The Dirt

Market Finds

Saturday, June 14, 2014

At SFC Farmers' Markets, each season has its particular and distinctive delights. The rains this spring have yielded an abundance of lush produce unlike any we've seen in years, and we know the dangers of walking into such temptation without a plan! We're pretty good about making a list and keeping within a budget, but setting aside a dollar or two for special finds and exciting discoveries makes shopping the market especially fun. In these weeks of early summer, here are a few unusual delights you might stumble upon, delicacies you certainly won't find at the grocery store.

Plums--We're all talking about the tart, tiny, green plums from Lightsey Farm's orchards. After a day or two on the counter, these puckery little fruits turned a lovely soft share of rosy pink and baked up beautifully in an upside down cake. We thought about pickling them too or putting some up in preserves for winter.

Radishes--This year, we've seen long, lavender purple daikons; peppery, fuschia watermelon radishes; and spiciest-of-all black radishes that would give horseradish a run for its money.

Squash Blossoms--One of summer's most abundant crops, zucchini and yellow squash can spare a few blooms. Snatch them up for stuffing with creamy goat cheese and frying or sauteeing to toss with pasta or tuck into quesadillas.

Onion Flowers--Pale periwinkle pom poms at the top of the onion stalk are great in vegetable str fries or tossed into a salad of peppery arugula and cucumber.

Keep Your Cool in the Garden

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The days are definitely heating up, but don't let that stop you from getting out in the garden--summer veggies need lots of love and care, and the weeds will take over if you don't make inroads daily. There are lots of tricks for keeping cool when the mercury rises--here are our top five tactics for battling summer's intensity. 

  • Stay hydrated and keep your electrolytes balanced. Feeling dizzy? You're probably dehydrated. In addition to drinking lots of water, you can replenish lost minerals and keep your blood sugar stable by stopping for a snack of lightly salted, ice-cold watermelon to replace lost fluids, sugar, and salt (way better for you than processed sports drinks, which are full of chemicals and questionable ingredients).
  • Wear light colors to deflect the sun's rays. Dark colors absorb the heat and will definitely feel hotter in the sun.
  • Protect your head. A wide-brimmed hat keeps sun off your face and keeps your head cool, which in turn keeps you cooler all around.
  • Don't forget the sunscreen! Many a time we've gone out in the early morning when the garden is shady, only to stay out until mid-day and wind up lobster-red and blistered. Anticipate bright sun and put sunscreen on before you need it.
  • It sounds counter-intuitive, but long sleeves can be a gardener's best friend. Wear something loose-fitting but keep your arms covered, protected from the worst of the sun as well as blackberry brambles and okra itchiness, and you'll be glad later!

Creole Potatoes

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Breakfast for supper: sometimes upending the day makes a whole lot of sense. Why should the simplest meal of the day always be in the morning? Sometimes, after a long list of work, to-dos, errand running, and juggling of hectic schedules, there's not a lot left in us for an elaborate meal. The solution? Healthy, hearty breakfast dishes like whole grain pancakes with summer fruit, fried farm egg sandwiches, or these Creole potatoes that come together in a snap. With a side of sausage, pastured eggs, or sautéed greens, you'll have a homey, comforting dinner on the table before you can change out of your work clothes. Choose in-season potatoes, peppers, and chiles for best flavor--a garnish of Orange Is the New Black is optional.


Craving market chiles? Check out our Market to Table: All About Chiles Cooking Class! Get more details and register here.


  • 3 pounds potatoes (you can use baking potatoes or new potatoes), skin on, chopped into 1" cubes
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, chopped into 1" pieces
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, cut in thin slices (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 c + 1 Tbs olive oil
  • garnish: 1/4 c green onions, chopped (optional)

Heat oven to 400. In a large bowl, season potatoes with salt and black pepper. Toss with 1 Tbs olive oil to coat. Spread potatoes in an even layer on 1 or 2 baking sheets. Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the potatoes and bake another 30 minutes or until golden (this might take less time depending on the type of potatoes used, so check them frequently).

