Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lizbeth, eat yer squish!

Summer squash. Winter squash. Purple hull beans. Okra. Green beans. Cherry tomatoes. Potatoes. Leeks. Peppers. Rhubarb. Apples. Herbs. Lettuce. Eggplant--white, purple, lavender, baby striped. Flowers. Summer and fall were colliding in abundance out at the farmers' market on Rt. 23 in Eureka Springs. It was so nice to be back there and see Heather the market manager, and Patrice, the French businessman-turned-organic-farmer, and meet some of the other farmers working the area. Vela, an apple farmer, social justice activist and poet, told me that it's just about impossible to grow peaches organically here, because the humidity and bugs mean fungal diseases like brown rot spread like wildfire, even inside a cooler. His apples are transitioning, though, and they're delicious, especially his Melrose apples, a big, tart, full-flavored apple that I hadn't tasted before. I think this will have to go into a batch of the famous upside-down apple gingerbread, for Thursday's open-mike potluck here at the Colony, dubbed the "Poetluck" and much fun for all.

Reading about eggplant in the NY Times, I was reminded that despite its unassuming spongy nature, eggplant is actually kick-ass good for you. Or, more specifically, purple eggplant SKIN is, since it's full of nasunin, which is not an Indonesian prime minister but one of those brawny antioxidents, part of the flavinoid family of anthocyanins also found in beets, red cabbage, and blueberries.

As for recipes to make at the market on Thursday, I'm thinking about pumpkin-apple pancakes with sorghum syrup, since the demo starts at 9am and we are in the Ozarks, after all. And then maybe caponata, that chunky sweet-tart Sicilian stuff with capers, olives, and vinegar, or possibly babaganoush...it's always fun to find things to make that use as much as possible from the market. Followed, perhaps, if I just can't stop cooking, by winter-squash soup, since several farmers at the market told me no one knows what to do with their beautiful squash. There's the classic squash-onion-sage-chicken broth sort of soup, with a little creme fraiche at the end, or possibly a Thai-type one, made with Thai curry paste, coconut milk, hot peppers and lemongrass. I won't have a blender, since I'll be cooking outside with just a propane stove, but if I can track down a hand-cranked food mill, all will be well!

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