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Plan ahead for your farmers market madness

Wed., May 19, 2010

Markets in full swing, some at new locations

Spring farmers markets have sprung.

Be sure to know where to go before heading out for early market greens and bedding plants. Two popular markets – the Spokane Farmers Market and South Perry Farmers Market – have new homes this season.

Other shoppers may not have to go as far for farm direct produce: There’s a new Spokane Northside Farmers Market near Francis and Division.

The Spokane Farmers Market has moved from its former home, three blocks south to 10 W. Fifth Ave., at the west end of the grassy field below Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center between Browne and Division streets.

The first market day was Saturday. Wednesday markets begin on June 9. The market runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Street parking is available on Fifth Avenue and marketgoers can use the parking area under the freeway, across Fourth Avenue. The lot can be reached from Third Avenue between Division and Browne by turning onto the street between Parker Paint and the German American Society.

On Saturdays only, Sacred Heart allows parking in two lots for the farmers market: at St. Anne’s Children and Family Center and in the lot on the west end of the market along Browne Street.

Construction along Second Avenue in downtown Spokane made the market move necessary, organizers say.

The South Perry Farmers Market is also moving this year.

The market will be in the parking lot at The Shop, 924 S. Perry St. It opens for its fifth season on June 3 and will be held Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m.

The new Spokane Northside Farmers Market is held Wednesdays and Saturdays at 315 E. Francis Ave., at Francis and Lidgerwood. Wednesday hours are 3 to 7 p.m. On Saturdays, the market is held 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Spokane Northside Farmers Market is the newest member of the Washington State Farmers Market Association. There are seven others in the Spokane area, including Airway Heights, Cheney, Liberty Lake, Millwood, Montfort School, South Perry and the Spokane Farmers Market.

Last year, market managers worried that the difficult economy would hurt sales. However, vendors at the seven area markets brought in a little more than $1 million last year according to WSFMA records, said Angela Pizelo, a board member and the manager of the Liberty Lake Farmers Market.

Pizelo says sales at the Liberty Lake market increased about 8 percent last year. “That’s a lot of money going directly to small farms and food producers,” she said.

Markets aren’t just serving higher-income families. In 2009, a little more than $90,000 worth of WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers were redeemed at farmers markets in Spokane County, according to a report from the state Department of Health. Many of the markets in Eastern Washington now accept food stamps.

For the first time this year, the Kootenai County Farmers Market, in its 25th season, also accepts food stamps. Inquire at the information booth at individual markets for details on using WIC vouchers, food stamps and credit cards.

Markets are also sharing more online information than ever with customers. Many markets are using social media, such as Facebook, to update customers on seasonal market produce and special events and share recipes.

Greens are some of the earliest market produce to appear.

Ellen Lyman, a vendor at the Montfort School Farmers Market, says although it is best to use them fresh, she recommends freezing extra spring greens and adding them directly (do not thaw) to soups, stews, stir-fries, scrambled eggs, omelets, quiches, pizza, spaghetti sauce, lasagna, bread, cornbread or biscuits.

Here are more of her tips and some recipes from area farmers markets:

Green onions : Wash and pat dry. Chop the greens into 1/2-inch lengths, the white onion into 1/4-inch lengths. Freeze in zip-top freezer bags.

Spinach : Wash and spin or pat dry. Chop large leaves into 2- to 3-inch lengths. Stuff into zip-top freezer bags and freeze. Crumble into desired size when adding it to recipes.

Swiss chard : Wash and spin or pat dry. Remove large stems. Slice into 1- by 3-inch strips. Freeze in zip-top freezer bags.

Kale : Wash and spin or pat dry. Small 2- to 3-inch leaves can be left whole. Slice larger leaves into 1- by 3-inch strips. Freeze in zip-top freezer bags.

Asparagus Strata

From Angela Pizelo, market manager, Liberty Lake Farmers Market.

1 pound fresh asparagus

1 loaf good-quality artisan bread (about 6 thin slices of bread or more; depending on the size pan you use, can also use thinly sliced baguette)

¾ cup sautéed mushrooms (optional, but delicious)

1 cup finely chopped ham (optional)

11/2 cup shredded cheese (I use Swiss, but any kind from cheddar to feta will work)

2 cups milk

6 eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon salt

Steam asparagus and cool in ice water. You can either leave the spears whole or slice into ½-inch pieces.