Meanwhile, make vinaigrette by combining the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Add olive oil to the vinegar mixture slowly while whisking to evenly combine. When the potatoes are done, let them cool for a few minutes. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, peppers and vinaigrette. Garnish with green onions if desired and serve warm or at room temperature.

Scarecrows (and Squirrels, and Deer, and Armadillos)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

When the cat's away . . . the birds, squirrels, deer and armadillos will wreak havoc on your carefully-tended garden. Unfortunately, wildlife finds juicy summer fruit as enticing as we do, and there's no simple way to keep animals from sharing in your bounty. There are a few tricks that might help to make sure there's a little left for the humans, though. Read on for our tips, and let us know in the comments if you have any to share!

  • Ribbons--in our teaching garden, we tied colorful ribbons to a nearby arbor. Their waving and flapping seems to be keeping varmints away so far!
  • Netting--draping a lightweight netting over fig trees, berries, and tomatoes can help keep birds away, but squirrels can often find their way underneath, so make sure to weight down the bottom with stones or secure with stakes.
  • CDs & DVDs--some people swear that hanging reflective discs from fig tree branches or in the vegetable garden scares critters away, but we haven't had much luck.
  • Traps--squirrels are territorial, so if you use a Havahart trap and "relocate" them, you'll have a little respite before new males move in. 

What's In Your Bag, Dahlia?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

We're there for the food, for sure, but almost just as motivating in getting us out of bed on Saturday morning is the opportunity to catch up with our friends! We were so happy to run into dedicated and always-smiling long-time SFC volunteer Dahlia Ture. With her bag full of blowsy flowering onions and her hands full of juicy, sweet blackberries, we had to know what she had cooking! Her plans included a rustic blackberry galette, a spring potato salad with Dai Due mustard and thinly sliced fennel, and a cucumber salad with the onion flowers. Dahlia had her eye on fragrant, ripe Lightsey peaches too, but she didn't think they would make it as far as a recipe.

Looking for summer cooking inspiration? Check out our seasonal ingredient Pinterest boards before heading to the market!

Hope to see you at the market--if you see us taking pictures, come say hi and tell us what you're cooking.

Homemade Granola

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Your mother wasn't wrong. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day! With breakfast, we get our metabolisms going and set the foundation for what and how we eat the rest of the day. Skip it, and we're prone to blood sugar crashes and poor meal choices. Tight schedules and busy mornings make convenience foods appealing, but if you think ahead just a bit, you can make your own grab-and-go breakfast. Planning is the key to healthy, sustainable eating, the secret defense against all things processed and packaged. Here's one of our favorite recipes for starting the day off right--homemade granola. Just pair with plain yogurt and seasonal fruit, and your day's off to a bright start! 


Want more support? Click here for a healthy meal planner for summer, from The Happy Kitchen.

Can't get enough seasonal fruit? Check out our Market to Table: Seasonal Fruit cooking class and all our classes for summer cooking here.

Homemade Granola
  • 1 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 c. honey, maple syrup, or raw agave
  • 2 T. grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 8 c. rolled oats
  • 1/2 c. sesame seeds
  • 1/2 c. pumpkin seeds
  • 1 c. pecan halves
  • pinch of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 325. In a smal bowl, combine applesauce, vanilla, cinnamon, and honey, maple syrup, or agave, and oil, stirring until combined. In a large bowl, combine oats, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, pecans and salt, and toss to combine. Pour liquid ingredients over the oat mixture and mix thoroughly with your hands. Spread out on a large baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until golden brown and toasty. Cool the granola on the sheet and store in an airtight container or bag for up to three weeks or freeze for longer.

Time to Plant Melons

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Big, fat, juicy homegrown melons are intensely fragrant and flavorful, and quite satisfying to grow from seed. Plant seeds in rich soil, make sure they get lots of sun and water, and give them plenty of room to grow! Here are some of our favorite heirloom varieties--these are unlike anything you'll find in the store.

