Archives for posts with tag: farmers market fairy

just in time for the labor day…otherwise known as national grill + drink with your friends + family day!

this baby back rib recipe is about as easy as it gets, and although it calls to finish them off in the oven under the broiler, there is no reason you can’t put them on a hot grill to get that extra added char. i was given the recipe from my friend linda, the farmers market fairy, who says she jotted it down from the chalkboard at mccall’s meat and fish co. a few years ago. both sources i trust in all things food, so you will not be disappointed. i get my baby backs from peads and barnetts at the hollywood farmers market, and they are outstanding.

as far as the sauce, everybody has an opinion on bbq sauce, and i will not try to sway those that want their sauce the way they want it. this is how i like mine: tomatoey, tangy, spicy with just a bit of smoke. the base of the recipe comes from a family friend, who’s sauce i had the pleasure of having slathered over perfectly grilled chicken wings at my stepmom’s 60th birthday in upstate new york a couple of years ago. i was fortunate enough to have him share his recipe with me. i made a few adjustments. the biggest being that i chose to make my own heinz chili sauce (i prefer to use as little processed food as possible), which i got a cheat from the spice guru at food.com. i made a few other slight adjustments in regards to spices mostly because of what i had on hand in my kitchen, but for the most part i give credit to nick fox for what i consider my favorite bbq sauce.

the ribs:

  • rack(s) of baby back ribs
  • apple cider vinegar
  • dry rub of choice (i use a combo of penzeys bbq 3000 and a friend’s special mix called bacon sugar)
  • salt

splash a tablespoon (or so) of apple cider vinegar on each rack and massage in. let them sit for about 10-15 mins.

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rub in a couple tablespoons of your favorite dry rub and sprinkle with salt.

ribrub

wrap in plastic wrap, and then in foil.

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place on a baking sheet in the oven for 3-4 hours at 225ᴼ. unwrap and peel away the plastic being careful of the steam. the plastic will be melty so make sure not to leave gooey bits behind.

ribgooey

slather on your favorite bbq sauce (see recipe below).

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put them under the broiler for a few minutes on each side until they have a bit of char. warning: keep an eye on them, and do not get distracted.

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cut them up between the bones, and by all means slather on more sauce.

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the sauce:

sauceingredients

as written and sent to me, with my adjustments and changes in parenthesis.

  • 2 1/2 cups heinz chili sauce, or 2 bottles (i doubled the spice guru’s recipe at food.com to equal 2 bottles, using garlic instead of onion flakes, and spicy instead of sweet chili powder)
  • 2 tsp tabasco (scottie b’s chipotle fever smokin bbq spicy pepper sauce)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp tarragon (dried)
  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (large)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar (sugar + molasses)
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water

combine in a pot and bring to a boil, then turn to low and simmer 30 minutes. strain through a fine mesh strainer.

sauce

makes about 4 cups

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this past weekend, our loft building in downtown los angeles had the first planting of our community garden. we started with a tabula rasa, added some organic soil, trellises, stepping stones, lanterns, tables and chairs.

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we all agreed we wanted it to be organic, so no gmo’s or pesticides allowed. one of our members, and original instigators, linda, also known as the farmers market fairy, was able to pick up a good portion of the seedlings at the wednesday’s santa monica farmers market, and dan, our hoa president, was able to find the remaining at armstrong’s nursery, including a dwarf meyer lemon tree he has named ‘lucy.’

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to celebrate the occasion, dan mixed up a pitcher of refreshing strawberry basil cocktails, which with all the herbs we are growing was a fitting premonition and inspiration for upcoming garden cocktail parties.

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we spread out our newly adopted wee loved ones, guided by what little knowledge we knew of what needs sun or shade, and some other random tips we had collected.

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with that…we started digging.

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once everything was planted, we did a trial watering to get the roots good and soaked.

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we are all aware that urban gardening has it’s challenges. for instance, here in skidrokyo, we find trash thrown over the fence daily, like this welcoming pile of clothing on this particular afternoon…

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…but bringing together our neighbors…

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…and seeing those vibrant green sprouts sticking out of the dark brown soil…

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…makes it all worth it.

