October, Half Over

Wetherby cranberries are back at the market which means that it’s time to talk about end of season issues.  We’ll come back to the cranberries in a minute. (The apple in the photo above is the rare Hidden Rose, available–and selling out every week–from Jean and Romy Statz.  It’s more tart than tired old Granny Smith and cotton candy pink all the way through.)

If you build your holiday celebrations around particular roasts or poultry, you need to speak to your vendors soon.  Jordandal has lamb; Hawk’s Hill Elk Ranch has holiday suggestions and can ship if needed; Pecatonica Valley can still talk turkeys with you (but not for long), and you’ll be glad for a stash of their popular smoked sausage sticks to use in baked beans, antipasti salads, lunchboxes etc.  Make this holiday celebration a locavore feast!

Now…about the cranberries.  Certainly you know that they’re not just an accessory to the Thanksgiving table anymore, that you can pile up the bags in the freezer without further processing and that their medicinal and nutritional qualities are legendary.  But now Wetherby’s presents them in an even easier to use form, Berry Bits which are sliced, lightly sugared and frozen in a microwavable container.  You can quickly top waffles, cereal and add a couple of tablespoons to a pan sauce for chops or chicken. It’s the best local convenience food since your veggie vendors started cleaning the spring mix for you.  The boxes stack neatly into a corner of even the smallest freezer.  Kathy brings them to the market in a cooler–her stand is next to the Information Tent–and she has a brochure with a recipe for cranberry salsa.  Don’t dawdle!  It’s nearly mid October.

You could use Wetherby’s Berry Bits to top the thick Greek yogurt from Sugar River Dairy.  If you are trying to get more probiotics into your diet, note that Sugar River has active live cultures.

You can power shop at Westside Community Market;  across from Sugar River Dairy is Dreamfarm where you’ll find artisanal goat cheeses and fresh eggs.  Blue Moon Community Farm is next door with that excellent garlic and the  scallions that you’ll need to make an herb dip with Sugar River Greek yogurt; Potter’s Crackers (the link takes you to a Wall Street Journal article about the tasty crackers) is beside Blue Moon for sweet potato onion crackers to pair with the dip and the goat cheese. (The WSJ wants you to put goat cheese on the grilled corn crackers.)

Country Bloomer mini gardens in a mini pumpkin

You can park right behind the vendors which is good because this week Country Bloomers is bringing a truckload of  just harvested carving pumpkins.  (Here are photos from the Food Network’s Halloween Wars to give you some creepy ideas.)  Bring the kids and stroll around the pumpkins to find the one that speaks your name.   Country Bloomers has another wave of lisianthus, too, reblooming during this gorgeous Indian summer.

New varieties coming! Beans can save the world!

Flyte Family Farm adds several new varieties to their dried bean selection this week: northern, navy, dark red kidney, yellow eye, European soldier and Calypso.  Heirloom beans all carry a story in their names whether it reflects the best place to grow them (northern), where they originated or some anthropomorphic characteristic (kidney, yellow eye.)

The red shape on the European soldier bean is supposed to resemble the silhouette of a toy soldier according to some people. Others say that the name refers to the bean originally carried by the British army  (Redcoats).  Since the variety was  a common baking bean in 18th century New England…well, you do the math.  It does retain its shape during a long simmer and absorbs all the good things you put into the pot with it.

Do heirlooms taste better?  Oh my yes.  Flyte Family Farm beans haven’t been sitting in a dusty warehouse for years, and all the heirlooms have a specific use depending on how soft or firm they remain after cooking.  (Navy beans make the best white bean hummus ever.)  You know how smart and snobby you’ve gotten over those heirloom tomatoes that you used to be so dim about?  Prepare your table and palate for heirloom beans!  (And buy fresh!  Last winter I brought home a sack of great northern beans from a local grocery  that had an extra protein source in the bag… with legs…ewww.)

Also at Flyte Family Farm are some of the most delicious English cucumbers  that you will ever taste–nearly as sweet as melons and selling out fast every Saturday morning.

Beautiful display at Jen Ehr

The cauliflower at Jen Ehr is amazing …both the Snow Crown type and the Mandelbrot romanescoes.  Here’s a great method to cook them both without  gloppy, high calorie sauces. (You’ll love cauliflower steaks.)  Get there early for the frilly red mustard which is yummy raw in salads and on sandwiches, or in a stir fry.  Congratulations to our own Kay Jensen who will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award for Ethical Leadership and Community Service from the School of Business at Edgewood College this Friday. Kay is co-owner and farmer with her husband Paul Ehrhardt  of JenEhr Family Farm.

Who cares for the last rose of summer when you can have these?

