Seasons at Our Table: Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ Market Season

At the beginning of the summer we invited our readers to share a family recipe using fresh local produce.  Below we’re highlighting 13 submissions our readers posted, featuring local produce often bought fresh from our farmers’ markets and road side stands!  Get inspired and thinking about how you can use locally grown fresh produce for your family dinner!

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Kat Allen of Northampton writes: I’m not a great cook, and my husband and I don’t have much time, but we do try hard get our family eating well and to have family dinner each night and we’ve landed on something that works well for us… On a day when we do have some time, we’ll cook up a big load of veggies in a little bit olive oil – usually in a big pan on the stove, sometimes on the grill outside. When possible we’ll get our kids involved in picking out the veggies (at our CSA, at the farmers’ market, or at the grocery store), and chopping up the veggies (a two-handled rocking knife and some clear instructions makes it safe even for our 6-year old).

Then we use these veggies in a bunch of easy, quick ways throughout the week:

  • Throw it on top of whole wheat pasta – with red sauce, pesto, or just plain
  • Put it on the table with beans, cheese, and whole wheat burrito or taco shells for make-your-own burritos or tacos
  • Use it as a side dish with rice and beans (when in a real rush I buy prepared rice and beans at the Greenfield Coop) or chicken and rice (sometimes I buy a cooked rotisserie chicken)
  • Throw it on top of a pizza crust (prepared or homemade crust)
  • Mix it in a pan with eggs and milk and call it an eggs bake
  • Throw it in a pie crust (I use the prepared, roll-out kind) with eggs and milk and call it a quiche

Finally, we just throw some fresh fruit, raw veggies and milk in lunch boxes with these dinner left-overs when we pack lunches each day – viola – meals for a week!

Sandra Dias of Holyoke writes: This is a simple dish, but it’s tasty. I like to slice zucchini and yellow summer squash quite thin, mix it with some extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle it with grated asiago cheese, then bake it for a half an hour at 375F. We make this simple veggie side dish every summer on our annual trip to Cape Cod and everyone seems to love it.

Becky Castro of Northampton writes: We love fresh salads with baby spring greens topped in a warm garlic dressing… First, gather up your greens: my little ones used to love picking baby spinach, mescalin leaves, and dandelion leaves out of our garden (what ever you have growing works perfectly). Nowadays, I go to the farmers market and use whatever is in season. I still use the dandelion leaves from my yard as they are plentiful!! Then make a bowl full of greens.

Top it off with this dressing:

  • 1 head of garlic roasted or finely chopped
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2T balsamic vinegar
  • 1T lime juice
  • 1/8 salt
  • 1 med. shallot, finely chopped
  • Pepper

Squeeze the roasted garlic into a pan. Add oil, vinegar, lime juice, shallot, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until the shallot is softened, like 3-5 minutes. Pour the dressing on top of the greens until coated. You can also add pine nuts and goat cheese. (Once summer and fall come, add kale and beet greens. I have not tried mustard greens or swiss chard but bet they would taste yummy.). Thankfully, both of my kids love garlic and always have.

Miranda Marks of Northampton writes: When I was young, I remember standing knee-deep in rich soil, watching my mom and dad dig, plant and pull up weeds. By the end of the summer, my mom would send us out to pick tomatoes straight off the vine, and basil so fresh I could smell it as soon as I stepped out of the door.- Before my dad died after one of those sun-soaked summers, I was always focused on picking, planting and eating fresh foods. – Last year was the first time I made my own garden, and those hazy memories came back to life. One of my favorite recipes is the classic Italian Caprese, tomatoes, basil, olive oil and mozzarella. – This summer, I can’t wait to eat tomatoes that smell so good your mouth waters.

Ellen Moriarty of Hampden writes: Our family loves veggie pizza on the grill all summer! It has been so much fun for my daughters Hannah and Gracie to work together to create awesome tasting & healthy pizzas. Hannah is our self taught, in-house dough expert. Gracie kicks it into high gear pretending she is an Italian pizza chef. She has the apron, the hat & the accent!

  • Begin with your favorite pizza dough and roll it out.
  • Brush one side with olive oil & sprinkle with salt and pepper, grill for a couple of minutes. Brush the top side with olive oil and flip.
  • You can pre-grill some of the veggies, we like our crunchy so we start piling them on.
  • Tomatoes, onions, peppers, broccoli, spinach, summer squash, carrots, cucumbers, garlic and your favorite cheese. Cook for a few minutes & enjoy.

Gracie says, “We’re eating a rainbow!” We really enjoyed our fresh, colorful, local veggies from C&C farm last year. Ciao Bella!
Beryl Hoffman of Florence writes: We often make a crustless quiche, and it tastes great with local fresh vegetables in the summer. You can add any vegetables to this recipe — we usually put in spinach and zucchini. And sometimes even my son will try it!

