Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I Brake For Farm Stands

You can make a pretty good homemade carrot soup with just a few carrots, an onion, chicken stock and some grated ginger. I also added zest of an orange in this batch for an extra kick.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Yes, it's carrot season and the farm stands are packed with plump, juicy, sweet carrots. I cannot resist a roadside farm stand, and feel great about supporting farmers.

I recently bought 3/4 quart of Maple syrup from a business at $23. A week later I drove past a small farmhouse selling their own syrup and picked up a full quart for $17.  Quite a savings, and the flavor was far superior! It was so delicious that I slurped it up by the spoonful. There is nothing like maple syrup. Nothing!

But the best part of that second transaction was hearing all about the product. The farm wife's eyes brightened as she told me she had made maple syrup since she was a child and "loved it. Just loved it." She and her husband tapped 120 trees on their land and this batch came from a rather modest "three day boil." It was a small crop due to last year's mild winter.

The woman predicted a more "normal winter" this season. "The caterpillars are changing color," she told me, and her father always said, "Watch the caterpillars, they'll tell ya what's in store." Apparently she saw a caterpillar that week that was almost white. Get out the Uggs.

Further down the road I collected some Cherokee Chocolate tomatoes. It's a very popular tomato with celebrity chefs these days and was also a favorite of the grower's. I mentioned that I'd never grown a chocolate before and was told to save some of the seeds from these and I'd have them in my garden next year. Don't you just love farmers?

Here is one of the Cherokee Chocolates next to a beefsteak from my own garden. Very exotic.

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