Davis Farmer’s Market

My three daughters and I,  along with my sister and niece made a whirlwind dash to California last weekend to catch up with my brother’s family and meet the newest addition to our family tree.

We all fell in love with baby Bella.  We also got to hang out the energetic nephews, Isac and Noah.  It was a great family weekend!!

The mid-seventies temperatures were perfect for a trip to the Davis Farmer’s Market which USA Today ranks as one of the “standout” markets across the country.  Besides the normal farmer’s market bounty of fruits and vegetables, this market includes stall after stall of nuts (almonds, pistachios and walnuts) along with every baked good imaginable, scones, cookies, pies and cinnamon rolls the size of a dinner plate.  I stared at those babies for several minutes before someone finally pulled me away.

The displays and color at the market were amazing.

The market even has their own Cookbook and on this particular day the authors were greeting visitors and signing autographs.

One vendor was selling pepper and tomato bouquets,  I really wanted one of these unique and colorful arrangements, but could not figure out how to get it home without crushing it in my luggage.

I love farmer’s markets.  Is it spring yet?

#1 – Join a CSA

Raise your hand if you know what a CSA is…….just as I expected, only a few of you know about this concept.  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is a model that allows consumers to purchase fresh, local foods and establish a relationship with the farmer who produces it.  It works like this, the consumer purchases a “share” from a farmer for the season and the farmer provides a basket of vegetables each week to the consumer in return.  Many farmers also include other items like eggs, meat, cheese, homemade bread, fruit, herbs and flowers.

I have been interested in CSA’s for several years but have not gone so far as to actually purchase a share.  I love the idea of eating locally grown produce because we all know that taste and quality of a food product is directly related to it’s freshness.  Over the years, as I have harvested my pitifully small number of tomatoes or cut a few leaves of basil, I often thought of how nice it would be to have a bountiful amount of fresh vegetables available.

Yes, I know I can have this experience by supporting the local farmers market each week and I do frequent them often during the produce season.  However, another reason to join a CSA is to be exposed to new vegetables that you would typically not select on your own.  It is an opportunity to broaden your culinary experience.

One of my daughter’s friends from college joined a food co-op a few years ago to overcome her pickiness about food and eat healthier.  You can read about her experience starting with bagel bites as a staple in her diet to learning to cook and enjoy the likes of okra and squash at Lizziecookingforone.blogspot.com.  She said the experience was “challenging, but it really changes the way you cook and think about food.”

I have decided this is the year to act and not just talk about it.  I have done some research and have purchased a share from Red Ridge Farms out of Odessa, Missouri. Starting in mid-April and for the next 25 or so weeks, I will be receiving a weekly basket of fresh, locally grown produce.  There were several CSA’s in the area to choose from, but I selected Red Ridge Farm when I discovered one the proprietors, Farmer Ami, has a Farm Blog.  I love the idea of reading about life on the farm that grows what I will be eating each week.  Her blog not only provides recipes to use on the vegetables they grow, but offers interesting information about the farming process.  Yesterday she was talking about how she is dealing with bugs, from a sustainable, chemical free farming perspective.  Visit Ami’s Farm blog at redridgefarms.wordpress.com.

Last year’s “shareholders” from Red Ridge Farms received the following as part of their weekly basket; lettuce, radishes, spinach, arugula with microgreens, eggs, wild garlic, pickles from last summer’s cucumbers, spring onions, carrots, potatoes, kale, asparagus, pea shoots, honey, pac choi, cabbage, eggplant, strawberries, basil, dill, chives, cucumbers, broccoli, zucchini, jam, beets, rhubarb, tomatoes, squash, jalapenos, green peppers, green beans, sweet corn, cantaloupe, edamame and pumpkins.  Wow!  I cannot wait to get started!!!

I hope to take a field trip in the next couple of weeks to meet Ami and see the farm first hand.  Here’s to a spring, summer and fall of fresh taste and new cooking experiences!

Fall Day Trip

Fall is my favorite time of year with crisp, cool mornings and warm sunshine in the afternoons.  I love apples, pumpkins, cider, football and bon fires! In celebration of the season we decided to take a little road trip down memory lane.  Our first destination was Warrensburg, Missouri where we toured the University of Central Missouri and reminisced over places I knew well and spent time many years ago.  First stop was the Sigma Kappa sorority house.

My favorite memory of the soroity house was the night we called 7-11 and talked the clerk into delivering ice cream sandwiches to us after he got off work.  I can’t imagine what we said to make him do that, I am sure he was disappointed when the house mother would not let him near our door!

Another stop was Dockery Hall where I learned all the dark secrets and rituals of the accounting world.  I actually can not think of anything fun about this place.

And finally there was Old Barney’s……I might have hung out here a time or two….

We ended our Warrensburg tour with lunch served by a cute waitress that looked really familiar.

From Warrensburg we headed north to Lexington, Missouri where we attended the Apples, Arts and Antiques festival.

Lexington has several gift and antique shops that also happened to be opened on Sunday.  I found several treasures  that I just could not live without.  As we walked down Main Street we noticed the Courthouse that still contains a Civil War cannonball embedded into one of the columns.

After the festival we drove through town and I stopped for pictures at a few familiar places.   The first stop was the Maid-Rite drive in.

If you have never had a Maid-Rite sandwich you need to make them for dinner tonight.  It is VERY simple, but VERY good and VERY close to the real thing.  Brown and drain 1 ½ pounds of ground beef.  Pour in a can of Campbell’s French Onion soup and ½ can water.  Bring to a boil, and then sprinkle the top with 1 Tablespoon of flour.  Stir to make a gravy then pile on to a soft hamburger bun, topping with mustard and pickles.  Eat and enjoy!

