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Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Mkt. New Cookbook is Here!

Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Mkt. New Cookbook is Here!

The commemorative Community Cook Book Vol. 1 will be available for purchase beginning this Sunday, Dec. 8, at the Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market.

Filled with 79 seasonal recipes from market members, local chefs, culinary professionals, customers and other like-minded people who appreciate the finest and freshest ingredients, this 120-plus page book is an ideal holiday gift idea for family and friends.

This project was inspired by the market’s 2-year anniversary in May, when they announced they would celebrate with a cookbook. This rich collection of tried and true recipes from local farmers, ranchers, food artisans and others who adore food will inspire and sate even the most discerning palates.

Quarry Market CookbookRecipes are provided by market members as well as chefs Jason Dady (caponata), Iliana de la Vega (Austin), Diego Galicia (carrot-ginger cream soup), Blanca Aldaco (salsa de aguacate), Tim the Girl, Green Restaurant (the famous kale salad), Don Strange Catering (The Rain Drop), Andrew Weissman (chicken liver mousse), Whole Foods Market and more.

Heather Hunter, Quarry Market co-founder and director, says “Our hope is that people will shop at a farmers market to enjoy the bounty of each season and then return home to stir up these delicious dishes that each represent the contributors’ love of food.”

Hunter compiled the recipes, designed and edited the book (with a little help from her friends).
Priced at $22, this cookbook is a great idea for a hostess gift, Secret Santa, stocking stuffer or just a thoughtful present for the friend or family member who cooks as well as those who want to cook.
The Quarry Farmers and Ranchers Market is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays at the Quarry on Basse Road and U.S. 281, near the Whole Foods parking lot.

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Saving the Bees: A Cluster of Problems

Saving the Bees: A Cluster of Problems

For years, one of my summer pleasures was watching the hundreds of honeybees that found their way daily to the water fountain on my patio.

They would crowd to the water’s edge in the deep basin at the bottom, drink their fill (or maybe nibble at the rim of algae that formed just above water level), then buzz off to tend to bee business back at the hive or in the neighborhood gardens.

bee on flowerLast year, they weren’t there. This season, I’ve seen a few of these welcome visitors, but on the order of a handful rather than hundreds.

My experience may or may not be because of the widespread colony collapse disorder. “My” bees may have simply found another waterfall.

But, worldwide the disappearance of bees is a major concern of beekeepers, farmers, scientists and those in businesses that rely on bees, as well as those of us who are aware of where our food comes from — and the role bees play.

Bee populations are decreasing at the rate of 30+ percent per year.  (While honeybees are most often in the news, there is also growing concern about the bumblebee population.)

If you look at recent scientific studies, the problem appears to not have one cause but a number of possible and/or probable causes.

The United States Department of Agriculture, “Report on the National Stakeholders Conference on Honeybee Health” said, “Research into Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and poor colony health has been unable to identify a unique causative agent but consensus is building that a complex set of stressors and pathogens can result in colony losses.”

The report, which you may read in full here, includes the following factors as just a starting point for their discussion, which took place during a conference in October in Alexandria, Va.:

• Factors that can lead to poor health include disease and arthropod pests, pesticides, poor nutrition and beekeeping practices.

• The parasitic mite Varroa destructor remains the single most detrimental pest of honey bees and can magnify the role of viruses in bee health.

• Pesticide exposure to pollinators continues to be an area of research and concern, particularly the systemic pesticides such as neonicotinoids. Despite concerns regarding the potential hazard that systemic pesticides may represent to honey bee colonies, when pesticides are viewed in the aggregate at the national level, the frequency and quantity of residues of pyrethroids coupled with the toxicity of these insecticides to bees could pose a three-fold greater hazard to the colony than the systemic neonicotinoids.

If you are concerned about exactly what pesticides or insecticides to be careful not to use, another website is helpful. The Xerces Society has published a chart offering guidance as to what to use or not use — if you need to use any at all. This site is a good resource for information on other endangered species of invertebrates as well.

I decided years ago to not use insecticides in my yard or garden. I haven’t used weedkillers for some time, either. I just wait, and hope, for the day when the bees will reappear, and not just in my own back yard.

Overhead view of honeybees on a combWhole Foods’ ‘Share the Buzz’ campaign to raise awareness

If you’ve shopped at Whole Foods Market recently, you’ve probably noticed their “Share the Buzz” campaign designed to raise awareness about the diminishing bee population.

Throughout the stores you’ll find signs on products from brands that support honey bee preservation. Their donations go to The Xerces Society, a nonprofit that advocates for bees through research and education. The society, in turn, will provide bee-friendly tools and training to the stores’ farmer partners.

