By now you may have figured out that we like good things to eat. We also like to MAKE good things to eat. We've recently stumbled on a very simple way to make homemade ice cream.
It might seem a bit early in the season to discuss ice cream, but we want to give you time to perfect our technique. And being Spring, the cows are producing a ton of extra milk. What better milk product can there be than ice cream?!
First, we should mention that we picked up a Cuisinart Ice cream Maker from the local thrift store a few years ago. We also managed to pick up a few extra of the round container that gets frozen. This machine is simply great! We can make ice cream in less than 30 minutes.
The best thing is to make some simple syrup, which is nothing more than two parts sugar to one part water. Boil it, then let it cool and store in the refrigerator. We make a quart at a time.
True ice cream is made with eggs and cream. For a REAL fast fix, we've found this to be the quickest and easiest recipe:
2 cups milk
1/2 cup of the simple syrup
That's the base recipe!
To this, we add a tablespoon or two of our favorite extract and/or whatever we want to mix in. (We've become quite creative in recent days.) The combinations are endless.
Simply dump this all into the mixer, turn it on, and wait about 20 minutes. You'll hear the mixer's sound change when the ice cream is finished. If you like your ice cream a bit harder, transfer to a container and put it in the freezer for a few hours.
Image from the JoyofBaking.com
Try this: two tablespoons of orange extract and one tablespoon of vanilla extract to make a great creamscicle flavored ice cream.
To jazz it up a bit, add a tablespoon of freshly grated orange zest.
Other options are to use the base recipe, add a bit of vanilla extract, then stir in your favorite berries, fruit, nuts or chocolate syrup!
We are sad to report that we will not be opening this year.
On Tuesday, April 9th, we requested an extension of time from the Town Council, to use the outdoor parking lot in its current condition for the duration of this season.
The Council discussed our request at length. It was erroneously stated that we had written a letter complaining about other businesses' parking lots. We have never written such a letter, nor ever mentioned other businesses' parking lots.
Councilman Todd Holtzman stated that he did not have faith in us paving the lot and suggested a performance bond in an amount as great as $5,000 to be paid.*
Councilman Rod Shepherd made a motion to permit the extension for the Market to use the gravel lot through July 1, with the contingency that we return to the Council in May or June to update them on the status of the paving of the lot. We felt this was a good compromise to which we could be agreeable.
Councilman Holtzman later amended Shepherd's motion to include the requirement that the parking lot be paved no later than July 1st or the outdoor market would need to close. Councilman Ken Hackenbracht seconded the amended motion and the Council unanimously approved it, with the exception of Kay Whetzel, who was not present.
Our goal for the outdoor farmers' market has always been to provide the community with something we understood was wanted. We were in the process of applying largely because the outdoor market is not about us, personally, making a profit. (Our profit will eventually come from what happens inside the four walls.) Considering we were promised signage to be in place by the opening of this year's market, but the Council has stated that their provision of signage is now contingent on the parking lot being paved; also, considering that the Council seems to be bothered each time we approach them in an effort to work together; and finally, considering we have operated the outdoor market at a personal financial and emotional loss, we owe it to ourselves and to our vendors to be able to commit to the full season, which we cannot do at this point. We have decided that the best possible situation is to simply not open this year.
We want to deeply thank each and every one of you for your amazing support. Perhaps, if things go well for us in the future, our paths will cross again very soon.We highly recommend seeking out neighboring towns' farmers' market: the Woodstock Farmers' Market, located at the Fort Valley Nursery in Woodstock; and the Harrisonburg Farmers' Market. They have some amazing vendors.
*Performance Bonds are typically used by municipalities to ensure that a private entity doing work within a public right-of-way, or for the municipality, will accomplish the work by a certain date and in a said manner. Performance bonds are not typically used to make a private entity perform improvements by a certain date. **As of April 15, we have had over 2,000 unique visitors who have read this blog post. Be sure to like our Facebook page for the most up-to-date information.
Many are asking what the status of the Market is for 2013, so we felt it time for an update.
For starters, we are finally getting a few long-overdue projects underway - starting with cleaning out the 20-year old grain from the basement. We found some really great guys who aren't afraid of getting dirty; and we are hoping to be able to employ them longer term.
We have also heard from last year's vendors, and a few new ones too! With Spring quickly approaching, we are getting so excited about seeing everyone again this year.
In October, we met with the Town Manager, Mayor and one of the council members. We were assured the way-finding signs would be up in time for this year's market, and are looking forward to this promise being fulfilled.
