Turnip and Mustard Greens

MUSTARD GREENS PATCH
MUSTARD GREENS PATCH

 

My brother Hilton has talked about turnip greens in his blog, using a down-home recipe from our Cuz’n Don in Mississippi. Since I’m fixing a “mess o’ greens” today out of my garden, I thought you might enjoy reading a little blurb from our dad that I happened to find the other day. It comes from a little cookbook he and Mother were putting together for their church folk. Here it is in his words.

Turnip greens were what mama used to serve with southern smothered fried chicken, fluffy white rice, and creamy chicken gravy. (Sometimes she served collard greens, but we didn’t like them so well.)

When she cooked turnip greens, she’d have one of us children run out to the garden and bring in about 4 pounds of young turnips and their green tops. These were well washed and drained to remove the red Mississippi sand.

Then she boiled ¼ piece of salt pork (chopped up) in a quart of water for 15 minutes, and added the turnip greens, a pot of hot pepper, which she always kept growing in a pot on our front porch, and slowly boiled all together an hour and a half more. (The younger greens cook quicker than more mature greens, so take them off the stove when tender.)

Before serving, she cut the greens a few times across with a paring knife, before spooning into a bowl to go to the table. This served six of us.

Pepper sauce (hot red peppers soaked in vinegar in small bottles for a few weeks) is good poured on turnip greens for an extra flavor.

Lucy’s note: I happen to love a combination of collards and mustards or turnips, but perhaps collards are a more acquired taste than mustards, although some people don’t like the peppery taste of either one. I also love to make beet greens. When I harvest my beets, I use the greens that same day, and save the beets for the following day. In the South, they have a special kind of pepper sauce bottle that sits on every table, not only at home, but also in restaurants. I can’t eat turnip greens without it.

I have one more comment on the difference between Hilton’s greens and Daddy’s recipe I give here. Our dad grew up in a poor preacher’s home in rural Mississippi. While Hilton and I might put ham hocks or bacon in our greens, I suspect that Daddy’s family could barely afford to find a little piece of salt pork. The bottom line is that you start with the greens and add whatever kind of smoky meat you happen to have on hand.

How I fixed my greens today:
I put half a rasher of bacon (cut in large pieces) and my mess o’ greens (cut in large pieces) into a large skillet and let it cook. About 15 minutes before it was ready, I cut up a small red potato and added it to the mix. I sat down and ate the entire thing all by myself for lunch! I’m still reeling from the wonderful flavor! After that pig-out, it’s time for a nap, I think.

SKILLET OF GREENS AND BACON
SKILLET OF GREENS AND BACON

 

If you are growing any kind of greens, or if you pick up a “mess” at your local farmers’ market or grocery store, you might try any of these three ways of fixing them.

A hui hou!

The Purple Chrysanthemum

Today’s post is a bit of my short fiction.
From time to time, I will post something on that order.
Photo taken at Kalopa State Park, Hawai`i Island.

 

The Purple Chrysanthemum

 

Chores never cease, never subside. Menacing dark corners tower above and below her, dusty and dank. Driven here, thrust there, the woman frantically toils in vain. In every quarter of the luxurious home she unearths wads of shabby rags, inside bureau and closets, beneath tables and beds, over shelves and bookcases.

There is no seclusion here. It is no longer her home. Aliens invade, then abandon her in chaos. Serenity is shattered in the assault.

In a frenzy, she searches for one spot, one haven of beauty where she may hide from the muck and gloom, sludge and shadow. She is imprisoned and enslaved by the moment, shaken and disenchanted by infinity.

Others chart her headway as she labors, then regresses. Despondently she presses onward, now advancing, now reversing in an endless non-dance. Joy pales as the obstacles flourish in neglect. Song is stilled, light fractured, until she spots an overlooked box, unobtrusively tucked away behind the bureau.

In dismay, she lifts the lid, supposing it to be filth-filled, or barren at best. A small packet sheathed in foil rests inside, dormant yet dazzling in its obscurity. From the crumpled edge of the opening there protrudes a long green stem, crowned with a large purple chrysanthemum, blossom of her soul. An abundance of petals, long and delicate, unite around a pollen-filled golden center.