Also, from now through June 26, for every organic cantaloupe purchased at a Whole Foods store, 25 cents will be donated to The Xerces Society, then matched by them to help provide education and tools to farmers for honey bee preservation.

Whole Foods offers more, including featured films, simple tips for creating a more bee-friendly world and environment and things to share on social media. Check out their Share the Buzz material by clicking here.

Also, while it is true that bees are not the only insects that pollinate our crops and plants, this article on Huffington Post shows how the market would look if bees were no longer around. Click here.

 

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A Farmers Market Sprouts in Southtown

A Farmers Market Sprouts in Southtown

Moulin Rouge sunflowers are very red.

Moulin Rouge sunflowers are a showy red-bronze.

The Southtown Farmers and Ranchers Market opened Saturday morning as a few drops of rain fell here and there across the parking lot of the Blue Star Arts Complex.

That's a good paleta.

That’s a good paleta.

The threat of another downpour wasn’t enough, however, to hold people back from showing up early to check out the fresh produce that area farmers had brought with them and the other treats, including naturally raised chicken, cold-pressed juices, paletas and even doggy treats for the many canine visitors who were sniffing out areas of their own.

Vine-ripened tomatoes

Vine-ripened tomatoes

Among the fresh fruits and vegetables were red, gold and candy striped beets, various types of squash and zucchini, cucumbers, onions, green beans, brussels sprouts and carrots. Red and yellow tomatoes ripe off the vine, fragrant cantaloupes and non-GMO corn all drew customer attention.

The Pork Belly Sandwich from Cheeks and Chops.

The Pork Belly Sandwich from Cheeks and Chops.

Several farmers also brought flowers, including sunflowers, both the traditional sun-kissed yellow and a deep burgundy variety named Moulin Rouge. Another vendor had plenty of herbs, vegetable plants and flowers in case you wanted to start growing some of your own cucumbers and squashes.

For those who want their food already prepared, Cheeks and Chops food truck offered Spanish-influenced treats including paella and a tortilla española as well as a pork belly sandwich. Mom and Pops, all-natural frozen pops, offer colorful paletas in a variety of flavors, from the pale off-white coconut to the deep pink of watermelon agave and on to the dusty brown of Abuelo’s Chocolate with a touch of cinnamon.

There's even a booth for pooches, Katie's Jar.

There’s even a booth for pooches, Katie’s Jar.

In all, there were more than 15 vendors for the first Saturday, and organizer Heather Hunter says she expects more next week, as the Southtown Farmers and Ranchers Market takes root and grows.

The Southtown Farmers and Ranchers Market at the Blue Star Arts Complex, 116 Blue Star, is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

A few drops of rain won't stop market shoppers.

A few drops of rain won’t stop market shoppers.

 

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Quarry Market Celebrates Year 2; Cookbook to Come

Quarry Market Celebrates Year 2; Cookbook to Come

On Sunday, May 5, the Quarry Farmers and Ranchers Market will mark its second year with music, fresh farm produce, baked and prepared foods and so much more.

Bakery Lorraine's French macarons come in a rainbow of colors -- and flavors.

Bakery Lorraine’s French macarons come in a rainbow of colors — and flavors.

Market organizers will also be selling t-shirts made from organically grown Texas cotton throughout the day. The anniversary marks the market’s weekly success of bringing products from local growers and specialty food makers to a loyal community of supporters.

Nicolette Good will bring her full band to entertain the crowd. Good has twice been named San Antonio’s favorite singer-songwriter by the readers of the San Antonio Current and was, most recently, selected as the winner of the 2012 Grassy Hill Kerrville New Folk.

Current market members include: 3G Farm, 9-1 Farm, Angel Song Acres, Bakery Lorraine, Bikkurim Organic Farms, Countryside Farm, Cowgirl Granola, Dos Lunas Artisan Cheese, Engel Farms, Good Gluten-Free Foods, Gretchen Bee Ranch, Humble House Foods, Katie’s Jar, Koch Ranches, Ming’s Thing, Mom & Pops, Naegelin Farms, Nisha’s Quick-N-Ezee Indian Food, Parker Creek Ranch, Patty’s Petals, Revolucion Coffee + Juice, Rancho Ojo de Agua, Señor Veggie, Springfield Farm, The Arrangement Nursery, The Gardener’s Feast, The Lemonade Company, (The Original) Winner Winner Chicken Dinner food truck, Well Seasoned Cuisine and Zamudio Farm.

