Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Goat Cheese Anyone

When you think of goat cheese what place comes to mind?  France, Switzerland, Spain?  How about Tonopah, Arizona?  That's right, part of the GDP of Tonapah Arizona is goat cheese and it is produced fresh on  at a cozy little place called Chili Acres under the brand name Barn Goddess Cheese and let me tell you, it really lives up to its name.  

I had the pleasure of sampling some Barn Goddess Cheese at the Phoenix Public Market a couple Saturday's ago and I swear, I'll be going back this Saturday to buy some.  It is simply wonderful.  I sampled the Fromage with Sun-Dried tomato and it is out-of-this world.  Cheese this good is hard to find in the supermarket unless, of course, you go to Whole Foods where I am told it will soon be available.

A Great Price for an Excellent Product.

if you want to know more about Chili Acres, Bubbles the Goat, or Barn Goddess Cheeses, they have a great website that will let you know all about them and set your mouth to watering at the same time. Their web address is http://chileacres.com/ or you can visit them and many other great vendors at the Phoenix Public Market.  For more info go to the PPM Website at http://www.foodconnect.org/phoenixmarket/,  Its a great way to spend a Saturday Morning!  

For a ton of great info and recipes,
Search Amazon.com for goat cheese

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Phoenix Public Market Part 2

One of the things I like most about Farmer's Markets is the passion the vendor's have for their products and businesses. I have yet to not find a vendor who wasn't willing to share a little about what inspired him or her to do what they do. You can see the sparkle in their eye and see that they truly love what they do. Now that's freedom; whens the last time you saw someone working in the supermarket willing to spend time chatting about their tomatoes, apple cider, or pickles. I think the merchants enthusiasm alone makes makes the product taste better.

Speaking of pickles, I made a new discovery last Saturday, I met Adam Lambros from Pickled Perfection and got to sample pickled asparagus; a first for me and let me tell you they are mighty tasty. Now I never thought about pickled asparagus but then I guess you can pickle just about any fruit or vegetable. I'll draw the line at pickled apples, but pickled beets are fantastic, and so are pickled green beans which Adam also happened to have in abundance.

We talked a little about his pickled delights. Adam buys all of his produce from a local independent supplier....kudos to keeping it local. He also stated that the pickled asparagus and green beans are often used on salads. To learn more about Pickled Perfection, visit their website at http://www.pickledperfection.com/  You can also find Adam at the Phoenix public Market at Central and Pierce in downtown Phoenix, and while your their check out all of the other excellent merchants.  Even if you don;t buy, it's great just to experince the atmosphere and to feel the excitement and enthusism in the air. Until the next time, Happy Gardening.

I you would like to know more about the location of farmer's Markets in the Phoenix area and around the country come back and visit Tending the Garden, or go to mywebsite: http://www.scottaroo.com/ I am working on compiling a list of markets locally and aroung the country.  I will also be visiting and writing reviews of many of these markets and the participating vendors.  The links and info should be up on scottaroo by mid-September.   For a list of markets in the Phoenix area, go to http://www.arizonafarmersmarkets.com/.

Adam from Pickled Perfection

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Phoenix Public Market

Hello all, I am so happy to be back. I finally got my brand new laptop back from the shop; thank God for warranties. Anyhow, here I am back and about 6 blogs behind. I tried to limp through with my seven-year-old desktop but it was just too painful....God way of steering me towards things otherwise neglected I suppose. Anyhow, in my time away from this post I was able to take some time to visit the Phoenix Public market and I was not disappointed.

I love Farmer's Markets, and I am very passionate about supporting them and permaculture in general. If you follow my blog let me warn you that you will often read that I strongly believe we need to return to the local markets in order to sustain ourselves. There is so much more to Farmer's markets though than just home-grown and home made products, there is also a sense of community and of caring. I could be wrong but I have yet to see one corporation concerned only with profits, represented at any of the markets I have visited; instead I have found many grassroots businesses that offer great products and reasonable prices. More importantly, the merchants I have visited are passionate about their products and have all been more than happy to tell me all about their business. In turn, I feel like the times when I was a little boy and the general store in my hometown was a place where the community came together. It is so nice to return to this culture.

So with all that said, I'm here to say that I have decided to make expand my blog to support the merchants at the many local markets by giving them a little press time and by doing so helping to fuel a movement back to the community markets. That means that I more than likely will be blogging nearly everyday because there are hundreds of local merchants in the Phoenix area and thousands throughout the county and I want to write about all of them.

