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May 18, 2008

More on the market



Not one person posted about the Waverly Market yesterday, which was disappointing, because I'm sure it was packed. However, I didn't think to check my work e-mail until this morning. Sure enough, Good Eater Marty came through. The asparagus photo was entitled "Plenty." Didn't somebody say something about a picture being worth some number of words once?

The tomato photo subject line was "Waiting for July 4," which refers to the fact that we both independently discovered Cindy's Fourth of July variety of tomatoes. I would tell you the name of her farm, but then I would have to kill you to keep it a secret.

By the way, it's not too late to tell us about today's market under the viaduct. Please post below. ...

(Photos by Marty Katz)
Posted by Elizabeth Large at 9:06 AM | | Comments (35)


This page is currently rendering badly in Internet Explorer (7). The first couple of sentences of text are coming out underneath the second picture. I had to open the page in Firefox to read it.

OK, I'll put the one photo below. It was fine in Safari and Firefox on my computer. Thanks. EL

When I saw the title and the pics, I thought Her Majesty was having a good photography and shopping day at the market (although I did sort of wonder about the brightness and angel of the sun light.) But, alas not.

Got strawberries for the second time, from a different vendor, and both quarts have been full of big, boring, tasteless berries. I think I'm giving up on strawberries for this year. Too much rain or something.

Was happy to see that the egg folks had chicken livers and chicken gizzards.

And I thought it was just me that the tomato picture was covering up most of the post. Thanks for fixing it.

I didn't think to try it in Firefox.

I'm with Lissa. I bought one of those $5 cartons of strawberries and was disappointed. Yeah, they were really soft and juicy, but they were pretty bland. I'll get mine at Shoppers from now on out. Sometimes you can buy two cartons for $4 there.

On a side note, I'll bet the farmers who grew 'em are laughing at all the dumb city folks who pay $5 for a carton of so-so strawberries.

Growing up on the Eastern Shore, we used to go out to a strawberry farm and fill up a plastic shopping bag with big delicious, fresh-picked berries for $5.

I got rhubarb, strawberries, basil plants and dog biscuits. I am going to make stewed rhubarb with sliced stawberries. Saw lots of other goodies but didn't need them.

I bought some local strawberries and was disappointed as well. The CA berries at Giant have more flavor. In fact the store bought berries in the dead of winter had more flavor. Does anyone know what the problem is?

Are the dog biscuits a thickening agent?

Mark, I bet the rain is the problem with the strawberries. Give us 2 weeks without a deluge, and they might be tasty.

Sam Sessa said: Growing up on the Eastern Shore, we used to go out to a strawberry farm and fill up a plastic shopping bag with big delicious, fresh-picked berries for $5.

And when I first started driving, gas was 19 cents per gallon. What's your point? :-)

RtSO asked: Are the dog biscuits a thickening agent?

Possibly, for the pesto to be made with the basil plants.

Sam - we used to go to all the "pick your own" places so my grandmother could make jam. I don't remember thew price but I'm sure it was next to nothing back then. I'd like to say that that's because I'm too busy nowadays to do this, but I think it's really because I'm too lazy.

I'll bet RtSO was asking about fattening up the dogs. Remember the court order, Robert!

The dog doesn't need fattening up, nor does his owner! I think I got him the peanut butter flavour, so it might go with the pesto!

My friend at Kitchenography suggested making a rhubarb up-side-down cake, which I thought was a stunning suggestion.

Honestly, I was thinking of the dog biscuits for the stewed rhubarb with sliced strawberries. Really. Honest. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

I still need to get myself over there. I went to the farmers' market under the 83 a few weeks ago (first Sunday of the season!) and I still haven't written about it :(

Yesterday as I bought some CA strawberries at the Giant (looked good, smelled great--why not?) I was feeling like a very bad girl as I thought about EL et al getting out of bed before dark to make sure they had local berries from the market. So now, after having a wonderful shortcake tonight, I'm glad that I didn't do the right thing and buy local berries which by all accounts were expensive and tasteless.

Last year I paid the top prices for the pretty little local berries and they had no flavor. "It's early." "It's been raining a lot." After a few more tries I went back to the ones from 3,000 miles away. I know how good the just-picked ones can be, so what gives?

I guess you should all have bought your strawberries at a strawberry festival. Mine were small, juicy and flavorful. Not as sweet as California strawberries, but Eastern Shore ones never are, at least not the varieties I've tried. EL

How long does the local strawberry season usually last here in Maryland? (I am a recent arrival from Southern Illinois.) When I first moved here there was an old man who sold strawberries from a card table along 32 near I-70. His were sweet enough you didn't need to add sugar so I know it can be done locally.

Hal, the difference is, my story only happened 10 years ago ...

Hal, the difference is, my story only happened 10 years ago ...

10 years, 38 years, heck, who's counting?

A little off-topic....I found this hot sauce that I LOVE and the guy is from Perry Hall. I know he does farmer's markets and tried to catch him at the Bel Air one Sat, but he wasn't there. I can never seem to make it to the one downtown.

Does anyone know any other places I can get Nick's Backfire Brand Hot Sauce????