Here’s a great way you can contribute!

The community is invited to celebrate the second anniversary of the Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market by submitting their favorite seasonal recipes using farm-fresh ingredients. Recipes will be accepted through June 16.

Radish and Cucumber Salad

Radish and Cucumber Salad

The best submissions will be featured in the first edition of the “Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market Community Cookbook,” available for purchase during the winter holiday season. “We want to encourage home cooks and professional chefs alike to submit recipes,” says market co-founder and director Heather Hunter. “The goal is to inspire people at all culinary levels to get in the kitchen and cook with local, farm fresh ingredients grown by people you know and trust.”

Categories include appetizers, soups, salads, entrees (including game and vegetarian), sides and desserts. A helpful recipe form is available on the market’s Cookbook Project page at quarryfarmersmarket.com/community/cookbook-project, and completed recipes may be emailed to info@quarryfarmersmarket.com.

The Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market is held Sundays, rain, wind, cold or heat, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the parking lot of the Quarry Market (255 E. Basse), near Whole Foods Market.

For more information call 210-722-5077, email info@quarryfarmersmarket.com, or visit www.quarryfarmersmarket.com.

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Holy Cookie Butter! Trader Joe’s Now Open

Holy Cookie Butter! Trader Joe’s Now Open

A cashier hands a customer a free Trader Joe’s shopping bag on opening day in San Antonio.

After years of San Antonio begging on collective bended knee for a Trader Joe’s, that shopping dream came true this morning.

Customers make their way carefully through opening-day crowds at Trader Joe’s.

If you thought there would be mob scene at 8 a.m., you might have done what I did and waited until … noon. Which was, of course, a mob scene. But the officers in the parking lot directing traffic did a fine job of making sure it was not an unhappy experience. And, once inside, it was a happy mob.

“I haven’t had to haul out the pepper spray yet,” joked one employee as she guided shoppers through a particularly knotty intersection near the cheeses.

“I thought it was fine, it’s going very smooth,” said a shopper.

Mary, who moved to San Antonio from the northern Midwest, has yearned all the while for a Trader Joe’s to open. “I’ve waited five years for this,” she said. Her shopping cart was only half full, and I saw her still shopping as I made my exit.

Open at the Quarry Extension, across the street from Quarry Market proper, the store is “about average size for a Trader Joe’s,” one of the busy employees told us. (He didn’t know if Austin’s store is bigger.)

When I finally got in line to pay up, my basket was just under a quarter full. Judging it with an eye well-honed by some of the city’s other stores, I figured I’d purchased close to $100 worth of stuff. I was going to be surprised.

Into the basket (not in this order, necessarily) went wine. No, there was none of Trader Joe’s label of very good reserve pinot noir on the shelves. “Try around February. We don’t get much and it sells out in less than a month,” said the wine clerk. “Oh, and our employees tend to grab up most of it.”

Duly warned, I promised I’d be pestering him again after the first of the year. In the meantime, I picked up another passion, a very dry, pink sparkler from Bourgogne at a little more than $10. A slab of Compte cheese to go with that and a black olive demi-baguette kept this lovely, movie-time snack for two much less than $20.

From shiny eggplants to nicely trimmed leeks, the produce attracts crowds.

The fresh produce aisles also drew the crowds. They were moving through single file, more or less patiently. My eye caught on the $1.19 Hass avocados, the package of two fat, already trimmed leeks, salad mixes, Persian cucumbers and Trader Joe’s own salad dressings. The creamy cilantro went into my basket.

I bought food gifts for buddies not as fortunate as I, who were at work instead of shopping. A bag of Trader Joe’s organic popcorn, some stone-ground, whole-grain crackers and an Italian soda went into the cart for my husband. Another friend will get a hefty bar of Trader Joe’s chocolate with hazelnuts. I even bought some of Trader Joe’s cat food. We’ll see how that goes down with my picky feline tasters.

Fresh flowers at value prices.

Fresh flowers are a luxury that I had to cut back on when the $4 bundles of fresh alstromaria went away at my neighborhood supermarket. Here, though, I picked up a bouquet of alstromeria — plus zinnias and one fragrant lily, for $3.99.  That offer, right there, will bring me back on a weekly basis.

Finally, for dinner, I picked up a full Indian meal for two of Trader Joe’s Chicken Tikka Masala with rice, Baingan Bharta (Eggplant Curry) and Channa Masala, a spicy stew of vegetables and garbanzo beans.

I did not buy any Cookie Butter. Despite months of watching every foodie geek on Twitter rave about this product, I managed to pick it up, then put it back down. This, after checking the calorie count. Doing this once, though, doesn’t mean I will resist next time.

