Farmers of the Corn

Everywhere I go lately there seem to be signs for corn. Fresh corn! Sweet corn! Corn here! I think that summer is really truly here when the corn arrives.

While there might be signs all over Amherst, the best corn without a doubt is from Kendrick Park Market. For more information on what’s it like to live, breathe, eat and inhale corn, I decided to speak with a real expert. Farmer Dave Wissemann from Warner Farm gave me some kernels of knowledge on the subject. (His pun, not mine, by the way.)

Dave’s family has been growing corn since the 1700‘s, but his father has made sweet corn  a staple crop at Warner Farm in the 1980’s, and Dave himself has been farming an organic variety recently. Insects are the biggest challenge that the Warners have to deal with. A lot of corn is grown both locally and around the country, which means that pests tend to invade it more than other crops. The two insect species that invade their corn the most are called European Corn Borer and Corn Earworm. I think those names make them sound cute, but they are not fuzzy and cuddly on farms. Beneficial insects can fight against the invaders, and Dave also protects his crop with a natural insecticide made from plants.

Another difficulty in the life of a corn farmer is that sweet corn is heavy. This surprised me – I imagine lugging sacks of apples and potatoes around a farm can get heavy, but I wouldn’t have expected that of corn. Dave assured me the weight of hoisting countless bags of corn does get quite heavy.

I wondered what the difference between sweet corn and not sweet corn is, and I learned that there are 2 main types of corn that Americans interact with. One is called field or dent corn. That’s the stuff that grows on huge farms in the midwest and is primarily used for feed, corn meal and is processed into corn syrup. If something has corn as a processed ingredient, it’s probably dent corn. Biofuel and ethanol also come from this variety. Sweet corn, on the other hand, is what we tend to eat off the cob. Chowders will have sweet corn, and if you buy corn from a farm stand, grocery store or market, it will most likely be sweet corn. Dent corn tends to be processed, sweet corn is usually raw.

After this conversation, I can’t wait for the market this week to stalk (hah!) up on corn. See you there!

Here are two recipes this week:

Corn Fritters, from Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors

Ingredients:

6 ears sweet corn

2 eggs beaten (available from Old Friends, Stone Soup)

4 scallions, including an inch of the greens (available from Old Friends, Kitchen Garden)

1/2 cup parsley (available from Sangha, Stone Soup, Kitchen Garden)

2 tablespoons shredded basil or dill (available from Old Friends, Sangha, Stone Soup, Swartz, Kitchen Garden)

1 cup grated of crumbled cheese – your choice of cheddar, goat, swiss, gouda, or jack (goat and swiss available from Sangha Farm or Robinson)

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

salt and pepper

butter or oil for frying

3 handfuls of arugula, stems trimmed (optional) (available from Old Friends, Stone Soup, Swartz, Kitchen Garden)

1.  Slice the tops of the kernels off the corn, then reverse your knife and press out the milk. Mix the kernels and scrapings with the eggs, scallions, herbs, cheese, and as much flour as can easily be absorbed. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and some pepper.

2.  Melt enough butter or heat enough oil to cover a wide skillet generously. Divide the batter roughly into sixths and drop into the skillet. Fry over medium heat until golden, about 2 minutes, then turn and brown the second side.

3. Place a fritter on each of 6 plates and top with the arugula leaves. Serve right away.

Dave Wissemann’s Favorite:

Find some fresh corn.

Eat it raw.

“ A lot of people don’t realize just how sweet, crisp a good ear of corn can taste. I always try to convince people that raw corn is good corn, and I think every once in awhile I make a believer out of someone.” – Dave Wissemann

Are you a believer? A fan of cooked corn? Have a favorite recipe yourself? Post it here!

Stephanie Aines, Market Blogger

Summer Salads on the Green

Another Wednesday means that it is time for another Kendrick Park Market!!
Who has the energy to cook dinner this week with the heat and humidity? Turning the
oven on is the last thing I want to do in this weather.

And thanks to the market, I don’t have to – and you don’t either! One option is to
have a picnic right on the grounds. Find a nice shady spot, get some pre-made food
like grilled corn and vegetable enchiladas from Kendrick’s Kitchen or maybe a croque
monsieur (French ham and cheese sandwich) made by Chez Albert with local ingredients.
You can share a loaf of fresh, savory bread from Bread Euphoria. My favorite is the
3 Seed, which is both crunchy and soft at the same time.

And why not add some goat cheese from Sangha Farm to the mix? Top it all off with
berries from Bug Hill Farm and Warner Farm. This week promises raspberries,
blueberries, currants, and more. Oh! And you can surround your picnic blanket with the
happiest sunflowers to smile upon the earth from Old Friends Farm. Now that would be
a meal to remember.

Or if you’re not in the mood for a picnic, you still have options. You can still have
the bread, cheese and berries – and you, special person with a kitchen and a few
minutes to chop some veggies, can make a divine, rainbow salad with treasures from
multiple vendors. I challenge folks here to assemble the best salad this afternoon at the
market. Please leave your favorite Kendrick Park salad recipe in the comments section
here!

For now, here is the salad that I had today. Classic, simple, always delicious and
always super healthy. A coworker swooned over my lunch and called it beautiful.
Tomorrow I’m going to try to put together a salad even more mouth-watering. Please
join me!

Basic Salad:

Lettuce (from Stone Soup)
Carrots and cucumbers (also from Stone Soup)
Tomatoes (Old Friends Farm)
Swiss Cheese (Robinson)
Beets (The Kitchen Garden)

Happy Wednesday!

Stephanie Aines, Market Blogger

Strawberry Fields Forever

“Have you heard, there’s a new market in Amherst?”

“There’s a market open on Wednesdays?”

