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Patti Bess: Farmers’ Market open for business in new location

Patti Bess
Columnist

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For information on local farms and how to support them, visit http://www.sierraharvest.org/connect/we-are-here-for-you-resources

Cruising past Kmart on a Saturday morning one might think the circus came to town. Colorful tents lined the edge of the parking lot with flags and parking attendants directing traffic. But there’s no circus; that ended a few decades ago. The Farmers’ Market moved in.

The first Saturday I went to the market a fairly thick cloud cover kept everyone cool, and the place was busy with masked robbers. No, I meant shoppers; some even pushing strollers. People were sensitive about keeping their distance from one another.

For many years the North Star House off of McCourtney Road was such a beautiful location with many grand memories, but this new location makes perfect sense. It’s an easy in and easy out with parking nearby. If you need to run into the supermarket for basics, Raley’s and SPD are nearby. And, as in years past, the market has lots of variety — plants, flowers, vegetables, meats, olive oil, cheeses, pastries, breads, honey, lots of berries and fruits from Marysville growers. We were thrilled to buy apricots the first week in May.

Farming in Nevada County has definitely been on an upswing for the past decade. It is a growing percentage of our local employers, and county income. And there are plenty of good reasons to celebrate that. Most importantly, freshly grown and raised food is widely available. That seems quite important considering our current COVID-19 crisis, and especially if we experience any more widespread environmental or health crises in the future.

Money spent in Nevada County stays in Nevada County. Also, our farms have become a great training ground for local young people who are still career searching. Incredibly, many have stayed on and become successful farm businesses and good neighbors. Farming and range land not only provide beautiful open spaces to view, but they also function as important fire breaks.

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The pandemic has affected our small businesses and farmers are no exception. They have lost the sales potential of many local restaurants and wholesalers. This year they are relying more heavily on you and I.

Sierra Harvest has assembled a list of farms that are offering CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) as well as farm credits. Many farmers are also offering online ordering with local pick-ups. You can access this information at http://www.sierraharvest.org/connect/we-are-here-for-you-resources.

I always consider that buying from our local farmers is a good investment. Lettuce or greens at the Farmers’ Market were most likely picked that morning or the night before — really fresh. If I buy lettuce and forget it in the back of the fridge for a week or so, which happens more frequently than I should admit, it’s still fresh and useable. Berries from the market are always more reliable than ones that have been shipped here.

Frittata with Garden Greens

This Frittata makes such a simple supper. It’s fast and delicious. Enjoy!

One tablespoon olive oil

One half medium red onion, finely chopped

Two to three cloves garlic, minced

Four cups garden greens such as chard, kale, escarole or spinach

Washed and finely chopped

Five large eggs

About three quarters teaspoon salt

About one eighth teaspoon black pepper

One quarter teaspoon nutmeg or mace

Three quarters teaspoon dried basil

Or about ten leaves chopped fresh

One half cup cottage cheese

Three quarters cup Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a wide frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for two to three minutes, until onion is translucent. Add the chopped greens, cover, and steam another two to three minutes until they are wilted. Set aside to cool.

Pre-heat an oven to 350 degrees.

Beat eggs lightly with the pepper, salt, nutmeg and basil. Stir in the cheeses and vegetables. Generously rub oil on a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. Pour batter into the prepared dish.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes and allow frittata to cool for at least ten minutes before cutting. Serve hot or at room temperature. Makes four to six servings as a main dish or six to eight for a first course.

Roasted Tomato and Basil Sauce

Dreaming of garden grown tomatoes? Soon! Smoke-scented tomatoes make a versatile sauce. When the coals are starting to die down on the grill, I often put a few ripe tomatoes on to roast slowly (brushed with olive oil as tomatoes tend to stick). I roast them until they are browning and oozing juices. The peels slip off easily once they cool. Keep them in the fridge for an easy sauce the next night. It works best with denser tomatoes like Early Girls, New Girls, Romas or San Marzanos.

Six to eight medium-size tomatoes, roasted and peeled

One thick slice of roasted onion

Ten to fifteen large basil leaves

Three to five cloves garlic

Two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

A splash of balsamic vinegar or a little red wine

Pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper

After roasting, cool and remove skins if desired.

Place all ingredients in the blender and whiz until smooth. In a small saucepan, simmer for five to ten minutes until warmed through and flavors have deepened. Use with vegetables, pasta or on toasted bread.

Patti Bess is a freelance writer and cookbook author. She lives in Grass Valley.


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