My total at the cash register, or the digital equivalent thereof, was a little more than — surprise — $62.

As I made my way out, I heard one customer ask a clerk, “When will it slow down?”

“Oh, try back in January of February,” he responded.

Photographs by Bonnie Walker

 

 

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Add a Touch of Ground Pomegranate to Your Cooking

Add a Touch of Ground Pomegranate to Your Cooking

Pomegranates have become popular in recent years because of their healthful properties. The superfood is known for being high in vitamins C, B5 and E as well as beta carotene, potassium, thiamin, riboflavin and folic acid.

In short, they’re supposed to be good for you.

They also taste great, which is why I jumped at the chance to try ground anardana, or ground pomegranate, when I saw it on the shelf at the Himalayan Bazaar, 8466 Fredericksburg Road. The Indian market had three different varieties available. I picked up a jar made by Rani, which was offered at $3 for a 3-ounce jar.

In doing a little research, I discovered that anardana is made from a type of pomegranate that’s considered too sour to eat fresh, so they dry the seeds, which retain a remarkable amount of flavor.

Daikon salad with ground pomegranate.

Rani offered the following background on its website: “Anardana comes from the dried seeds of the pomegranate. Native to Southwest Asia, the fruit is both sweet and tangy. In India, the dried seeds are ground down to make a coarse powder used to flavor curries and chutneys. In the Middle East, it is used often to garnish dishes such as hummus, salads and tahini.”

You could use it in any dish that would benefit from a sweet-sour brightness, whether it was in a sauce for chicken or lamb or as an alternative to raisins in baked desserts. Once you start using anardana

I used the tangy ground pomegranate in a simple shrimp stir-fry with a butter-white wine sauce. I also added it to a daikon radish salad with EVOO and lime juice.

Plus, here’s a vegan-friendly recipe from Rani’s website for a easy garbanzo salad that would be ideal for a summer picnic.

Garbanzo Salad

1 (16-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
½ onion, chopped finely
1 red bell pepper, chopped finely
1 tablespoon ground pomegranate, such as Rani Anardana
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cilantro leaves, for garnish

In a large mixing bowl combine garbanzo beans, onion, bell pepper, ground pomegranate, lemon juice, salt and sugar. Toss and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.

Makes 4 servings.

From Rani

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Salaam International Food Market Opens

Salaam International Food Market Opens

Salaam International Food Market

The produce section has several varieties of eggplant.

There’s a plaza off I-10 that’s becoming quite a haven for ethnic food lovers. It’s behind the H-E-B at the east side intersection of Wurzbach  Road, and it houses Sarovar Indian Cuisine and Taqueria El Rodeo de Jalisco No. 2, both fine restaurants. To that list, you can now add Salaam International Food Market, which has opened at 3727 Colony Drive.

The new market specializes in Middle Eastern fare, from pita breads to jasmine rice. But you can also find Indian and some Asian flavors as well as eastern European favorites in the mix.

When you enter the store, you’ll find the frozen foods on the first aisle, leading back to a halal meat market that offers lamb. Tucked in the back corner is a produce section that had those fingerling cucumbers that pickle so well plus a variety of eggplants among its treats.

A few of the spices at Salaam.

Aisles of street snacks, rices, flours, pickles, olives, oils, jams in an array of flavors, nuts, sweets, dried fruits, sodas and sundry other groceries are also available.

Need fenugreek? Ajwain  seeds, also known as carom seeds? Asafoetida? The extensive array of spices will add great variety to your cabinet.

Not everything in the market was quite finished. What looked to be an olive bar had yet to be set up.

The front of Salaam International Food Market.

I love to stroll through such markets just to discover foods that are new to me. One find was mixed in with the orange blossom water and rose water: pussy willow water. I will have to do a little research before I decide to buy that. I didn’t think twice, though, about grabbing the date vinegar that I found. If it’s anywhere near as good as fig vinegar, it will quickly become a staple, drizzled over heirloom tomatoes, in vinaigrettes or in a dipping sauce with olive oil for bread.

The store is open daily from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Call (210) 561-0100.

 

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Cash Mob: Spend Money, Make a Friend at Quarry Farmers Market Sunday

Cash Mob: Spend Money, Make a Friend at Quarry Farmers Market Sunday

Texas peaches now coming in to the the Quarry Farmers and Ranchers Market.

The Quarry Farmers and Ranchers Market will be mobbed on Sunday — but in a good way.

