Where did those 20 lbs of strawberries go?

We got up early Saturday morning and headed to Bowman Orchards to pick strawberries.  We just managed to beat the rain, just getting doused on the ride back from the field to pay, loaded down with almost 20 lbs of bright red, juicy strawberries.061116-1

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It does a farmer good

Why does it feel like some sort of big step to start buying your weekly milk in a glass bottle from the farmer’s market? I mean, we’re spoiled with a great milk supply around here, generally nice and fresh.  So why pay a touch more at the Greenmarket?  I can’t answer that.  It just makes sense in a way, I guess.

Our last trip to the supermarket was a whopping $15, which is somewhat typical of our shopping trips now.  I’m sure it will go up in the winter, but it’s a little funny to plan the weekly trip, go in, get a cart, but leave with one or two bags for under $20.

Not that we can get out of the Greenmarket for under $20 😀  Glad they take credit cards.

Fruitful weekend at the Schenectady Greenmarket and beyond

Finally, right?  It seems like we’ve been missing local fruit for ages, but it’s finally coming back!

The delayed strawberry picking season at Bowman‘s (cool spring) is finally well underway and we were able to more-or-less stock up on Saturday.  If we’d cared to linger long enough to try another field we’d have easily filled our normal quota (an 8-quart basket and two of the ubiquitous green quart containers), which is enough for me to make a batch of jam, eat a bunch, make a batch of strawberry ice cream, and freeze slices in sugar for later use.  As it was, we were a quart or two short, made up for it with a pre-picked quart, and the jam and ice cream are already made.  NOTE: picking may be coming and going, though, due to the weather and slow start – so you might want to give them a call before you go to make sure they’re picking.

And don’t look now, but Maynard Farms already had early apricots at the Greenmarket!  While I’m not as bonkers over their apricots as I am for their donut peaches, I got hooked on them last year before other fruits hit and these didn’t disappoint.  They’re a little small and needed a day on the counter to soften to the perfect consistency, but they’re really tasty.

Other vendors also had strawberries at the Greenmarket, especially Buhrmaster from Scotia who had flat after flat of berries at very reasonable prices (note – the following week their prices were about 150% higher, making them too rich at least for my blood – frowney face, Buhrmaster, very 😦 ).  I’m sure they’ll still be trucking them in next weekend, so don’t forget to get some if you can’t get out to pick your own.  Everyone knows that local, fresh berries blow away the pale supermarket giants.  It’s just a fact.

And one more thing – Painted Goat has the ever-popular (and scrumptious) strawberries and cream.  Described as “our seasonal fresh chevre with our farms’ own, organic strawberry jam. So yummy!”  We totally agree.  And since we already got our tub, I don’t mind reminding people about it now.  I’ve actually given up buying cream cheese at the supermarket and now just use Painted Goat’s soft, spreadable chevre on toast when I get that craving, usually with a little homemade jam.  Strawberries and cream is perfect for that and more (so good on crackers, too).  Oh, and Ilyssa also had jars and jars of their homemade cajeta (smooth, pourable goat milk caramel!) as well as their extensive list of other cheese products.  Ilyssa is always happy to share samples, especially since there’s an excellent chance you’re going to buy something after you try it.  (Hmmm…that sounded like a commercial…actually just a very satisfied customer spreading the word on good food.)

While I’m raving about fruit (and cheese and cajeta), the veggies are slowly but surely working their way in to the market, supplanting plants and flowers.  The asparagus is almost gone, but we got several good weeks.  Several people had peas and greens are really showing up strong.  Even some tomatoes.

In fact, how about a roundup of some other Greenmarket reviews?