Cover the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish with bread slices. Spread half of the asparagus on top of the bread (and half of the optional ingredients, if using), and then sprinkle with a third of the cheese. Repeat this bread, asparagus, and cheese layer, and then top with one more layer of bread and the rest of the cheese.

In a medium bowl, combine milk, eggs, and salt. Pour over the bread layers. Cover and refrigerate for 5 hours or overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

White Wine-Garlic Salad Dressing

From the Kootenai County Farmers Market (for more recipes, go to www.kootenaicounty “This dressing is incredibly versatile – it can be tossed with baby spinach with some dried cranberries and toasted nuts or sunflower seeds sprinkled on for added taste and texture. Try it drizzled over grilled asparagus or as the dressing for a pasta or rice salad.”

1 clove garlic, grated

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar or Champagne vinegar

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl combine garlic, mustard and vinegar with a fork or a whisk. Continue whisking while adding olive oil in a small, steady stream. Whisk until oil is emulsified into the vinegar mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The dressing can be made ahead of time – store in refrigerator and whisk or shake container to combine before use.

Suggested variations: For maple vinaigrette, add 1 tablespoon maple syrup to mustard and garlic, and use cider vinegar. For balsamic vinaigrette, substitute balsamic vinegar for white wine vinegar.

Yield: Varies

Hot Spinach Salad

From “The Washington Cookbook,” recipes collected and published by Steven D. Harvey. Heather Greene-Beloit, promotions coordinator, for the Spokane Farmers Market, shared this recipe from her brother’s book.

4 or 5 slices bacon

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon celery seed

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup wine vinegar

Fresh spinach, cleaned and patted dry

2 cups fresh mushroom slices

Cut bacon into small pieces and fry until crisp in a deep frying pan or wok. Remove bacon bits and leave grease in the pan.

Add honey, celery seed, lemon juice and vinegar to the pan. Then mix in spinach, as much as you like, along with mushrooms and reserved bacon bits.

Serve immediately while hot.

This salad is also delicious topped with roasted walnuts, raw minced garlic and crumbled cheese.

Yield: Varies

Rhubarb Confit

From chef Adam Hegsted, Coeur d’Alene Casino.

About 1 pound rhubarb, trimmed

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Zest of 1 orange plus 1 tablespoon juice

Heat the oven to 275 degrees. Cut the rhubarb stalks into 2-inch sticks (stalks can be of any thickness).

Combine the sugar, salt, clove, ginger, orange zest and juice in a bowl. Add the rhubarb and mix; let macerate for 30 minutes.

Place rhubarb on a pan in one layer, and pour remaining liquid over rhubarb. Cover pan with foil and bake until the rhubarb is tender, about 30 to 35 minutes. Don’t stir or the rhubarb may fall apart. Let cool slightly before removing from pan or the rhubarb may turn to mush.

Serve as you would strawberry shortcake, or with a shortbread cookie and whipped sour cream. To make whipped sour cream, combine 2 ounces sour cream, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and 4 ounces of whipping cream, whipped.

Yield: Varies.

Rhubarb Streusel Snacking Cake

From “Cake Keeper Cakes,” by Lauren Chattman (Taunton Press, 2009). “I try to pick slender stalks with no strings, but if yours are thicker and a bit older, be sure to peel away the outer layer of strings before chopping the rhubarb,” Chattman writes.

For the streusel:

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits, chilled

For the cake:

1/2 pound fresh rhubarb stalks, tough strings removed and cut into 1/4-inch dice

3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

11/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 10-inch round springform pan.

To make the streusel: Combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the butter. Work the mixture between your fingers to form large crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the cake: Toss the rhubarb with the confectioners’ sugar and set aside. Whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla in a large measuring cup. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

Combine the butter and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the egg mixture and mix until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary. Add the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Scatter the rhubarb over the batter. Scatter the streusel over the rhubarb.

Bake the cake until it is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.

Release the sides of the pan and use a large spatula to slide the cake from the pan bottom to a wire rack. Cool completely, cut into wedges and serve.

Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

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