“So, I can go to the market after work?”

Yup, it’s here! Kendrick Park Market is open and in full swing. I stumbled upon this beautiful idea when I was walking through the center of Amherst a few weeks ago. For anybody who might not know, Kendrick Park is the field across the street from Bertucci’s and where Boy Scouts sell Christmas Trees in December.

Honestly, I’m in love with this market. I can stop by on my way home from work and pick up my ingredients for dinner. I’m a big fan of farms and markets in general, and I love knowing that the ingredients in my dinner were still in the soil 48 hours before my meal.

You can stock up on goat cheese, swiss cheese, and cheeses that sound so fancy I don’t even remember their names from Sangha Farm (AND THE OTHER CHEESE FARM: ROBINSON?). Old Friends Farm sells the most beautiful, and sometimes edible! flowers. There is ice cream from Bart’s and bread and other baked goods from Bread Euphoria. Cricket Hill Jams has more types of jam than I could count, while Bug Hill Farm offers creative strawberry preserves, lavender honey, and berry cordials. And the vegetables!!! Each vendor’s veggies are simply amazing and breathtaking. The Kitchen Garden, Stone Soup Farm, Warner Farm, Simple Gifts Farm, Old Friends Farm, Swartz Family Farm all have fresh, beautiful, inspiring veggies.

Last week I thought I needed to accept the fact that strawberry season was over. The strawberry season has been good, and I don’t know about anyone else, but I have been  eating strawberries nonstop for the past few weeks: putting them in salad, with ice cream, canning jam, munching on them right out of the box. Strawberries have been in full swing for most of June, and I thought they were done for the year. BUT NO! The market on Wednesday proved to me that strawberries were around for another week! Warner Farm and Bug Hill Farm both had them, and I was lucky enough to rescue the last carton of Bug Hill’s berries for the week. They were almost too pretty to eat, but I couldn’t help myself. I made a delicious strawberry crisp from a Moosewood recipe, which you can find at the bottom of this post.

Unfortunately, I had eaten so many of the berries on my walk home that I couldn’t make as much of the crisp as I had wanted to. And too bad I didn’t think to get some vanilla ice cream from Bart’s to top it off. Good thing there’s always next week…and the week after that. Warner Farm assured me they will have a particular variety of ever-bearing strawberries throughout the summer season!

The crisp tastes like summer. The crisp part is flaky, crunchy and just buttery enough, while the fruit part tastes simply like sweet, sweet strawberries.

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp from Moosewood Cookbook (but I made it without the rhubarb and it still came out delicious)

Ingredients:

2 lbs fresh rhubarb, cut into 1-inch chunks

3 to 4 cups strawberries

1/3-1/4 cup white sugar

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup flour

2 to 3 Tbs. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. cinammon

a dash or two of each: allspice and nutmeg

1/4 tsp. salt

5 Tbs. melted butter or margarine

 

1)  Preheat over to 375 degrees

2)  Combine the rhubarb and strawberries into a square pan. Sprinkle with white sugar.

3)  Mix together the remaining ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Distribute over the top of the fruit and pat firmly into place.

4)  Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is crisp and lightly browned and the fruit is bubbling around the edges. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, plain or a la mode.

 

 

What’s been your favorite fruit/veggie/herb this summer? Have you been stalking up on strawberries? What do you do with them? Please leave any comments, observations, epiphanies here so we can all talk about the bounty of Kendrick Park Market!

 

See you Wednesday!

Vendor Profile: Sangha Farm

Sangha Farm makers of Tava Cheese- A small diversified family farm.  We grow 2 acres of vegetables & culinary herbs.   Our cheese is produced by our happy herd of Nubian Goats, who spend their days grazing on fresh pasture, along w/our Finnlandish Sheep, and Oxen Moses & Abe.  We  make chevre, feta & goat cheese truffles.  Lamb & goat meat available in the fall & winter.  Raw Goats milk is for sale at the farm.

website: www.sanghafarm.com    email: info@sanghafarm.com

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Vendor Profile: Warner Farm

Warner Farm is a 10th Generation family farm nestled along the Connecticut River in Sunderland. Warner farm has changed alot over the years, and is in the midst of undergoing another transition toward a more sustainable, community centered model. Warner Farm is currently owned by Mike Wissemann, who in the past 20 years has focused on growing a wider and wider diversity of crops and has converted over 20 acres into Certified Organic production. Mike’s son David, along with Jess Marsh and Rosemary Hoeft manage the market garden on the farm that supplies produce for a thriving CSA and several farmers markets.

Warner farm is famed for having the finest strawberries, raspberries, and sweetcorn in the Valley and for being the home of the amazing Mike’s Maze!

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Vendor Profile: Simple Gifts Farm

Simple Gifts Farm is in the heart of North Amherst on a beautiful 35-acre Community-preserved property.  We raise the full seasonal bounty of organic vegetables for sale through Farmer’s Markets and our Community-Supported Agriculture program.  Strawberries, Salad greens, and Heirloom Tomatoes are particular favorites.  We also have organic eggs, grassfed beef and lamb, and pasture-raised pork from our animals who provide are an important part of our crop rotation and soil fertility program.  We are delighted to be part of the new Kendrick Park Market!

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Vendor Profile: The Kitchen Garden

The Kitchen Garden is a specialty vegetable farm run by Tim Wilcox and Caroline Pam since 2006. We grow on 7 acres in Sunderland for farmers’ markets, restaurants, stores, and a small CSA. We take great pride in the freshness, color, and variety of our vegetables, and offer an array of products that are unavailable elsewhere. Our website kitchengardenfarm.com is full of recipes and information about seasonal cooking. We bring a love of good food to our passion for growing it!

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