‘when i go into the garden with a spade, and dig a bed, i feel such an exhilaration and health that i discover that i have been defrauding myself all this time in letting others do for me what i should have done with my own hands.’  -ralph waldo emerson

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for those interested, here is a list of the fruits, vegetables and herbs we have planted thus far:

  • arugula
  • spinach
  • mint
  • spearmint
  • parsley
  • thyme
  • mediterranean thyme
  • rosemary
  • variegated sage
  • oakleaf lettuce
  • chamomile
  • cilantro
  • lavender
  • basil
  • thai sweet basil
  • purple basil
  • oregano
  • mexican oregano
  • greek oregano
  • poblano pepper
  • fatali pepper
  • serrano pepper
  • green bell pepper
  • red bell pepper
  • yellow bell pepper
  • maui onion
  • bunching onions
  • honeydew
  • snap beans
  • appalachian pole bean
  • tsungshigo tomato
  • cherokee purple tomato
  • hawaiian pineapple tomato
  • sungold cherry tomato
  • sausage tomato
  • armenian cucumber
  • persian cucumber
  • meyer lemon

it has become a bit of a tradition to have an ‘orphans’ thanksgiving at my place for a few years now. i start with the usual list of friends, but anyone is invited, and there are always a few last minute add ons. this year it tipped the scales with almost 20 guests. from shopping at the farmers market all the way to the leftovers, here is the feast in photos:

the farmers market fairy delivered this 18+ lb beauty on monday:

i did a majority of my shopping at the wednesday morning santa monica farmers market:

on my way to the market, kcrw had a wonderful segment with christopher kimball, of america’s test kitchen and cook’s illustrated, talking about a julia child thanksgiving. of course he spoke of her simplicity and her use of the best ingredients. it was just the motivation and inspiration i needed. this is the beautiful and colorful loot i came home with:

the pie prep: cranberries, rhubarb, and roasted pumpkin.

the veggie prep: roasted winter vegetables, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and creamed corn with crispy bacon.

the free range willie bird all buttered up, stuffed, and carved to perfection:

the buffet: the aforementioned creamed corn with crispy bacon, garlic mashed potatoes, roasted winter veggies, along with sausage + fennel stuffing, and gravy. my guests brought sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots, salad, cranberries and homemade bread.

the table as people were plating up their food:

the pies: cranberry rhubarb (as well as, a crisp from the extra fruit) and pumpkin. not shown: pumpkin cheesecake and paleo pumpkin bread.

the dead soldiers the next day:

a few of us took off for big bear the next afternoon to just chill out (and digest) for a couple of days. these were some of the leftovers by the fire at the little cabin in the woods the next night:

i made stock from the carcass yesterday, and there was just enough turkey leftover to make soup today. recipe to come…

note: more (professional) photos from the evening can be found at rafiel chait photography. the photos above were just taken by me with my crummy iphone and hipstamatic.

there are some places that you just need to try for yourself, and for those who don’t live in los angeles, or don’t have plans to come for a visit, i am very sad for you, because guisados is one of those places. my friend the farmers market fairy has been telling me about this place for a while now, and even called it ‘life changing.’ i recently recommended it to a friend in town looking for good mexican food. he was doing a little research for his new business mexicue in nyc, and it was already on his list of places to check out. i have been throwing this place’s name around without ever trying it myself mind you…until today.

the menu is fairly prolific, so i just chose a selection of three different tacos: hongos, pescado, and mole pollo. the tortillas were thicker than what i am used to, so i was full halfway through my second taco, but i trudged on, not unhappily by any means.

i also wanted to try the habanero salsa, which my fairy friend said to beware of, but it was wonderful, yet so potent only a tad cleared my senses.

my friend raf decided on the sampler of six mini tacos, and went with the first six on the chalkboard, which we were told are the most popular.

the owner armando, personally delivered our plates, and was incredibly friendly. i had heard from my out-of-town friend that his brother eddie makes the homemade masa next door at his market. so on the way out i thanked armando, and asked about the masa. he said he would show me. i thought, ‘are you (expletive) kidding me?’ he quickly washed his hands, and brought us next door.

first the corn is steeped.

after being rinsed to take an outside thin layer off the kernel, it’s ground up into what is basically a corn mealy paste. fat is added to make what is put in tamales.

otherwise, without the fat added, they hand flatten it into disks before cooking to make tortillas. now i understand why they are thicker than usual.

on the way out, he showed us they also make bread, and told us to try one of the sweet bread pastries called conchas, or something like that. i was too damn excited to remember what he said, and too stupid to write it down.

i will ask next time, which may very well be tomorrow. this place is a must. an absolute must.

guisados • 2100 east cesar chavez avenue • los angeles, ca • 90033 

i prefer to make my own salad dressings. i toss some oil, acid and herbs in a mini blender and purée. today i decided to use a lemon infused olive oil from adams’ olive ranch that i had picked up at the santa monica farmers market several weeks ago when i was following the farmers market fairy around for the day. i added some fresh lime juice, a little bit of avocado for creaminess, fresh cilantro leaves, and a touch of s+p.

