Markets: TA 14th,Cambridge 16th & Hamilton 17th.

Good Morning Blog Followers (All three of you!). I am writing this on Monday 11th March 2013 in a little Raglan bach overlooking the perfect surf of Manu Bay where all the best surfers  of Raglan  including , New Zealand long board champion Daniel Kereopa – Hi Daniel!, are riding the waves. There is not a cloud in the sky and only a breath of a breeze on land. Closer to paradise you couldn’t get except of course at your local Farmers’ Market! 
Well once again last Saturday and Sunday we had a magnificent turnout of loyal locals and a good smattering of first timers and passers by at the Cambridge and Hamilton markets. It must be the good weather that is putting people in the mood for an outdoor browse amongst the stalls loaded with freshly picked apples and nashis, grapes and passionfruit, blueberries and peaches, raspberries and melons. March is the month when you can just revel in the taste of genuine freshly harvested fruit which enjoys the highest possible nutrient levels and more importantly the best flavour as fresh Farmers’ Market fruit has no need for prior-to-sale chilling.Publish

A jolly nice alternative breakfast is a fruit smoothie made with some or all of the above fruit selection, whizzed up with natural yoghurt and a little local honey from market stalls ‘Country Gold’ or ‘Sweetree Honey’. A teaspoon of Bee Pollen also available from Sweetree adds flavour and mega protein and minerals. Add some raw oatmeal for texture and fibre. Another long lasting breakfast suggestion which a customer told me about, is a Health Bannock from Celtic Cuisine crumbled into yoghurt with fresh blueberries or other fresh market fruit. She maintains that this keeps her going until lunch with no hunger pangs around morning tea sending her to the canteen for a naughty doughnut or a Mars Bar.
This is the time of year when our grandmothers would bottle the surplus of the fruit and vegetable harvest for use throughout the winter and the leaner Spring months. Bottling went out of fashion for years with the convenience and perceived cheapness of supermarket tinned tomatoes and fruit but I have a feeling that with the resurgence of both Farmers’ Markets and home vege patches becoming quite fashionable that the most natural extension of this is to get back to bottling and preserving. If you are keen to give it a go, the dump shop usually has a range of old Agee preserving Jars for a fraction of the cost to buy them new and once you have the, you have them forever.
Start with gherkins or bread and butter pickle and conveniently, Mike Roach has masses of gherkins at the moment. These are easy to preserve. The recipe is in the Edmunds cookery book but your Granny would know how to do it by heart! Mike also has bucket loads of tomatoes and Ian Kerr has the basil and coriander and Chris from the Macademia Stall is selling Jumbo Garlic. Richard from Catos has smaller NZ Garlic with a stronger taste. Grab what you need from these guys, rush home and stew up a pot of fragrant tomato sauce with the addition of some brown sugar, salt, balsamic or red wine vinegar and spices. It takes an hour or so to reduce it down to a thick sauce which must be sieved of its seeds for a smooth ketchup however it seems a waste to me and bottling it as a tomato relish complete with seeds and texture is the story as far as I am concerned. You’ll never have to buy a plastic bottle of Watties Sauce again and your BBQs will be superior as a result!
I prattled on about Golden Queen Peaches from Mike Rose of Devine Fruits last week and sure enough he turned up with the goods on Sunday. He will be selling them for the next two weeks only so get in quick. They won’t last long. Bottling them is one idea but turning them into a luscious fruit puree (use honey to sweeten) and freezing this in ice cube trays is an idea too. I empty the frozen cubes into zip lock bags so I can have my ice cube trays back. Two or three cubes of puree melts down quickly and can be used as a coulis under icecream, an addition to a winter fruit salad, an addition to a breakfast smoothie or straight into yogurt. Peach puree is lovely as is with some whipped cream stirred through it and a Health Biscuit or a Lavender Shortbread crumbled over the top.

Passion fruit pulp lends itself to being frozen for later use as a sliver of summer in the depths of winter. Talking about cold things, I made some passionfruit icecream the other day – mmmmmmmm hmmmmm. That is one thing that passionfruit tastes wonderful in. It makes a nice topping for cheesecakes of course and is good in muffins although I like to sieve it first as the pips are not so easy to swallow once the raw pulp has been cooked and assimilated into the muffin batter.
I have to end this blog on a sad note which is not like me. Pirongia Cloudy Mountain Cheese has decided to hang up its cheese making cloths and moulds. I am so so shocked and saddened about this and I am sure that the customers of Kathy and Pete’s special handmade cheeses will be too. It turns out that the Dairy Industry compliance audit fees have doubled in the past year amounting to thousands of dollars and the cost of cultures and specialist paper wraps and waxes have also risen meaning that small cheese makers are being forced out of the business as it is simply too costly to continue. Only the large producers like of course the giant Fonterra will find this of little inconvenience. What is sad and so wrong is that small producers of New Zealand will not be able to afford to continue to create specialist cheeses just when we had started to get away from the abysmal selection of tasteless mass produced Colby or machine manufactured brie/camembert. In Ireland, France and Britain such small farmhouse cheese producers are highly regarded and they are well supported by their government and local authorities as they bring tourism and self employment. Any top restaurant worth its salt would serve an exclusive local cheese platter at the end of a special meal. As a result artisan cheeses are widely available with each area or district proudly selling their own small but perfectly formed ranged of products. But not in New Zealand… I hope the newspapers will pick up this story and publicise this tragedy. However I would also like to personally thank Kathy and Pete for being such a cornerstone stall of our market for almost 7 years. They will finish up at the end of March so if you want a taste of something that is going to become a thing of the past, you have precisely 3 more weekends to do so..
See you at the markets.
Meg Daly