  • Euro Delicacies – still there and still fantastic stuffed peppers
  • Mariaville Farm – bought from them for the first time when I was craving some local bacon and my preferred butcher, Bella Terra Farm, didn’t have any.  I tried the chipotle bacon and it was pretty tasty hot out of the oven and on pizza, but it felt a little expensive, probably because I haven’t bought local, non-nitrate, etc. bacon before.  I do have a little tub of bacon grease I’m using to cook things in still, though 🙂  Overall I sort of doubt I’d buy more, but mostly because I just don’t buy much bacon.
  • Cooper’s Ark Farm – might have already mentioned this, but we got our Thanksgiving turkey from them last year and it was FANTASTIC
  • Cornell Farm – simply put, except in an egg emergency we buy ALL of our eggs from Cornell Farm from Hoosick Falls, now – I want to say it’s $3 for a dozen large, but they also have other sizes and they’re probably our #2 go-to for veggies after Barber Family Farm, although their selection of items that we typically buy isn’t as large
  • Ulster Soaps – got a sample of their washing machine powder yesterday, too early to make a call – also got a stain stick that we haven’t tried, yet, as my wife continues her efforts to save my shirts from me and my uncanny ability to always spill just a little salad dressing, oil, food, etc.  I’ll report back if appropriate.  (update – first try of the stain stick on a small oil spot proved ineffective)
  • Orapello’s Wood Fired Pizza – I said I wanted to try what they were dishing out and I did.  I won’t be bothering to buy from them, again, though.  I mean, their pizza wasn’t terrible or anything and the toppings were decent, but the price for what you get and the fact that I can make better pizza on my own gas grill…?  Just not for me.
  • Ole McDonald Honey Farm – also was interested in trying them and we did pick up a bottle of their raw honey but I haven’t opened it, yet – for the curious, they do filter their honey so you don’t have to filter out the bee bits yourself 🙂

Greenmarket back outside

Wake up!  Winter’s over and the Schenectady Greenmarket is back outside wrapped around City Hall on Sunday mornings.  We didn’t make it to outdoor opening weekend last Sunday, but we’ll probably stop by this week, the weather is looking beautiful.  In particular I want to check out some of the new additions to the Greenmarket this spring.  It’s a little funny, we actually have an awful time remembering most of the names, we just know the faces of the people we usually buy from, so forgive me if I say something is new, but isn’t.

Though it seems like an odd thing to get at the farmers market, I might have to try an offering from Orapello’s Wood Fired Pizza.  There are already some excellent ready-to-eat options (including my favorite, Euro Delicacies), but this really stands out as new and interesting.  Their cart (you can see a picture on their site) is smaller than I expected, but looks like the real deal based on other similar vendors I’ve seen on food truck shows.  This right here has my eyes sparkling: “Our dough takes 24 hours to produce.” Yeah, it looks like they let their thin crust develop some flavor!

Bard Farm notes that they’ll be selling white strawberries.  Incredibly interested in trying those when they show up.

I’ve been thinking of sweetening more with honey, so I will likely be checking out the offerings of Ole McDonald’s Honey Farm (I think they started in the winter market, but we didn’t get anything from them, yet).  Note: website is bad 🙂  Like any newer farm, I suspect they have more important things to attend to than a flashy website.  Facebook unupdated since 2010 – yikes!

Pure Vida Fisheries has been there for a while, it’s about time we gave their offerings a try.

Red Jacket Orchards is intriguing.  I can see us trying some of what they have to offer.

I don’t think Tara Kitchen has had a stall before and they’re supposed to be offering “Fresh Moroccan sauces”.  Color me interested.

Greenmarket haul

The Schenectady Greenmarket posted recently that this weekend is typically one of their busiest.  No wonder, as today was the first day it really felt like the farmers were really packed with variety.  Cauliflower, corn, fruit, etc.  I went early, thankfully, and came home with a fridge-ful and significantly less green in my pocket.  Links to individual sellers are available at the Greenmarket’s site.

Bella Terra Farm – Ground beef destined for burgers, including one for tonight wrapped around a hunk of gorgonzola cremificato from The Cheese Traveler

Quincy Farm – a nice cucumber for salad

Barber Family Farm – first cauliflower (of many to come) of the year from one of our favorite farms along with a zucchini (to be simmered in tomato sauce and topped with mozzarella…mmmm) and some big, tasty grape tomatoes

Hope Valley Farm – at least I think it was Hope Valley that sold me a bunch of kale to try making kale chips for the first time (m’eh, not a fan so far)

Painted Goat Farm – grabbed a tub of Strawberries and Cream goat cheese, seems like by the time we usually decide to try this, they’re sold out for the season, so this year I didn’t wait – can’t wait to try it

Maynard Farms – rapidly developing into a favorite, loaded up with plums, early peaches, and snow peas – already tried a plum and it was FANTASTIC – messy, juicy, sweet, delicious

The Greenmarket is in full swing and we’ll try to get there every week to load up on the freshest produce.