it was really tasty tossed with all the fresh greens and colorful vegetables that i picked up yesterday at the hollywood farmers market.

right around the time i started going to farmers markets regularly, i met my friend linda. we live in the same loft building downtown and we were both at the pool one day. we started talking about food, cooking, downtown restaurants and bars, and of course farmers markets. we even headed out to the newly opened restaurant first + hope to check out their thursday farmers market happy hour one evening. she would talk about how she didn’t really enjoy her job and wasn’t making enough money at it, and was looking to do something else. soon there after the farmers market fairy was born.

right around the same time last fall, i had a surprise appendectomy, and found myself without groceries or the energy to get myself to the market, so i used linda’s service. i simply emailed her a list of things i needed the night before, and around noon the next day she showed up with the goods. i’ve got to say, even though i love shopping for myself and enjoy shopping for food more than most things in life, it was really awesome to have fresh fruits, vegetables and meats delivered to my door.

i wanted to see what a day in the life of the farmers market fairy was like. we decided i should shadow her at the wednesday santa monica farmers market, which is not only one of the biggest, it is the market that most chefs go to. i have been to it once before, but being that it is mid-week and i am usually working, it is a hard one to get to from downtown. we left early. just after 7a linda knocked on my door.

we talked a bit on the way.

wf+t: tell me about organic certification.

fmf: organic is a term that big corporations can afford to use, and small farmers can’t. i’d say 95%, if not more [of the vendors] at this market and all the markets i go to are organic, or organically grown, they just can’t afford the certification.

wf+t: you just started doing gift bags?

fmf: i basically shop for people and put their gifts in a bag. today it’s a thank you gift…i’ve done get well, i’ve done anniversaries. i spent 40 minutes [with a client] coming up with a list that was in their budget. i put everything in a brown recycled [trader joe’s] bag…put a note in it from myself explaining that it’s not from trader joe’s, and they are items from the wednesday santa monica’s market. this particular woman i’m shopping for today mailed a card for me to include in her friend’s gift bag. how much more personal than that can you get? it’s just so thoughtful.”

(eventually she is hoping to have her gift bags delivered in canvas re-usable bags with the farmers market fairy logo on them of course.)

wf+t: why do your clients want your service?

fmf: they like good food and are often health conscious. they prefer to eat local and organic food, but just can’t get to the farmers markets themselves. it’s fun for me, but to some people it’s a real chore, can be overwhelming, or it just doesn’t fit into their work schedule. i know what’s in season and i know how to choose the best quality items. i’m also as particular when choosing their produce as i am for myself. virtually, i am their eyes, hands, and ears. i’ve had some clients who are a bit apprehensive at first, but once they realize they can trust me, it’s a really wonderful connection. quite often, a good portion of their grocery list is left up to me. this way, i’m able to expose them to the most exciting and delicious things at the markets. there is quite a bit of communication before each trip as well. i check in about likes, dislikes, and quantity. i don’t want anyone to be disappointed.

wf+t: i would think that a lot of chefs would love your service.

fmf: i’ve had a few chefs as clients. one woman wanted to follow me to make sure i knew what i was doing…and that’s cool. things can get pretty specific. some clients want 7 avocados, but don’t want them at the same ripeness.

with her signature bright red streaked hair and sundress, she hits the markets with a tricked out rolling cart, that has stacked crates inside, and is just about as big as she is. she has her system all worked out. linda has been shopping at farmers markets since she moved to los angeles about 10 years ago, so she knows the vendors and farms well. she definitely has her favorites, but as she says:

“as the seasons change, so do my favorites.”

we stopped at some of her summer ones:

harry’s berries– strawberries, tomatoes, french green beans

“i know that people do need to have strawberries from harry’s berries. they just have to have them. if they are going to give a gift, they have to have some of those berries. they are perfect every time.” -fmf

windrose farm– garlic, carrots, potatoes, herbs

“don’t even get me started on garlic…windrose has 10 different kinds of garlic right now.” -fmf

schaner family farms– herbs, shallots, unusual eggs

i am kicking myself for not taking home any of that chocolate mint. it smelled so damn delicious! i hope it’s there next week.

regier farms– peaches, nectarines, blenheim apricots

“i usually don’t buy anything without tasting it, when it comes to fruit. if they can’t give me a sample that means [the fruit] is so fucking good that they can’t give it up ’cause they don’t have a lot, but i’m pretty aware of who those vendors are. i don’t usually eat breakfast [before] because i end up sampling so many fruits.” -fmf

weiser family farms– potatoes

i picked up some ‘laker bakers’ that are a hybrid of yellow and purple potatoes.