Tears fall as she recalls the moment she clipped the bloom from its parent. Tenderly she had placed it into nourishing water where it could take root and grow. Now long forgotten, the chrysanthemum has flourished, alone and in the inky obscurity of the ragged box. Surely it was withered and dead by now, for many moons have passed. Other celebrations have come and gone, but the blossom remains.

She pauses, then meticulously peels back the foil covering. That which was dormant for so long has burgeoned with fragile and lacy roots. What once was a flower, cut off from its source, has sprouted in the dark, unattended and ignored.

Weeping, she holds the hardy segment of beauty in the palm of her hand. The tiny bit of life, buried in the pit of her soul, is resurrected and retrieved. The purple chrysanthemum will never perish. She will survive.

Feels Like Spring!

 

When I returned from my trip to California mid-June, I saw how much some of my plants had grown. Of course, a few things had run their course and were regrouping for the next growth spurt.

For instance, a few little snippets of ivy geranium that I’d broken from a friend’s plant had actually grown and was covered with brilliant magenta blossoms. What richness! Above is a single bloom. Here is a view of several together.

 

The brugmansia that had given its first bloom a month before, now had eight trumpets hanging! After waiting several years for a blossom, I can now count on it giving me flowers regularly. Those eight have died now, and six more are waiting to open. I think I was too excited to hold the camera still, or maybe it was the wind blowing the blooms, but you can the difference between my one lonely first bloom and now.

 

I had planted one small piece of orchid cactus given to me by a friend. I started looking up “orchid cactus” with Google and found many sites that said it is neither a member of the orchid family, nor is it a true epiphyllum. So far I haven’t found a site that tells me exactly what it is, other than it is related to a desert cactus. I’ll keep looking. Whatever it may be (or not be), the bloom was beautiful. I found it when I went out to water mid-day on July 3.

 

At the beginning of May, I planted some heritage canna bulbs from Old House Gardens. One was a Florence Vaughn Canna (1893), and the other was a Canna Indica (1596). Until they bloom toward the end of summer or in the fall, the leaves are flamboyant and perky. There is something rather wholesome about having plants from bulbs that come from a line that is over 400 years old!

 

I want to put in a plug here for Old House Gardens. I ordered a sampler package from them online, then got a phone call from a woman there who wanted to know my elevation, what kind of soil I had, typical range of temperature, and the like. Before she put together my sampler, she wanted to know what might grow best here. Everything they sent me has grown beautifully! I can’t say the same thing for another company that sent me bare root plants. After a year, not one of them has done anything! Very disappointing!

These gladiolus bulbs were also from Old House Gardens. This picture was taken on June 27, and they were about half the size they are now. Everything is growing amazingly fast! You can see the cannas growing in several spots behind the glads.

 

This pikake plant was a gift at our Garden Club Christmas party. I have since planted it in the ground in one of my “lasagna” patches and it’s about twice this size. I took this picture because of the blooms, which are incredibly sweet smelling.

 

By the time I take pictures and get them into this blog, the plants have at least doubled in size, but I keep trying to let you know how things are growing. This small potted lime tree was covered with little limes that are now about three times as big. I picked off some of the smaller ones to allow the others to grow to a decent size.

 

There is a fresh crop of veggies coming up, too. Everything here is two or three times this big, also, just since I took these photos two weeks ago!

SUGAR SNAP PEAS
SUGAR SNAP PEAS

 

STRING BEANS
STRING BEANS

 

SQUASH VINES
SQUASH VINES

 

MUSTARD GREENS
MUSTARD GREENS

 

LETTUCE
LETTUCE

 

Only a few kale plants came up, but even those few were looking hearty.

 

Then I went out one morning and this is what I saw! Something had completely stripped the leaves. Feeling a bit like I was closing the barn door after the horses were out, I cut the bottom out of yogurt containers and stuck them around each plant. At least it will keep whatever was eating them from getting any new growth. And there are already new leaves cropping up in the middle of this disaster.

 

I did the same thing with the Thai hot peppers that I’d recently planted. I didn’t want the “flesh-eating” bugs to get them, too!

 

I should probably pick off the beautiful flowers from the Siam Basil, but the bees seem to love it, so I just leave them alone. It’s such a treat to see the bees actually working. I may even decide to keep a hive of my own.

