Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Flavors of Winter from Ayers Creek Farm

Corn from Ayers Creek Farm has been on my mind since I visited the farm in the fall. I'd written about this farm in my book, and when saw all the winter beans, corn, and peppers drying. I knew I wanted to get some of these specialty foods at the winter Hillsdale market. I'd meant to go last year, but the season had slipped by and I didn't want to miss it this year..

So I drove to the market last Sunday. On the drive I couldn't help thinking I can't believe I'm driving to a Portland farmers' market. Is it too over-the-edge for good food? I met this blogger while waiting in line and she totally got it. Still, practical me felt a bit guilty. I rationalized that it was my holiday gift to myself, and boy did I treat myself right this year. Once I got there, I went a little crazy filling my bags with just about everything on their tables. But honestly, the Boutard's produce table offers some of the best market finds of the season.
When Anthony cut this unique sweet heirloom pumpkin into thick slices, I couldn't resist. At home I roasted and pureed it. I used part to make a rich-tasting soup, flavored with Holmquist hazelnut butter, Mama Lil's Peppers, garlic, and roasted tomato sea salt.
I also picked up some celeriac. I'd looked at it at the U-District and the price was high and the bulbs were small. "It was a hard year for celeriac," Carol Boutard told me. That damp cool spring again. . . What crop didn't it affect? She also mentioned that both celery and celeriac were heavy feeders, meaning they require lots of nutrients. It give me more appreciation for this homely bulb. I love to mash it with potatoes and add it to soups. Some people prefer grating it raw into salads. It has a mild celery like flavor and is simply heavenly.
Once I got home, my Cooking Assistant was ready to snap some photos. Clearly he's not overwhelmed with chickpeas, posole, black Basque beans, two varieties of polenta and Red Currant fruit spread. Not much of a scent with storables for the pantry, so I got out the fresh stuff for the boy.
Cooking Assistant quickly pointed out his favorite, and of course, there was one with his name on it. Check out the horseradish, sweet potatoes, and the giant sweet red cabbage. All these things made my trip a huge success. I brought home a goldmine of awesome vegetables.

Why not let yourself go this holiday season and indulge in the food of your dreams.

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