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Winter Market Wonders

This post was originally posted on John's previous blog site on on December 6th, 2016.

Fans of the HBO series, Game of Thrones, have been preparing themselves for the coming winter for six seasons, and it’s still not quite there yet. But at the Waverly-32nd Street Farmers Market in Baltimore City, winter IS coming. In fact it has comest. The first Saturday after Thanksgiving marks the official beginning of the Winter Market.

There is a shake up of sorts in the line up of farmers and artisan food makers for this chillier market, with each season pulling together an awesome collection of food choices for shoppers. Waverly is Baltimore’s only year-round market and we locals are fortunate to have it as a resource. Many folks ask me why I would want to go to a farmers market in the winter, and what could one really find at a “winter” market.

You would be surprised. There is so much to choose from don’t know quite where to begin. I might remind everyone that before the era of mega, industrial farming that now ships food all around the globe, we as a people living in Baltimore (and all around the Chesapeake), were quite able to sustain ourselves the entire winter without a great dependency on imported food. And the same can be found today at the winter market.

There are still greens galore along with an array of root vegetables of all variety: carrots, turnips, parsnips, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, onions, and kohlrabi to name a few. Did I mention; mushrooms, cabbage, mixed lettuces, olive oil, nuts, cheeses galore, meat, poultry, eggs, honey, milk, cream, yogurt, ice cream, fresh seafood, smoked fish, soaps, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, cooking oil, breads, pastries, flowers, freshly roasted coffee, soups, prepared foods of all manner?

And this season at Waverly we welcome the guys from Well Crafted Pizza, a wood-fired pizza oven that travels. It is a way-cool set up they have and the team fashions their pizza using organically grown flour for the crust and locally sourced ingredients for the toppings. The menu changes and on Day-One at Waverley one of the pies was a Rise ‘N Shine pizza with scrambled eggs, local bacon and cheese. So good!

Whether you’re looking to make a soup or stew, or a Sunday roast chicken with all the fixings, or a fab brunch for a group of friends, everything you need can be found at the winter market. If you live outside the Baltimore metro area why not speak with your local farmers market manager and see if they might consider extending their market into winter. Maybe just once a month to start and work it up to a year-round weekly affair.

You may have guessed from reading this blog that I’m all about putting together plant based meals, meaning the veggies, legumes, and grains are the stars of the dish with any meat, poultry or seafood acting as the condiments and flavorings. It’s what we call Bay and Body Friendly Food.

So here’s a good winter concoction for you to check out.

Bavarian Hunter’s Stew

Serves 6

This stew is a perfect waiting-for-winter dish. It’s hearty and warming, and almost all the ingredients can be sourced from the farmers market, or local grocer. It may also be made with chicken, or for our vegan friends, extra firm tofu cut into cubes will work well. Serve with some good sturdy, crusty bread.

  • 3 tablespoons butter (or use all olive oil for vegan)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1-1/2 pounds beef bottom round, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

  • 2 medium onions, coarsely cubed

  • 3 tablespoon minced chives

  • 4 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley

  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, trimmed and sliced

  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch rounds or pieces

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1 to 1 ½ cups water or stock (beef, chicken or veggie)

  • 1 teaspoon imported sweet paprika

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Generous pinch nutmeg

  • 1/3 cup sour cream (or vegan sour “cream”)

In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot with a lid, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of oil. Sear the meat (or tofu) on all sides, sprinkling with salt, and after it is seared remove with a slotted spoon. Set aside.

In the same pot heat the remaining butter and oil. Add the onions, chives and 2 tablespoons parsley, and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Next, add the mushrooms, and cook 4 to 5 minutes longer. Add the meat (or tofu) back into the pot. Stir in the potatoes and carrots.

In a small pot add the wine, stock, paprika, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and pour over the meat and vegetables in the pot. Bring the stew to a boil, partially cover, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 55 to 60 minutes, adding more wine and stock/water, if necessary. Just before serving, turn off the heat and stir in the sour cream. Adjust seasoning to your liking.

Garnish with remaining parsley.

- John

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