While I don’t think that the novelty of having gravy as a permanent side dish option could get old, let’s do try and move on from heavy holiday dishes at least for a moment before the Christmas-themed gluttony really gets going. Fortunately, there’s an abundance of juicy green things to put some virtue back onto your plate.
–Baby Spinach and Arugula Hoophouse-grown greens are starting to arrive! Though it’s too cold to grow these little babies outside at the moment, they thrive in passively-heated greenhouses, but they do tend to be a little more fragile than their counterparts grown outside, so handle them gently and enjoy them soon.
What else to look for at the farmers’ markets »
Good thing we got our most dogmatic of food holidays out of the way for the year. Seriously. It’s as though the one rule about Thanksgiving is that we don’t talk about anything BUT Thanksgiving. So I’m not giving you yet another “innovative” take on how to recycle your leftovers or make a better turkey sandwich, only vegetables. Heads up though: If the Headhouse Farmer’s Market is your market of choice, you’ll have to wait until December 8th to restock, as market vendors are taking a week off to recover from Turkey Day. The Clark Park Market will be operating, as usual, as will the Rittenhouse Market, though it has shifted from the main growing season schedule of 9:00 to 3:00 to winter hours from10:00 until 2:00.
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With less than a week until Thanksgiving, I’m putting my grinchiness aside and fully embracing the decorative-gourd-adorned, pumpkin-pie-spiced, charred-marshmallow-topped, beautiful gluttony of the holiday. It is truly tempting, since we live in the Northeast, for me to tell you that Thanksgiving is the OG of local, seasonal cooking, but since my goal is not to be entirely obvious with this column, I won’t tell you to eat sweet potatoes, cranberries, pie pumpkins, or brussels sprouts this week–even though that’s where a lot of farms’ energies are going. Instead, as you shop for your holiday meal keep your eyes open for cool, crunchy, healthy things you’re going to want to eat the day after you stuff yourself as big as a Thanksgiving turkey. Also, keep in mind that this week is the last one of the season for many outdoor farmers markets so even if you’re not cooking or hosting, this might be your last chance to stock up on local goodies unless you sign up for a winter CSA or visit the Fair Food Farmstand at Reading Terminal Market.
Note: Headhouse’s Sunday market runs through 12/22 with a special pre-Thanksgiving market this Wednesday. Clark Park runs every Saturday, all year round.
What’s good this week?
Allow me first to say, I love Thanksgiving. Family togetherness, pie, and Grandma Teel doing her best to not let slip her trademarked Georgia “good lawd” while making polite, dinner table conversation with our chosen family of ex-Peace Corps volunteers, artists, nerds, do-gooders and “creative” types. That said, I resent how the minute November arrives the only foods we can talk about seem to involve potato, cranberry, or poultry. There are bitter, punchy, interesting flavors out there, guys, and here are a few to look for…
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Look, we know that while you were checking your kids’ Halloween candy “for safety” you were really just siphoning off mini Kit-Kat bars and Junior Mints for yourself. Shame on you. Go eat some vegetables.
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While Oktoberfest celebrations are great excuses to ingest the bulk of one’s calories in sausage, beer, and pretzel formats, October is also the month for some of the best local produce and wild- foraged edibles in our region. Don’t let the increasingly chilly weather be your excuse to put on a hoodie and never look back from bar food.
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Finally! It’s starting to feel like fall around here…
What’s on the way out and what’s right now! »
Yes, it’s October…aaand it’s still summer. Just when it starts feeling autumnal and we haul out our sweaters there’s another 80-something degree day and we’re left sweaty again. The bright side is that never-ending summer means never-ending summer produce.
Supposedly on the way out…
- Summer Favorites: Peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, green beans, peaches, and even sweet corn are still lingering. Do yourself a favor and freeze some local corn, or put up some salsa. Pick up the Food in Jars cookbook, by Philly’s own canning maven, Marissa McLellan, for inspiration and head to Fante’s for jars.
- Figs and Grapes: Their brief seasons are winding down, so now’s the time if you haven’t taken the time to search out these intensely flavored, local treats.
What’s right now and what’s next »
This, friends, is the best kind of weather that Philadelphia has to offer. Take advantage of these glorious fall days and all the delicious things that accompany them by picking up a few seasonal treats at your local farmer’s market this weekend. If your market happens to be the Rittenhouse one, do remember that they have abbreviated hours this week because of the Rittenhouse Art Show. For more information check here or @FarmToCity
On the way out…
- Melons: Cantaloupe and watermelons are beginning to dwindle along with our desire to eat them now that Fall is here. Get your fill before they disappear.
- Peppers, Eggplant, Summer Squash: It’s ratatouille time and caponata time and time for you to be an absolute glutton while these summer favorites, alongside a few still lingering tomatoes, are still available.
- Pears: Look for both European varieties and Asian ones as well, but make sure you treat them differently: Asian pears should be eaten crispy and European ones like Bosc and Anjou should be allowed to ripen. Ask your vendor if you’re not sure which is which.
- Apples: We’ve got plenty of time with apples, so there’s not really any reason to rush to them while melons, peaches and plums are still around, but there is really nothing better than the crunch of one right off the tree or a glass of ice cold cider on a still-warm day.
- Pawpaws: Keep your eyes out for these yellow fruits. They don’t look like something that would grow locally here, but they DO (honest). They have an amazing tropical flavor and a custardy texture like a banana crossed with a mango. Not to be missed.