coleman’s– lettuces

apparently i was right next to michael voltaggio while looking at their goods, but i didn’t notice him. i guess their beautiful produce was prettier than him and his tattoos…surprising, i know. linda told me later when she pointed out suzanne goin. it really is the chef’s market.

maggie’s– lettuces + herbs

i know maggie’s from the other markets i go to. i have had her herbs last 3-4 weeks. i usually use them up before that, but i have gone out of town for an extended time and come back and have been able to still use them. at $1 a bunch, for easily twice as much as you get at a grocery store in those little plastic containers, it’s a deal.

forbidden fruit orchard– blueberries, blueberry syrup with a hint of thyme

they didn’t have any of the syrup today, but would have gotten some if they did. sounds wonderful!

adams’ ranch– olives, oil, balsamic

after tasting them, i had to bring home some lemon infused extra virgin olive oil and balsamic for myself.

now on this particular day, her clients didn’t need any meats, but there are plenty of vendors with an array of choices, from chicken and ground bison to goat and rabbit. she will also make trips to specialty butchers such as mccall’s meat + fish co and lindy + grundy if needed.

once linda checked her lists, we headed to her car with all the goods.

linda always has her phone on her while at the market, so if a client forgets something and needs to add to the list, she is easily able to accommodate them. for example, we were in her car just about to leave when she got a text from a client for hot peppers, so we hopped out and quickly went to a vendor that she had seen with jalapeños, pasilla, and anaheim peppers.

it was close to noon as we headed off to deliver the gift in the pacific palisades. today’s gift included: almonds, garlic, asparagus, strawberries, sweetheart tomatoes, basil, salad greens, peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots and a lovely bouquet of flowers. she did another gift recently for a business man in town from nyc. his friend wanted to get him healthy breakfast things, so she got him granola, fruit, and raw milk from organic pastures. every gift is different depending on what the client wants, which also makes it that much more personal.

the last stop was her client crystal in mount washington, who was nice enough to invite me into her home as linda gave her the goods. she had a specific list for linda, but also wanted her to just pick some fruits and vegetables that looked good. crystal also likes to try new things, so linda tries to get her items that are a little different. today she brought her some of purple haricot vert and baby celery.

crystal was giddy with excitement as linda showed her items. clearly this busy mom was very appreciative of the time and thoughtfulness linda gave to her shopping. honestly, i think anyone wanting to shop at farmers markets, that may not know the farms and vendors, or simply doesn’t have the time, would love linda’s service. i think her gift bags are an extremely personal and thoughtful idea, not to mention an environmentally conscious option.

i was certainly glad that we sampled and tasted as much as we did during the morning, because it was nearly 2p by the time we got back downtown, and i was starving. i decided to try one of the tomatoes i got, and made a blt…yup, it’s definitely tomato season. happy summer!

the farmers market fairy works in the los angeles area and can be reached at: 213-304-8682 or farmersmarketfairy@gmail.com

spring has come and summer is close. i could tell just by seeing all the new colors this morning at the hollywood farmers market. cherries were everywhere! there is something about that bright red color that just pops surrounded by all the green. they haven’t quite reached their peak, but i don’t give them long. i may go back later this week and get a bunch more. since they’re still a bit on the tart side, i find them good for a pie, and who doesn’t like homemade cherry pie?

it was nice to see fava beans and fresh peas still around, and the first of the summer sweet corn was being shucked. i can’t wait to make grilled mexican corn!

here is some of the loot i brought home today:

also, an update to a post i wrote this past week about the south central farmers who were displaced from their original home at 41st and alameda. some of the families moved to bakersfield to continue the cooperative, and as it turns out i got artichokes and squash blossoms from them this morning:

the other really exciting thing to see was tomatoes. i think they are the produce i look forward to the most in the summer. i’m not sure what is my favorite way to eat fresh tomatoes: caprese salad, gazpacho soup, or perhaps just a simple blt?

in sad news, i actually overheard someone say in passing, “i think i am going to get my tomatoes at trader joe’s,” and i thought to myself (wtf!) ‘clearly she did not pass the stand with the rainbow of heirloom tomatoes that i just saw!’

on my way out, i ran into my friend the farmers market fairy, which reminded me that not everyone has the time, energy, or even the knowledge of how to shop for what is good at the market. lucky for those of you who live in the los angeles area, here is a shameless plug: you can have her do it for you (for a fee of course). she really knows her stuff, and will also go to other specialty shops as well if needed, such as mccall’s meat + fishthe cheesestore of silverlake and the like.

so that was my morning at the market. i will be doing occasional updates from time to time, and if you didn’t pick up on it, there were a few hints to what is to come here on wild, fresh + tasty this summer.

cheers!

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