I attended two farmers' markets last week, and may go to another today. It probably had something to do with the elections.
With the exception of writing about the importance of eating locally and supporting small farmers, I don't tend to use my online writing to talk politics. There are many cogent opinions about politics around the Internet, and I don't like to bore you all. But I will say this: Many of us Californians were put through the ringer last week. It was an extremely bittersweet week as we watched the results of the presidential election at the same time as our anti-gay marriage amendment and a proposition to give more freedom to our chickens, pigs and cows both passed.
But at the end of the day, and despite all politics, many of us gather at the farmers' markets. They are becoming the town squares of today, and they are a great place to meet up with friends and socialize at the same time that you pick up fresh produce from local farmers. Going to farmers' markets is one of the most grounding activities that I do.
At the San Rafael Farmers' Market, I was really excited to see chanterelle mushrooms. Chanterelles are foraged and found on the forest floor in the Pacific Northwest and in California. The season begins in the north and heads southward. A few weeks ago, we could only get chanterelles from Washington State, but the chanterelles I bought last week were from Mendocino County, California.
I don't do much to chanterelles, preferring to cook them in ways that highlight their wonderful flavor and meaty texture. They are expensive—the chanterelles that I bought last week were $20 per pound—and I like simple preparations so the flavor doesn't get lost. One of my favorite restaurants in town is serving sauteed chanterelles with pancetta, wilted spinach and lemon which is delicious. I have made Blake's recipe of warm chanterelle and pancetta salad with great results. Yesterday I chose to sautee the chanterelles with some shallots and serve under with a poached egg for a decadent, rich Sunday brunch.
Persimmons are in the market in full force. It took me years to become a persimmon convert, but now I can't pass a pile of ripe fuyu persimmons (which can be eaten hard) without buying a couple. I don't tend to fuss with fruit and eat persimmons out of hand, however many people love to add them to salads. Leah had a good overview of the different types of persimmons in her post a couple weeks ago.
I've been buying loads of cauliflower. It's really beautiful right now, and available in different sizes—from heads which are a couple inches across to heads that are several pounds. I tend to make them according to the instructions on the Brownie Points Blog, but am also looking forward to making this simple cauliflower soup sometime soon.
Seasonal Produce Guide
In Season Right This Minute
Lots of pomegranates
It's Time to Put Up
About the author: Jennifer Maiser writes about locally and sustainably grown food. She is the founder and editor of the Eat Local Challenge website and writes at Life Begins at 30, her personal weblog.