Pascale’s Blog – may 21, 2015


Memorial Day: Grilling, yes, but so much more…

As a farmer who sells free-range chicken, pastured pork and grass-fed beef, Matt Soldano of Southtown Farms loves the idea of a three-day weekend devoted entirely to grilling. As a veteran of the Iraq War, he also knows there’s more to the holiday than back-yard barbecues. Much more. A U.S. Marine Corps vet, Soldano was deployed to the Al Anbar Province of Iraq in 2004. His unit was charged with defending the outer perimeter of the Abu Ghraib prison. He was lucky enough to make it home alive, to New Jersey, albeit suffering from severe PTSD due to a traumatic brain injury suffered during his tour of duty.

At first, he wondered if he could ever find civilian work that would suit him. Then, he discovered farming. He started with just a few chickens but knew he was on the right path and with some help from the Farmer Veteran Coalition was able to start Southtown Farms in Mahwah in 2010. “When I am working with my animals and working on my land … I feel very good about the direction my life is going. I am proud of what I do. I enjoy the fact that day by day I am bringing healthy, safe, and clean food to my community, ” he says.

This week, he is bringing 7 varieties of his whole hog sausage (“all meat, no weird stuff”), dark-meat chicken leg quarters designed for the grill, boneless skinless chicken breasts and grass-fed beef for hamburgers. His meats are raised free of antibiotics, hormones and grain diets. Matt is committed to raising all of his animals in the “free-est” environment possible. These days, his worst enemies are the coyotes and bears who sometimes get too close to the perimeter of his farm. This weekend, he encourages people to “go out, fire up the grills, and have fun,” says Soldano. “But make sure that at some point during the weekend, you pause and make a toast to our fallen heroes.”

Hosting a barbecue? Why not let Christiane Backstube‘s supply the dessert? So excited to have this new bakery join our ranks at the CFM. Baker Christiane Kirchgaessner who has worked at such fine NYC kitchens as Wallse and Danube makes authentic German and Austrian pastries and tarts made using local fruits and preserves whenever possible. Brace yourself for a line!

Also new this week: Arlotta Food Studio sells organic, extra virgin, first cold pressed flavor-infused olive oils (rosemary, basil, etc.) as well as balsamic vinegars and tapenades. Their olives are  harvested in their own groves in the San Joaquin Valley, but their oil is flavor-infused in New York using local ingredients. They will soon be adding pasta to their repertoire – made with local eggs and flour.

Bien Cuit Bakery from Brooklyn is also back this week. This bakery is known for its epic fermentation (up to 68 hours for some loaves) that makes their breads so distinct.As luck would have it, Consider Bardwell is bringing their Danby Raw Goat Sardo cheese this week. Aged between 6 and 8 months, this piquant cheese is inspired by Italian cheeses like Asiago & Piave. A perfect match for a dense slice of Bien Cuit miche. Also a nice accompaniment to the spring radishes Morgiewicz Produce will be bringing.

Dug up this collection of genius grilling recipes  from Food52.

Have a lovely weekend!

food writer/ farmer’s market director
author: “American Pie:Slices of Life (and Pie) from America’s Back Roads” (HarperCollins)

Continue reading Pascale’s Blog – may 21, 2015

april 16, 2015

Artichoke_-_DSC_9481_(2596568118)“He was a bold man that first ate an oyster!” So declared Jonathan Swift.

But what about the man (or woman) who first bit into an artichoke leaf?
Seriously, don’t you ever wonder about the person who had the nerve to pluck this flower bud from a thistle plant, cook it, then eat its prickly petal-shaped leaves by dragging the base through their teeth?

These are the questions that keep me up at night.

Regardless, I remain eternally grateful to the brave soul for paving the way to many an amusing dinner at my house. My kids love the ritual of eating an artichoke whole – probably even more than they like the taste of any of its individual parts. Peeling it, dipping each the base of each thick leaf in a lemony vinaigrette (or home-made mayonnaise) and tugging at it with their two front teeth. It’s one of the few times they can eat with their fingers with impunity. Once all the leaves have been devoured, slicing off the prickly “beard” is also part of the fun, particularly since it leads to the best part, in my opinion, the meaty bottom.

