(Pictured at left, mock orange blossoms from Thomas Family Farm, which grows beautiful flowers all year long. Though my sense of smell is impaired right now, I thought they smelled not unlike heliotrope.) Walking through the rows at the Saturday farmers market, located in the multi-level parking lot at Cabrillo College, I was struck by how dwindled down everything was. It was appropriate to the January weather that rain and cold had changed the crops available. Bitter greens, squashes, herbs, and citrus were in abundance. I cast a skeptical eye at the people offering red strawberries, not only because they are so out of season, but because they are "conventionally" grown (if by "conventional" you mean "I like to poison my farm workers with methyl bromide). I would no more buy a poisonous strawberry in January than I would buy stock in Monsanto or finance a crystal meth lab. (Did you know that, for every pound of crystal meth that's manufactured, ten pounds of extremely toxic, life-threatening waste are generated? File under "Things I Wish I Didn't Have to Know About," but there it is.)
I finally bought a Carnival squash, having recently tasted one prepared at the skillful hands of Chef Rebecca King, at Gabriella Café downtown. She had roasted the squash and stuffed it with a mushroom-leek-walnut filling, then drizzled a balsamic reduction around the plate. (That's it on the right.) The flavor was not unlike that of the Marina di Chioggia pumpkins I'd brought home from Crystal Bay Farm, back in October. They really are a beautiful vegetable, and the skin (in places) was tender enough to eat, too.
(Pictured at left, an exquisite protea wreath.) It was the presence of flowers that carried the day for us, though we did come up with Satsuma tangerine and Clementines for Logan. With the grey sky unsure whether to clear or rain, and relatively empty aisles so free to roam, the flowers provided a colorful counterpoint to the winter presence.
Oh, shut up, Tana, you say: you don't know what winter is. We live in the Northeast! I do know what winter is: I lived in the heart of the Catskill mountains, where it one night snowed over three feet. Never again.
We covered the market with Logan in record time, because we didn't need much and there wasn't much there. Market manager Catherine Barr was headed off for ten days in Vincenze, Italy: she's never been. Luckily, I'm pretty free of envy and jealousy, and I was so glad to hear she gets such a nice trip. She's a wonderful woman.
So, a quiet market and not many farmers to write about. That's January for you.
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INTERESTING WEBSITE: Juicy Studio offers a Readability Test for your website. Plug in your URL and they analyze the site, and tell you what level reader you're targetting. I'm neither happy nor sad to report that my blog is at the same level as "most popular novels;" in other words at slightly the eighth grade level. I am deliberately trying to write in simple, elemental language, as that is the language of the natural world. Maybe I should strive to use more $3 words, but I'd lose the element of poetry that comes from the colors and tastes and textures of the places I visit. (I plugged in a few dozen URLs of the most popular blogs I know, based on a couple of recent awards sites, and can report that only a handful broke the 10th grade level, and none was higher than Movable Feast, though San Francisco Gourmet came close. (No duh there: NS is so intelligent.)
I wonder if they account for spelling and punctuation. I wonder if they know when people use an apostrophe when they use the possessive,"its," or if they deduct points for grammatical errors. Anyway. It's a fascinating way to parse data and information.
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I'm gearing up for lots of activity on the farm front, but now is a time for resting and getting well. This cold has been lingering with everyone I know, and I'm exhausted from taking care of myself, of Logan, and of Bob.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Winter is not a season, it's an occupation." —Sinclair Lewis
Thanks for visiting.