Goodbye September

“By all these lovely tokens,September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather, and autumn’s best of cheer.”
–   Helen Hunt Jackson, September, 1830-1885

Autumn’s best of cheer is available everywhere in the market.  Country Bloomers has these gorgeous chrysanthemums and flowering kale to renew your summer containers or start new ones for fall.   Add some asters from Mary DeBlock and create a picture to mirror the sugar maples against the sky. (She’s at the end of the market next to Ethel Ann’s Savories and Sweets where the orange tent glows.)

Kelly Lor has one more chance at summer with these bouquets of giant dahlias–sometimes called dinner plate dahlias.  These are the flowers that you’ll remember in January, so treat yourself, or a friend, now.  There are still sunflowers and zinnias up and down the market at Natalie’s, Ka Vang and Prairie Farm Produce…no canning required to save this harvest; you’ll preserve the memory in your heart.

Flowering kale pretends to be a rose when it has been cut just right and  lasts half way to forever if you change the water in the vase every couple of days.  It loves cold, so you could even put them in a crock outside and let the neighbors think that you are a very clever gardener.  (You don’t have to admit that Sai Vang grew them.)

Countyline Produce has fantastical gourds that make us wonder how far a plant will go to protect its seed.  This gourd looks like it could slither away if you turned your head for an instant.  (Don’t you want to put some googly eyes on it and give it a name?)  This type will often dry well–although the color will change–and you could drill a doorway next spring as a peculiar birdhouse for the garden that will remind the neighbors that you were also the person who had the flowering kales on the doorstep until December.

Not to rush the winter holiday season, but now is the time to speak to your favorite vendors about poultry and roasts if you want to reserve something special.  This is also a good time to cook stocks in quantity and freeze for later.   Check with Hawk’s HillJen Ehr,  Jordandal and  Pecatonica Valley for ideas.  Those smoked meat sticks that so many people munch on a Saturday stroll through the market would also be good sliced thin and added to a corn bread stuffing or layered with cheese from Edelweiss or Schroeder’s on top of Potter’s Crackers or Dolci’s flatbreads.  (Sandy, of Dolci’s Italian American Sweets will return to the market in October; I told her that we would gossip about her while she’s gone.  Maybe we should get some chalk and graffiti the asphalt in her stall.)

What are all these people looking at?

Chef Kevin Appleton of Vom Fass is chopping a baguette from Madison Sourdough for a panzanella salad.  (The recipe is below if you didn’t get a copy at the Market.)  The Chef brings specialty vinegars and olive oils from Vom Fass to spotlight perfect vendor produce.  He also topped pears from Door County Fruit with goat cheese from Dreamfarm and drizzled  date balsamic vinegar over all.  He’ll be with us one more time on October 29th.

Making a Meal of the Issues?

Here’s a lesson from NPR on how to use lemongrass.  The Hmong vendors at the market all have fresh lemongrass, and you’ll love it once you try it.

Want to really rile people up?  Have a diversity bake sale and price the cupcakes according to race!  Oh, and give all women of whatever ethnicity an extra 25 cents off.  Do this is super liberal Berkeley, CA and see what happens.  Another NPR story here.

David Lebovitz was a pastry chef at Chez Panisse until he moved to Paris to blog about the “sweet” life there. (He conducts chocolate tours in Paris and Switzerland; reserve yours now.  Take me along, and I’ll tote the luggage for you.)  His blog is a fascinating armchair vacation.  Here’s a recent post.

Here’s an excerpt from Christopher Hitchen’s latest book  (Arguably) on fine dining and wine.


Panzanella – Kevin Appleton


3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup Vom Fass Don Carlos Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

3 tablespoons Vom Fass Aged Spanish Red Wine Vinegar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper


1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes

1 cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

12-14 ounces stale French or country-style bread, torn or cut into 1″ cubes

1 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced thin (chiffonade)

Core tomatoes and cut into cubes (halve or quarter them if small). Toss with dressing  and let sit for 5 – 10 minutes.

Fill a large bowl with ice water. Add the bread and allow it to soften (no more than 5 minutes – don’t over soak!). Scoop the bread from the water, gently squeeze out as much water as possible and rub through your fingers into the tomatoes and dressing. Add the basil over and toss gently. Serve right away or set aside at room temperature for a couple of hours.)

Note: Fresh bread can be dried by cutting and then microwaving for 1 to 2 minutes or baking in a 300 degree oven for a few minutes.

Raspberry Citrus Dressing – Kevin Appleton  (used on the frilly mustard greens from Jen Ehr)

1 tablespoons shallots, minced fine

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup Vom Fass Waldburg Raspberry Cassis or Pomegranate Vinegar

2 tablespoons Vom Fass Waldburg Honey Vinegar

1 tablespoon local honey

1/2 cup Vom Fass Cru Cravenco or Cru Ranieri Extra Virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Superb leeks at Happy Valley

Leek and Olive Tart from (ahem!) Martha Stewart

  • 3 large leeks, white and pale-green parts only
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 box (14 ounces) frozen puff pastry, such as Dufour, thawed
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Scant 1/4 cup Nicoise olives, pitted
  • 4 ounces Pave d’Affinois or other soft-ripened cheese (such as Camembert or Perail), thinly sliced  (Consult with Edelweiss, Dreamfarm or Schroeder’s for substitutions)


  1. If using baby leeks, halve lengthwise and trim to about 3 inches long. If using regular leeks, cut crosswise into 3-inch pieces; halve each piece lengthwise, then cut into 3/8-inch-thick strips (about 5 cups). Rinse well, and drain; set aside.
  2. Melt butter with oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add leeks and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are tender but not browned, about 15 minutes. Stir in thyme. Leeks can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 day; bring to room temperature before assembling tart.
  3. Cut or roll out pastry to a 6-by-14-inch rectangle; place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (reserve remaining pastry for another use). Score a 3/4-inch border. Brush with egg wash; sprinkle with Parmesan. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake pastry until golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and press center area with a metal spatula. Arrange leeks end to end in rows within border of pastry. Scatter olives over leeks. Bake until crust is golden brown, about 10 minutes. If bottom is soft, bake 3 to 5 minutes more.
  5. Remove tart from oven, and arrange soft cheese over top. Using an offset spatula, slide tart onto a wire rack; let cool slightly. Cut into pieces; serve warm or at room temperature (tart can stand at room temperature up to 1 hour).

Web Extras!

A new magazine for those who love baking is coming.

This week’s edition of the Splendid Table is here.

A pull apart pumpkin bread recipe that reminds me of that old monkey puzzle bread.  I can hardly wait to try this some drizzly afternoon with fresh pumpkin from the market.  Don’t we feel extra virtuous when we cook a pumpkin?

I love the story that this recipe for Musician’s Tart was a way long ago to pay them.  (Will play for food?)

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