Markets: Cambridge 24th & Hamilton 25th August

Some of you may have seen the recent episode of The Food Truck on TV One which featured our Market’s only farmer/butcher, Jonathan Walker of Soggy Bottom Holdings in Ngaruawahia. He scored some good publicity there especially since he starred in the teaser trailers on the run up to the airing of same programme. He mentioned to health nut chef Michael Van der Elzen that pork without fat would ‘taste like cardboard’ which raised a bit of a laugh and resulted in one of his work colleagues getting a personalised T-shirt printed with Jono’s photo and the famous cardboard comment emblazoned across the front. This was worn with pride at subsequent markets. Ha ha – good one Christine.

Now, Jono is very keen on the inclusion of a moderate amount of natural animal fat in the diet. In his opinion refined white sugar is the real devil in disguise. If you are a regular purchaser of Jono’s finest pasture raised heritage breed pork products you will be familiar with his particular take on things as he is inclined to warble on in his inimitable Yorkshire accent about the benefits of natural fat and its importance in health maintenance and its ability to tenderize and enhance the flavour of meat. The good thing about Jono’s pork is that his free range pigs are killed at around 6 months meaning they are at their peak of muscle production and the carcass is firm to the touch with a moderate covering of fat and a little marbling throughout the meat. Factory raised Pork is flabby to the touch, as the pigs haven’t developed much in the way of toned muscle due to lack of exercise, having been stuck in pens and made to eat enormous amounts of processed pig food to put on weight as quickly as possible. They don’t get any opportunity to eat fresh grass, wallow in a mud puddle and can never forage for naturally high protein grubs and insects as Jono’s porkers do.

Jono is keen on continuously developing interesting flavoured sausages and other meat products and is currently offering pork, beef and lamb sausages. His bangers are 100% natural with no artificial fillers, nitrates or preservatives. He makes them all by hand in his customized butchery at the back of his own house. At the moment he has a good supply of Wiltshire Lamb sausages. Wiltshire Sheep are the self shedding variety that are raised purely for their meat. Sometimes you see them in paddocks looking, well, sheepish with half their wool coming away and dragging along the ground behind them. Because of this feature, they don’t need shearing but in all fairness they wouldn’t win a sheep beauty pageant. The lamb sausages varieties include Honey and Mint, Merguez (a spicy North African sausage flavoured with chilli, paprika garlic and cumin) and Gluten Free Lamb Apple and Rosemary.
Jono also has pure beef sausages made from organically raised Galloway beefies. These are what my kids used to call the ‘Oreo Cookie’ Cows, i.e. black with a white band around their middles. Try Galloway Growler Sausages flavoured with Horse Radish and Red Wine. Jono also has a low fat line in beef mince – you can see by the dark red colour of the Galloway mince that it has been made with steak rather than the chuck, off cuts and other fatty unmentionables. Top quality Lamb and Pork mince are also on sale. And in the pork department Jono has Fennel and Garlic Pork sausages and Pork sausage with Leeks from his garden. I think he said he had 20 varieties and he is always adding new ones.
Soggy bought himself a Pie Book a few years ago so every now and again as the mood takes him, he turns out a mean Desperate Dan Cow Pie, a Guinness and Beef Pie or a Creamy Chicken and Leek pie. His main claim to pie fame is of course his Traditional Pork Pies made with hot water pastry and brimming with top quality pork and a savoury jelly topping poured through the hole at the top of the pie to fill the gap between the cooked down pork and the pie lid. Pork Pies should be eaten cold with a pint of best bitters and maybe a pickled gherkin or two.
And finally Jono has pasture raised ‘exercised’ free range chickens. It’s nice to think that your Sunday Chicken Roast has had access to beautiful views, fresh air and green grass during its brief but happy life. We owe it to the animals that provide our meat to demand that the meat growers ensure that their animals’ lives are healthy and happy albeit short. We urge you to vote with your feet when it comes to factory produced pork and chicken. Walk the other way and choose free range when you can.

We are going to stay with the meaty theme today and give you some more ideas about how to use Salami. We have two Salami makers at the Hamilton Market. Basecamp is exclusively Venison Salami and Lasco specialize in low fat Beef Salamis. So try frying a few bits of Salami up in place of bacon with your eggs (from Mike or Trevor) and Oyster mushrooms (from Lennart) for a Sunday Brunch. What about including a few chunks with your coleslaw (cabbages from Richard or Clif) for added protein and a garlicky kick. Pepperoni Salami goes well on pizza of course (Blackwood Pizza Bases and Winter Tomatoes from Plainsview Gardens) but have you tried it in your Quiches, once again in place of bacon? Cubed salami added to winter soups gives flavour and extra nourishment and a few slices of bread with Salami, chopped onion and cheese bunged under the grill would keep the tummies of the Rugby and Netball players in your family filled for at least an hour.

We are sad to announce that Wholly Cow will no longer be attending the Saturday morning Cambridge Market due to the fact that have opened their new bigger and better shop in Cambridge township itself. It was getting too difficult to find staff to run both the shop and the 2 markets they attend on Saturday mornings. However while the Cambridge folk have daily shop access to the lovely free range meat from Wholly Cow and Lamb, the Hamilton Market goers will continue to be able to buy good meat from the Meat Truck and to enjoy the banter from Kay and occasionally from owner and farmer Tom, every Sunday morning. If there is enough of an outcry from market customers at Cambridge perhaps Wholly Cow might be persuaded to come back for the summer months at least. Tell us what you think on our Facebook page…

Hooray! Shelley Turner of Rakaia Salmon has finally returned from her holiday in Scotland and that means that homemade Fish Chowder is back on the winter menu for early market customers. I recently overheard a gentleman at the Sunday market, extolling the benefits of this warming winter soup packed with quality fish and shellfish. You can get a warming cup for around $7.00. Don’t forget the beautiful Smoked Salmon and Smoked Blue Cod also on the menu at Rakaia.

Yes you can still get tomatoes from the Hamilton Market. Check out Plainsview Gardens. Stephen and his wife Jan are very clever as they manage to produce a winter crop of small but tasty NON RADIATED tomatoes, grown under cover in the sunny Thames area. I know it isn’t exactly the season for tomatoes but it is so special to get some that taste good at this time of year. I love to roast winter toms and have them with buttery peas as the side veges with mashed potatoes, gravy and few of Jono’s posh bangers.

Thanks for being such wonderful supporters of the Farmers’ Market concept and if you have never been to our markets a Cambridge Victoria Park on a Saturday morning and Hamilton at Sonning Car Park on a Sunday morning, get yerself down there asap! You won’t be disappointed. We are a bit smaller than usual due to it being the depths of winter but I have it on good authority that Kane’s Strawberries are flowering and the new crops of early Tomatoes and Jersey Benny spuds are in the ground and that the first spears of asparagus are poking through. Spring is getting closer every week.
Talk next week
Meg Daly
Celtic Cuisine