Incredibly versatile, artichokes can be roasted, fried, simmered, seared, steamed and stuffed. They can also be eaten raw, sliced into a salad of tomatoes, walnuts, mint and parsley with croutons. When buying an artichoke, look for one that is bright green and whose bracts are tightly furled in the center. Look for thick stalks as spindly stalks suggest dehydration. The term baby artichoke is actually a misnomer. Baby artichokes are simply buds plucked lower on the stalk of the plant. The smaller the choke the better it is to eat raw. And for goodness sake, don’t BOIL your artichoke.

If you want to eat it whole as we do at my house, steam it. For more flavor you can add lemon grass, garlic cloves, thyme or ginger or rosemary to the steaming water. Always trim your artichoke first, and set it stem end up on the steamer.

This link from Saveur magazine offers over 20 different ways to prepare this bud including the most traditional: steamed with a dipping sauce.

I like this bright & tangy salad made with raw artichokes, nutty parmesan, arugula and fresh mint.

Only 4 more weeks until we open…


Pascale Le Draoulec

food writer/ farmer’s market director
author: “American Pie:Slices of Life (and Pie) from America’s Back Roads” (HarperCollins)

april 9, 2015

2012-03-22+07.22.18When CIA chef-instructor Bill Briwa shot a video at his local farmer’s market he, of course, asked to shoot it under the Running Creek Farm tents. The always affable Nancy was eager to help and grateful for the opportunity to show off her robust bunches of kale, frisee, and chard. Turns out Nancy, who farms in northern Columbia County, is as comfortable on camera as she is behind her crates of salad mix, Romano beans and tomatoes at our farmer’s market.

Check out her on-screen debut in this short, informational video here.

Nancy grew up on Long Island but  met her husband, Chuck, in Ithaca in while they were both students at Cornell University. He was into horticulture; she was studying animal science. For years, they farmed on leased land in Albany County with Chuck’s family. in 1994, they were able to buy the farm in Valatie. “It’s always been a family affair,” says Nancy. “Chuck farms with his brother, Frank, and I work with their mom.” Chuck’s  great-grandfather came from Naples , Italy in1908 and soon started farming in the Catskills, and later Saratoga.

Running Creek is not certified organic, but is committed to anti-chemical pesticides. They see themselves as stewards of their land and the local waterways. Since farming in their blood, their farming principles take the long-view. They never use genetically modified seed and they NEVER use systemic pesticides, i.e.: chemicals that seep through the root system and leech into the edible part of the plant. In fact, Nancy is proud to say that they’ve earned a reputation for banning sales reps touting systemic pesticides from stepping onto their farm.

They believe sound plant nutrition produces plants that are healthier and more resistant to disease and pests. “Plants that are well nourished, also look better and produce a higher yield,” says Nancy. Toward that end, they incorporate mineral elements like copper to treat and control tomato blight and vine mildew.

When she isn’t farming or harvesting Nancy loves listening to country music, with her daughter, Jennifer Grace, a songbird who has sung at the market from time to time and is heading to Belmont University in Nashville to pursue her passion. Nancy is a little sad to see her daughter move away this summer, but she is thrilled to be returning to the market. She is always full of good recipe ideas so don’t hesitate to ask her how to cook any of the vegetables she sells.

Only 5 more weeks until we open…

Pascale Le Draoulec
food writer/ farmer’s market director
author: “American Pie:Slices of Life (and Pie) from America’s Back Roads” (HarperCollins)

april 2, 2015

P1050748Switchel, duck and fairy-tale eggplant coming to the farmer’s market this season…
Where does Chef David Chang source his Japanese bunching onions and edible tangerine marigolds for his two-Michelin starred Momofuku Ko restaurant? From a small farm called the Letterbox Farm Collective run by four young, dynamic farmers who joined forces a couple of years ago just outside of Hudson, NY.