In December, we discovered that the Town has funds available for "Economic Development". And at February's Council meeting, $65,000 was approved for an engineering survey of the Town's sidewalks. Since King Street is owned by the Town proper, we are not part of the Towns' sidewalk program. Thus, we have requested a $25,000 economic development grant to provide sidewalks along King Street. The meeting will be Monday, March 4th.
Our biggest push now is to get our parking lot "hard-surfaced", as the Town Code requires. Oil prices are sky high, and therefore "tar & chip" is quite costly. Tar & Chip also is not terribly sustainable.
The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation points out that hydrocarbons are a huge problem in stormwater runoff: "Hydrocarbon loading in urban runoff is often associated with automobile engine oil, lubricants, and other compounds. Hydrocarbon levels have been found to be highest in the runoff from parking lots, roads, and service stations."
We have confirmed that the stormwater drain in the Middle of King goes straight to the River. Therefore, we are most concerned with doing our part to ensure that the water from our site is not polluting the river.
After much research, we have found a wonderful porous concrete system that is comparable in price to asphalt, but will allow water to drain and be filtered on site, rather than washing pollutants into the river.
If there are any out there who have grant-writing skills and would be willing to volunteer, please email us! We could use some help on this one.
Paving the parking lot is only one of the many goals of developing the building. Besides the lot, we have a ton of work ahead of us to get the building ready for tenants. We're up for it, but it will take time. Rome wasn't built in a day, right?
Improving this property will be a great asset to the Downtown area. Wouldn't it be great to have another great place in Downtown to go to on the weekends? We have heard so many wonderful stories about how Downtown Mount Jackson used to be THE place to go just about any night of the week. Let's bring that back!
Please be sure to ask the Town Representatives to continue to support our efforts, and to continue to focus on improving the Historic Downtown Business Core.
We will update everyone as soon as we have an opening date this year, but look for us in the May!
Sad but true - we are closed for the season. We wish to thank all the wonderful vendors and customers who have come out to support what we are doing. Our first full season was not without challenges, but overall a great success. And this past weekends' Harvest Festival was another great opportunity to spread the vision.
Now that Fall is upon us and winter is around the corner, we're already planning for a better Market next year. The Town of Mount Jackson has installed the new lampposts along the entrance of King Street, and in front of the vacant bank building, so we are hopeful that the Way-finding signs will be installed soon, and definitely by next Spring.
As gas and food prices continue to rise, local Farmers' Markets will become more and more important. Since the food comes locally, we can keep our prices very competitive.
Brodé Galeux d'Eysines
In case you missed it, we had some wonderful heirloom pumpkins this weekend. Their edible flesh tends to be much less watery, and much more flavorful, than those orange hybrids that you get at the supermarket. So, what to do with a whole pumpkin? Cut in half and bake at 350 for an hour or until tender; then let cool and simply scoop out the inside. Use it for all sorts of things.
One of our more unusual pumpkins was the Brodé Galeux d'Eysines, which meas "Embroidered with Warts from " in French! The "warts" appear when the fruit matures and are caused by the sugar inside seeping through the skin. It makes for a great Halloween decoration too!
Here's a favorite classic French Pumpkin Soup Recipe (serves 8-10):
One 5-6 pound pumpkin (Galeux D’Eyesines, Rouge Vif D’Etampes, or Musquee de Provence)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, sliced (white and light green parts)
1 yellow onion, diced
1 small fennel bulb, diced
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
3 sprigs thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped sage
1/4 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
8 cups chicken broth (homemade chicken stock is preferable, and so easy)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar, optional
Grated fresh nutmeg, to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
For cheese toasts:
Slices of French baguette
Softened unsalted butter
Finely chopped Thyme
Finely grated Gruyère cheese
Directions: For soup:
Cut the pumpkin in half with a sharp knife and scoop out seeds. Cut the halves into manageable chunks, then cut away the outer rind. Dice the flesh into 1-inch cubes. It’s really not so hard if you have a good chef’s knife.
Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot, medium heat. Add the leeks, onion and herbs and sweat the aromatics until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the pumpkin cubes and the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let simmer until the pumpkin is tender, about 20-30 minutes.
Puree using an immersion blender (you can also use a food processor or blender, if you puree in batches, but be careful). Swirl in the butter and the heavy cream. Add the nutmeg, then taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Use the sugar if you like a slight sweetness to your soups.
