The stars of winter markets
WHAT: Anacortes Winter Farmers Market
WHEN: Jan. 12, Feb. 9, March 9, April 13
WHERE: Depot Arts Center, 611 R Ave.
WHAT: Bellingham Winter Farmers Market
WHEN: Jan. 19, Feb. 16, March 16
WHERE: Depot Market Square, 1100 Railroad Ave.
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
The farmers markets of summer get all the glory, but pound for pound, winter markets have more guts.
These off-season centers of homegrown commerce are like distillations of their summer counterparts, giving farmers the chance to make a little money, while offering locals an opportunity to buy some produce. Like some secret society for extra-cheerful and healthy people, those who know about the winter markets show up while the rest of the world watches cartoons.
The web page http://www.LocalHarvest.org provides online tools to help farmers thrive, and maintains a database of active farmers markets in the United States. According to LocalHarvest’s Guillermo Payet, there are about 4,700 summer markets nationwide, compared to 1,911 winter markets. He recently added a winter market search feature to the LocalHarvest page, so shoppers can easily find the winter market closest to them.
Winter markets are smaller, cuter and cozier, with more hot cocoa on tap. Like a summer market, the winter market is like a big, living microchip of the farming community. You find out who died, who got pregnant, who grew a beard, and who went to Costa Rica. Like a fire in the dark, winter markets provide heat and light when it’s needed the most.
Many winter markets are flush with “normal” cold weather crops such as potatoes, squash, onions and garlic, not to mention animal and value-added products like beef, pork, cheese and eggs. But thanks to advances in cold-weather horticulture, and with a little help from a warming climate, there are now other foods available, like celery, tomatoes and apples.
But the stars of the winter market are the winter greens, that large and delicious green spectrum of leaves such as spinach, tatsoi, arugula, broccoli, kale, and leafy cabbages like Napa. These greens, planted during the dog days of summer, came of age in cooler, shorter days. Under these conditions, plants build themselves differently. They are smaller, but sturdier, denser and crunchier. Maybe it’s the bleak context in which they appear, but winter greens emanate a vitality that you can see and taste, like earthy, bitter candies.
Included are a couple of dressing recipes to help you enjoy the winter greens. These will also benefit many non-green crops of winter too, like radishes or cauliflower. And when the time comes, these salad sauces will help us enjoy the bounty of summer.
Crazy Mountain Blue Cheese Dressing
—From Cheryl Marchi of Crazy Mountain Inn
1/2 cup milk
3 1/2 cups Best Foods mayo
6 ounces Gorgonzola
4 or 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
Lots of fresh, coarsely ground black pepper
Set a third of the Gorgonzola aside. Blend everything else together. Break apart the unblended chunk of Gorgonzola into little chunks and stir it in. Let it sit for a bit, preferably overnight.
It’s thick enough to use as a dip, but not so thick that your shirt won’t look as splattered as mine does after dipping cauliflower florets too impatiently. Marchi likes it with oniony dishes, such as a dip for onion rings, or to hold the grilled onions in place on a French dip sandwich.
Flower Child Lemon Tahini Dressing
—From Flower Child Vegan Restaurant
8 cloves of garlic, peeled
½ cup fresh lemon juice
2 ½ tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
2 teaspoons evaporated cane sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup grapeseed oil
Put the first seven ingredients in a blender and process on medium speed for 15 seconds. While machine is running, slowly pour in the oils until emulsified. Place in covered container in refrigerator until needed.
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