Is it Summer already??

I think it may be summer. Ok, so technically, it doesn't begin for another month and a half. But what's up with the weather here lately? It's been in the 80's (although it's not the 90's yet!), humid, sticky, random afternoon thundershowers. And the beautiful, bright colors of summer lighting up our lives at this Wednesday's Farmer's Market.

Oh, the seductive scent of strawberries lingered in the air this morning while the humidity rose. We were parked next to Vest Berries today and across from Witten Farm, so how could we miss it? Strawberries make me want a lassi. Let's make one! Here's a lovely Casa lassi recipe!

Casa Nueva's Strawberry Lassi (for parties!)

1 1/2 C Filtered Water
3 quarts Plain Yogurt
1/2 C Honey (try some from Cantrell's!)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
Juice of 1 Lemon
3 C Strawberries (check out berries from Vest Berries, Witten Farm, Cowdery Farm, Yankee Street Farm, and the list goes on...)

Put all of these ingredients into a gallon-sized pitcher. Use an immersion blender to blend thoroughly, and then pour into tall glasses. Stick straws in the glasses. Garnish the tops of the glasses with a couple of slices of strawberry, and then drink deeply for good health.

Cowdery Farm had a beautiful display of crisp green beans, luscious cucumbers, colorful basils and gorgeous red and yellow tomatoes! I happily bought some of their green beans and snapped a few pics of their mouthwatering produce.

There were so many photo ops today, what with all the amazing things everyone was offering. I bought deep green heads of broccoli from Vest Berries and itty bitty baby zucchini from Proffitt's Farm. The owner told me that the very first zucchinis that pop up on his plants don't get pollinated, so he cuts them off, rather than let the fruit rot. After he does this, the plants seem to really flourish! And then he gets to bring these babies to market to sell to folks for dipping in some ranch dressing (or Casa Nueva's Creamy Garlic salad dressing!), or for cutting in half and stir-frying. That's what I'm doing for dinner tonight!

The torrential rain didn't dampen my spirits today. There were many vendors with a variety of products today! Wednesdays are a great day for zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, apples, strawberries, honey, eggs, pork, angus beef, peas, green beans, breads, sweet treats, jams, jellies, cheeses, herbs and greens! Oh my!

And salsas! Did I forget to mention salsas? Come visit Casa Nueva's table and get yer fresh, locally made salsas! We use Ohio tomatoes and delicious peppers from Cowdery Farm and Shade River Farm. See you this coming Saturday!


Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

Casa Nueva won't be at the Athens Farmer's Market this Saturday! You can find us vending at the Nelsonville Music Festival! So stop on over at the market and then head out to the festival for some great local music and more local food.

But don't worry. We'll be back this coming Wednesday, May 20.

Until then, salsa dreams and tortilla wishes!


Wednesdays=Kids Day!

WOW. I forgot that sometimes Wednesdays are kids days at the Athens Farmer's Market! We heard a rumor that there were some 2nd graders coming to visit us for a field trip last Wednesday. Then, suddenly, there were four busloads of them! And they were ecstatic to be at the market.
Sorry to the parents and teachers who had to deal with potential sugar highs due to excessive brownie consumption (hey, at least most of them split them in half!), honey sticks from Cantrell's or delicious fruit popsicles, but your kids had a total blast! I think the moms of these kids were very pleased, too, when their children brought home lots of beautiful flowering plants from Mitch's Produce and Greenhouse or Cherry Orchard as Mother's Day presents. Those sweet littles! Happy Mother's Day to all the mamas out there!

This past Wednesday was kind of like a Saturday in terms of business and vendors. It was our third week and every week we see more people coming to vend and more customers coming to buy. Last Wednesday, we were lucky enough to be next to Cherry Orchard and all of their beautiful green and purple basils, cilantro and dill. The colors and scents were so vivid on that gray day!

I bought some long, slender stalks of purple and green asparagus from Gillogly Orchard, as well as some gorgeous, plump, hot pink stalks of rhubarb (I was informed that the more pink they are, the sweeter they are!). Beautiful, shiny, bright zucchini from Cowdery Farm and crisp, dark green spinach from Sassafrass Farm completed my Wednesday shopping.

This morning at Saturday market, we were blessed with another windy day, but it did feel great outside. Bruno and I shared some Garlic and Cheese stuffed Fougasse from Avalanche's stand and some refreshing Vanilla Chai tea from The Herbal Sage Tea Company.

When I wasn't ladling salsas, I was staring at all the cool tomato, basil, sage and parsley starts that Yankee Street Farm has, or listening to all the funny things that Will Dewees from Appalachian Flowers was shouting out ("Best deer repellent ever! It's like a six-legged dog in a bottle!"). The musicians next to Shew's Orchard were playing some great tunes on the guitar and my friend told me about the delicious looking ribs he just bought from King Family Farm.

How can one not do cartwheels down the aisle with all the choices products you can find at the Athens Farmer's Market? Find out this coming Wednesday!


Strawberries and Asparagus!!!

