Handpicked vegetables fresh from the ground; meat, eggs and dairy from animals raised on small farms; handmade pies with tender crust's. It's the time of year when garden vegetables are starting to appear, farmers' markets are opening and soon the season's best offerings will be at their peak of flavor.
March and April showers have nurtured the tender roots and whether you grown your own fruits and vegetables or buy them from farmers, the fruitful bounty is ripe for the picking.
This summer there will be two farmers' markets in Tyler. The East Texas State Fair Farmers' Market opened on May 5 and operates on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. It will run until the last Saturday in July. This year is the market's 30th anniversary.
The Tyler Farmers' Market opened on May 12. It is located in the Broadway Square Mall parking lot on the Sears end of the mall facing Old Bullard Road. It is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Depending on harvest conditions and rain they plan to stay open until the middle or end of August.
Throughout East Texas there are plenty of resources for fresh and flavorful fruits and vegetables. Along with home grown produce, many farmers are offering handmade food products created from farm fresh ingredients. Also available are fresh eggs, dairy products, grass fed beef and lamb and free range chickens and rabbits.
The summer season runs until July 25. A fall season runs from October 10 through December 5. When a CSA share is purchased the consumer is provided with a weekly CSA box that includes six to ten varieties of vegetables and herbs that are currently available. The boxes are delivered every Wednesday between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 18787 FM 2493, Flint, 75762. Also available at the drop-off location, for non-CSA members are extra herbs, produce and fresh cut flowers.
Flower Hill Farm also has a stand on Saturdays at the Longview Farmers' Market. For more information call 903-722-4238 or 903-722-4240 or go to www.flowerhillfarmtx.com
Diamond B Ranch in Neches is operated by Moon Swanson, the former director of the East Texas Fresh Farmers' Market in Tyler. This farmers' market will not be returning in 2012.
Swanson is offering a variety of produce, baked goods, eggs and grass-fed beef at his farm store at the Diamond B Ranch every Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and in the Whole Health parking lot at 4834 South Broadway in Tyler on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to Noon.
Echo Springs Blueberry Farm will be open daily from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting May 25. They are a pick-your-own farm located at 7235 FM 607 in Brownsboro.
They offer a 50 acres of blueberries and a store that has a variety of products like fresh produce, jams, jellies, baked goods, honey and organic beauty products. For more information call 903-852-5277.
Haute Goat Creamery, operated by Laura Vanderbilt in Longview, offers a variety of artisanal goat cheeses. Products are available at FRESH by Brookshire's and the Longview Farmers' Market. For more information call 430-558-8020 or go to www.hautegoatcreamery.com.
Mercy Ships is a global charity that has operated hospital ships in developing nations since 1978. At their headquarters located northwest of Tyler, the Mercy Ships grass-fed farm operation focuses on raising high quality food sources at an affordable price. Their small scale farm produces Angus sired calves and Dorper cross lambs.
All calves and lambs are aged and sold on the dressed carcass weight, and cut, wrapped, and frozen as a whole, half, or quarter. They are currently sold out for the year but are creating a waiting list for next year.
Every dollar earned through the agriculture project benefits the work of Mercy Ships. For more information contact Preston Ingram at 903-939-7693 or email email@example.com.
Poppa Skinny's Farm is a noncertified organic family farm located between Jacksonville and Rusk. Operated by Ron and Terri Luce, they raise seasonal produce, eggs, chicken and pork. They also offer goat's milk and cheese for on-premise sale. For more information call 903-683-5739 or visit www.poppaskinnysfarm.com.
Green Acres Herb Farm offers a wide variety of culinary herbs and plants. Located at 390 County Road 3914, in Bullard, call 903-894-4201 for more information.
Mary Ann Tessaro grows specialty eggplants, peppers and other produce. Her farm is located between Palestine and Jacksonville on Highway 79. Call 903-721-7129 for more information.
The Tomato Shed in Jacksonville and Noonday offers a variety of local fruit and vegetables. The two locations are 461 Alabama St. in Jacksonville and 14768 Highway 155 South in Noonday. Call 903-589-0094, in Jacksonville, and 903-589-0094, in Noonday, for more information.
Blue Moon Gardens in Chandler is located on FM 279 between Tyler and Edom. They offer a variety of culinary herbs and other plants, along with workshops about using herbs in cooking, infusions and other homemade products. For more information call 903-852-3897 or go to www.bluemoongardens.com.
Good For Moo Ranch in Chandler raises Irish Dexter cattle and heritage breed chickens. They have a limited supply of grass-fed beef and free range eggs. For more information go to www.goodformoo.com.
Longview Farmers Market is held every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon at the corner of High and Cotton streets in downtown Longview.
Purple Pea and Grilled Corn Salad
2 cups raw fresh shelled purple hull peas
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3 ears of corn
2 large tomato, seeded and small diced
1/2 cucumber seeded and small dice
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Rinse peas in cold water in a colander. Pour stock into a large saucepan. Add peas and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes until peas are tender. Drain and cool peas. Heat a grill to medium-high. Pull husks and silks off the corn. Rub corn with butter. Grill 2 to 3 minutes per side until slightly charred. Allow corn to cool. Stand the corn up on a cutting board and slice off kernels. Add kernels to cooled peas. Add remaining ingredients and toss well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.
Lemon Marinated Zucchini & Squash
2 yellow squash
juice and zest from one lemon
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Cut the ends off the zucchini and squash. Using a mandoline or serrated peeler cut zucchini into very thin horizontal slices. Place in a medium size bowl. Using a microplane zest lemon over the zucchini. Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice over zucchini. Roughly chop crushed red pepper flakes and add to the bowl. Add remaining three ingredients and toss well. Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Creamy Cucumber and Tomato Salad
2 large tomatoes
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Peel cucumbers and cut off ends. Split the cucumbers in half lengthwise and then again into fourths. Cut into a 1/2 inch dice and place in a large bowl. Cut tomatoes into a similar size dice and add to the cucumbers. Add yogurt, mint, basil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir to combine completely. Chill for one hour before serving.
Heirloom Tomato Salsa
2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, seeded, small dice
1 Noonday onion, small dice
2 Fresno peppers, seeds and ribs removed, minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
In a fine mesh sieve, rinse the onions in hot water. Shake off excess water. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Cover and chill for 30 minutes before serving.
rusts, fresh fillings and whipped meringue; and honey made from bees pollinating East Texas blueberries, flavor of handmade, homegrown freshness is indescribable.
It makes eating your vegetables a treat instead of a chore and offers culinary satisfaction that starts with the eyes and taste buds and ends with body and soul.
Farm to table is a popular concept but for many farmers and families, both now and in the past, it's a way of life. Putting food on the table means growing, harvesting and preserving fresh fruits and vegetables and raising animals for meat, eggs and dairy products.