First, the bad news: You will be seeing an increasing abundance of produce in coming weeks. Salad and cooking greens, scallions, radishes, beets, carrots, parsnips, young and tender summer squash, baby zucchini, kohlrabi, and tomatoes are all entering their prime. and soon the booths at the market will be groaning under the weight of so much locally grown produce.
And now, the good news: There’s a lot more than vegetables at the Farmers Market. For those who politely pretend to love vegetables, or who struggle with what to do with them once you get them home, or who enjoy the occasional veggie but balk at the sheer abundance and choice; or who see red at the sight of all that green on the plate, we are here to help. Think of this as the Meat Lover’s edition of the Parsnippet.
That’s right. Meat. On the bone. Off the bone. Already prepared. Still in the pasture. Protein-rich meat substitutes. There are options for the carnivore or the vegetable-compromised at the Farmers Market.
The meat tour
Take, for instance, the Black Goat crepe stand where owner Laura Getz stands behind her enormous crepe griddle and will prepare a custom crepe stuffed with ham, tomato, and Gruyere or with chicken, feta, red pepper, and pesto. She also offers a yummy creation which features sausage from Berto Farms, local eggs, and cheddar cheese served with salsa, green onions, and sour cream. All crepes are served with a 1000-watt smile. Getz is also experimenting with a vegan gluten-free crepe that she hopes to premier soon.
Unforgettable Foods also offers take-away food. Mary Davis, a familiar Farmer’s Market face, makes fat breakfast burritos with your choice of bacon, sausage, chorizo or ham. Ask to have it smothered in green chile, or not, and you’ll walk away satisfied. Don’t forget the napkins.
The Pie Maker has fresh homemade bagels toasted and topped with smoked salmon and your choice of flavored cream cheese and toppings. Hot sandwiches with names like the Fisherman and the Farmer entice the growling stomach to feed itself. And, naturally, Shani has pies for dessert.
Stop by any of these stands and load up a fantastic healthy lunch on your way to your weekend adventure in the mountains, canyons, or rivers of southwest Colorado. Your lunch break will be memorable.
Bison at home
Cook at home? W Lazy D Bison Co. local ranchers Danny and Jeanie Wilkin raise buffalo, a flavorful and healthful alternative to beef. Choices include just about everything from ground bison and stew meat to top sirloins and tenderloins, to roasts, ribs and brisket. Patties in ½, ¹/3 and ¼ pound sizes are ready to slap on the grill. Even heart, tongue, and liver are available for the imaginative cook.
Buffalo ranchers are prohibited by the National Bison Association and the U.S.D.A. from using injectable antibiotics in their animals as well as from using growth hormones, making this a wholesome meat choice for your table. According to the National Bison Association, bison meat is lower in fat and cholesterol than beef or chicken and is higher in protein, iron, and vitamin B12 than beef. Because of this lower fat value, bison is easier to overcook than beef, therefore a meat thermometer is recommended. Use the cooked meat in the same way you would use a similar cut of beef.
With this column is a recipe for bison roast that can be used in tacos, enchiladas, burritos, carnitas, or barbecue sandwiches.
Back to the tour ...
Berto Farm has USDA-inspected and processed pork with boneless chops, breakfast patties, brats, shoulder roasts, hickory-smoked slab bacon, ground pork, chorizo, fresh ham steaks, sausage, spareribs, plus liver, heart, and kidney.
Battlerock Farm has pasture-raised eggs. Kestrel Farm of Mancos is pre-selling its grass-fed lamb, which will be available for pickup in the fall. Owner Kathryn Fulton is promoting her “happy lambs grazing on nutritious pasture in the Mancos Valley,” and which will be processed at Sunnyside Processing Plant in Durango, a U.S.D.A. inspected and approved facility. .
Local chicken enthusiast Craig Feigenbaum is starting up his new poultry business, Mountain Pasture Meats, which features a line of meat birds, the Freedom Rangers, bred specifically for free-range pasture feeding. Talk to Craig for more than a couple minutes and you sense his passion and excitement for poultry and for sustainable land management practices utilizing these birds. Feigenbaum is teaming up with a friend, Brendon Bonds – a chef at a popular downtown Durango restaurant – who will assist in the butchering and processing of the meat. Whole birds and specific cuts will both be available. He is currently taking advance orders for his birds which will be ready beginning in mid-August.
Two generations of growers from Garden of Weedin’ offer meat alternatives. Sisters Bessie White and Velma Hollen and first cousins Lee Hill and Cheryl Floyd have their usual abundance of produce. But also on their tables are calico bean soup mix alongside bags of Pleasant View popcorn and a variety of locally raised dryland beans like pinto, and of course Montezuma County’s signature bean, the Anasazi. This variegated purple and white bean is a wonderful choice for a simple-to-use, delicious and nutritious meat substitute. Pair it with your favorite cut of pork from Berto Farms and accompany it with a simple salad for a satisfying meal.
Don’t forget a doggy bag
And since this is the meat-lover’s guide to the Farmer’s Market, you won’t want to forget your favorite meat lover: your dog.
Pick up a couple bags of Lee Hill’s locally-acclaimed dog treats. Beef heart and beef liver jerky with no additives whatsoever are healthy, apparently delicious treats for your best friend.
Bite-size cheese nips and peanut butter treats with no junk in them are equally popular. Trust me on this: you can train your dogs to do just about anything using these morsels as incentive and reward.
Coming soon: a user’s guide to the many objects, frivolous to functional, crafted by local artisans. And more produce. And plenty of it.
The Parsnippet and its roving palate will be appearing biweekly throughout the summer. It is meant to tantalize and motivate you into joining the parade of locals who love to eat and who congregate every Saturday morning in the name of homegrown food.