Foliage, Garlic Festival & Ferments

The weekly, local  Farmer’s Markets are coming to an end.  My Dad and I went to his town’s market and I was excited to see that almost everyone there was selling organic produce .   I got some squash, giant apples and tomatillos . I never tried tomatillos before.  The lady selling them said they are very easy to grow and make a good jam or green salsa. They’re also nice just as a bit of tang in a salad.  I fermented mine with some of  the last pickings from the garden.. red peppers, green tomatoes and garlic.  I  fermented some carrots with grated ginger too.

The local Garlic Festival  was held this past weekend. I try not to miss it because I buy  my planting garlic from the same farmer there every year. Besides ordinary cloves there is every garlic thing you can imagine…garlic ice cream, pickles, breads, kimchis, oils, vinegars, cheese, relishes, spreads and jellies.  They also have vendors selling their crafts, honey, maple syrup, soap and produce.  Did I mention lots of food trucks ?  Our Garlic Festival started out with about 15 tables and a few curious people poking around.  Now it’s huge, attracts more than 10,000 visitors and even has an official Garlic Queen.

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Northhampton, MA


Recently we took a day trip to Northhampton, Massachusettes.  Smith college is there, an all women college that has  a long list of well known alumnai including Sylvia Plath, Barbara Bush, Gloria Steinham, Julia Child and Nancy Reagan.  According to Wikipedia, North Hampton is the most  politically liberal, medium sized city in the U.S.  Wikipedia also says “North Hampton is known as an academic, artistic, musical and counterculture hub.”

As we walked down the Main street, we were approached by quite a few political and social activists with petitions and homeless people asking for donations.  There were also some talented musicians performing.  We happened to run into a Farmers’ Market, on our way to Thorne’s Marketplace.  Thorne’s Marketplace was  built in 1873 and was originally a dry goods store that expanded into a huge department store and was later converted into a shopping center.  It was pretty cool.   A lot of the period details have been preserved and there are lots of interesting little stores and restaurants inside.

We had lunch at Paul and Elizabeth’s.  It’s a family owned restaurant in Thorne’s that has been around since 1978.  Originally it was a vegetarian restaurant but they recently expanded their menu to include seafood. They use locally sourced and organic ingredients.  Their breads were delicious and the food was fresh and tasted like home.

North Hampton is a lot different from the other little cities and towns that I’ve been to.  I knew nothing about it until I got there.  It seems very “crunchy” with lots of patchouli wafting through the air, lol.  There was a lot of traffic but hardly any people walking around or in the stores and restaurants.  Maybe that was because I visited on a Tuesday, in the summer.  Once college starts up, it probably comes alive.

Our Farmers’ Market!

Today kicked off the first day of this season’s local Farmers’ Market. It’s held on Sundays from 11am until 2 o’clock, on South Farms. Buying from the vendors there is an affirmation of many of the things that are important to me. It gives me the opportunity to support local businesses, organic growing practices and farmers that raise animals that are allowed to run free, are well cared for and are not pumped up with hormones and antibiotics.

I stocked up on groceries and couldn’t resist buying some beautiful alpaca yarn from Stan. Wool itches me but I learned today that there is no lanolin in alpaca yarn so it won’t itch. The skeins I bought were from his alpaca named Victoria, lol.  Thank you Stan and Victoria:)

Pond’s Poultry Farm is new to the market. Dwayne Pond has a beautiful, young family and a farm in town. He raises small flocks of chickens and has a couple of pet goats. Turkeys are on the way. He’s a funny guy, check out his t-shirt.   I think the picture I posted of the plaque in his booth states his intentions for his small farm perfectly.

Special Ingredients

My daughters have been calling in requests for things that they want me to cook for Easter.   I don’t  know how many generations have been making our family recipes but since my Mother died 4 years ago, it’s been my turn to keep them going.

Yesterday I made nut roll.  There’s a lot more cooking left to do and some of the ingredients aren’t available in  the regular grocery stores.  I took a little trip to a town about 40 minutes away that has a strong, Eastern European community and a good ethnic market.  There was a 45 minute wait to get into the shop.  In line, the mood was festive.  Everyone was  excited about the holiday.  We were all talking and laughing with each other.  Since many of us were making the same traditional Easter dishes, the conversation turned to recipes and cooking anecdotes.  It was fun and the time flew by!

The store was pretty big and had a lot of interesting things that aren’t in the regular grocery stores.  Many of the items had labels that weren’t written in English.  I got everything I needed, had  a good time looking around and found a few interesting things for the Easter baskets.

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