A belated update on the Sunday downtown market. Produce still sparse, but the fresh spinach and some other greens are available. Lots of plants. Strawberries disappointing, as previously noted.
New (to me at least) additions this year: A Harford County cattle farm is offering its own "Angus cross" beef. Almost all possible cuts available, frozen hard. Bought some but haven't tried it yet.
Also, South Mountain Creamery, which offers fresh milk, yoghurt and really good buttermilk. The yoghurt may disappoint those, like me, who prefer a thicker consistency in the Greek/Middle Eastern style.The milk (which I haven't sampled yet) comes in returnable glass bottles, a touch of nostalgia for those of us old enough to remember them, but the nostalgia fades when carrying a couple of bottles two blocks to the car. The bottles also raise the issue whether they're environmentally sensitive when the glass manufacture, shipping, and repeated washing and sterilizing is counted, compared with plastic and paper. (Cf: cloth diapers, corn ethanol.)
A disquieting trend is the spread of stands offering food for immediate consumption. Haven't sampled any, but my guess is that the dishes are not the usual fast food. Still, their proliferation brings images of the transformation of the Lexington and Cross Street markets into mini-malls. Not many years ago all you could get to consume on the spot were coffee, pastries and pit beef.

fairfax -- if you find a decent recipe for a rhubarb upside-down cake, please let us know. The list of ingredients for the first recipe that popped up in a Google search includes white cake mix and red food coloring. The next recipe calls for white cake mix, strawberry gelatin, and marshmallows. GACK.

I think that you can probably adapt Kitchenography's recipe for cranberry up-side-down cake for rhubarb. I am putting screws to the blog author to make this cake! Here's the link to her cranberry cake.

Hmpstd and Fairfax, ask Elizabeth for my email address for a recipe (from Martha Stewart, I think) for Rhubarb upside-down "baby cakes."

I bought a half gallon of skim from South Mountain Creamery and I'm very happy with it. It tastes really good for skim, and though it does cost more than milk in the grocery store, I'm ok with it because of the lack of hormones, etc... The glass bottle was fine in my shopping bag, but I only bought 1. I could see where 2 would be quite heavy.

I still remain thrilled with the beef from Hickory Chance. And the prices are really good.

My strawberries are also "meh", but the one I picked in my own garden was FANTASTIC. If only I had more space for strawberry plants! Apparently my environmental conditions are much more suitable than the Eastern Shore.

Maybe you could sell us some. :-) EL

Dottie -- a Google search found a recipe on a PBS Julia Child site for Fresh Rhubarb Upside-down Baby Cakes. Is this the recipe you wanted fairfax and me to check out? (The recipe comes from Johanne Killeen of Al Forno in Providence, not Martha -- so I bet it's a lot easier to make at home!)

hmpstd brings up an interesting point. Has anyone else had disappointing results from a Martha recipe? I've certainly had my share!

hmpstd, it's probably the same recipe. I remember watching a woman make several kinds of "baby cakes" on an episode of "Baking With Julia," and this was one of the recipes. I forgot about it until I saw the request here. It's perfect for my little family, so maybe I'll take a whack at it this weekend. Happy baking!

Dahlink - I have given up on Perfect Martha's recipes. Have had several failures (meatloaf and a cake or two, a beef stew [even though her turkey dressing is TDF]). I questioned her cooking knowledge when she suggested using an old cast iron muffin pan to put condiments in for picnics (i.e. catsup, mayo, onions, etc.). Everyone knows not to put catsup in cast iron, it turns the catsup dark and the acid in the tomatoes pits the cast iron. She also said something stupid about if you wanted to turn chicken divan (sp) into a vegetarian meal just leave the ham out of it???? I always thought she should have a continuity advisor. She probably does now.

Dahlink -- my main beef with Martha is that her recipes are too complicated. As Dottie noted, the "baby cakes" recipe was one of four recipes prepared by Johanne Killeen in a single 30-minute episode of "Baking With Julia". In the same series, Martha got two whole episodes to bake one wedding cake, right down to handmade marzipan cherries with leaves and stems.

That being said, Martha does have some good ideas that can be used for your own improvisations. In the good old days before VCRs, I'd feverishly take notes to PBS cooking shows because I was convinced that the recipes had to be slavishly followed down to the last direction. Nowadays, I can watch the shows, pick up tips and hints, and apply them (or not) as I like, with decent results.

Baking recipes tend to be less susceptible to improvisation, given the tyranny of the baking process. Even so, the "baby cakes" recipe calls for the use of eight baking pans, each 4" in diameter and 1" high. Hmmm -- I wonder if I can use a 12-muffin pan instead....

I had some success with recipes from some of Martha's earlier books, but the appetizer book was a huge flop for me. I got the feeling it was produced by committee. I still make Martha's gingerbread cake every Christmas, though. That's one recipe that is tried and true.

Not sure where to post my query about tomatoes bought at a farmer's market in light of alarming reports on the news this week. We have some lovely round red tomatoes bought this weekend. Has anyone had a problem with local market toms? The map on the network news did not show any reports from Maryland.

Dahlink - I bought big juicy ripe toms at Huber's this past weekend. I've eaten 2 and nothing sinister has happened (I completely forgot about the salmonella thing). They were actually my first locals and were great! My GF says you are suppossed to wash them in water with 2 tsp of lemon juice and that will kill the microbes (I didn't, but probably should have). I can only speak from my own experience though ...

Joyce W, thanks for your feedback. I'm using a diluted vinegar wash on produce (when I remember!) Probably very similar to using a lemon juice spritz.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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