Why anyone would begrudge a glorious sunflower for having pollen, I can’t feature, but here are the modern pollenless sunflowers at Natalie’s Greenhouse for those of you who care about such things.   Treat yourself, or gift another to a bouquet of autumn sunshine now….time grows short.  (And two flower holidays are this weekend: Sweetest Day and Bosses Day…if you have the sort of boss who appreciates flowers that is.  If not, how about a sack of fresh heirloom beans with award winning smoked elk sausage from Hawk’s Hill Ranch?)

Making a Meal of the Issues?

Here’s a story about the perils of eating funeral refreshments without an ingredients list.  And no, you are not supposed to giggle. (We might expect this sort of thing to continue as Baby Boomers say goodbye.)

You know that bananas can’t be grown in Wisconsin right?  Time to find local sources of sustainable potassium that aren’t harvested by third world slaves.  Here are a few better ideas.  Still in a state of denial about the banana dilemma? Check out  this book while you’re munching sweet potato fries.

Monsanto slips on its multiple personality disorder in this story from Earthjustice.  (sidebar:  best motto from an environmental organization ever… (say this is a BIG voice)…Earthjustice!  Because the Earth needs a good lawyer!)

Here is THE spookiest video that you might ever see… from Robert Krulwich and his NPR blog about how a virus invades your earthsuit-about 3 minutes long.


Thanks–and a market gift certificate–to Cheryl B. for sharing her savory pie recipe:

Sweet Potato and Steak Pie


2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon of salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into pats
5-7 tablespoon cold water

For those who are pastry-challenged, store bought pastry works too. (Or the vodka pastry recipe from America’s Test Kitchen)


1 6oz steak, cubed (can be beef, bison, elk, even chicken if you prefer)
1 sweet potato, medium sized, peeled and cubed
1 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 small turnip, peeled and chopped
1 15 oz can beef broth (if chicken use chicken or vegetable broth)
1 tsp grated ginger
1-2 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Fresh ground black pepper

Put flour and salt in mixing bowl. Add butter and cut into flour with pastry cutter. Add water until dough is formed. May look a little crumbly but will hold together when rolled into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in fridge
to rest about 30 minutes. When ready to use pastry let it sit on counter 20 minutes before rolling out. This will make two pastry crusts.

Brown the steak cubes, then remove from the pan. Fry the ginger, garlic and onion, followed by sweet potatoes, pepper and stock. Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer for about 15 minutes until thickened. Return the steak to the pan for the last 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Separate homemade pastry into two balls and roll into rounds. Place one pastry in pie
dish. Cover the 2nd pastry with a towel to keep from drying out. Add
the steak mixture to the pie. Top with second pastry and crimp the edges.

Prick a few steam holes through the pastry top then place in the oven for 30-40
minutes until crispy and brown.

Belgian Onion Soup by way of Wisconsin

This recipe, from Epicurious, features beer in the stock and obviously, you’ll want to substitute one of the terrific local brews if you can decide which one to use. Let us know your recommendation and receive a market gift certificate as thanks.


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 large onions, halved and sliced thin
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 shallots, sliced thin
  • 750 milliliter local beer
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 6 sprigs of thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 4 slices Madison Sourdough baguette for garnish
  • 1/2 pound Gruyère type cheese from Edelweiss or Schroeder’s for garnish
  • Sea salt to taste


1. Heat a wide pot or cast-iron on medium heat. Add the butter and let it blister.

2. Add the onion and cook uncovered. Let them sit for about four minutes and then stir. Repeat until the onions have all begun to brown, at least twenty minutes.

3. Add the olive oil, garlic, and shallots and stir in the same fashion as before, once every five minutes, until the garlic and shallots have caramelized.

4. Add 2 1/2 cups of the beer and crank the heat to just shy of high. Let the beer boil off until there is half as much beer volume as onion volume.

5. Add the stock, bay leaves, thyme leaves, and white pepper. Cook until the liquid has reduced by about two finger widths. Taste the soup and add salt to adjust. Cook for at least an additional twenty minutes before garnishing. In an ideal world, you would let the soup sit a day before serving it. (Just be sure to reheat it.)

6. Take a slice of  Madison sourdough baguette and cut it to fit your bowl or cup. Set atop the soup and cover with several slices of Gruyère type cheese from Edelweiss or Schroeder’s. Broil until brown and serve hot, topped with extra thyme.

Web Extras!

Here’s an heirloom bean soup from the New York Times featuring yellow eye beans from Flyte Family.

The Splendid Table features a salmon recipe from Jacques Pepin’s new book and a crock pot spinach and lentil soup with Indian influences.

Here’s a list of three ingredient recipes for fast suppers that will come in handy some day.

Monticello’s monthly posting of Mary Randolph’s recipes recreates the pepper vinegar that Thomas Jefferson liked.

Send your contributions to : cravingsymmetry@yahoo.com.  There’s interesting stuff on our Facebook page too.  You can see it without a Facebook account; check it out.  Add to the conversation!

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