Ah, spring is here and the sweet, early fruits and vegetables of area farmer’s labors are starting to crop up at our local Farmer’s Market. This is a fantastic time to head out to the Market. Grab the kids and make an event out of it. At the Cantrell Honey and Candle booth, Mr. Cantrell gives each child a honey stick. At the Avalanche Pizza booth, as well as many others, there are little bits of treats to taste. Last week Emma and I made sure that we arrived at the Market just in time for the bell to ring and the vendor’s to open for business. We usually go straight to Harmony Hollow for that delicious bacon, but our priorities this time were strawberries and asparagus! We quickly located Cowdery Farms booth and joined in the rapidly filling up line for the first strawberries of the season. As we waited in line I watched the strawberries selling out right before my eyes - luckily, there was one container left when it was our turn. $3.00 is a small price to pay for those first sweet strawberries of the season. After we purchased them I felt slightly guilty as the line behind me dispersed in sadness. It will not be long now before strawberries are a common occurrence at the Market. A local U-Pick farm, Vest Berries, will soon provide enough berries for all. I considered including ideas on how best to use those berries in a recipe, but I have to say that eating them straight out of the basket while you are still at the Market is the best way to enjoy them. Emma’s berry-stained face and dress was a beautiful sight to see……
Our next priority was finding fresh asparagus. I know what you are thinking – eww, asparagus? Let me tell you a secret I have learned about this short-lived treat – fresh-picked asparagus is the ONLY way to eat it. Asparagus has a short season – only a few weeks. In ideal growing conditions it can grow 10 inches in 24 hours! Asparagus is highly nutritious and contains no fat or cholesterol. I located fresh asparagus at the booth of Rich Gardens Organic Farm. I bought a large bunch, anticipating sharing it with family and friends. Much to my dismay the BBQ was cancelled and I found myself with a large amount of asparagus to eat all by myself. I was concerned about it going to waste – but the good news is that it was so delicious I only have a couple of stalks left! Below is a super simple recipe to prepare fresh asparagus, although raw asparagus is also very good. Once I tasted how delicious it was I wished that I would have made some pasta to go with it – next time!
Olive oil
Butter (the butter is for extra flavor, optional)
Pour about a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a skillet, add about a tablespoon or so of butter and heat on medium high. Once the oil is hot and the butter melted, throw in the asparagus. Sautee for just a few minutes until it is warmed through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Did you know that the EBT card is accepted at the Farmer’s Market? Check in with Harmony Hollow Farm booth and Rich will get you set up with the tokens accepted at most of the booths. What a fantastic way to have access to fresh, locally-grown, healthy products!

The proof is in the produce.....

As many of you might have suspected.....it can be more affordable to shop at your local farmers market after all.

Check out this recent article.


Whoa Mama!

Here's a little snapshot of what I see towards the beginning of a market day. Our table is laden with baked goods and salsas that people will gobble up in no time. Spring market has really been blessing us this year! In fact, this weekend was Ohio University's Mom's Weekend, and we were too busy to even take photos (the ones here are from last Saturday)! Thanks to all you mamas for making our day busy and special! And thanks to all of our regulars for buying our salsas and brownies (and letting us take pics of you eating them). Today was another enormously successful market day.

I wanted to pay a little homage to rhubarb. I love this spring delight! It's so interesting to me that the stalk of the plant is the tasty, edible part. And the rhubarb from Sassafrass Farm is some of the most gorgeous rhubarb I've ever seen! Their long, plump stalks of bright pink and green sourness is just begging to be paired with some of the ripe, sweet strawberries coming from the greenhouse of Larry Cowdery's grandfather. I'm definitely drooling. And I wanted to share another recipe with y'all from the Casa. For spring family gatherings!

Set your oven to 350 degrees (F)

For the poached rhubarb filling:

Juice of 1 Lemon
2# beautiful Rhubarb stalks from Sassafrass Farm or Dutch Creek Community Farm
1 1/2 C Sugar

Place all of these ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat and cook until syrupy. Pour the rhubarb into a deep dish pie plate.

To make the crust:

1 1/2 C Unbleached White Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
2 Tbs Sugar
6 Tbs Soy Margarine (ok, you can use butter if you don't care if it's vegan!)
1/2 C Soy Milk (yeah, you could use regular delicious milk from the Snowville Creamery here)

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Crumble very cold soy margarine/butter into the mix and blend with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Gradually add soy/regular milk, mixing thoroughly until dough is silky (not dry OR wet!). Drop that deliciousness on top of the poached rhubarb in fat, round dollops! Bake 20-25 minutes until crust is golden brown and rhubarb is bubbly. Serve with sliced fresh strawberries from Cowdery Farm! OMG. So good.

And *NEWSFLASH*! You can be at the Athens Farmers Market on Wednesdays, too! We'll be there from 10am-1pm. I'll have a Wednesday update after this week (which will be our third for the year). So far, there's been asparagus, strawberries, zucchini, beautiful flowering plants, honey, edibles, chevre, jams and jellies, bacon, eggs and much more!

And of course, salsa. I know Charlie can't get enough. Neither can Bruno. You'll just have to come see for yourself!