Tag Archives: Visser Farms

Fulton Street Farmers Market in Winter

Last month I was excited to learn that Michigan ranks in the top ten states for its number of winter farmers markets. Even though the Holland Farmers Market, my most local one, isn’t open in the dead of winter, the Fulton Street Farmers Market in Grand Rapids is. Generally, it’s a bit of a drive for me on a Saturday morning, but Bill was planning to be in town today so he paid a visit, picked up some produce from Visser Farms as well as some bratwursts from Crane Dance Farm, and took these photos. For now, the market is temporarily located in the Salvation Army parking lot while construction is underway to expand and upgrade the current site, including the addition of permanent roof structures to provide shelter for this open-air market.

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Thanks to these hardy folks for enduring the elements each week to provide us their local goods!

Cilantro Doesn’t Like Sub-Zero Temps

Earlier this month, I gave an update on my Winter Herb Garden–the one I bought from Visser Farms at the Holland Farmers Market in October.

It looked pretty good on January 5.

The herb garden on January 5, 2011

All that had died was the basil, which didn’t surprise me because basil really doesn’t like cold temps.

Now that we’re in the dead of winter, things are looking pretty sad.

Winter Herb Garden on January 23, 2011

I think the kale is going to make a come-back. But I’m not sure about the cilantro. (That’s it next to the basil that died earlier this winter.)

Over the weekend, it got down to -4 degrees, which is pretty darn cold for West Michigan.

Do you think this is the end of the Winter Herb Garden? It may be time to harvest a salad. Stay tuned to see what survives!

Celery Root and Parsnip Bisque

Today I found a celery root in the fridge and remembered a delicious Celery Root Bisque recipe I made once from the November, 2005, issue of Bon Appetit.

However, the recipe calls for a russet potato, which I didn’t find in the fridge, or anywhere in the house. And with temps in the single digits, plus a very snowy day ahead of me, I opted not to worry about the potato.

Instead, I substituted a few parsnips for the potato.

Since my celery root (also known as celeriac) was just under a pound, I cut the recipe in half. I got this celery root, along with the parsnips, last fall from Visser Farms and have been storing them in the fridge. These root vegetables keep well for a long time. When you peel the celery root, it’s amazingly earthy, as if you just dug into the garden in the middle of summer.

Other adjustments, besides using parsnips for the potato, include:

  • Dried thyme for fresh (use half the amount)
  • Omitting the cream due to Bill’s cow dairy allergy and adding a little rice milk

All you do is saute the celery for a few minutes, then add the shallots and saute a few minutes longer.

Add the celery root, parsnips, stock and thyme.

Simmer 40 minutes. Puree the soup in batches. Add some rice milk for smoothness. Season with salt and pepper.

This soup is a nice accompaniment to Lamb Chops with Cumin, Cardamom, and Lime, braised Lacinato kale, and White Beans and Onion Confit.

My Winter Garden Experiment in January

The herb garden on January 5, 2011

Today I thought I’d update you on my Winter Herb Garden Experiment. Remember last fall when I bought a pot of herbs and greens from Visser Farms at the Holland Farmers Market? Here’s what it looked like in October:

I had promised to report back every month. Whoops! Here it is, January, and I haven’t shared any news of the garden’s progress. That’s partly because it was doing so well, I didn’t have much to report. However, with cold temps finally arriving in December, the basil, alas, keeled over. You can see it in the front of the pot–that poor yellowy dead thing.

Even though our breezeway gets a a fair amount of sun and light because it’s on the south side of the house, and it basically feels like a refrigerator most of the time (as opposed to a freezer), it’s just too cold for basil.  Here’s today’s reading on the breezeway thermometer. (I think it’s in the 40s.)

I was happy, however, to find the spinach is doing well so I added some to the Miso Soup I made for lunch a couple days ago.

And, of all things, the cilantro is doing great! I’m amazed because I have trouble growing cilantro outside. I’m guessing it’s the soil. Cilantro must love dark, rich soil like the Vissers put in the pot.

Everything except the basil has survived so far. Once in awhile I pinch off some parsley or greens to use in the kitchen. I’ll report back in another month or two on progress!

Delicata Squash Risotto with Leeks

Like I’ve said before about my approach to cooking, I often come up with ideas for meals based on what Bill and I have on hand–in the fridge, in the pantry, or in the freezer. And since the fall, I’ve been storing several varieties of winter squash I bought from Visser Farms, because they keep well for using in the wintertime.

One kind is delicata. I’ve never cooked with it before so when I saw Bon Appetit’s recipe for Risotto with Butternut Squash, Leeks, and Basil, I wondered if I could substitute the delicata for butternut. It turns out, sources say delicata tastes somewhat like a sweet potato, so I figured it was a good option to use in the risotto.

I made a number of other substitutions in this recipe as well. For example, I had some homemade chicken stock in the fridge that I needed to use so I substituted it for the vegetable broth. I didn’t have fresh basil so I just omitted it because I think thyme carries enough flavor on its own. And, as usual, I used Pecorino cheese instead of Parmesan to accommodate Bill’s cow dairy allergies.

It’s an easy recipe. After you peel the skin off the squash and scrape out the seeds, you chop it into small cubes and saute it for about 5 minutes in olive oil.

