Markets: Cambridge 27th & Hamilton 28th July

Gosh, what with earthquakes and the birth of a new royal prince it’s been quite an eventful week. We are all hoping that another really ‘big one’ will not devastate our capital city.  One Hamilton market customer told me that she saw her chandelier swing and the swimming pool water sloshed around at the time of biggest jolt in Seddon. We’ve had quite enough with the Christchurch disaster thanks very much. Insurance premiums are bad enough and the EQC is pretty skint right now. The news of the royal birth was well timed to cheer up us earthquake weary folk.
I spent an interesting hour with Clif Fyers at one of his many planted up acreages on Monday taking photos of his 5000 cauliflower plants. (See above). I was so glad to catch, on camera, the perfect rows of caulis and cabbages before they had been harvested because they looked so incredibly healthy and perfect. No problems with slugs and snails this year possibly due to the drought so even the outside leaves are pristine and all without any sprays.  There will be masses of cauliflowers available at the market this coming Sunday so be in quick.
One of the perks of writing this blog is that I get given produce for trial so I can talk about it knowledgably. Since Clif gave me some purple cabbage, I decided to try out his
suggestion for ……

1 finely sliced red cabbage for the number of people being served.
1 bunch of fresh finely sliced silverbeet
2 grated carrots

Mix the green, orange and red veges together and toss in a garlic and Dijon mustard vinaigrette. Add toasted sunflower seeds or cashews and olives and chopped green onions. You could even put through some canned tuna or some hard boiled eggs for a wonderful winter salad. Serve up with some crusty sourdough bread from Volare and enjoy a vitamin packed meal to help fight the winter nasties.
Celery is also being grown under cover by Clif in an effort to get a spray free product. Shop bought Celery is renowned for being heavily dosed in chemicals as it is quite tricky to grow commercially without repeated soil treatments and foliar sprays. That is why the undercover winter celery grown by Clif just flies off the trestle table when he brings it to the market. More and more customers now know the difference between supermarket vegetables and farmers’ market vegetables and the demand is increasing all the time. This is no big surprise as freshly harvested, local market vegetables taste so much better, have superior nutritional content and last much, much longer. They are also very reasonably priced. The main problem is getting enough to meet the demand. If you are after snowy white spray free caulis, celery, silverbeet and spinach, potatoes and pumpkins you are going to have to get up out of bed early on Sunday mornings or send along a loving hubby or friend!
We are lucky to have two free range egg producers at the markets, Mike Alexander and Trevor Turley. Way back when the Hamilton Farmers’ market first started at the Wintec Carpark, we had one chap selling his eggs out of his red van and he only came once a fortnight. Then Meg’s Eggs started off (that was me in the early days, pre Celtic Cuisine). I only had 100 or so layers, which was nothing compared to the 1500 to 2000 hens that Mike and Trevor farm free range today. It was so tight that customers had to book their eggs a week in advance as I only had up to 25 dozen for each market….I didn’t have the facilities or the know how to become a big free range egg producer so when Trevor turned up and later Mike, I was quite relieved to say goodbye to my hens and let the lads take over my customers.
Actually I still have around 30 laying hens. I wouldn’t be without them. Ever since the shortest day has passed, the eggs are coming thick and fast. The girls eat all my bakery leftovers, give me endless rooster booster for the Passionfruit and of course keep me in beautiful free range eggs with deep yellow yokes which I use every day. Like the freshly harvested vegetables, fresh free-range eggs are always superb from the Farmers’ Market. You can be assured of freshness, which is not always the case in the shops. Free range eggs don’t turnover as quickly as the cheaper caged eggs due to the higher price so the freshness is sometimes a bit doubtful.  Not only can you be assured of great fresh eggs but you are welcome to recycle your egg cartons by bringing them back to Mike or Trevor. Just to make the eggs a bit more eco friendly, the cartons they come in have sometimes been used 3 or 4 times. It makes the whole experience of market egg purchasing a bit more worthy somehow.
Garlic is coming to an end. The remaining cloves are now sprouting madly and wanting to reproduce so Catos want people to know that the next time garlic is available will be in November or December. Don’t despair, Richard and Judy Cato are still at the market with their wonderful array of winter veges including broccoli, pumpkin, silverbeet, cabbage and of course their gourmet potatoes.
The LUCAuction
The fundraising for Luca Cittidini is ongoing and so far we have raised over $500. Just to remind you we are asking people to auction some unwanted item on Trademe and donate the proceeds to supporting this little 8 year old who is battling Neuroblastoma childhood cancer. His Mum Carolyn is the sister of Stephanie Lynch of Sweetree Honey sister so the cause is close to home. So many people have helped out thus far, it has been wonderful. Keep an eye out for the information board at the market to find out more about the appeal and THANK YOU to those who have helped in any way. The account number for the appeal is
03 1557 0498621 02 (ref Luca)

That’s all for now folks.

Meg Daly
Celtic Cuisine