A “cash mob” will descend on the weekly market, at the parking lot near Whole Foods on Basse Road, at 11 a.m. this Sunday (May 6). The farmer’s market opens at 9 a.m.

According to its website, a cash mob is a grassroots, community-led movement to support local businesses.

The cash mob will be spreading the wealth among all of the 27 different vendors expected at the market.

1. Spend $20

2. Meet three new people.

3. Have fun!

“Be sure to invite your friends to take part in supporting our local economy! After-mob details will be coming soon. Don’t forget to wear a green(greenish) shirt.”

To visit the website, click here.

 

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Mustafa Cuisine Offers a Tempting Array of Pakistani and Indian Fare

Mustafa Cuisine Offers a Tempting Array of Pakistani and Indian Fare

Chilli Chicken at Mustafa

Mustafa Cuisine is an odd little restaurant. Its address is on Medical Drive, but it’s hidden on the backside of a strip plaza that’s actually the second story above shops that include Jasmin Thai.

It has an extensive menu of Pakistani and Indian dishes, ranging from the familiar (chicken fried rice, tandoori chicken) to the decidedly different.  There are plenty of vegetarian offerings, as well as regional dishes from the north and south of India and Indochina.

Some of the food is heart-warming, as if you’d been invited into somebody’s home kitchen and had been served the family’s favorites. Others are so strange in how they don’t work that it makes you wonder what got lost on its way to the table.

Strips of goat meat sizzle on a platter.

On my first visit, I was struck by the overpowering scent of mothballs in the air, an aroma not conducive to dining. Plus, the space was dark — and not in the way romantic dining rooms are meant to be. (Aged Bollywood music clips or news playing on TV at one end of the room don’t help, either.) Yet I forgot all that while I enjoyed the Chilli Chicken appetizer, which was like a Chinese sweet-hot dish with small bites of lightly breaded meat tossed in a sauce that had plenty of zip. It was followed by strips of tender goat on a sizzling hot platter with plenty of green bell pepper and the tang of lemon juice.

On my second visit, my eye landed on three words that you don’t often see on menus: “Brain Fry [Goat].” It was so outrageous that I had to try it. But in case I didn’t like it, I ordered several other dishes to make sure I would be well fed.

Mustafa Restaurant and Grocery are next to each other.

I was right about the Dal Makhani, which featured plenty of ghee with soft black lentils, resulting in a creamy delight.

I wish I could say the same of the lamb biryani, but the meat was inedible. Seriously. I couldn’t cut it with a knife and I couldn’t bite any off the bone. It didn’t even have all that good a flavor as I tried to tear a bite away with my teeth. The meat was likely butchered at the halal market next door, which is related to the restaurant; but its toughness was clearly not a good advertisement for either half of the business.  The basmati rice that came with the lamb was fluffy and flavorful, which means you should try it with vegetables, shrimp or egg.

The Chicken 65 appetizer, which featured fried bites of chicken in a spicy sauce, was out of balance, too, with the sauce, filled with spices without being hot, swamping the flavor of the meat.

The jasmine rice in the biryani.

As for the goat brain, the meat was quite good, airy and delicate, though, once again, the sauce was a little too heavy-handed. But there was that home-cooking feel about the dish that made me want to try the meat again, albeit with a different sauce.

If you want to sample several of Mustafa’s bounteous array of dishes, you may want to try the lunch buffet.

The Mustafa market next door has plenty of Middle Eastern and Asian foods, which made it well worth exploring, whether you need a mix for chicken shawerma or dried apricots or wild thyme tea.

Mustafa Cuisine
4085 Medical Drive
210-615-7861
www.mustafarestaurant.com

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It’s Time for Some Sunflower Shoots Straight from Braune Farms

It’s Time for Some Sunflower Shoots Straight from Braune Farms

Sunflower Shoots from Braune Farms

Julie and Jeffrey Braune of Geronimo, near Seguin, bring their finest and freshest to the Pearl Brewery on Saturdays, while the family has another booth at New Braunfels Farm to Market.

Last Saturday, the lineup included fresh red and white onions, potatoes, tomatoes, pickling cucumbers, peppers and several types of squash, including yellow zucchini while the couple’s daughter, Janae, sells bouquets of zinnias as part of her 4H project. Free-range eggs were another big seller.

One item the Braunes offer year-round is sunflower shoots, which Julie Braune talks about in the accompanying video, which she made during a quick moment between a flood of customers. Find out how to use these great tasting treats by watching Julie Braune’s video.

One taste of the sunflower shoots will convince you why there are lines for Braune’s items every Saturday.

 

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