Understanding that farmer’s markets can be competitive for vegetable vendors, Letterbox has carved out a cool niche for itself by specializing in heirloom and more unusual varieties of vegetables that are quirky but still fun and easy to cook. They also grow culinary and medicinal herbs as well as ginger and edible flowers. At the Sunday Rhinebeck Farmer’s Market, people queue up for their baby beets and fairy-tale eggplant among other things.

How did they come up with a name like Letterbox?

“Our rule for naming the farm was “no landscape imagery, and no plant parts!” says farmer Faith Gilbert, who founded the farm two years ago with her longtime friend, Nichki Carangelo
“We don’t take our name too seriously, and mostly wanted a word that sounded playful and rolls of the tongue… But we like the image of a box, which is at once practical and functional, but also could contain all sorts of intriguing things.” Like switchel, for example, a heritage beverage made with apple-cider vinegar, fresh ginger and natural sweeteners. They also make keg “farm sodas” with flavors like rhubarb, sour cherry, sumac, quince and birch, using ingredients they grow themselves or from neighboring farms.

In addition to their market garden offerings, Letterbox Farm also raises non-gmo fed, pastured raised livestock including Berkshire pork, heritage breed chickens, rainbow egg-laying hens, laying quail & ducks and rabbits.

At the farm, when they are not tilling, planting or harvesting, they host exquisite farm-to-table dinners and wedding banquets in a pond-side meadow. You can see pictures of a recent Momofuku Ko dinner at the farm on their FB page:
They also host workshops and demonstrations on canning, fermenting and butchering.

They have a farm dog named Moo (see below)

We are so excited to have Letterbox Farm join our farmer’s market family this season.
They will be alternating with the Hastings Farmer’s Market every Saturday.
Please give them a warm welcome on opening day – May 16th.

Pascale Le Draoulec
food writer/ farmer’s market director
author: “American Pie:Slices of Life (and Pie) from America’s Back Roads” (HarperCollins)

march 18, 2015

Joe Mozzarella5 In the farmer’s market world, shoppers often refer to vendors by their product rather than their name, ie: where’s the ‘fish guy” today? Or did you move “the yogurt lady”? When is “olive oil” going to be here next? It’s easier than remembering a vendor’s name and, besides, there is a lot of staff turnover at markets, so best to keep it stitch simple.

One of the few exceptions is our mozzarella guy – whom everyone calls Joe Tomato.

It’s not clear how we got the name. Joe is indeed his first name. And he does work at an Italian marketplace called The Iron Tomato. I like to think that he earned the sobriquet because he is the king of mozzarella and nothing goes better with mozz than a plump local summer tomato.

Joe was not always the king of curd. When he first moved here from Argentina he worked in several Italian delis and markets in the Bronx where he was low-man on the mozzarella paddle. He used to watch the experts make the mozzarella – longingly. When he asked if he could give it a try, he was rebuffed by the senior crew, which made him want to master mozzarella all the more. He had tasted great, real mozzarella in Italy – both his parents are from the Campania section of the Italian boot. The mozzarella he had tasted stateside was dry and not milky at all. It also had too much salt.

“In my sleep I would dream of making mozzarella,” he says. As he slept, he visualized his hands moving through the hot water and curd mixture, then, when the curd was softened just right, he’d stretch it out and shape it into purses. So much of it is based on intuition – just as working with pie dough. Eventually, he stopped dreaming and moved to another deli. When its owner asked him point blank if he knew how to make mozzarella, Joe replied,  “Of course.”  Over the years Joe got so good that eventually he was tapped by the Stew Leonard’s chain to lead their mozzarella making enterprise. “There were days when I made 1000 pounds in a day,” he says.

