our dining room table and meals that we enjoyed there.
One thing that we didn’t know and will be helpful to those traveling and wishing to shop at the Farmers Markets is that plastic market bags have been banned and people have to bring their own bags to the Farmers Market. That made it pretty difficult, because I didn’t know this until I had gone in, so had to rely on what I could carry. Fortunately, some of the produce was already bagged and I just stuffed what I bought that wasn’t bagged into the bagged items. So, if you go to the Farmers Market when you are there, do bring tote bags with you. Even at the regular markets which give paper bags, you may have to pay for the bag, so if you can bring your own that would be good.
After making our purchases at the Farmer’s Market we headed back into the business district of Koloa and went to the Big Save which is the largest market in that area. The meat department had many varieties of poki which is usually spicy, marinated raw fish. In addition to that, they had freshly prepared sushi. We picked up a large package of Caterpillar Rolls and some Papaya Seed Dressing along with Banana Bread for breakfast and chocolate brownie bites for dessert and of course soft drinks.
We headed back to the condo to put away our purchases and to enjoy some more of the Hawaiian atmosphere, the breeze and the sunshine. For dinner that night, we had the Caterpillar Roll, a salad made from butter lettuce purchased at the Farmer’s Market along with Avocado and Papaya. The salad was dressed with the Papaya Seed Dressing. Papaya Seed Dressing is a little on the sweet side, but it is something that we always enjoy when we are there and I always bring home a package of the dried dressing that we can reconstitute at home. It is on the order of Good Seasons, except that instead of adding vinegar and oil as in Good Seasons, you just have to add white vinegar and water. Therefore, it is a low calorie dressing packed with flavor.
After dinner and about an hour before dusk, we headed down to Makahuena Point, (just a couple of blocks from where we were staying) to catch the sea birds coming in to roost. We ended the day by spotting the swiftly flying Hawaiian Petrol, a Wedgetail Shearwater and a Newell’s Shearwater. We constantly had to have our eyes on the flight path in order not to miss these birds as they suddenly appeared as out of nowhere and just as quickly disappeared. As we are avid birders it is always a thrill to be able to see these birds as they make their way in for the night.
As the sun set we headed back to our car and to our condo for a relaxing evening listening to the surf and enjoying the gentle Hawaiian breeze. Tomorrow’s blog will include a description of our jaunt to Hanapepe to look for the rose-ringed parakeet and of course about the food that we ate. Don’t forget to check back!