Markets: TA 28th, Cambridge 30th & Hamilton 31st Marchh

Greetings one and all. Goodness! This hot weather is carrying on and on isn’t it? Today is the 25th March and the sun continues to crack the stones. Hot weather is good news for grape growers though as the dry weather prevents any of the nasty moulds and mildews from wrecking the vines.  Late March means that Lusty’s Hot House Grapes are back. I bought some grapes last Sunday as a special treat because I know how utterly divine these grapes are. Grown to perfection under cover means that they are free from blemishes from weather and most insect pests. The taste is a cross between an aromatic muscatel and a dry chardonnay. The perfect larger bunches of grapes are sent, exquisitely wrapped and boxed, to Japan where they sell for oodles of Yen. We at the Farmers Market are lucky enough to get the smaller bunches and single bracts at a very reasonable price. If you can be bothered, you could dip your grapes in lightly whipped egg white and roll in icing sugar to create a sweet dusty coating but in the interests of simplicity – just eat them as is with some Camembert from Cilantro Cheese and some crusty bread from Volare or Bella Pane.

Tomatoes are still number one in terms of available veg and I talked about doing something worthy with these last week. Well I’m putting my money where my mouth is and this very afternoon I intend to turn 28 enormous beefsteak tomatoes into a basil and garlic tomato puree which I shall keep on hand for spag bol all through winter. Quite a few of the growers are selling tomatoes at the moment so the price is right. Garlic and Basil are also available.

Sadly we have to announce the end of the Water Melons – Easter Weekend usually heralds the close of the season so Clif will be out selling the last of the crop. After the melons comes buttercup pumpkin – fresh from the fields. These taste lighter than those which are older and have been in storage for some months and go well in stir fries or as tempura veg.

Those of you who visited the market at Hamilton Sunday 24th would have been entertained by a talented group of musicians young and old! I had a chat with Julie Pescud who is the music teacher and organiser and I asked her what name they went by. Turns out they don’t have a name. This is because they are an everchanging group of local musicians who turn up to busk at the Farmers’ Market with Julie and the kids. The ‘kids’ are Laurence (11), Sam (9) and Nate (6) Rhodes and they are the small stars of the show.  The 3 brothers are the homeschooled children of Tracy and Bruce Rhodes and Bruce, an engineer, also doubles as the sound man. Mum, Tracy is the child minder behind the scenes. Keeping the show on the road and juggling the needs of the children is quite a feat! Instruments played include the ukulele, banjo, cello, guitar, mandolin, violin, double base and accordion. Young Nate is the percussionist on tambourine, drum and maracas. As well as the singing adults, the boys all sing harmonise and play extraordinarily well on several different instruments. I heard, Irish and Russian music, contempory and even 1970’s Led Zeppelin and there was lots more. Whatever they played they got enthusiastic appreciation from the audience. The No Name group come about once every 6 weeks. I’ll try to let you know when they are due again because they really do turn the market atmosphere into a carnival when they play

I tried a mousaka last week which is a Greek style lasagne using sliced Egg Plants and Potatoes instead of pasta sheets. Being a vegetarian  I replaced the traditional lamb mince in tomato sauce with a vege alternative - a home made tomato sauce flavoured with garlic, red wine, cinnamon and nutmeg and then I piled in diced pumpkin, courgettes, red peppers and grated carrot. I layered this vege sauce with the lightly fried egg plant and potatoes a couple of times and then topped it with a white cheese sauce which had 4 beaten eggs whipped into it making a soufflé topping. Baked it at 180 for 45 minutes and it was great. Even tastier the next day. I bought every single vegetable at the Farmers’ Market except the carrots which were in the garden already. So I felt very worthy indeed!

EASTER 3-2-1
And so this is the final run up to Easter which is such a lovely holiday relatively free of the commercial pressures of Christmas. Having said that I have to let you know that quality hand made hot cross buns are available at the market from several of the bakery stalls and some nice chocolaty treats will probably be getting’ givin’ away by generous stallholders too so don’t miss out!

The traditional Leg of Lamb or some kind of lamb roast is just the ticket for Easter. Have a chat to Tom at Wholly Cow. Very traditional or perhaps you would like a few steaks and sausages for what might be the final barbie of this season. Wholly Cow and Soggy Bottom (such names!) have plenty of those. The vegetarians and vegans amongst you don’t have to miss out at all. The vegetables and fruit are still great. Chris at the Macadamia Stand has lovely organic nuts for sale – Buy them in their shells au natural and they will last a lot longer as they are so hard to crack. I use the vice in the shed!!!

Here’s wishing you a lovely autumnal break over the Easter Weekend preferably working in the garden. Yes it’s time to pull out all your stringy looking dead summer plants and get in your winter greens from Organic Herbs and Plants. Denise or Ian will give you the information you need. The Plant Lady has a great range of flowering bedding plants as well as some vege plants too. Ornamental plants can be put in now so see Scarrows and Jen’s Plants for something nice.

Happy Easter to all our lovely customers and thanks for supporting your own community so loyally!

Meg Daly
(Celtic Cuisine)