 

This photo gives you a better idea of how some of these plants are laid out. At the far end you’ll see the Siam Basil, Holy Basil, and regular Sweet Mammoth Basil. You can see my three Thai hot peppers, and the pathetic stripped kale. At this end is a luxurious patch of Greek oregano. You can probably see the pieces of gutter guard I’ve placed over new seedlings of spicy mesclun and a blend of loose leaf lettuce seedlings. It’s not just bugs I need to watch for, but birds – and Kaimana (my cat) who loves to dig in what he considers his private litter box! In the bottom left-hand corner, you see the source of the squash vine.

 

Here is a closer view of how I’ve put the gutter guard material over the freshly planted seeds. Since I took this picture, the seeds are up about ½ inch. I also placed the same material over okra and arugula seeds.

 

Another good use for gutter guard is shown here. I was sent some heritage Moon ‘n’ Stars watermelon seeds from my Cuz’n Don in Mississippi. I made a circle around each hill with three seeds in each one. Several of them already have sprouts about an inch high. I may even get a watermelon out of this.

 

Several people have asked to see my front garden patch from a couple angles.

 

It doesn’t take a lot of space to provide good food. From these little beds in front, bigger beds in the back, and even the beets growing among the daylilies in my patio, I can keep myself with a healthy supply of food. Here is a bunch of arugula, lettuce, other mixed greens, herbs, and the onion-tasting flowers from the chives – all ready for a big salad. I ate the whole thing, with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and crumbled feta cheese!

 

Writing this has made me hungry! Must be time to go pick a few leaves and eat lunch!

A hui hou!

Tiptoe through the…Sweet Peas?

 

I must have gotten to the market on California Avenue in Palo Alto too late in the season to see tulips, but there were plenty of other flowers to enjoy! The sweet aroma of huge bunches of sweet peas was almost overpowering. These in the above photo gave my room a wonderful ambience.

Other flowers that were in great abundance were the gerberas, iris, roses, dahlias and so many other spring blooms.

 

Brilliant yellow iris filled buckets everywhere I looked, almost in competition with the various colors of the cauliflower in the background.

 

Flowers everywhere! Of course, I was so envious of any farmer who had enough good soil to grow this kind of beauty. When I got home, however, I was happy to see so many of my canna, daylilies, and gladiolus bulbs had grown. I’ll show those on next week’s post.

 

I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many Canterbury Bells in one spot in my life! The color combination of these blossoms with raspberries was like eye candy for the soul.

 

Even though I live in “orchid land,” I still get a thrill at the sight of the Phaleonopsis (also spelled Phalaeonopsis), also often called the moth orchid.

 

I was pleased to see a display of eco-pots. Produced by the Sweetwater Nursery in Sepastapol, these pots can replace your clay or plastic pots. They are made of substances that are by-products of renewable and sustainable crops. Even when they can no longer be used, the pots are biodegradable.

 

Cole Canyon Farm had so many wonderful varieties of herbs. Please visit their site for information on purchasing and growing not only herbs, but veggies and fruits. I was especially interested in this display of mints. I didn’t know there were so many varieties. I want to taste them all!

 

I wanted to bring home one of each of these! I’ve looked all over for seeds for some of these varieties.

 

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of these aromatic thymes, mostly because the saying by the famous “anonymous” is so correct! I may start using that as part of my signature on emails. Currently, I use “live gently on the earth,” another philosophy I attempt to adhere to.

 

This basket of basil looks like the profusion of sweet basil I grow in my own garden. I will soon make up a big batch of fresh pesto when I harvest mine. I can’t use up enough of it on a daily basis.

 

The New Natives company started out almost thirty years ago with wheatgrass as their original product. Since then, they have branched out into all kinds of healthy sprouts. This crop is experiencing renewed popularity. You can read about some of the health benefits here.

 

I need to tell you that there is so much more at this market than just fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs. These next few photos come in the “miscellaneous” category, but they are as important as anything else I’ve talked about in these posts.

For example, who couldn’t resist having fresh pasta?

 

I absolutely adore fresh oysters! Too bad that we have to import our oysters from Washington and the East Coast here.