Saturday, I visited with four vendors at the Phoenix Public Market so this week I will be writing about them. The first merchant I want to write about is Dan from Diggin Dan's Ultimate Salsa. Dan was very gracious and was very happy to enlighten me about his product. When asked where he gets his ingredients Dan told me he buys all his ingredients from local grower, something I was all to happy to hear. Dan had several sample containers on the table and asked me if I cared for a sample. "Of course," I replied. I proceeded with caution trying the mild Salsa first and I am here to tell you it is incredible. Dan really found the right balance of ingredients to bring out a flavor that is incredibly fresh. I savored this for a few minutes and then decided to get brave, I sampled the Hot Verde Salsa. I braced myself, and took a bite and oh my God, it is the best I have had. Hot yes, painful no. Dan explained to me that over the years he has perfected this salsa and the secret is to put just the right amount of habanero peppers in so as to have a salsa that has a bite to it, but one that does not kill the taste-buds. Let me tell you this is some of the best Salsa I have ever tasted and no, Dan is not paying me to say that. Dan went on to tell me that it won the Tempe Salsa Challenge a few years back. I have no question, this salsa is a winner. To find out where to get ahold of Diggin Dans salsa, visit his facebook page at http://tinyurl.com/2c3vpqn or visit the store at Bartlett Lake, currently the only retailer to offer Dan's Salsa.

Well all this talk about Salsa has made me hungry so I think I'll stop for the day. This week I'll be sharing info on the local markets as well as writing about some of the other merchants. As for now, I hear the salsa calling,Until the next time, Happy Gardening

Sunday, August 1, 2010

El Baho, A Nicaraguan Delight

Ok so as promised I will pass along a recipe for Baho, a delicious Nicaraguan dish that consists of marinated beef, plantains, and yuca (see my exotic fruits and vegetables of Costa Rica post) wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked over steam or in a pressure cooker. You can use a pressure cooker because it’s faster. If you’re looking for something quick to cook, Baho is not the dish; that is why it’s mainly reserved for special occasions or Sundays.

 Typically, Baho is started on Saturday or the day before a holiday by marinating the meat. The remaining ingredients are then added and it is cooked on Sunday.

The following recipe serve about 8-10 people. To begin, here is a list of the ingredients:

 4 pounds of beef brisket cut into chunks, strips or cubes.

 3 medium tomatoes chopped, some prefer no seeds but that’s way to much work for me.

 Removed the seeds from 2 green bell peppers and thinly slice them. Chopped is ok too.

 3 medium onions peeled and thinly sliced.

 8-10 cloves of finely chopped garlic, the finer it is chopped the more flavor will be released.

 1 cup of Orange juice. (fresh preferred).

 1 cup of lime juice or you can cut 2 limes in half and squeeze the juice into the marinade.

 4 Tablespoons of salt.

 4 green plantains peeled and halved. The peel can also be left on but the plantains must still be halved and slit to avoid exploding.

 2 pounds of yuca root (can be found at an Asian market or if not, potatoes can be substituted).

 3 or 4 banana leaves

Ok, so now here’s how you do it:

1. Find a large bowl either stainless or glass (do not use plastic), mix the beef, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, orange juice, lime juice, and salt. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. **Caution, do not look at it as it will cause premature hunger pangs**

2. Using a large stock pot (really large 5 gallon) put about 4 inches of water in the bottom and then place a rack in the pot to hold the ingredients up out of the water. You can also halve this recipe and use a pressure cooker. Put a plate on top of the rack to help support the ingredients.

3. Take the banana leaves and heat them over a hot stovetop burner or I suppose then could be heated on a gas BBQ grill. Doing this makes them pliable; otherwise they will break when you try to put them in the pot. We don’t want this to happen.

Heating the Leaves

4. Once the banana leaves are pliable, line the pot with them leaving no openings. This is what will hold the ingredients and keep them from leaking into the water.

5. After the pot is lined with banana leaves, layer the plantains on top of the leaves. Then, remove the meat from the marinade and layer it on top of the plantains. Then place a layer of yuca or potatoes on top of the meat. Then, pour the marinade mixture over the yuca.

Ready to Cook

6. Fold the protruding banana leaves over the ingredients covering them completely and put the cover on the pot.

7. Bring the water to a boil on medium-high heat, reduce to medium heat and simmer for four hours. The pressure cooker method takes about 2 hours.

Ready to Serve

8. Serve and enjoy!

The baho I enjoyed was cooked in a pressure cooker, however,  I personally am afraid of pressure cookers so I prefer to use the large pot and besides, I can make more that way.  All of the ingredients were purchased at the local Farmer’s Market and butcher shop. So with that said, I urge you to go out and support your locals Farmer’s Markets. As part of a service, I will begin linking to various markets from around the country so if you would like to let me know of any links please drop me a line, I’ll be happy to post these. Oh, before I sign off there is one more thing…there may be a Baho dinner and my house, sometime soon…..followers invited. Until the next time, Happy Gardening.

Nicaraguan Cooking: My Grandmother's Recipes

Cooking The Central American Way: Culturally Authentic Foods, Including Low-Fat And Vegetatian Recipes