Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Patience is the Key to Ohio Produce

Spring is in the air, Findlay Market crowds are picking up, and customers are anxious for "locally grown" produce. We're still several months away from peak summer months when we focus on "homegrown." Yet we will soon begin to see the earliest harvests of Ohio seasonal fruits and vegetables such as rhubarb, greens and lettuce, chard, asparagus, and peas.
Yet, because of our country's great transportation network, we can enjoy "locally grown" produce at all times of the year in Ohio. What's "local" in one region can be shared with other regions. We are currently enjoying "locally grown" Florida navel oranges. We can offer "locally grown" grapefruit and lemons from California, Texas, Florida, and Arizona from January until early summer. "Locally grown" strawberries from California and Florida will peak between April and June. And thanks to modern day logistics systems, even homegrown sweet corn and tomatoes can be picked in Florida one day and will be on the shelves in Ohio the next day.
So while we patiently wait in Ohio for summer harvest of our local favorites, enjoy someone else's local produce. It arrives fast and fresh and is guaranteed to satisfy you as you wait for Ohio's own homegrown fruits and vegetables.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March Madness at Findlay Market

I love March Madness and the NCAA basketball tournament. I think it began in 1978 when I was a student at Miami University and saw the Redskins upset defending champion Marquette in an opening round game. My interest grew in 1980 when I went to Dayton to watch some first round games. I didn't really know any of the teams I watched, but I was enthralled with the spirit of the fans and the competition of the games...and so I was hooked.
Since those first tournament games, I've watched hours of CBS coverage, travelled to several other tournament sites, submitted applications in hopes of getting Final Four tickets, and religiously filled out my bracket when March rolled around. Our family has always had a friendly competition for bracket bragging rights, and that tradition continues year to year in spite of the fact that our son is away at college and our high school daughter has many other interests besides basketball.
Society, as a whole, has also embraced the concept of March Madness. Office pools and game-watching parties are the norm. TV, radio, print media, and the internet have exploded with advertisements, updates, and reports about the games. Maybe it really is a little madness...But it sure is fun.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Luck of the Irish

Like many Americans, I have a little Irish blood in me. My grandmother's maiden name was O'Shea, and I vaguely remember her cooking corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day. I also recall hearing that my ancestors had emigrated from Ireland when the potato famine hit in the mid-1800's. About a million people died in Ireland because of the famine, but thousands of others left the country in order to survive. When they immigrated to America, they brought with them recipes for such traditional foods as Irish stew, Shepherd's Pie, Mulligatawny soup, and Colcannon.
Colcannon is a mixture of cabbage or kale, potatoes, leeks and butter. It was originally on the menu for Halloween as small coins were hidden in the dish for lucky children to discover. The popularity of colcannon spread and it's now served year-round. St. Patrick's Day seems like as good a time as any to try your hand at this Irish dish. To make colcannon, boil 1 lb. cabbage until tender; then remove and chop or blend well. Set it aside and keep it warm while you boil 1 lb. potatoes. Remove potatoes from heat and drain. Chop 2 leeks (green parts as well as white), and simmer them in just enough milk to cover, until they are soft. Season and mash the potatoes. Stir in cooked leeks and milk. Blend in the cabbage and heat thoroughly. Make a well in the center and pour in 1/2 cup melted butter. Mix well and serve. Here's the link to the recipe.

While you cook up your Colcannon, you might want to sing this traditional Irish song called "The Skillet Pot."

Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?
The chorus goes:
Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I'm to cry.
Oh, wasn't it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.

Yesterday when I was at Findlay Market passing out recipes for Colannon, I ran into a genuine Irishman and his family. (Must have been the luck of the Irish!) It was fun chatting about the recipe and hearing their plans for St. Patrick's Day. Discovering new recipes and meeting new people---two more good reasons to shop at Findlay Market?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Try Fingerling Potatoes

Fingerling potatoes are starting to show up on many restaurant menus, but you don't need to eat out to enjoy them. Fingerlings remind me of the traditional "new" potato with its thin, smooth skin that is easy to clean. Fingerlings may be yellow, red, or even purple in color and are usually 1-2 inches in diameter and 2-3 inches long...often in the shape of a finger. They may be mashed, sauteed, boiled, or roasted, and they also make great crispy chips.
We currently have a nice crop of red fingerling potatoes at Findlay Market. One gentleman yesterday wondered how he could ever peel such tiny potatoes. I explained that it's not necessary to peel potatoes with such a thin skin, and in fact, the skin adds to the flavor and the color adds to the presentation. He was a little hard to convince, but I think I opened his eyes to a new thing. Sometimes we get in a habit of always buying the same kinds of produce. Like my customer yesterday, maybe it's time you try something different from Daisy Mae's Market. So if you're ready for a new kind of potato, here's a simple recipe for roasting some fingerlings:

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Ingredients: 2 lbs. fingerling or new potatoes, sea salt (to taste), 2 T. olive oil, 2 springs rosemary, 2 T. thyme, black pepper
Preparation: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In casserole dish, add potatoes, salt, pepper, and crushed leaves of fresh rosemary and thyme, and toss with olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes; turn and roast about 20 minutes more. Garnish with rosemary.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I'm Not a Doctor and I Don't Play One on TV, but...

THE SUN IS SHINING TODAY IN CINCINNATI. After the snow and ice of February and the gray and gloom of the first few days of March, it finally feels like spring will eventually get here. With the sun shining and the blue sky, I've noticed a few more smiles on faces and a little more bounce in everyone's step. It's amazing what a little sun can do.
Researchers have known for years that Vitamin D is crucial to building strong bones and supporting the immune system. They've known we need the sun's effect to get full nutritional value from the food we eat. In recent years, some studies have connected getting the proper amount of sunlight to preventing seasonal affective disorder (SAD), osteoporosis, depression, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers. I'm not a doctor, but I know that seeing the sun shine after a dreary winter gets people out of the house.
At Daisy Mae's Market, we've noticed that the number of customers goes up when the sun shines. It doesn't have so much to do with warmer temperatures as it does with just plain sun. It's almost as if humans can sense when they haven't had the required dosage of sunlight.
The next few days look sunny and bright. Time for you to take your medicine: Get out the door and soak up the sun. Go to Fountain Square to watch the Cinciditarod. Experience Bockfest. Shop at Findlay Market. You know you need that Vitamin D!