The soup gets better the following day as all the flavors have a chance to settle in.
For cheese toasts:
Prior to serving, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the baguette slices lightly with butter. Toast on one slide until lightly brown, just a few minutes. turn over and toast for another minute or two. Remove slices from oven and top with a little sprinkle each of chopped fresh Thyme and grated cheese. Put back in oven and toast another few minutes until cheese has melted.
Top warm bowls of soup with toasted baguette slices.
Enjoy anytime, but especially on a cold Fall evening, with a glass of Hard Cider!
Our first full year is going by quickly, with only a few weeks left. If you've been wanting to stop by, but haven't, now's the time. Saturday mornings are family-oriented and fun, and, of course, include fresh, hot donuts made on site. The Wednesday Market is a great place to pick up fresh produce, and even fresh baked bread, for the rest of the weeks' meals!
With Farmers markets popping up around the country, and even locally, here are some things you should know, as well as a few tips to make your experience at the market most enjoyable.
- The Mount Jackson Farmers' Market is governed by a Town Ordinance that requires that at least 50% of a vendors' offerings are "grower-produced".
- Our vendors grow the majority, if not all of their own food. Other markets often bring food in that they have purchased from "wholesalers". If our vendors have something like that, they will tell you. Otherwise, you can rest assured that they are growing it themselves.
- Ask. Our vendors are very proud of what they have to offer at the market. Many are happy to share tips and tricks about how they are growing such great produce. Feel free to talk with them and ask if they have produced what they are offering.
- If you don't see something that you want, feel free to ask if a grower might have it later in the season. Many of our growers are quite flexible and love to try new things. If you want it, it's likely that others do too. Also, just because there's not a sign out, or something on a table, doesn't mean that a vendor might not have something you want, or know where to get it.
Why is buying LOCALLY produced food important? It means you're supporting your neighbors, and not some obscure corporation. It means accountability, but also has the benefit of better health. Did you know that eating local foods will actually increase your tolerance of local allergins?
Here are some more tips about to help make the most of shopping at a farmers' market:
- Get there early if you can. Many of vendors have limited quantities.
- Or stop by late. Sometimes, vendors will have last-minute discounts or "two-fers" so that they aren't taking home things brought to the market.
- Sign up for our newsletter. We offer some great discounts and promotions. Plus, we'll let you know what's coming to the market.
- Because our vendors grow with the local growing season, not all things will be available all the time. Don't be afraid to try something new. If a vendor is offering something you might not be familiar with, ask them how they prepare it. They might even share a family recipe or two!
- Know your farmer. This is probably the neatest thing about farmer's markets. You get to know exactly where your food is coming from.
- Most importantly, (and especially with our start-up market), stop often. Vendors can and do get discouraged when the numbers of customers dwindle. By being there, you can make suggestions, and the vendors can better determine quanities, what works and what doesn't. It's all about you!
We do hope our first full year has been beneficial to you. Please pass the word.One last note, our last outdoor Market for this year will be the weekend of the Mount Jackson Harvest Festival, October 13th and 14th. We will have a number of first time vendors that weekend, so please come by to support them.
A serrated knife is the best tool for cutting tomatoes.
It's Tomato Season in the Valley! So, how appropriate to share some of our favorite tomato-based recipes.
Tomatoes are excellent sources of potassium, folic acid and Vitamins A, C and E.
Did you know that eating tomatoes could possibly help to burn fat? A study from the University of California-Davis
found the amounts of quercitin and kaempferol, the main compounds found in tomatoes, to be higher in organically grown tomatoes than conventionally grown tomatoes.
Tomatoes also contain important anti-inflammatory nutrients called carotenoids and bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids, concentrated in the tomato skin, may counteract inflammation and allergic reactions. When you reduce inflammation, you can possibly make your weight loss hormones, such as leptin, work properly, allowing you to lose weight. Leptin is your body's natural weight control mechanism, playing an important role in appetite control and metabolism. So, without further adieu, here are a few of our favorite tomato recipes. Both can be canned easily for those winter days when you just need a cheery boost of summer.
Tara's Terrific Tomato Soup (for Canning)
by Tara Forsburg
This soup is the best I've ever had! It's all tomato and no cream, making it perfect for long-term shelf storage (though there is a bit of butter).
14 quarts ripe tomatoes
7 medium sized onions
1 stalk celery
14 sprigs parsley
3 bay leaves
14 tbsp. flour
14 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. salt
8 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. pepper
Wash and cut up tomatoes. Put in large pot.