Across from the Maid-Rite is the old high school football stadium called the Goose Pond.  I was surprised that the high school that sat high on a hill above the goose pond was no longer there.  It must have been torn down.

We next drove by a house my family lived in for a short while as we were making the transition from California to Kansas City.  I would have loved to knock on the door and asked for a tour but I was not brave enough.  I remember this house having a large claw foot bathtub and a bay window in what was my brother’s bedroom.  I also remember my sister and I playing house in her room.  She made me eat oatmeal which is something I hate to this day.

The next stop was my Grandmother’s house that looks totally different than it did when I use to visit.  The original four room house was stucco,  but now has siding and room additions.  I remember the front porch being much, much bigger.  We use to sit out there and snap beans that came from the large garden next to the house.  One thing that was still there was the small square of concrete in the side yard that use to sit under the apple tree.  This platform covered an old well that use to have a hand pump on it.  I would pour buckets of water down that hole and pump for hours thinking for sure I would bring it back to life and water would come gushing out.  That never happened.

Our last stop was at Fahrmeier Farms, a multi-generational family run farm that grows vegetables, fruits, flowers and wine grapes.  We picked up some apples and pumpkins at the farm stand while looking at all the gorgeous mums.

In 2008 one of the old barns on the farm was converted into a winery and event space.  We enjoyed sampling a few wines and listening to the winemaker talk about how he got into the business.

We also discovered that there are five wineries in Lafayette County alone.  I think there could be a few more day trips to that area in our future.

It was a delightful day, perfect weather and perfect fall fun.

BBQ Sauce Giveaway!

On Labor Day weekend Dave and I visited the Kansas City Farmers Market with about a million other people.

It was the first time I had ventured down there in several years due to those pesky joints of mine which did not enjoy walking.  It is a new day people……I love these new hips!!  There was a special event this particular weekend called “For the Love of Meat” which is part of the City Market’s Farm to Table Celebration series.  Guess who we ran into?  Our favorite BBQ Team – Lil’ Smokers.  OK, so maybe we knew they were going to be there and being the team groupies that we are, maybe that is the reason we went!

Lil’ Smokers were invited to provide a demonstration of their grilling and smoking techniques.  Here is Dusty and Darrell discussing the use of spice rubs.

Sure wish they would have shared the secret of getting their brisket so tender.

In their booth, Rusty and David handed out free samples and sold their sauces and rubs. They even had samples of bruschetta made with their Sweet ‘N’ Sassy BBQ Sauce.

Would you like to try some yourself?  If you leave a comment on today’s post before Saturday, Sept 17 at 5:00 p.m., I will randomly select two winners and send each a bottle.

Lil’ Smokers BBQ team has been competing for the past several years in the Kansas City Barbeque Society’s sanctioned competitions.  The awards keep rolling in, for the 2010 season they were named the Northern Missouri Reserve Grand Champions.  Just this year their two sauces won both 1st and 2nd place in the Great American BBQ contest in Overland Park, KS.  They have also won awards with their ribs, chicken, pork, brisket and side dishes.

Think about this, Kansas City is the BBQ capital of the world and this team is competing with some pretty big names in the BBQ circles, several of which even have their own restaurants.  Winning BBQ awards in this neck of the woods is a huge accomplishment.  However, if you have ever tasted Lil’ Smokers food you would not be surprised at all.

To see all the locations where you can pick up sauce, order sauce on-line, and get some new BBQ recipes, click here to visit the Lil’ Smokers web site.  You can also see them in person at the American Royal BBQ competition Sept 30-Oct 2.

Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to try a free bottle of Lil’ Smokers BBQ Sauce!

Happy 4th of July!!

The weekend got off to a great start with an early morning visit to the Farmer’s Market.  I was going specifically to find some Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes but came home with several other items including cucumbers and home-made orzo.    I absolutely love the farmers market and everything about it.


I have been to the farmers market in Davis, California on a few occasions and it has spoiled me for life.  The volume of vendors and the overwhelming amount of produce is incredible.  My favorite items are the grapes, avocados, olives and pistachios, items you do not often (NEVER) find at Missouri farmer’s markets.  However, since I do not get to the Davis Farmers Market very often, I make do very nicely at our local market.  Saturday’s hot items (no pun intended) were the tomatoes and peaches.


I used one of my purchases from the market in a new recipe for dinner Saturday night, Tomato and Green Olive Bruchetta.

Start with 2 cups of beautiful heirloom tomatoes,

Chop the tomatoes coarsely along with ½ cup of green olives.  Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle generously with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Chill until ready to serve.  Before serving, slice a loaf of crusty French bread into 1 inch slices, brush with olive oil and toast lightly on the grill.  After removing from the grill, rub garlic on the bread,  then generously mound the salsa on top.

I totally meant to take a picture of the Bruchetta but was so busy eating it I forgot!  Dave also grilled some pepper rubbed salmon filets and fresh corn on the cob

On Sunday we had a fabulous brunch at the Bristol in the Power and Light District.  It was a little pricey but totally worth it.  Besides the normal breakfast items you would expect, scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy, fruit and sweets, they also served lobster macaroni and cheese, shrimp enchiladas, chicken wings and a whole display of sushi items.  You definitely need to try it if you haven’t already!

Hope you are all having a great holiday weekend!