This amazing pile of stuffed peppers may not take home any beauty awards, but they win where it counts. I could barely keep the hands off them long enough to take this picture. Smith Farm in Hudson, NH had the young eggplant and the gorgeous and incredibly sweet orange and red Italian peppers that made these babies happen. Cheese by Cabot Farms. (Optional anchovies not locally sourced — sorry!)
It is my firm belief that a day should not go by in August without tomatoes and corn. And yes, you should eat the corn the day you pick it! You already knew that, though.
Well, today is the last day of August. There will still be corn, but the great days of tomatoes will soon be gone, so eat up!
There are two ways to eat tomatoes in August: the tomato sandwich, which I have already posted about, and cut up (sliced, nice and pretty, or just chopped up in large, “rustic” pieces, as I usually do it) with a little red wine vinegar and olive oil, salt or garlic salt, and maybe some parsley. Sometimes a bit of red onion. (Check out the juice in the bowl of tomatoes at the top of the page. That’s 90% tomato juice right there, from two huge tomatoes from Country Dreams Farm at the Nashua Farmer’s Market.)
It’s this tomato “salad” that I eat every day until they start to become mealy. That’s when the season is over and you couldn’t pay me to eat another tomato until next August. (Well, truth be told, I’ll eat those cherry tomatoes you find all year at the supermarket, but those are not local, so let’s not talk about it. shhhh!)
Yes, I know some will read this and shout “BASIL!! Where’s the basil??” Well, I just never grew up with basil, I guess. I like the clean, grassy taste of parsley. You can have basil, if you want. And mozzarella. Mozzarella just takes up valuable tomato space in my belly.
How do you eat your summer tomatoes?
The sign says “Corn”, but there’s more than that at the stand in the front yard of a small farm on Buckmeadow Road in Nashua. I stopped by “Pauly’s Self-Serve” today expecting just corn, but finding an impressive selection of tomatoes, as well as cukes, summer squash and eggplant. The price sign listed more items, including maple syrup, so it looks like the offerings rotate.
I grabbed some (delicious!) corn at 50 cents an ear and plan to return. A good looking stand for your summer basics and maybe the only one outside of Hayward’s for South Nashua. The farm and stand is at 43 Buckmeadow Road in Nashua — halfway between Main Dunstable and Ridge.
I’ll also add to this that Hannaford’s in Hudson, NH was advertising Brookdale produce at their entrance last week, but I didn’t have the time to go in and check it out. I’m guessing it’s still there.
It was near closing time when I managed to stop at the Merrimack Farmer’s Market last week. Twenty-five vendors strong and the very last one on the south end of the line, Ledge Top Farm of Wilton, had tomatoes for sale. Perfect, medium sized tomatoes and it was still June.
“Are these really yours,” I asked, skeptically.
Oh yes, I was assured. They were started in the greenhouse and they taste as fresh off the field.
I bought two, confident that I was making a mistake with my money. I have always held the opinion that tomatoes are only good for two weeks in August. Three, if you’re lucky. Otherwise they are hard, tasteless and worse of all…mealy. Even the thought of a mealy tomato makes me shudder.
I brought them home, cut one up right away, and pressed the slices with my fingers for signs of mealiness. None there. My father quickly ate them up with oil and vinegar. They were good, he said. Hmmm….yeah but he’ll eat any tomato you place in front of him.
The next day I sliced up the second one and made a sandwich with it: just tomato slices, white bread, mayo and salt. I bit into it, still waiting to be disappointed.
IT WAS DELICIOUS! I couldn’t believe it. Juicy and flavorful. I was sad that I only bought two.
The Merrimack Farmer’s Market is held every Wednesday afternoon 3-6 in the Vault parking lot (better known as the old Zyla’s), 526 Daniel Webster Hwy. That’s tomorrow. Ledge Top is an organic farm. Look for them and their tomatoes.
Sunday, June 21, 2015
Downpours all morning turned the grand opening of the new and improved Nashua Main Street Farmer’s Market into a soft opening with a few hardy vendors in attendance. By noontime, the rain lightened and Nashua’s Country Dreams Farm was selling summer squash, zucchini, Walla Walla onions, rhubarb and strawberries. Garlic scapes were already gone to those that braved the weather earlier.
Also from Nashua, Dirty Girl CSA, in its first year of production thanks to a locally famous start-up campaign through Kickstarter, was selling early greens and radishes, as well as tomato seedlings, T-shirts and stickers.
Fred’s Farm made the hour and half long trip from Alexandria and was selling a great variety of salad and cooking greens, all organic, all harvested hours earlier. Spiczka Farm from Dunstable, MA featured early peas and strawberries.
DJ’s Pure Natural Honey from Manchester, Celeste Oliva’s Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar from Concord, 50 Buick Rooster from Nashua (selling plants and birdhouses) and Rubino’s Gluten Free Italian Cookies were all also at the market today, everyone with great spirits despite the slower business.
I picked up some squash, radishes and an onion to roast up. I may get adventurous and cook up the radish greens – something I’ve never tried before – perhaps into a frittata. Check this space for a hopeful success story on that. Oh yes, and of course some strawberries, perfectly ripe.
The Grand Opening has been rescheduled for next Sunday, June, 28th, where they expect around 20 vendors. I’ll be there! Main Street Bridge and Pearson Ave, Nashua, NH.
The growing season is just getting under way here in southern New Hampshire. It’s Mother’s Day weekend, halfway through May. A time for fiddleheads and asparagus …and eggs and meat. Maybe you’ll find some early greens from the hothouses. Maybe some farms still have some root veggies from cold storage. In a couple of weeks, we should see spring peas and some greenhouse tomatoes, new carrots and onions.
Wilson Farm Stand in Litchfield, NH opened for the season today, so I took a drive down the old Charles Bancroft Highway (Rte. 3A), a two-lane road surrounded by farmland – some productive, some fading. I was glad to see one small patch of clearcut near the center of town that appeared to be not for another instant neighborhood, but rather for more farmland! I’ll be checking back to see if that’s true.
You have to search, especially this time of year, and if they don’t purposely label something as “our own”, you can bet it was imported from parts unknown. Asparagus they had, and I picked some up. Mom loves asparagus. They also had rhubarb and fresh basil. Packaged fresh Brussels sprouts were in the cooler along with their own eggs. Wilson Farm honey is tucked in the corner. These were the only items I could find that were labeled as coming from their own farm. Pretty much what I expected.
Wilson Farm has a larger operation in Lexington, MA, where they are also importers and wholesale distributers of produce. There are all kinds of fresh produce at the stand – corn, tomatoes, peppers, citrus, onions, potatoes, etc., and they could be coming from anywhere. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s not a supermarket in the whole town of Litchfield, as far as I know. Just be aware that if you want local, you still need to hunt. And know that as the season goes on, the imported veggies will be replaced by produce from the field right behind the barn you’re standing in.
A couple of other locally-produced items you’ll find are milk from Dracut, MA’s Shaw Farm and Tub Cheese from Standish, Maine’s Squire Mountain. That cheese looked amazing. I think I’m going to take another trip just to get some.
There are a couple of other farms open to the public on the Highway. Just further north is Steve Normanton’s farm, where they sell grass fed beef and pasture-raised chicken and pork, as well as organic eggs and produce. The farm store is open on Tuesday afternoons and Saturdays til 1PM, so I was too late to go in. Further north still is McQuesten Farm – so busy when I swung by, there was no place to park! They sell their own grown flowers, as well as produce and have a petting zoo of farm animals.