Locally Yours: Year-round farmers’ markets fill seasonal needs

By: Carol Arnold
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Mandarins are ripe and Dungeness crabs are in the crab pots. Those two events signal the start of the winter season in Northern California. The change of season provides an opportunity for a market managers update; my own version of a State of the Markets address. We have two markets operating year round now, in Old Town Auburn and at the Fountains/Whole Foods Market in Roseville. (Formerly Roseville Square) In addition, DeWitt, Granite Bay, and Lincoln at Persimmon Café are open through the third week in December. All of the markets are strong with a great deal of variety of produce, meat, fish, nuts, honey, olive oil, spices, jams and jellies, baked goods, and crafts to choose from. New this week we have Dungeness crab in Roseville and Auburn. Crab makes any meal extra festive, as does most fresh seafood. My family enjoys the fresh crab this time of year many ways — in a seafood salad, in Ed’s favorite crab cakes, cioppino, or just sitting down with that big ugly animal in front of you and cracking and picking and dipping in butter. Flying Mule Farm has locally raised lamb and goat for sale. Rack of lamb or marinated leg of lamb covered with olive oil, garlic salt, mustard, and rosemary are holiday favorites. Coffee Pot Ranch has delicious pork and beef raised in nearby Sheridan. There is nothing more impressive than a stuffed crown roast of pork for Christmas dinner. Looking for some great marinade and dressings to go with your special meals? Look no further. Snow’s Citrus Court has expanded their mandarin marinades and dressings to include a Mandarin Orange Grill Sauce and a Mandarin Orange Mustard Dressing. You can pick up seafood, pork, beef, or lamb at the markets but if you are looking for something special you might want to place an order in advance. You can order just about anything; a local restaurant ordered two whole pork bellies from Coffee Pot and a customer recently ordered a whole lamb from Flying Mule. We have cheese from Deidricks Cheese Company from Placerville and Nevada City. Have you ever tried raclette cheese melted over tiny potatoes? Yummy stuff. Every other week we have honey at the Fountains market. Bear River Honey brings honey, honeycomb, beeswax, candles, and other honey related products to the market. Spreading honey right out of the comb onto your warm toast or biscuit is a treat not to be missed. See Two Spicy Ladies for your spice needs. They have a wide selection of salts, peppers, and other spices. I just bought whole nutmeg and cinnamon. Did you know that you can use a micro plane to grate nutmeg? Works great. Spices or special salts are a wonderful gift for the avid cook. Hillcrest has mandarins, winter squash, and pumpkins for sale. Steve and Lisa’s orchard produces amazing fruit and vegetables. Butternut squash ravioli made from Lisa’s squash is a real treat. Twin Brooks has a beautiful array of peppers, potatoes and cauliflower. Use his Romanesco cauliflower in a veggie tray –– the florets look like miniature Christmas trees. Pine Hill has organic citrus and persimmons; their jams make wonderful stocking stuffers. Twin Peaks Orchard has persimmons, wonderful dried plums and peaches and amazing gift baskets. Gary Romano is coming down from Sierra County with his fresh horseradish and prepared horseradish sauce. Prime rib with fresh horseradish is absolutely delicious. Jim Muck is bringing specialty lettuces, New Zealand spinach and winter squash each week. Recently he had frisée, a lettuce rarely seen at our markets. Natural Trading Company brings a beautiful array of produce including collards, lettuce, parsley, cilantro, mizuna, arugula, carrots, parsnips and lots of other veggies. Let’s not forget Blossom Hill-fresh herbs and fresh eggs each week. How about a fresh herb omelet for breakfast on Christmas Eve? Eggs are a good way to get some protein that’s not meat, and the latest health data is that they are fine for just about everyone. We have several promotions during the month of December at the Auburn market. We will be giving away two, $50 gift certificates each week until Christmas. In addition, we will have gift certificates for sale. I can highly recommend the certificates as gifts for family and friends who love good food. Back by popular demand, we will provide baskets and wrap for gifts purchased at the market. This week’s recipe is for Red and Green Salad with warm champagne dressing. The salad is simple to prepare but tastes like you spent hours on it. It’s great to bring to parties or to serve as part of a buffet table. If you have any questions, or need e-mail addresses for vendors, please e-mail me at foothillfarmersmarket@gmail. com. Shop locally produced food — come to your Farmers’ Market. They grow it, raise it, make it, and bake it just for you! Carol Arnold is the marketing manager of the Foothill Farmers’ Market Association. Reach her at Red and Green Holiday Salad 10 cups baby spinach leaves, washed, dried and torn 1 medium avocado, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced Seeds from 1 pomegranate 1 cup Champagne vinegar 2 tablespoons sugar 1 1/2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons dry vermouth 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard 1 egg, beaten 3 tablespoons whipping cream 2 cups olive oil Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste Place the spinach leaves in a large salad bowl. Arrange avocado slices in a circle around the edge of the salad. Place the pomegranate seeds in the center of the salad. For the dressing, combine the vinegar, sugar, flour, vermouth and mustard in a small saucepan and bring to simmer over medium heat. Gradually whisk in the egg and cream over low heat. Whisk in the oil in a thin steady stream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat. Pour 1 cup of the dressing over the salad at the table, toss, and divide between salad plates. Unused dressing can be refrigerated for one week. To seed a pomegranate, fill a bowl with cool water. Cut the pomegranate in half with a nice sharp knife. Dip the sliced pomegranate into cool water. Using gentle fingers, begin peeling away the hull of the pomegranate. Throw the hull into the compost or the garbage disposal. Roll the seeds from the hulls edges into the cool water. Don’t worry if some of the membrane or hull gets into the water, it will float while the seeds sink to the bottom. Once you are done with the dissection, use a paper towel to “scoop” the floaters from the bowl of cool water. Drain and rinse.