And to top it off, picked the first 4 blueberries off our bushes for the season – wow, those are good.

(Welcome, Schenectady Greenmarket Facebook followers 🙂  Thanks for stopping by…don’t forget to stop by the Greenmarket or your local farmer’s market for fantastically fresh produce.)

It does this body good

Ah, milk.86544602  Can I just take a moment to say how much I enjoy the fact that the milk around here is so fresh?  Prior to moving the Capital District, I’ve never lived anywhere where the expiration date of the milk at the supermarket is so far into the future.  A week was good.  Here, picking up milk from Price Chopper or Stewarts, it’s more like 2 weeks sometimes.

And if that’s not good enough for you, you can pick it up superfresh from a farmer’s market.

Maybe a small thing to some people, but when you don’t grow up with it, it’s surely a nice perq of living in this area.

In which I have to post my first negative review of a local product

Peanut butter.  I must admit, I like my peanut butter.  I eat a lot of PB&Js and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  As an inveterate jam and jelly maker (no, not invertebrate jam, that’s just nasty), there’s always a lot of options in the fridge and even more in the basement.  Strawberry, grape, peach, raspberry, vanilla pear, blueberry…wait, this was a peanut butter post.

I guess I’ve sort of come full circle in a way.  As a kid we has those tubs of Teddie peanut butter in the cabinet.  On my own, the stash was usually store brand chunky, preferred over smooth.  And today, the pb of choice is, again, Teddie.  But now it’s natural chunky.  It took a jar or two to get used to it, especially the still-annoying mixing, but it’s good.  I’m not thrilled that it has to live in the fridge as there aren’t many more annoying things in the kitchen than unspreadable pb, but as long as I remember to take it out a while before using it, it’s fine.

Which brings us to the Schenectady Greenmarket.  Regulars at the market this summer were The Peanut Principle from Cohoes.  I was intrigued enough by their teaser one week of some kind of superfruit peanut butter to shell out an unthinkable $10 for a measly jar of peanut butter – Very Berry Super Fruit to be exact.  Now there’s a lot of stuff crammed in there for that price, and by stuff I mean dried fruit.  Specifically:

  • blueberries
  • cherries
  • raspberries
  • goji berries
  • strawberries
  • acai berries
  • pomegranate powder

Yowza.  I can sort of see where the price comes in.

Nice picture, eh?  Sorry about that.  But wait, it gets more exciting…let’s see what it looks like on that slice of bread!

Oooh!  Runny!  Yeah, that’s problem #1, before you even taste it.  This stuff is a liquid, a peanut slurry.  You can definitely see the (expensive) bits of dried fruit in there, though, can’ t you?  What’s that?  A closeup, you say?

That’s basically a whole raspberry up there in the corner.  Which is just another problem.  Giant chunks of hard fruit randomly scattered in your sandwich.

Let’s move on to the taste.  It’s…different.  I guess if I was some sort of highly skilled food bloggist I would be able to tell you right away what’s different about it – more salt, less salt, more sugar, less sugar, the name of the guy that picked the peanuts, etc.  Barring that I might smear a half-dozen samples on something and add a little sugar, a little salt, etc. to isolate it.  Maybe if I loved the stuff and wanted to recreate it that might happen, but this sad condiment just isn’t worth the time (let alone the $).  I think if it tasted super peanut-y I could find some love for it, even if it didn’t continue to grace my kitchen in all it’s runny glory, but it’s not even all peanut-y.  I figured a niche company like this would at least nail that.

Were my expectations too high?  Maybe.  C’mon, for $10 they should be.  Am I too hooked on ‘supermarket peanut butter’?  I guess that might be a part of it, but shouldn’t a product just be outstanding to get you to move away from mass-produced?  This just didn’t get there in any way.

Is it terrible?  No, I mean we’ll finish the jar, a little here and there on toast (I’m afraid to take a sandwich to work with this, I’m just picturing a baggie filled with peanut slurry).  And, oddly, if you keep it in the fridge it actually solidifies into a serious solid, holds its form, but very spreadable.  But I can’t even imagine a situation where I would buy this again, not just this variety, but anything.

If any one else has eaten TPPs product and loves it, feel free to let me know what I’m missing.  For now we’ll just keep our Teddie.