But as proud as he is of that accomplishment, he didn’t like being behind the scenes. He figured out quickly that people enjoy watching mozzarella being made almost as much as they enjoy eating it. So he started doing mozzarella demonstrations at weddings and other private parties. Pretty soon he was doing over 100 weddings a year. “I love doing weddings,” says Joe, 58, “because everyone is in a good mood and happy to be there and I get to make mozzarella with a glass of wine nearby.” He devised his own paddle to mix the curd made out of a hard plastic rather than germ-trapping wood.

Nothing makes him happier than watching people’s expressions when they taste his cheese at the market, which is why he is so generous with the samples. Children, especially, seem to flock to his tent because he encourages them to sample freely. And, they often tell their parents to buy some to take home, he says. They need little convincing: Joe’s mozzarella is always milky, silken and moist. It’s the perfect cheese to pair with Obercreek’s heirloom tomatoes, Running Creek’s aromatic basil and a drizzle of Kontoulis Olive oil.

Joe Tomato has been at the Chappaqua Farmer’s Market since DAY ONE – when we opened on a cold December day at the Church of St. Mary. I don’t think he’s missed a single market in five years. He gets up at the crack of dawn – sometimes earlier – to make a second batch just before market which is why it’s usually still warm when he sets it on his market table.

Joe says his mozzarella will keep for several days if you put it in the refrigerator immersed in water. It also freezes beautifully – just thaw it for a couple of hours until it comes to room temperature and serve.

He is counting the days to May 16th.

Pascale Le Draoulec
food writer/ farmer’s market director
author: “American Pie:Slices of Life (and Pie) from America’s Back Roads” (HarperCollins)

february 26, 2015

Pacific_oystersWhen I was a kid growing up in Southern California, I awoke most Sunday mornings to the pleasing sounds of Brazilian jazz on the turntable in the living room. Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto – specifically – was the soundtrack of choice for my parents when prepping a dinner party. They would put the tunes on as early as 7 a.m. and get to work. From my twin bed,  I could hear them shuffling in the kitchen and when there was a break in the bustle of pots and pans, I knew it was because my father had led my mother into the living room for a little spin on the Persian rug. By the time my sister and I surfaced, the table was already set, napkins folded with flourish, silver polished and gleaming.

My father worked in restaurants so his days off were Sundays and Mondays. Since most of their friends — fellow French expats all — were also in the restaurant business, Sunday dinners were special and always at our house.

My parents’ dinner parties were epic. Not just in the meals they served – classic French dishes always for their homesick friends – but because of how hard they worked to get the requisite ingredients. In the late 60, early 70s, it was easier to sign an agent than it was to find a decent camembert or a proper baguette in L.A.

My mother would drive 20 miles up the Pacific Coast Highway in their Chevy Impala to score oysters or live crabs, then 10 miles more to find a decent loaf of sourdough bread. Thankfully, she didn’t work at the time because finding good food was a full-time job.Of course, back then, the effort put forth was part of the fun and always a large part of the dinner conversation.

So many things they had taken for granted in France — good but affordable table wine, perfectly-ripened goat cheese, radishes, carrots and tomatoes that tasted plucked from soil, not a refrigerator, were woefully out of reach.

During the winter months, when I am busy lining up vendors for the summer markets, I often find myself thinking about these dinner parties and how much easier they would have been on my parents had there been a farmer’s market like the Chappaqua Farmers Market in the heart of their town: artisanal cheese, bread, fresh fish, oysters, mussels, pork roasts, organic whole chickens, wine (I’m working on it) and even gorgeous fresh flowers for the table. All there for the taking.

When people ask me why my markets feel different than most, I suppose it’s because I curate them with these dinners, and my parents in mind. I want shoppers to feel that they could throw a last-minute dinner party with friends and find everything they need Saturday mornings at the train station – with a few exceptions for things like citrus and maybe live crab.

In May we will be back in business and I hope that while I am busy vetting vendors and inspecting farms this winter…that you are filling up your calendars with dinner party plans with special friends.

