Crazy Iowa weather didn't stop Kristi, Devon's helpers, Dale, Chuck and Ginger, Dawn, Cheryl, Marie, Lois and Brenda, Frances, Vernon and Wilma, Shirley, Freddie and Michael from sitting up their tables at the Toledo Farmers Market. The day started out stormy, in fact it was thundering when I left home for market. But by the time market started it was warm and humid. Some of the items on the tables this week were tomatoes, potatoes, summer squash, winter squash, pumpkins, gourds, broom corn, wheat sheaves, egg plant, peppers, onions, fresh herbs, jams, and jellies, bakery of all kinds, eggs, apples, honey, popcorn, and lima beans. I am sure I missed something so you need to come to the Toledo Farmers market on Friday night from 5-7 pm. There is only 3 weeks left.
Where has the time gone? It is the last month of market. That means time is running out for you to use your Iowa Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks.
The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged for eligible foods (fruits, vegetables, honey, and fresh-cut herbs) at farmers markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture program. The Women, Infants, and Children Farmers Market Nutrition Program provide checks to nutritionally at-risk women, infants and children. These checks can be exchanged for fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs from farmers markets and farm stands. So be sure to get to the Toledo Farmers Market before it's too late to use your checks.
There has been quite a bit of winter squash at the market. The term "summer" and "winter" for squash are only based on current usage, not on actuality. "Summer" types are on the market all winter; and "winter" types are on the markets in the late summer, fall, and winter. Winter squash takes longer to mature than summer squash, 3 months or more and are best harvested once the cool weather of fall sets in. They can be stored for months in a cool basement-hence the name "winter" squash.
I have purchased a few winter squash; I even cooked one Saturday night for supper. Yummy! The acorn squash is what we had for supper. As its name suggests, this winter squash is small and round shaped like an acorn. It's easy to slice into halves and fill with butter. A small acorn squash weighs from 1 to 3 pounds, and has sweet, slightly fibrous flesh. Its distinct ribs run the length of its hard, blackish-green or golden-yellow skin. There are now golden and multi-colored varieties of the acorn squash.
Winter squash matures on the vine and develops an inedible, thick, hard rind and tough seeds. Choose firm, well-shaped squash that are heavy for their size and have a hard, tough skin. If you want to store some winter squash for those winter meals, place whole winter squash on top of thick pads of newspapers in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location, preferably between 45 and 50 degrees F. Check on a regular basis for rot and use within three to six months depending on variety of the squash. When a winter squash is cooked the flesh of the squash can be stored frozen until needed. Remember that any sweet orange fleshed winter squash can be substituted for another in recipes. Butternut squash can be substituted for pumpkin in pumpkin bars. In fact I prefer the butternut flavor. To cook them, first remove fibers and seeds. Wash the exterior of the squash jut before using. The seeds are scooped out before or after cooking. Then bake, steam, or boil the winter squash. Have you tried roasting some butternut squash that has been peeled and cut into cubes? Toss a little olive oil, sea salt and coarse pepper, and roast in your oven on a foil lined cooking sheet. Cook until golden brown. If you short on cooking time here is a slick idea. Place the whole winter squash in the microwave for 3 minutes; then cut it easily, remove seeds, add butter, etc, and put into hot oven to bake. Just remember to perforate with a knife before putting in microwave so it won't explode.
The tables will be exploding these last few weeks of market, be sure to come out and make your fall purchases before it's to late. See you at market.