The last day of school, the first hummingbird sighting, the opening of the pool and last but not least, the Farmers Market; all of these are rites of summertime. I wake with anticipation on the opening day of the market. What will I buy? What will I cook tonight with it? I arrive at the market and am usually enticed by almost each and every stall. Flowers, produce, organic meat and eggs, bread, honey and wine. Yum. I undoubtedly leave with a huge bag of impulse purchases. I get home, unload the bad and think, "now what?" There is nothing worse than looking in my fridge the following week and seeing my expensive, uber-healthy produce rotting because I couldn't figure out what to do with it.
Several years ago, I was taking a gardening class at the Chicago Botanical Gardens. The professor there recommended a cookbook called, "Food to Live By" by Myra Goodman for gardeners. Myra Goodman is one half of the couple that created Earthbound Farms in California. She and her family are omnivores and are committed to eating organically. Over the years it has become my go-to before and after Farmer's Market trips. I can not say enough good things about this book. It contains delicious, easy recipes for every vegetable, fruit and berry that summertime offers. It also has a wide variety of dressings and marinades for meats. I have made a delicious "wild" Mushroom with Ragout and Polenta when a bag of wild mushrooms perplexed me. I also highly recommend the Tomato, Eggplant and Zucchini Tian for a different, delicious healthy side dish.
Myra has quite a sweet tooth and also has recipes for lots of desserts. She features a Strawberry Ruhbarb Crumble, Fresh Peach Pie, Farm Stand Carrot Cake and Bing Cherry Sorbet to name a few. Since berries are in season right now, here is Myra's recipe for Summer Berry Crisp:
Summer Berry Crisp
Makes one 2-Quart Crisp
FOR THE FILLING
6 cups assorted fresh berries, such as hulled strawberries, blueberries or blackberries
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Coitreau or Grand Marnier (optional)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
FOR THE TOPPING
3/4 unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. all-spice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup Homemade Creme Fraiche (optional)*
*(I have substituted non-fat plain Greek yogurt and it is really good )
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 F
2. Make the filling; Place the berries, orange zest,lemon zest, lemon juice and liquor, if using , in a large bowl.
3. Place the granulated sugar and the cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add the sugar mixture to the berries and toss gently to combine. Transfer the berry mixture to a shallow 2- quart baking dish.
4. Make the topping: Place the flour, allspice, salt, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and butter in a medium size bowl. Using your fingers, blend in the butter until it is pea sized bits. Add the rolled oats and stir to combine. Sprinkle the topping over the berries but do not pack it down.
5. Bake the crisp until the fruit juices bubble up around the edges of the baking dish and the topping turns golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Let the crisp cool slightly before serving it warm with creme fraiche (or no-fat yogurt!), if desired.
The Farmer's Market is a wonderful place to help you get out of your comfort zone and try new foods. The right cookbook can help turn those impulsive grabs into a mid-summers night dream dinners. Myra Goodman has come out with several more cookbooks but I find I have no need to stray from her original.
Get out there and grow something! (or buy it at the Farmer's Market)