Pascale Le Draoulec
food writer/ farmer’s market director
author: “American Pie:Slices of Life (and Pie) from America’s Back Roads” (HarperCollins)

feb 5, 2015

IMG_1313If you’ve been to the summer market at the train station, then you’ve met Betsy Rich. She is the one with the knee-length apron and infectious smile tempting you with her overflowing tray of brownie samples. At last count, her repertoire at Rich Brownies (& Betsy’s Bitties) included 62 flavors, from Champagne to raspberry and the ever popular Guinness. Nothing makes her happier, she says, than “watching people’s faces light up” when they taste one of her brownies for the first time at the market.
Scratch that.
Snowboarding makes her happier. Yes, Betsy Rich is a shredder.

The 57-year-old Briarcliff mother of two, spends half of the year baking and selling brownies – to the tune of 39,000 a market season – and the other half tearing up the slopes at Windham Mountain. “I am not the person most people imagine when they think of a snowboard instructor,” says Rich. “You know: the guy with the long hair, tattoos and piercings.” “I pass some of the younger guys on the hill and they are like Duuuuuuuuude,” she says, laughing.”It’s so much fun.”

The truth is Rich, who suffers both from heart disease and multiple sclerosis (MS) grew up in Vermont and has been skiing her whole life. She was an avid ski racer before she became a ski instructor. “I used to go to school in the fall and summer and teach skiing in the winter to pay for college,” she says. It was her daughter, Lindsey, also a snowboard instructor, who first turned her on to boarding about 8 years ago.

“I took to it immediately,” says Rich. The incredibly comfortable snowboarding boots, she says, definitely played a huge part in her conversion from downhill to boarding. Her husband, Jamie, a race coach for the Adaptive Sports Foundation, has yet to made the switch. “Boarding is my passion and my love and I think about it all summer long when I spend those long hot hours in the kitchen baking ” she says. Her current board is a buttery GNU B with special edges that grip the East Coast ice like a serrated knife. “It makes me so happy to look at it on the lift.”

Rich spoke to me on the phone from Windham this week where she is teaching a special women’s boarding camp, “I HEART Snowboarding,” led by women instructors. The camp raises money for women with heart disease like herself. The age of the “campers” ranges from mid 40’s to mid 70’s, she says, and the women come from all from all over the world and all walks of life. “On the mountain, we are all just broads on boards,” says Rich. “There’s a sort of sisterhood thing that happens out here, it’s really nice.”

Before boarding and before baking brownies, Rich worked as a producer for the ABC Nightly News with Peter Jennings, based in London and New York, for  nearly 14 years. When she left the news business to spend more time with her family she wondered how she would reinvent herself. It was a ski-buddy at Windham who suggested she turn her brownie-baking hobby into a business, says Rich. Rich often brought brownies to the ski instructor potlucks at Windham and they were always a hit. She was just recovering from a serious MS episode when she decided to give the brownie business a try. She spent six solid weeks baking batch after batch after batch until she found her winning recipe. She could not have done it without her son Alex, she says, who had the tough job of tasting – and rating – every attempt that came out of the oven.

As far as Betsy’s concerned, she’s got the dream job. In the summer she thrives at the market and in the winter she gets paid to do what she loves. “This is my happy place,” she says of Windham, her home away from home.

“This week, the conditions are spectacular,” she added. The foot of snow we got up here is nothing like that Catskills concrete…Here it’s all light and fluffy.”

Kind of like her brownies.

Happy snow days,


january 15, 2015

image2Wonder how farmers are spending their winter?

If you think they are sitting poolside in Antigua with a rosemary twig in their cocktail – think again!