 

In Hawaii, we have our “huli huli chicken” – an enormous rotisserie along the side of the road that sends delicious smells into your open car window as you drive by. At this California market, I found RoliRoti Chicken.

 

Of course, no one can go to the Bay Area without eating hot sour dough bread. Pardon me while I drool for a few minutes!

 

At the end of the rows of produce, there was this musician giving us a background that was totally in keeping with the ambience of the market.

 

I’ll end this series on the California Avenue Farmers’ Market with a scene that is familiar to those who live in the Bay Area, or visit there often. I think most people understand when I say that I both miss it and don’t miss it. In case you want to go back and check out the other two in this series, go here and here.

 

Next week, I’m going to give you a break from California and show you an update of my garden. Things are beginning to grow again.

In the meantime, you might like to enjoy a slideshow of the California Avenue photos all in one place.

http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf
Click here to see a full sized slide show.

A hui hou!

 

Veggie Farmers on California Avenue

CALIFORNIA AVENUE MARKET
CALIFORNIA AVENUE MARKET

 

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the fruits at the California Avenue Farmers’ Market in Palo Alto. The fruits and veggies were intermingled with flowers and other products, which I’ll show you next week. This week it’s time for your veggies.

Across the way from Joanie’s Café where we ate a fantastic breakfast, there was the “asparagus and potato” stand. That’s the first stand that really caught my attention. When I shop in my local grocery store, I might have a choice of two or three kinds of potatoes, but look at the variety here – with fresh asparagus, no less!

 

I learn so much when I write these posts! I hadn’t noticed the name “Zuckerman’s Farms” on the canopy of this stand until I was writing, so I looked it up on Google. This farmer is part of an organization called CUESA, which means “the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture,” a topic about which I’m extremely interested.

The many varieties of common vegetables we often take for granted were obvious at this market. Of course, it was all fun and educational to see them, but I have to admit to a degree of envy that people have this at their disposal every week of the year! Check out these colorful cauliflower varieties.

 

Here is more cauliflower with artichokes and broccoli. . .

 

And how about all these fava beans??

 

So many beautiful varieties of string beans!

 

I’m not quite sure if sauerkraut qualifies as a vegetable or not, but it’s certainly made out of a veggie – and mighty good stuff it is, too! I grew up in Midwest German neighborhoods eating sauerkraut, spare ribs and mashed potatoes, almost all of it homemade. I absolutely adore sauerkraut whether cold from a jar, or slowly cooked with thick pork ribs. My dad made sauerkraut in our basement, until a batch blew up and ended up all over the ceiling! Needless to say, this stand caught my attention right away.

 

Squash is another vegetable I love, so I try to eat as many varieties that I can – both summer and winter squashes. There are amazing displays of fresh-picked squash. Here are at least two links to information about the Happy Boy Farms.

 

Behind these beautiful squash boxes, you see seedlings ready for people to take home and plant. I was so inspired when I came back home, that I put some seeds in little pots and other seeds I put directly into the ground. Everything is up!

 

I was surprised to see so many root vegetables. I usually think of them as fall or winter crops, but in a place like California (and actually in Hawaii, too) I think almost anything can be grown at any time of year. That was my experience when I lived in California, and it’s my experience here in Hawaii.

TURNIP ROOTS AND MORE
TURNIP ROOTS AND MORE

 

PARSNIPS, GARLIC, RADISHES
PARSNIPS, GARLIC, RADISHES

 

Sugar snap peas are among my favorite spring/summer veggies. This is a beautiful display of the basket overflowing with goodness. I have sugar snap peas coming up in my garden right now, which shows just how cool it is here this time of year. That’s not how most people think of Hawaii.

 

What a delight to see so many mushrooms! This is a delicious, low calorie product that can be a special addition to almost any recipe. They also can stand alone on their own. If you haven’t discovered the versatility of mushrooms, just Google mushroom recipes.

 

It’s worth making a special trip to California Avenue in Palo Alto on a Sunday morning just to do your week’s grocery shopping. Join others in making this a Sunday tradition. Next week, I’ll post flowers and other items available at the market.