Then you slice up some leeks. These also came from Visser Farms and have been hanging out in my fridge for at least a month.

After removing the squash from the pot, you add the leeks and saute them with chopped fresh thyme in olive oil until tender.

Then add the rice (stirring for one minute) and broth.

Just like most risotto recipes, you keep adding broth as it gets absorbed by the rice, stirring frequently.

After about 15 minutes, you return the squash to the pot and cook about ten more minutes. Once the mixture is creamy and the broth absorbed, add fresh grated Pecorino cheese.

It’s a delicious meal on its own, or a yummy side dish.

Giving Thanks Locally: A Tribute to West Michigan Farmers

I didn’t go nuts searching for new recipes to prepare for Thanksgiving yesterday. Instead, I focused on seasonal recipes I enjoy but don’t often make because of time constraints. Because it was a holiday, I indulged in more time to be creative by cooking a range of dishes. And the goal at our house isn’t to eat until you’re stuffed: It’s to enjoy a sampling of many ingredients that were grown or raised locally and with passion by people we know.

This year on Thanksgiving I’d like to recognize all the farmers who contributed to the meal that Bill, our friend Sue, and I enjoyed. Many are regular vendors at the Holland Farmers Market. Thank you, farmers, for braving the cold temperatures at the market this time of year so we can conveniently purchase local produce!

Here’s what our Thanksgiving menu looked like:


Celery Root Bisque – made with celery root, shallots, and celery from Visser Farms

Roasted Onion and Carrot Soup – made with onions, carrots, and garlic from Visser Farms

Mixed Greens Salad with Pear, Pomegranate, and Warm Goat Cheese Croutons – made with fresh greens from my CSAMud Lake Farm

A Real Simple Roast Chicken – made with a happy, four-pound pastured chicken from Grassfields

Roasted Root Vegetables – with turnips, rutabagas, carrots and parsnips from Visser Farms

Oven-Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Onions – with sweet potatoes and red onions from Visser Farms

Leek and Potato Casserole – with leeks from Boeve Farm and potatoes from Visser Farms

Cabernet Cranberries – with fresh, local cranberries from The Berry Bunch

Cinnamon-Spiced Applesauce – with Empire apples from Skinner Homestead Acres.

Pear Crumble – with Anjou pears from Cosgrove Orchards

And thanks to Sue for bringing Creamed Onions, Mincemeat Pie from Crane’s Pie Pantry, and wine!

Time to Stock Up for Winter

In case you thought the growing season was over, I’m here to say–at least in West Michigan–it’s still going strong.

Check out the bounty of vegetables I picked up today at the Holland Farmers Market, primarily from Visser Farms: potatoes, carrots, red and yellow onions, tomatoes, and garlic. Plus, I got some red peppers from another vendor.

Now is the time to stock up. You can keep things like squash and apples in your garage, or some place that the temperatures won’t get much below freezing. I have found that root vegetables, however, do better in cold storage, such as the refrigerator. And, I’ve heard that some root vegetables, such as carrots, can be stored in sand, or in the ground.

Even though the actual market will end in Holland on December 11, you can still get local produce from Visser Farms throughout the winter on Fridays, or at a couple of indoor markets in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Visit their website for more information.

Thanks to the farmers who are braving the cold weather by coming out through mid-December to sell their produce in Holland!

My Winter Herb Garden Experiment

Today I went to the Holland Farmers Market, as I often do on Saturdays, but I know that the season will soon come to a close, so I’m thinking of the winter ahead.

Visser Farms, one of the largest vendors with a big variety of vegetables, was selling a potted herb garden that I just couldn’t resist. I was looking for a pot of parsley to keep in my breezeway, along with my rosemary, like I did last winter, when I spotted this nice mixture of herbs, kale, and arugula.

I have to say, I’m a bit skeptical about the basil surviving long. Tomorrow night temps are supposed to be in the 20’s. But my breezeway stays pretty temperate. And the windows face south, so it’s sort of like a greenhouse.

What do you think? Any chance everything will survive?

I’ll report back each month. Meanwhile, it’s nice to enjoy fresh, young green plants to snip for my culinary adventures as the season wanes into winter.

Next time I report on the herb garden, we will likely have snow!

What to Do with Rhubarb?

As I mentioned earlier this week, the Holland Farmers’ Market is open! Every Saturday from May through September, area chefs are demonstrating how to use fresh, seasonal, and locally grown ingredients in the Chef Series at 10:00 a.m. This is a unique feature for a farmers’ market and a great way to learn some basic cooking techniques, get adventurous with produce you don’t usually prepare, and find new recipes.

This morning it was standing room only when Jesse Hahn from Salt of the Earth demonstrated three recipes for rhubarb: Rhubarb Martini, Pickled Rhubarb, and Rhubarb Sorbet.

Below are the video clips from the event. Listen for references to many of our local farmers and businesses from which Jesse procures his ingredients: Visser Farms for rhubarb, Mud Lake Farm for watercress, and New Holland Brewery for the gin. This is what buying locally–and eating locally–is all about.

Buying Local Produce in Winter Climates

Today was the last day of the Holland Farmers’ Market. As I loaded up on what I thought were the last local veggies available to me this season, I was thrilled when Cindy Visser of Visser Farms said, “Come visit us during the winter!” It really made my day.
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