Crustless Quiche:

  • some veggies: 1 zucchini shredded, a couple handfuls of spinach, etc.
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • some grated cheese (cheddar works well) blended in and some on top

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until golden on top. Enjoy!

Jackie MacNeish of Ashfield writes: One summer, my grandmother planted a garden full of nothing but basil, garlic and tomotoes. I remember being confused in the beginning of this garden why it only had three ingredients. Later, when we harvested our first batch of each, my grandmother lined the grandkids up in the kitchen and gave us each a task: wash, peel, chop, slice, puree. I was the washer usually! The kitchen would start to smell of mouth-watering pesto. We’d have pesto pasta that night for dinner, but we’d also have frozen pesto to last for the rest of the year! Yum!

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Seasons at Our Table: Maple Sugar

Maple Sugar Season

At the beginning of Maple Sugar Season we invited our readers to share with us how Maple Sugar Season gets their family outdoors and participating in the harvest with their community. We also invited them to share their favorite recipe that they like to make for/with their family breakfast/brunch hour.

The feedback was warming and the recipes delicious and inspiring!  Here are recipes our Western MA friends and neighbors had to offer:

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When asked how the Maple Sugar Season gets their family outdoors and participating in the harvest with their community, our readers had much to share:

Stephanie Billings of Florence writes: “My children’s preschool takes a field trip to the Hadley Sugar Shack every sugar season. Joe gives a great tour to the kids and adults that includes science, maple facts and hands on demonstrations. It’s a great way to integrate nature, science, and local food awareness. During the sugar season we try different sugar shacks as a great way to explore the valley and experience spring.”

Beth Caissie of Greenfield writes: “I mark the end of winter by the first buckets and tubes I see attached to maple trees on the side of the road. I love to take my family for hikes during this (sometimes muddy, sometimes icy) time of year to look for hidden sugar bushes deep in the woods. The first time I found the tangle of plastic tubes running from tree to tree far from the road, I was exploring the Quabbin Reservoir. We also love to head to the sugar shacks for a meal this time of year, and stock up on syrup, which we do buy by the gallon.”

Rebecca Heath of Pittsfield writes: “We love maple sugaring season… as a family, including our 93 year old grandmother, we head to Ioka Valley Farm for their delicious farm fresh breakfast. Our favorite of course is the fresh boiled maple syrup but they also have the best maple butter…MMMM….this year my husband and four year old daughter tapped the trees on our land. It was amazing to watch her learn which one’s were maple trees by the bark they have. She helped use the hammer and hang the bucket and to her surprise sap started immediately flowing. We don’t have any fancy boiler so we boiled it outside and it took forever but the finished product we are so proud of. It is a great family memory that we will continue each year. So important for our children to learn about trees, animals, plants and our food. Each time we eat our pancakes with our own maple syrup I will think of those memories. It’s priceless.”

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Suggested Events 03/14/09-03/20/09

Mud Season Road Closure

Mud Season in the hilltown! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

SUGGEST AN EVENT

If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page.

FEATURED EVENT

The sugar shack are all fired up!  Point out to your kids as you drive by the plumbs of steam rising up as barrels of sap are brought in from the sugar bushes and cooked down into maple syrup.  Several sugar shacks offer a pancake breakfast to go along with their fresh maple syrup.  Check out the post, Maple Sugar Moon, for area sugar shacks that offer breakfast, tours and demos.  This weekend are a few special events that celebrate sugaring season.  See their listings below.

On St. Patrick’s Day (Tuesday, March 17), Mariana Iranzi will do a free after-school show at Cup & Top Cafe in the center of Florence, MA at 4pm. Join Mariana for a bilingual musical afternoon adventure for the whole family!

HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW

Billy Jonas & Robbert Bobbert

New Music by Bill Jonas & Robbert Bobbert

We are pleased to offer four free tickets to see the Pioneer Valley Symphony (PVS) featuring Grammy winning storyteller, Bill Harley and Peter and the Wolf in Greenfield, MA at the Greenfield High School Auditorium on Saturday, March 28th, at 7 pm, courtesy of PVS. Deadline to enter is Wednesday, 03/25/09 @ 7pm (EST).   Click HERE for more details and to enter to win.

Tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show on Saturdays from 9-10am on Valley Free Radio (VFR), 103.3FM (Northampton, MA), or listen via streaming audio at www.ValleyFreeRadio.org. Every Saturday VFR offers four hours of commercial-free, quality family program from 6-10am, including Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child from 7am-9am.  It’s better than Saturday morning cartoons!

Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Get Directions | Free Museum Passes | School Closings and Delays | Family Centers (Ages 0-4) | Facebook

Events Happening in the Hilltowns

Saturday – 03/14

Bill Harley

Click here to enter to win free tickets!

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