 

I apologize to those vendors I don’t mention or for whom I don’t provide a link. I looked up all of the names I could read on my photos. Next time I get to this market, I’ll be more diligent in my efforts and ask!

A hui hou!

 

“This land is our land . . .”

SECOND GROWTH REDWOODS
click here for larger image
SECOND GROWTH REDWOODS

 

. . . from the redwood forest . . .

 

Who among us doesn’t remember singing along and feeling proud of our countryside? It was an era of protesting the educational system, the government, the war, the “establishment” in general, and anything else we could protest, but we loved our land – the unique geography that makes up these United States.

In fact, there is a movement to change our National Anthem to something more sing-able. I cast my vote for “This Land Is Your Land.”

During the past few weeks while I was in California, I re-visited the coastal range where I’d spent so much time during the 70s and 80s. Some of those years were spent in the San Francisco Bay Area and some were along the Central Coast of San Luis Obispo County, but it’s all fairly similar.

Winding through the streets from Palo Alto toward the Pacific Ocean, I felt the same sense of freedom that I had so many decades ago. Much has changed, but the terrain will remain the same forever, I think.

Because I was at the wheel, I couldn’t take as many pictures as I wanted to, so mostly they exist only in my mind’s eye. I was able to stop and get a few shots, however.

One of the stopping points along the crest was the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve. This sign warns visitors what to do in case they encounter a mountain lion.

WINDY HILL OPEN SPACE PRESERVE
click here for larger image
WINDY HILL OPEN SPACE PRESERVE

 

Beyond the sign, a path led into the preserve area. The sky was just as beautiful as I remember it. We used to call the hills “golden,” even though they were basically just “brown.” I still love those golden rolling slopes.

ON THE TRAIL
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ON THE TRAIL

 

This preserve of 1,312 acres includes 12.2 miles of trail. Please check this link to read more about it.

MAP OF THE PRESERVE
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MAP OF THE PRESERVE

 

If you carefully cross the road from the parking area, you get a spectacular view of the Peninsula.

VIEWS ACROSS THE PENINSULA
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VIEWS ACROSS THE PENINSULA

 

Another stop along the drive was by a restaurant that was closed for the day. It was explained to me about the “second-growth” redwoods. As you can see here, there is a cluster of trees around a bare piece of ground. The original old redwood was either logged out over 150 years ago or could have been hit by lightning. These new “baby trees” sprouted up around where the mother tree had been.

MORE SECOND GROWTH REDWOODS
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MORE SECOND GROWTH REDWOODS

 

The opening photo gives another perspective on a grove of second-growth trees. These magnificent trees may be relatively young, but they still take my breath away – and make me proud that they are a part of my country.

VIEW THROUGH THE REDWOODS
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VIEW THROUGH THE REDWOODS

 

The tops of the trees just seem to reach toward the sky for an eternity!

REACHING FOR THE SKY
REACHING FOR THE SKY

 

When I stopped for gas at a crossroads, I couldn’t pass up the chance to take a shot of Alice’s Restaurant! This is not the restaurant that inspired Arlo Guthrie’s song of protest against war. In fact, it is the other way around – this restaurant took its name from the song. The original “Alice’s Restaurant” was in Massachusetts. It seemed appropriate somehow, to include this bit of nostalgia here.

ALICE'S RESTAURANT
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ALICE’S RESTAURANT

 

We had lunch at Duarte’s Tavern in Pescadero – a busy spot where some of the very finest food can be found. I started with a bowl of Cream of Green Chili Soup, a dish I’m going to experiment with making at home. It was heavenly, but there was no way they were going to give me the recipe! I followed the soup with a fried oyster roll. It’s hard to say which was better! A dessert of warm Ollieberry pie with ice cream was shared with my friend.

Even though I live in “Paradise,” there is a lot about California I miss. What I do not miss is the traffic, which has gotten worse since I left. I’ve become too accustomed to a more casual lifestyle. Still, I intend to keep visiting whenever I get the chance.

Today, we could write more verses to add to our song that would include our island state of Hawai`i, or our northernmost state of Alaska. All fifty states are worth going to see! If you have never been to California, it’s worth braving the crowds and traffic to see a special part of our incredible country. “This land was made for you and me.”