Chop onions, celery, parsley, bay leaves. Add to the tomatoes.
Cook over medium heat until celery is tender.
Put through a sieve. Return to heat and simmer.
In a small skillet/pot, melt butter and add flour to get a smooth paste (a traditional roux).
Add tomato juice to thin. Add to boiling soup; stir to prevent scorching. Add salt, sugar, and pepper to taste.
For smoother consistency, put through the sieve again.
Fill pint-size jars within one inch of top. Put on cap and screw band on firmly. Process in boiling water bath 15 minutes. Yield 10 pints.
Fabulous Farmers' Market Salsa
by Tara Forsburg
This salsa is very mild, and the perfect balance of sweet and savory.
In a food processor pulse (but don't liquify):
4 large ripe tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
half a sweet onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 tsp. sea salt
a few cracks of black pepper
1 Tablespoon of raw honey
the juice of 3 lemons or 4 limes
approx. one Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
For a greater kick, simply add a hot pepper or two. You can also add a bit of cilantro just before use.
The longer it sits, the better it tastes!
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell
Governor Bob McDonnell has proclaimed this week (August 5th -11th) as Farmers' Market week! The proclamation reads as follows:WHEREAS
, farmers' markets play a vital role in giving farms direct access to consumers; and WHEREAS
, farmers' markets provide the public with ready access to high quality fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, organic items, cheeses, baked goods, meats, homemade preserves and more that are fresh, traceable and competitively priced; and WHEREAS
, farmers' markets are an important component of a comprehensive local economic development strategy that fosters community engagement, supports local farmers, promotes health and wellness and provides access points for healthy food in neighborhoods; and WHEREAS
, the economic impacts of farmers' markets include direct benefits to farmers and business owners, but also indirect benefits to the community in stimulating downtown revitalization, enhancing parks and waterfronts and preserving farmland through economic viability; and WHEREAS
, the popularity of Virginia's farmers' markets continues to grow, from 88 markets in 2006 to 208 in 2012; and WHEREAS
, farmers' markets are good for the economy, good for consumers' health and good for the community; NOW, THEREFORE
, I, Robert F. McDonnell, do hereby recognize August 5-11, 2012 as FARMERS' MARKET WEEK
in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
, and I call this observance to the attention of our citizens. What does that mean?For starters, it means the Commonwealth recognizes the value and SUPPORTS farmers in the region. It also means that the Commonwealth realizes the important role that Farmers' Market play in getting local produce from the farms to the tables. Lastly, this proclamation means that the Commonwealth has now set the precedent and standard for supporting Farmers' Markets, which local jurisdictions and local politicians can can do as well to emulate.
The Virginia Department of Consumer Affairs put forth a press release
on July 27th, that summed up the value that Farmers' Markets play in local Economic Development nicely: "The continuing growth of Virginia farmers’ markets helps maintain agriculture as the Commonwealth’s number one industry with an economic impact of $55 billion annually and 357,000 jobs to its credit. The markets also help sustain Virginia’s working farms that provide green and open spaces and help preserve the high quality of life enjoyed by Virginians." So, come on out and support your local Farmers' Market, the local Farmers, and Governor Bob McDonnell. And, as always, pass the word to help people find us!Thank you Governor Bob!
It's been quite a while since we blogged.Admittedly, having had the town refuse us any off-premise signage was a bit of a downer, especially because we did our homework and presented the Planning Commission with a lot of great examples of code language that would have properly regulated off-premise signs and further benefited the Downtown Businesses; and because the promised "Way-finding" signage is yet to be in place, though this was promised last Fall. On a positive note, The Council did approve amendments to allow for Sandwich board signs in front of businesses. We've had a lot of downtown businesses thank us for championing this cause, and are proud to have made a difference for downtown businesses, even if this doesn't help our business directly. But enough of this for now... We have a Market to make successful!Thanks to everyone who came out and showed support last week, despite the oppressive heat. Many have asked how they can support the market. The best support is simply coming out.
