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Patti Bess: September abundance

Patti Bess likes to buy local and says the produce is fresher and keeps longer in your refrigerator.
Photo by Patti Bess |

KNOW & GO

Bierwagen’s Donner Trail Fruit

WHAT: Their ranch store on Colfax Highway will close in October. The annual Bierwagen Pumpkin patch is located across the highway at the farm. Open Mondays-Friday noon to 5 p.m.; weekends 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with additional activities. Fresh pressed apple cider, u-pick pumpkins, apples, seasonal vegetables available as well as the Snack Shack.

WHERE: Bierwagen Farm at 17473 Lower Colfax Road, Chicago Park.

Broadfork Farm

WHAT: Self-serve farm stand with summer vegetables, microgreens, and winter crops as available; open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through November.

WHERE: 13624 N Meadow View Drive, a half block off Highway 174.

Calolea Olive Oil

WHAT: Tasting Room open by appointment.

WHERE: 68 Tennessee Lane, Marysville.

First Rain Farm

WHAT: Open Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m. until at least mid October. They sell mixed veggies and berries including beets, carrots, chard, kale, tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, garlic, spinach, parsley and strawberries.

WHERE: 19832 Rector Road, signs on Highway. 49, North Bloomfield to Rector Road.

McCourtney Road Pumpkin Patch

WHEN: Weekends in October, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

20267 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley. Call 530-228-1221 for information.

Riverhill Farm

WHAT: Farm Stand: Open every Wednesday 2-6 p.m. through October, possibly beyond; check website for further information.

WHERE: 13500 Cement Hill Road (end of road), Nevada City.

Starbright Acres Family Farm

WHAT: Self-serve farm stand open daylight hours, 7 days a week, year round.

WHERE: 12575 Polaris Drive, McCourtney Road just past the fairgrounds on the left.

All over the world Mother Nature is wreaking devastation — hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, heat waves, fires and even a volcano starting to simmer. Perhaps she’s trying to tell us something?

Here in Nevada County she (and our hard working farmers) have another story to share.

The abundance and diversity of September produce is astounding. Every morning I am grateful to live where I have access to such quality foods. It only takes a short vacation back east to remind oneself of how well endowed we are.



Buying local

I know I have written about this many (many) times before, but there is no better way to improve the quality of your health and the economic well-being of our community than to buy your food from our local farmers and ranchers.




The produce is fresher and keeps longer in your refrigerator. The money stays in our community, supports lots of hard working people and minimizes the distance that food travels.

Keeping more of our land in agriculture maintains the beauty of the county as well as providing good fire breaks and open spaces.

Recently I bought a head of lettuce at a local supermarket. In three days it was looking limp and pathetic.

The one I purchased at my favorite farm stand was a little more expensive, but larger. It was still vibrant and fresh looking after getting lost at the back of the refrigerator for more than a week. That’s because it was mostly likely picked the morning I bought it.

So, was it more expensive? I don’t think so.

Recently, I also bought a plastic container of cherry tomatoes from Mexico. They were good, but the ones I bought at my local farm were juicy and tasted almost like eating candy.

Almost two years ago my husband and I traveled Highway 1 to southern Baja. We happened to pass through on a day when the local farmworkers were staging a protest.

Improvements to their working conditions and better wages had all been promised more than a year before, but nothing had transpired.

It was a peaceful march that went on for more than 10 miles — people were smiling, singing, kids on bikes, truckloads of workers all carrying signs.

On our way back to California, we passed through the same towns on Mothers’ Day, which in Mexico is a more sacred holiday than Christmas.

It was almost 6 p.m. in the evening and still 95 degrees in the sun. There were 60 to 70 men and women sitting on the side of the road.

When I asked several locals why so many, their response was they were waiting for the company bus to return to their villages. All had been working on Mother’s Day!

Yes, local produce might cost a little more. But it doesn’t have that bitter taste in your mouth of people that live in poverty conditions most of us can barely imagine.

Many farmers here sell at the Farmers Markets, but here is a list of on-site farm stands in and around the county.

In September they are overflowing with goodies. Stop by and see what’s available.

Recipe

Grilled Summer Vegetables with Goat Cheese Herb Sauce

One small eggplant, slice in ½-inch rounds

Two medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise, ½-inch thick

Two small yellow squash, sliced lengthwise, ½-inch thick

One medium red onion, sliced into thick rounds

Four small tomatoes, sliced into thick rounds

Three medium bell peppers, various colors

Three tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Two tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Salt and fresh ground pepper

Two tablespoons minced fresh basil

Two teaspoons minced fresh oregano

Sauce

Two thirds cup milk

Two cloves garlic, minced

Four ounces mild goat cheese, fontina or other good melting cheese

Salt and pepper

Preheat a gas grill or light a medium hot fire in a kettle grill. Brush with small amount of cooking oil. (Alternatively, roast in a 425 degree oven, checking regularly.)

Brush the cut sides of the vegetables with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Grill the peppers whole for about twelve minutes or until evenly charred. Place peppers in a tightly closed plastic bag until cool. Remove the peel and cut into large pieces.

Grill the zucchini, yellow squash and onion, turning once or twice, until tender — about four minutes on each side.

Grill the eggplant 8 to 10 minutes turning once or twice. Pierce with a fork to determine doneness. (Eggplant takes the most time to soften but is also overcooked very quickly, so it is important to watch carefully.)

Grill the tomatoes, cut sides down and turning once — about 3 to 4 minutes or until slightly softened.

Arrange all the grilled vegetables on a platter. Sprinkle with the fresh herbs and keep warm in a low oven.

In a small saucepan bring the milk, the remaining herbs and garlic to a simmer over low heat for 3-5 minutes.

Whisk in the goat cheese until it is melted and sauce is smooth in texture. Sprinkle with pepper. Serve the goat cheese sauce in bowls for dipping. You could also make a basil pesto to serve as an alternative sauce. Makes 4-6 servings.

Patti Bess is a freelance writer and cookbook author from Grass Valley. She can be reached at bess.pattia@gmail.com


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