Sunday, October 12, 2014

Good news from the Farmers Market restaurant!

I was a harsh critic of the restaurant food since we had a change in management.  I will not review what I didn't like about it - once said is enough.

In defense of the new management, Michele got thrown in the deep end.  Mistakes were made, customer left, some never to return. But everyone deserves a second chance, and I have been watching the food improve over time.

The other day I ordered the quiche.  Much to my surprise and delight, it was delicious!  The plate was appealing, lined with a big piece of deep fried kale (a little hard to eat but worth the mess it made).  The potato sticks were crisp.  The price was fair.  Now on to the star of the plate.

I used to have a restaurant.  We were famous for our quiche, and I know first hand that it is not always the easiest thing to get right.  This quiche was spot on!  The filling included apples and sausage, and the egg custard was just right, not overcooked, not undercooked.  As Goldie Locks would say, it was JUST right!

I enjoyed every bite of it.  Give the restaurant another chance.  Come on back!  I will be posting other delightful dishes in the future. Keep learning, Michele.  We do appreciate your efforts!!

Farmers Market apple and sausage quiche with sides of potatoes and kale

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Too much zucchini? Here's an idea.

Each year I vow that no zucchini will be left behind.  Well, two giants have been found - obviously totally missed by both Nate and me.

Italian Zucchini Strips

What do I do with a monster zucchini? Enough with the zucchini bread!! Try peeling and then cutting thin strips with your potato peeler to make this simple (and delicious) recipe.

4 oz. thin strips of zucchini (about a cup)
2 T. finely sliced onion
1 T. olive oil or bacon grease
¼ tsp. Italian seasonings
Salt & pepper to taste
A little butter to finish

Heat a cast iron skillet and add olive oil or bacon grease. Drop the zucchini strips and onions into a hot oil, add Italian seasonings and salt & pepper to taste and stir fry until just beginning to brown. Spoon onto a plate and top with a nob of butter. And that's enough for me as I like mine very simple.

They are almost like big wide fettuccine, and people watching their carbohydrates could make a mean plate of “pasta” with these zucchini strips topped with Sauce Bolognese and some grated Parmesan cheese. Yum!!

4 oz. of zucchini strips =
3 grams carbohydrates (net)
1 gram fiber
18 calories

In the iron skillet

Ready to eat.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Here's to 30 years.

My son Jim and his wife Julie dated from the time he was a sophomore and she was a junior at LaSalle-Peru High School in Illinois.

They would have been married 30 years on July 21.  On Palm Sunday this year, Julie passed away from colon cancer.  It was swift and brutal.  We all miss her, but of course my son misses her the most.  He told me that when she died, he lost his best friend. 

I was worried about him being alone on Monday.  Not to be.  He invited all of the kids to come to the house.  They are going to Chicago over the weekend, then back home for a family dinner on Monday.  He told me they will toast their anniversary, "because we almost made it."  He said it was close enough to deserve a toast.

Happy Anniversary, Jim and Julie.  I love you both.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Sad times at the South Bend Farmers Market - can you help?

There is a lot on my mind today.  Our new restaurant manager/cook is devastating our business at the South Bend farmers market.  My receipts have dropped by about $200 per week since the new manager and head cook came in.  Many of the customers are complaining, the complaint box is overflowing, many people demand refunds.  And still the board stands behind the new restaurant manager, saying she is learning.  Our president and one board member disagree, but they are not a majority, and so the bad news just keeps getting worse.

I don't think the new manager/cook is learning a thing.  One of my (formerly) regular noontime customers decided to give breakfast a try Thursday (she's given up on lunches) and got eggs Benedict with an English muffin with mold on it.  One of the shareholders at the market got sausage gravy and biscuits in which the sausage was still pink.  How on earth did she make it?  All I can think is that she dropped raw sausage into simmering milk gravy and hoped for the best.  She claimed the problem was Sawyer's sausage, that it would not properly brown.  Say what?

Early on, she told me she needed to teach the people at the market how to appreciate good food.  I don't think so.   Somebody needs to teach her how to make good food, and if she can't learn, then she must be replaced before too much additional damage is done.
It saddens me to see our lunch counter going from full or close to it every day to nearly empty many days, and it hurts me financially when my noon-time shoppers are now going elsewhere for lunch.

I bring this up so publicly because if you are a customer of the Farmers Market, I am asking you to go in, have a meal, and if it is not good, go first to the complaint box at the office and register your complaint, and second, take the offending food to Mr. Hovencamp, who brought her in and continues to think she just needs another chance.  While we wait for her to "learn,"  (what's to learn about serving an English muffin with mold on it?), we are losing long-time customers, and some of them might never come back.  That saddens me.

In the meantime, I expanded to Purple Porch a couple of years ago, and that business continues to grow.  It is helping to fill the gap.  Recently I decided to get a booth at the new Granger Farmer's Market, and my shrinking revenues at the South Bend market had a lot to do with that.

Hopefully if enough of you long time fans of the South Bend Farmers Market complain, the board may wake up before it is too late.  I have complained to the board, I have complained directly to the new manager, I have put my opinions in the complaint box, and nothing seems to be working, not for me or any of the people who are complaining.  So I am taking it to Facebook.  I do not want to see a venerable old staple of our community go down in flames over this.  All it takes is getting a decent cook back into the restaurant and going back to good farm cooking like we have had for years.  And the sooner the better!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

It's hot!!

I was sure I wouldn't complain about the heat after the long, bitterly cold winter we just went through.  I have no rainfall on my chart for April because everything in April came down as SNOW!  I saw snow flurries in the middle of May.  So I was ready for spring.  Yes, spring, not an immediate leap into summer!

I pretty much suffer in heat and humidity.  I can handle heat if the humidity isn't too high.  I can handle humidity if the temperature is 70ยบ or below.  But when we have days like the last two, I suffer.  Memories of bad winter be damned!  I'm hot!!!

My air conditioner is down AGAIN!  Last three summers, repairman has been looking for a leak.  The cooling crisis is temporarily solved by pumping more stuff in it, but service calls are involved, and without finding the leak this is going to get more and more expensive.  So far it has been one trip per season, but it has never needed a refill this early.  This is bread baking day, so add the heat from my oven to the equation and you will get an idea of why I am bitching.

The repairman promised to be here early afternoon.  He said he is pretty sure the leak is in a joint.  Fine, well and good, so find it and fix it.  PLEASE!!!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Egg carton romance

People keep giving me egg cartons.  When they ask, I tell them I don't need any.  Some don't ask, and I find bags of them in the back seat of my car when I leave the market!  LOL  I truly believe that these things procreate - in the night there is egg carton sex, and a few days later there are even more.  My garage was looking pretty messy, and I finally organized the egg cartons yesterday when I got home from market. 

They are on a counter I use to put together my market baskets, so I really need to find a new home for them.  Anybody need any egg cartons?  

Egg cartons, anyone?

Sunday, May 18, 2014


A week ago some friends came out to look for morels.  They got about a dozen, asked if they could come back today.  I had time to go along today, although I am notoriously bad at spotting mushrooms.  We split into two groups.

I found the first one in our group.  Ken, who had never hunted for them before, found the next two.  There were five in our group, and we struck out from then on, decided to go across the river to the 15 acre wood and see what we could find there.  The others caught up with us and had two bags full!

Some were getting tired, so the other three generously shared what they found and we called it a day.  Patty and her mom are coming back on Wednesday.  I bake that day, but may find the time to go out for an hour or so in the midst of making bread and loading greenhouse plants into my car.

I have five big fat morels (or spongies, as we called them in Illinois) soaking in salt water.  I know what I'm having for lunch today.  :)