You might enjoy watching a video of a this modern-day song that reminds us of what our country is and what it stands for on this Fourth of July Weekend.

 

A hui hou!

 

California Avenue Ambrosia

CALIFORNIA AVENUE MARKET
click here for larger image
CALIFORNIA AVENUE MARKET

 

A special thanks and big hug to my brother, Hilton Jones, who was my guest poster while I was away from my blog for several weeks. I spent many years living in California at different times in my life, but I had not been there to really re-live some of those days in a long time. I’m back home now, full of stories and pictures of my trip to California to visit family and friends, so you’ll be hearing about it for the next few weeks while I catch up on my gardening here in Hawaii.

Part of my journey included chauffeuring a friend who had recently had total knee replacement. The first Sunday I was there, he wanted to visit his favorite breakfast spot in Palo Alto. To our surprise, California Street was closed off for a Sunday Farmers’ Market. We managed to find a parking spot, eat a hearty breakfast, then wander through the market to sample the many varieties.

TASTY SAMPLES
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TASTY SAMPLES

 

There was almost too much to take in, and of course, there wasn’t much of it I could bring back home. Still, I had loads of fun talking with the vendors, buying a few things to eat while I was in California, telling them about my “gardening blog,” taking pictures to show my fans. This first post (there will be several) is about the variety of fruits I found there. I still didn’t get pictures of everything, even after making two Sunday visits to the market!

In 1997, the Urban Village Farmers’ Market Association was formed to provide local and regional foods. This page gives information on the other markets that are part of this non-profit association. Some are year-round markets, others are seasonal. If you are traveling through California, please stop and support this wonderful phenomenon.

One of the first stops I made was to the Triple Delight blueberry stand, since I try to eat blueberries every day. They are so delicious and super good for you. These were some of the plumpest and brightest blue I’d ever seen. I quickly got over my shyness and asked to take a picture of this lovely couple. I visited them a second time before I left to come back home to Hawaii. Both Sundays, there was a line-up of people waiting to get their blueberries. May they never run out of blueberries, because I promise to come back to visit again!

FRESH BLUEBERRIES
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FRESH BLUEBERRIES

 

It was cherry season, and there were several varieties of cherries everywhere! Even after a big breakfast, I couldn’t resist sampling the sweet red cherries and colorful Rainier cherries . . .

SWEET CHERRIES
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SWEET CHERRIES

 

. . . and the dark red Bing cherries. If I’d had an oven handy, I would have made one of my famous cherry pies!

BING CHERRIES
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BING CHERRIES

 

These colorful Rio Red grapefruits were so tempting.

RIO RED GRAPEFRUIT
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RIO RED GRAPEFRUIT

 

Strawberries were everywhere! Ever since I was a child, I think strawberries have been my very favorite fruit of all!

STRAWBERRIES
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STRAWBERRIES

 

The donut peaches were so cute – and smelled so sweet!

DONUT PEACHES
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DONUT PEACHES

 

Apricots have such a short growing season, so I was happy to be there on a weekend when they were on display. I had tried some from a local grocery store earlier in the week but they weren’t nearly as tasty as these from the market! Various vendors displayed combinations of apricots, raisins, cherries, and peaches.

APRICOTS, RAISINS, CHERRIES, PEACHES
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APRICOTS, RAISINS, CHERRIES, PEACHES

 

On our second Sunday visit to this wonderful market (and hearty breakfast), we stopped to chat with Nick, the vendor from Prevedelli Farms.

PREVEDELLI FARMS
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PREVEDELLI FARMS

 

Of course, we had to taste their fresh raspberry jam. My friend loves to make jam and calls it his “retirement therapy.” He bought a jar of theirs to take to his house. My luggage was already getting over-stuffed or I would have brought a jar home, too. Here you can see other products from the Prevedelli Farms.

FRESH BUTTERS AND PRESERVES
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FRESH BUTTERS AND PRESERVES

 

I leave you with this incredible display of Prevedelli’s fresh, delicate and luscious raspberries, as well as a glance at some of their other products.

FRESH RASPBERRIES
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FRESH RASPBERRIES

 

Since I can’t visit this market every Sunday, I invite you to go and check it out for yourself, then come back here and make a comment on your own reaction.

A hui hou!