January at the Chestertown Farmer’s Market is challenging for all, I think. Perhaps more challenging for the vendors to find customers! The crowds are gone, but there are still a surprising number of vendors out on the chilly brick – lettuce and mushrooms, baked goods and turnips, this is all we farmers can offer you.
Cedar Run has their premo spot for the winter months – and I wonder, when summer comes, do they have to relinquish this location and be banished to the other side of the street when Arnold and Anchor return? Seems like if they are there during the harsh – and slow – months of January and February, they should have staked out some sort of claim for the rest of the year? No?
Oksana produce is there, with bags of assorted greens, the aforementioned turnips and a nice selection of fermented condiments, which Kevin loves. And, good news, it looks as though they will be participating in a CSA program, which is especially good news for the Colchester Farm contingent.
Certainly not the view from six months ago, eh?
Lockbrier, Lapp and King are steadfast in holding up their end of the Market, along with Chesapeake GreenHouse. So, things aren’t too bad – you can get a variety of vegetables, mostly locally grown, and as long as you aren’t craving zucchini or tomatoes, all is well. Many we speak to agree that even as the purveyors and their produce dwindle at the Local Farmer’s Market, it’s important to continue to support those who persevere, and to keep your diet as close to home as you can this time of year. Mushroom risotto with a Caesar salad anyone?
It looks so bleak…even Carl was taking a (much deserved) break this weekend, and as you can see, no one stepped into his spot!
In other news:
- The K-B Market – primarily Chef Kevin – is participating in a fund-raiser for the Kent Center in April. This will be Kent Center’s second annual benefit dinner to help educate the community and raise funds during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. (DDAM is actually March, but they graciously postponed part of their celebration until April, when Kevin and I were available to contribute.) Kevin will be the Guest Chef for the event, with the support of various members of the Kent Center Community and beyond. The menu will feature as much locally sourced food as possible (see above…) as well as wine from Clovelly Vineyards in Chestertown and Crow Winery in Kennedyville. The Menu will be a collaborative effort between Chef Kevin and Kent Center’s Chef Merry Guben, starting with the hors d’oeuvres at the door and proceeding through desserts on the buffet. Tickets will become available March 1st, and they will be limited, so don’t miss this opportunity to support an agency that does so much good for your community and get a delicious meal with your neighbors in the process!
- Have you been to the Lidl grocery in Middletown? I understand many of you might have a reluctance to head into that part of the world, seeing as Middletown is probably the epitome of development gone wild – I mean, when is the last time you went there when something new wasn’t under construction? And all of those new buildings look just the same? That being said, we are a 20 minute ride away (which in itself is a bit scary, because that means “they” are 20 minutes away from us, and getting closer all the time, with all the new road work underway. But, still, a new grocery store??? Come on!) Anyway, it is an interesting grocery concept, with that sort of warehouse style set-up that is reminiscent of a Sam’s Club or Shoppers Warehouse. Lidl’s main competition is Aldi, which is of course right across the street from their Middletown store. Our personal take between the two: we did not get the charm of the Aldi store. It seemed sort of cold and the layout was semi-confusing. We’ve only been in there once, so maybe we should revisit, but the first time in the Lidl market was enough to entice us to return. Produce was of fine quality and very competitively priced (and for those of us wishing we still had a wholesale outlet for produce besides Produce Junction, this was key.) We really don’t have any interest in the non-food items, which stretch mostly down the middle two aisles in the store, but we’ve been very happy with produce, coffee, dairy. Meat looks interesting, and the labels read well. Many of the the house brands hilariously mimic many of your favorite national brands, from Pepperidge Farms iconic Milano to the chocolate syrup that looks a lot like Hershey’s. But isn’t. The only thing we’ve tried in that arena is their Seltzer – 35 cents for a liter bottle!!! – but it was quite disappointing in that it had a “flavored” overtone, when what we purchased was supposed to be “plain”. We wouldn’t risk that again. Check-out is fun – you get to push the little button to move the conveyor belt along! As you pack your own groceries back into the cart. Unless you remembered to BYOB. But at least you don’t need a quarter to unlock a shopping cart…
- Note to diners – Barbara’s On The Bay has some very good oyster stew. We were there for the first time in ages last week – and yes, we got some teasing about that – and accepted the oyster stew Challenge. Oyster stew is one of my favorite local seasonal treats, and as you may know, we are big fans of the version at Fisherman’s Inn. When we saw it on the specials at BotB, we knew we had to give it a try. It was delicious – not in the same way that the Challenger’s is – but it definitely fits the glove, with the additional harmony of celery and onion to add some tasty texture. The oysters were beautifully plumped and the soup itself was rich with oyster flavor. Fist bump Barbara and Crew!
- Today we were fortunate enough to attend the open house and dairy tour at Fair Hill Farm, celebrating their state of the art fifty-stall rotary milking parlor, built by Madero Dairy Systems. It is an utterly (ha!) amazing set-up, milking over 500 cows twice a day in three hour shifts with three people at the controls. Really? It took my Dad and one or two helpers two hours to milk 60 cows twice a day 30 years ago. He would have looked at this mass of stainless steel and computers with simple awe. We could only stay briefly – missed the lunch! and the actual milking – but left with a feeling that we weren’t in Kansas anymore. Not even in Kent County.
- One final note – most of you know we have a little tri-pod dog named Ruby. Well, Ruby, at 13 YO, has been very depressed this winter. It being too cold to spend the day outside, she has had little exercise the past few months and consequently has suffered in the appetite department. Nothing seemed to tease her into eating; she barely would eat a quarter of her normal fill and the weight loss has become frighteningly apparent, even under her fleece coat. Well, Chef Kevin to the rescue! Yesterday he made her a big pot of bone broth, which we put on her morning chow and yes! she gobbled it down like it was a plate of beef carpaccio. Kevin is our hero, once again!
Here’s to Winter and all of it’s challenges!