We talked to the folks at Obercreek Farm about how they are spending these bitterly cold January days.
Obercreek is located in the mid-Hudson Valley in the hamlet of Hughsonville. Tim Heuer and his wife, Sam Wildfong, live on the farm with their two sons, West, 3, and Harlan, 1 – both fans of the rutabaga fries that are a winter staple at their house. In warmer months, Tim and Sam grow their vegetables and greens on 10 outside acres and in six passive solar greenhouses. They also have a half-acre hop yard and a quarter acre perennial herb garden. When the weather turns too cold to grow food in the field Tim and Sam keep the farm alive by growing specialty baby greens in their high-tunnel greenhouses. They just added a new greenhouse, bringing the number to six. In the winter months, they sell their coveted, delicate baby greens to restaurants in the Hudson Valley (including Crabtree Kittle House which has become one of their biggest customers.) “We really love working with Jay,” says Tim of Kittle House chef Jay Lippin. “It’s important that he gets to know the farmers he is buying from,” says Tim, “and I really respect that.” “He goes through an insane amount of greens,” says Tim, adding that the farm has adjusted its crop plan for the year based, in part, on Jay’s purchasing.

Obercreek Farm also sell their baby greens to Foragers, a unique farm-stand retail operation with two NYC locations in DUMBO and in Chelsea.
Two or three days a week, Tim has to harvest and package greens for these wholesale customers. On those days he walks from his farmhouse to the greenhouses by 7 a.m., with a notebook in hand to do an assessment of the greenhouse crops. He goes through each row of  greens (spinach, kale, mache etc…) to see which have suffered from the cold and takes notes as he goes. “These days we lose a substantial amount of greens to frost…but that is to be expected and we work that into our business model, “ says Tim, who is known to show up at summer markets in his bare feet. Then he goes to the farm “office” – more like a  fancy shed – to call his customers and let them know what they can expect in that day’s order. The greens are then harvested around 11 a.m. (they need some time to “thaw” says Tim) and then triple washed before they are packaged into clam shells.

When they are not harvesting for customers, they are “cranking up on their propagation house” –  planting micro-green seeds in trays and carrying the trays to heated bench tops. “It may be winter but we are still very busy,” says Tim. In November and December he worked on the infrastructure on the farm (tractors, high tunnels etc.)  while Sam created the website ( Ethan Harrison, who grows and sells for Obercreek at markets, also works as a professional photographer so he has been having lots of fun with the farm’s instagram account this winter. A follower recently posted: “My Obercreek CSA spinach was so good this morning I cried a little.”

The farm became certified organic late last summer so the labels needed to be re-designed as well. And, Sam and Tim routinely make the rounds of their local churches and meeting places to pitch their organic CSA. They need to sell about 600 shares to be viable.

“Summer. Winter…There really never is a slow time at the farm,” says Tim. Or at home. On Tuesday, West took a tumble off the couch and ended up at the local emergency room where he bravely took 5 stitches to the head. “He’s fine now, but there was a lot of excitement around here,” says Dad.

If like me, you were smart enough to buy one of the $20 bags of Obercreek onions, potatoes, beets and rutabagas at the holiday market…you must be wondering what to do with all those rutabagas you have left. You can make fries (classic or oven-baked) as they do at the farm or, you can try this recipe for a quick and easy carrot/rutabaga puree that will add a comforting side of sunshine to any wintry roasted meats. The rutabaga – also called a Swedish turnip – lends itself to any preparation you would use a potato, turnip or sweet potato for. They are great mashed, puréed into soup, roasted or shaved raw into a salad. I swapped rutabaga for the standard turnip in this roasted root vegetable with Meyer lemon recipe from Fine Cooking and it was delicious!

Counting the days until our first spring market…


december 18, 2014

Vitality-Elixir-225x300Our last market of the season is going to be a doozie. We will we have a full-house of food vendors at the Community Center, with all your favorites returning for one last visit before we re-open in the spring. In addition to fresh fish, organic pastured meats, greenhouse greens, rustic breads and orchard fruit, we will have many specialty items designed specifically for the foodies on your gift list.

Is there someone with a discriminating sweet tooth on your list? Luxx Chocolat and La Petite Occasion have you covered with their fanciful chocolates and handcrafted caramels, respectively.

