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Savoring the Seasons: What a difference a decade makes


Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Ten years ago, the locally grown food situation was very different in western Massachusetts. In early 2007, Juanita Nelson had just proposed that we create a one-day winter farmers market and a week of local-food-related events for February 2008. There were no winter farmers markets in Massachusetts until that first one in Greenfield in February 2008. Before then, most western Mass. vegetable farmers sold off all of their produce by late fall.

Now, there is a monthly winter farmers market in Greenfield. Many local stores carry locally grown produce, meat and other foods year-round. Atlas Farm Store in Deerfield even has a sign out front that says “local greens all winter.”

Juanita would be smiling!

I love going to farmers markets any season of the year. There is something especially wonderful about winter farmers markets. This Saturday, Jan. 7, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., I’ll shop at the Greenfield Winter Farmers Market at Four Corners School. Amid the snow and ice, it is delightful to walk into a big room with vendors selling greens, root vegetables, apples, meats, mushrooms and so much more. I know I’ll see lots of folks I know and probably meet new ones, too.

Barbara and Eric Goodchild will have their tasty lamb products and many canned delights like maple pickled beets and bread and butter pickles. Barbara wrote to tell me about a special kind of pickle they’ll have this month. “At the next Greenfield Winter Farmers Market, we will have a return of our ‘Irish Ploughman’s Pickle.’ Our son has an Irish friend who was able to get us his family’s recipe for this wonderful mixed pickle. The flavor is a combination of sweet and sour, savory and a little spicy. The recipe called for some translating: courgette is zucchini, swede is rutabaga, and gherkin is small cucumbers. The name comes from the fact that this is the pickle the Irish ploughmen (field workers) would take to work for their noon meal along with bread and cheese. It is particularly delicious with toasted cheese on bread.”

Sounds very intriguing!

I’ll look forward to seeing Gloria and Ervin Meluleni from Coyote Hill Farm and restocking my root vegetable and greens supply from their great produce. I met Gloria and Ervin at the very first Greenfield Winter Farmers Market in 2008.

New to the Greenfield Winter Farmers Market this year is Local Maple Granola made by Neftali Duran (formerly of El Jardin Bakery), Erinn Ervin and Tony Hall in Holyoke. I tasted Local Maple Granola offered by Erinn at an earlier Greenfield Winter Farmers Market and it is superb. Of course, I went home with a bag! Taste some at this Saturday’s Market.

Erinn and I talked about many ways to enjoy granola other than with milk or yogurt for breakfast. She said it makes a great crust for pumpkin pie or cheesecake. I haven’t experienced it in a pumpkin pie crust yet, but it is sublime for cheesecake crust. Try it as a fruit crisp topping or tossed in rice pudding. On Christmas day, my friends sprinkled it on top of flan.

This week we’re eating ...

Cheesecake with Local Maple Granola Crust

By Erinn Ervin, Local Maple Granola, Holyoke

Crust:

About 1 C. of granola (I use the “shake” at the bottom of the bag and run it through a coffee grinder for a couple seconds)

less than 1/4 C. melted butter or margarine (you could use coconut oil, if you will be using a cold filling)

Mix well and press into the bottom of the pan.

Cheesecake:

2 boxes cream cheese

About 1/2 C. yogurt

1/2 C. sugar

1/4 C. maple syrup

2 eggs

a squeeze of lime/lemon juice

vanilla

Blend, pour into crust, bake in a slow oven for about an hour.

Local food advocate and community organizer Mary McClintock lives in Conway and works as a freelance writer, editor, and book indexer. Send column suggestions and recipes to mmcclinto@yahoo.com.