There's a very interesting chicken-and-egg scenario that happens at farmers' markets, especially new ones. Customers want more vendors. But Vendors need customers. IF there are not enough customers, vendors get discouraged and leave. If there are not enough vendors, customers are discouraged by the lack of variety and don't come back. While Farmers' Markets are certainly not a new concept, shopping at one tkaes a bit of planning. In Molly Watson's About.com guide entitled 10 Farmers Market Shopping Tips, she explains that "shopping at farmers markets is the easiest way to eat locally" and that "A bit of planning can keep weekly shopping for produce at a farmers market fun and make cooking a snap all week long." Read the article for some great tips.So, here it is mid-July already. Over the last few weeks, blueberries, raspberries and peaches have been hot items at the Market. Blackberries are beginning to come in now, and we should have melons, sweet corn and tomatoes very soon.
Several of our vendors have prior commitments and will be in and out throughout the year. We have other new vendors who will be filling the spot. And many of our current vendors are expanding their horizons to bring new things to the market. Sarah Green of EverGreen Farms will have fresh baked pies, as one example!
We even have something from the kids - a couple of the market boys have handmade and are selling Marshmallow Shooters! Pretty entrepreneurial, huh? They will take orders for custom painted ones too.
Last but not least, the Town continues to work on the installation of a new storm drain at the intersection of Main and King. We're told that they are about half way through the project, and that King Street will be subject to closures on an ongoing basis until the project is finished. They have been great about having the street open during Market Days, which we greatly appreciate. Should the street be closed, the Town has stated that visitors can enter King from the other end, despite that it is one-way.
Sign Ordinance Amendments are on the table for discussion and a vote tomorrow evening.
As of the Planning Commission meeting last Monday, the Mount Jackson Farmers' Market, and all downtown businesses, still have no provision for off-premise signs. Sandwich boards in front of businesses will be permitted if the new amendments are adopted by the Council, but of course, those signs are only good if we can actually get people to drive through Town - and even then, the Farmers' Market is on a one-way side street. (Yes, fine... we bought a building on a side street - and yes we have an expectation that the Town wants to improve Downtown businesses because that's what's written in their codes and Comprehensive Plan. Big Deal Developers often come with much greater expectations and demands of the Towns in which they develop.)
I shutter to think that the only reason that the Town is even amending the Sign ordinances in the first place is to allow Point of Sale signage for the businesses that were formerly in violation of the codes. Fortunately, I am confident that our Town leaders, and other businesses, have more of a heart for fostering community as a whole.
Businesses in the "Highway District" are allowed 30' tall signs, which allow them to be seen from the Interstate. Why? Because they know how important proper signage is to their viability and success.
"Houston: we have a problem." We're not saying we have all the answers, but we are showing up to the table with some solutions, and are willing to hear others. As such, we have submitted a rather lengthy letter to the Council, which can be read below (we didn't post sooner because we wanted to respect the Council having a chance to read and digest it first), outlining our concerns, and with the hopes and expectations that there would, at minimum, be more discussion about how we can all work together to attract business to Downtown. Both Businesses and Communities are "living things". We must all remain flexible, and perhaps even a little open-minded when it comes to discussing the best environment for our businesses and community to thrive. SMALL businesses are the backbone of America. I can't think of a single business owner who would say that they wouldn't be a little happier with more business. Together, we can make that happen!
This issue is so incredibly important for the future success and revitalization of downtown businesses, that we feel the need to beg the issue. We have such a wonderful, and even unique Town, with two exits off the Interstate, that the Downtown businesses should really be attracting more traffic than what we are. Gas stations at our Highway intersections aren't the only thing Mount Jackson has to offer.
Woodstock, as one example, has addressed their need to promote the Downtown core with a new, flashy sign highlighting downtown businesses and activities. The business owners there report that it has been helpful.
We're not asking for what we can do ourselves - only what we need from the Town to become the best we can be.
Please consider attending the meeting to show your support and/or voice your concerns. We are very confident that our Town leaders are listening. Now is the time to be heard - not AFTER the decisions have been made.
Thanks again for everyone's continued support.
We officially kicked off Music at the Market on Saturdays, yesterday, with Travers Chandler & the Avery County Band!
We had extended an invitation to these boys a few months ago and they completely surprised us by showing up and playing. They were simply amazing. A good group of North Carolina boys traveling through to New York City, playing Blue Grass along the way.
They brought CDs which were only $10 a piece, and played for two hours. All in all, we were thrilled to have them on our outdoor "stage", and I think they were very pleased with the number of CDs they sold, as well as the gas money they collected and the lunch we provided.
Did you miss 'em? They just might stop on their way back through town. Otherwise, be sure to watch our calendar for our music line up. Then again, just come to the Market... you never know who just might show up!