Teagevity has some of the coolest tea “paraphernalia” around. Why not buy a pound of Preston’s organic tea and lovely tea press for the tea lover on your list?

Buying gifts for someone saucy? Consider any jar of sauce from new vendor City Saucery, including their popular “Seven Fishes” sauce. Or, why not a duo of simmer sauces from Calcutta Kitchen?

Demetra Bouras of Kontoulis Olive Oil is just back from Greece where she has been harvesting and pressing her olives for her locally bottled olive oil. Now that’s the kind of stocking stuffer I like to get. Saratoga Crackers is coming all the way from, you guessed it, Saratoga, to make sure your pantry is well stocked with all sorts of sweet and salty crispness for those guests who will likely drop by during the holiday season. Top them with a little hummus from Taiim or some Consider Bardwell Cheese.

Also, we are thrilled to have Wildseed Apothecary here for one day. They offer herbal tinctures, ointments and other remedies for common ailments — all made with local herbs and flowers and seeds. Why not buy a loved one a “share” of their “community supported herbalism” – a box full of healing herbal bliss designed just for the cold season? 

All this plus some lovely crafts from some of our most talented local artists like whimsical illustrator August Wren ( who will be selling her fanciful prints, cards and calendars (see below) and  Kim Sava – known for her handbags and aprons and art assemblages all made with recycled materials. Also coming: botanical artist Susan Lanzano,  Mt. Kisco Candle Co., Basics Fuirst Spices, Terraria (stunning terrariums) and Chrissy Chapin Jewelry.

Also on tap: hot cider and cookie decorating for the kids (thank you Sherry B Dessert Studio)….

In case you can’t tell – we at the CFM are full of holiday cheer and we hope you will come spend some time with us on Saturday. 9 to 1 p.m. at 10 Senter St.

See you at the market!

Pascale Le Draoulec
food writer/ farmer’s market director
author: “American Pie:Slices of Life (and Pie) from America’s Back Roads” (HarperCollins)

december 11, 2014

LPOtoffeeCome stock up for all your holiday parties. Pick up eggs and Ronnybrook milk and cream for baking holiday cookies. And why not scratch a few gifts off your list while you’re at it? Surely your dog walker, acupuncturist or favorite school librarian would appreciate a festive jar of Wright’s Farm’s raspberry jam or pickled beans. So prettily presented, no wrapping necessary.

And who wouldn’t love the gift of small-batch, hand-crafted caramels, toffees and bourbon brittle topped with dark chocolate? La Petite Occasion* joins us this week. Candy maker Michele Kim was a designer before she went back to cooking school. She landed in the pastry kitchen at Danny Meyer’s Eleven Madison Park where she developed a passion for confections…she says her toffees and caramels love the cold so she is thrilled to come to our brisk outdoor market.

My new strategy for this crazy (and crazy cold) time of year is making a different batch of curry at the start of each week. This way, all I have to do is throw some rice in the rice cooker and voila, an instant heartwarming meal in no time at all. I stocked up on every spice imaginable in November – from garam masala to fenugreek so that I can tackle pretty much any type of curry that appeals. And grinding spices making the house smell so nice this time of year. Last week I tried a cauliflower chickpea coconut milk recipe that was a big hit with the girls. This week, I’m taking on this Chicken Tikka Masala recipe  from Jamie Oliver.

Make sure to stop by the Southtown Farms tent for some free-range chicken and milk, Sohha for yogurt and your favorite produce vendor for the onions, chilis and ginger. Madura is having a super sale on squash this week – only 79 cents a pound! So squash up!

*La Petite Occasion – will also be at our last market of the year – INDOORS at the Community Center, next week, Dec. 20th. That market promises to be a doozie so make sure to carve out some time to swing by for some hot cider and holiday cheer.

Pascale Le Draoulec
food writer/ farmer’s market director
author: “American Pie:Slices of Life (and Pie) from America’s Back Roads” (HarperCollins)