  • Moon & Stars Watermelon--A legendary heirloom variety rediscovered in Missouri, these melons can grow to over 40 pounds, so only plant if you have plenty of space. The dark green rind has bright yellow spots, and the fruit has very sweet, brilliant red flesh.
  • Charentais Melon--A famous French heirloom, these small muskmelons with bright orange flesh are super sweet and fragrant and grow to 2-3 pounds with beautiful light, gray-green skin.
  • Melone Retato Degli--Tuscan heirloom melon with deep lobes, perfumed aroma and exceptionally sweet flavor.
  • Ananas Melon--A rare white heirloom from the 1800's, with sweet and juicy white flesh.
When you grow heirloom melons, save the seeds for next year's crop! Learn more about seed saving through our Just Seeds Initiative, and learn water conservation techniques for thirsty summer crops in our upcoming Water Conservation gardening class!

SFC Farmers' Market Scavenger Hunt

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

The SFC Farmers' Markets are bursting at the seams with summer fruit, tomatoes, squash, and so much more! Visitors to the market last week enjoyed our new summer layout in the park, with vendors extending all the way to 5th Street. To make exploring the market even more fun, we're organizing a scavenger hunt. 

Ready to play? On Saturday at the Downtown market, visit the vendors on 5th Street. Note five of the vendors on this side of the market in the comments on this Facebook post or pick up an entry form at the market info booth--all correct answers will be entered in a drawing to win a cookbook from The Happy Kitchen and a basket of juicy Texas peaches!

Spicy Peach Salsa

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

They're spicy, sure, but there's more to chiles than just heat. Underneath the tongue-tingling effects of capsaicin compounds, you'll discover layers of fruitiness (they are, after all, fruits), and sweet complexity along with the characteristic mild bitterness all peppers share. We love how customizable the heat levels are--just remove seeds and veins for less zing. In a classic case of "what grows together, goes together," you'll find that chile peppers of all types play very nicely with fruit. Peaches are plentiful now--ripe and juicy and fragrant--perfect for sweet and savory summer recipes. In addition to your favorite cobbler, pie, and ice cream recipes, give this easy peach salsa a try. You'll be spooning it over everything from quesadillas to grilled pork chops.

Want more? We've got cooking classes coming up all about chiles & seasonal market fruit! You can also check out Joy making this recipe over on Austin Fit Magazine's Cooking Channel.

Spicy Peach Salsa
  • 4 cups peaches, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1⁄2 red onion, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt (optional)

Remove pit from peaches, cut fruit into very small cubes and place in medium bowl. Remove seeds and membranes from jalapeño and mince. Add jalepeño, tomato and onion to peaches. Add all liquid ingredients to peaches, stir and add a pinch of salt if desired.

Strawberry Mint Granita

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Swimming holes, fireflies, school-free mornings, and frozen treats: summer is here! Too-sweet Sno Cones and store-bought ice cream might be filled with questionable ingredients, though, and aren't always the healthiest choice. When everyone screams for ice cream, reach instead for this cool, homemade icy strawberry granita, made with a few simple ingredients--no special equipment required! Bright green flecks of cool, fresh mint add an element of herbal interest and lemon brightens all the flavors. Feel free to increase the lemon juice if you'd like more tartness, and be sure to stir in the ice crystals as the granita freezes for a smooth, velvety texture. This isn't a recipe to save for a special occasion--besides freezing time, the only thing that goes faster than making it is eating it!

Come learn to make granita and other seasonal fruit-focused recipes with us in our Market to Table: Seasonal Fruit Cooking Class on June 18th! Register and get more details here.

Strawberry Mint Granita

1 cup of water

1/2 cup sugar

Juice of 4 lemons

3 cups hulled and sliced strawberries

2 tbsp roughly-chopped fresh mint

Mint for garnish

Dissolve sugar in water in pan over medium heat to make a simple syrup. Let cool.

In a blender, puree cooled simple syrup, strawberries, lemon juice and roughly-chopped mint. Puree until there are no lumps. Pour mixture into an uncovered 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

Place container in freezer, and stir mixture every 45 minutes for the next 3-4 hours. Make sure to stir up the ice crystals that form along the edge of the dish.

The mixture will freeze but will be easy to scoop out and serve.

If you manage to not eat it all that first day, make sure to keep it in the freezer, covered. Eat within one week.