This post originally appeared in the Bloomington Herald Times on February 9, 2005
From the soggy, muddy depths of a most peculiar Bloomington winter, here is a little good food news to brighten those February blahs, awaken your palate and put a little spring in your step. Starting Saturday, Bloomington will have its own winter farmers market!!!
Yup, the Bloomington Harmony Winter Farmers Market will take place in the gym at Harmony School on Second Street from 9 to noon on four Saturdays this winter – Feb. 12 and 26 and March 12 and 26.
How extraordinarily cool is that?
It’s going to be a fabulous market, folks. There will be winter vegetables (squashes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, spinach, dried tomatoes and peppers, turnips, greens), venison, beef, eggs, cheese, yogurt, honey, herbs, cider, cornmeal, popcorn, houseplants, flowers, breads, pastries, coffee and more.
A long time planning
This winter market has been a year in the planning and that it is happening at all is due to the very hard work of some very good people – chief among them Linda Chapman of Harvest Moon Farm – and to Slow Food Bloomington, who is providing the financial support.
As readers of this column know, Slow Food is an international movement that is dedicated to supporting local farmers, preserving traditional and artisan methods of food production, and celebrating the pleasures of the table. There are local chapters (called convivia) all over the world.
Dave Tallent and I had first started talking about starting a Bloomington convivium a couple of years ago. Dave, chef and owner of Restaurant Tallent, is passionate about using local foods at his restaurant and his delicious cooking reflects his effort and commitment. I too have been hooked on the Slow Food philosophy since before I even knew it was a philosophy. I say no to drive through windows, all-season tomatoes and other abominations of the palate and yes to leisurely meals prepared with top notch ingredients that have never seen the inside of a refrigerator truck.
We tossed ideas around for over a year, wanting to be sure we could build a convivium that would be about more than just good eating (not that there is anything wrong with that!) but that would also focus on promoting and supporting the producers who grow our great local food. We chartered Slow Food Bloomington in January, 2004. Today we have more than 20 dues-paying members and dozens more on our mailing list who attend meetings and work on our projects.
And what terrific projects they’ve been!
We began with a fundraiser, the first annual Chefs of Bloomington dinner, in May. Almost 100 people sat down to nine courses of glorious food prepared from local ingredients by Bloomington’s top chefs. In the process the chefs met area farmers and got familiar with the great bounty available on their doorstep and Slow Food Bloomington made enough money to bankroll several community events.
First, we were able to support heirloom tomato and apple tastings at the Bloomington Community Farmers Market last summer fun and educational opportunities to try out what our farmers have to offer.
In October we were also able to underwrite SlowFest – our first annual harvest celebration. The startlingly beautiful fall weather brought Bloomingtonians out in force for that festival – we planned for 150 and got 600. Our fellow citizens cheerfully joked that now they knew why we called it “slow food” as they lined up patiently for their venison brats, Italian sausages, veggie burgers and sweet potato fries.
The winter market
And now the winter market, the third major project funded by the Chefs Dinner, is well under way.
Is it ever time! One of the melancholy sorrows of fall here in Bloomington has always been the end of the summer market. Many communities around the country now keep their markets going all year round. Knowing they will have a market to sell their stuff, farmers can plan for a winter crop – building greenhouses and using row covers to produce greens and other cold weather vegetables. They can preserve summer produce for fall sales, and extend the availability of autumn crops like squash, apples, and sweet potatoes. With a year-round market, small scale farming becomes a much more sustainable enterprise.
In spring of 2004 Linda Chapman, Marcia Veldman (city of Bloomington), George Huntington (Bloomingfoods), Beth Hollingsworth (Goods), and I (for Slow Food) began talking about what it would take to make a winter market happen here. The city decided that the Bloomington Community Farmers Market could extend its season through November and begin it a month earlier than usual, on April 2. This is a wonderful thing, but it still leaves a gap of four cold and hungry months.
To help fill that gap, Linda almost single-handedly put together the Bloomington Harmony Winter Market. The upshot of all her hard work is that the Market begins this very Saturday. Mark your calendars right this second so you don’t miss out, and come help us build another delicious Bloomington community tradition. And stay tuned for more Slow Food events throughout the year!
Shrimp and Arugula Fusilli
From Teresa Birtles, of Heartland Family Farm, one of the winter marketvendors
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
12 ounces fusilli pasta (rotini is pretty much the same thing; anycorkscrew shape will do)
3 cup packed fresh arugula
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and saute until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and white wine and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the wine reduces by half, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook just until they are pink, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the fusilli in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Drain the fusilli. Add the pasta and arugula to the skillet. Toss to combine. Season the pasta to taste with sea salt and fresh grated pepper. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl and serve hot.
Serves four as a main course.
Carrot Rutaba Puree
From Jeff Evard, One Sky Farm and co-owner of Roots restaurant
Equal quantities of chopped carrots and diced rutabaga (can substitute baby turnips for the rutabaga)
1-2 tablespoons of organic Earth Balance margarine
Pinch of brown sugar (can substitute honey)
Salt, pepper, grated nutmeg to taste
Boil vegetables in lightly salted water until tender. Drain in colander and allow to dry for five minutes. Process in a food processor until pureed and smooth. Add a tablespoon or two of margarine, depending on quantities of vegetables. Sweeten with sugar or honey. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg and serve hot.
What to look for
Here’s some of what you will find at the Market (much of it organic!):
Bloomingfoods: hot coffee, pastries, juices.
Blu Culinary Arts, LLC: gourmet brioches, cakes, tarts.
Bobbi Boos: Garlic, squash, dried tomatoes, dried peppers, herbs.
D And K Produce: Sweet potatoes, turnips.
Double T Ranch: Venison, elk, buffalo summer sausage, venison jerky
Grabow Orchards: cider, baked goods, apple butter/sauce, sorghum
Harmony School students: market bags, hot plates/trivets
Harvest Moon Flower Farm: Dried flowers, fresh flowers, wreaths, herbal products, pussy willows, spring plants.
Heartland Family Farm: Salad mix, early greens, eggs, pea shoots, plants.
Hobbit Gardens: Fresh and dried medicinal, culinary and tea herbs, herb products, plants.
Hunters Honey Farm: Local honey, specialty honeys, and honey products.
Pete Johnson and Leslie Alexander-Smith: Salad mix, greens, perennial herbs, flowers and vegetable starts in March.
Linnea’s Greenhouse: houseplants, herbs.
Marble Hill Farm: All natural Angus Beef, goat butter, goat cheese.
One Sky Farm: Greens, spinach, carrots, parsnips, homemade soaps, culinary and medicinal herbs.
Red Rosa Farm: natural alpaca fibers and yarns.
Traders Point Creamery: Milk, yogurt, cinna-mocha-latte, fromage blanc.
Wibb Stone Ground Grain: cornmeal, whole wheat/ buckwheat flours, popcorn
To get on the Slow Food mailing list, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org