Kitchen Focus

Last month, we looked at CSAs and how they can bring fresh, local produce to your table. But they are not the only way to get freshness to your table. This month, we continue our look at bringing freshness to your table with a look at farmers' markets. Why should you even consider buying from a local farmers' market? The food is often a bit more expensive, so it's important to justify that added cost.
  • You know what you’re getting. When you buy from a farmers' market, you get to talk to people who have worked on that farm and know about the produce you are buying. They can tell you when it's been picked, how best to store it and even share some favorite recipes. Try getting that from the guy who is stocking melons at the grocery store!
  • The food is fresher and riper. A lot of produce has to be picked early before its peak of freshness to allow for handling and shipping. The food you buy at a farmers' market simply has a shorter distance to travel and is likely to make it to you juicier and more flavorful than their grocery store counterparts.
  • You help the environment. The amount of fuel needed to ship food and the costs associated with the construction and running of a grocery store evaporate when you focus on food from the farmers' market. It's just a small way you can help reduce your energy footprint and help Mother Nature.
  • You support local farmers. Generally, farmers keep more of the profit when you buy from them directly. But cutting out middlemen, you get to help them in their work and reap the most flavor and nutrition for your dollar.

If you are interested in learning more about farmers' markets and more, check out the following link:

Finally, before I leave you until next month, let me share with you a recipe featuring fresh strawberries from the market. Enjoy!

Strawberry Tarts

  • 6 puff pastry shells
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 container (3-1/2 oz) mascarpone or cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon cherry-flavored liqueur
  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1/2 cup strawberry jelly

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the puff pastry shells according to the package directions. Cool them on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, with electric mixer on high, beat the heavy cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. In a medium bowl, combine the cheese and liqueur; beat until soft. Fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture. Place a few strawberry halves on the bottom of each shell; fill with the cream mixture. Top with the strawberry halves cut into a fan shape. In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, cook the jelly with 2 teaspoons of water until it's melted. Brush the jelly over the strawberries. Garnish with the remaining strawberries.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes