The emphasis, of course, was not only on saving gas, but patronizing those who work the land and sea in our own little area of the earth.
In some places that would be hard goal to accomplish but in the Trenton Diocese, it’s hard not at all. The bounty of farms, fields, streams, rivers, bays and ocean is all around us offering the freshest, most savory foods imaginable.
One place to find so many of those bounteous goods is the Trenton Farmers Market www.trentonfarmersmarket.com located, to my joy, literally just around the corner from the Diocesean Pastoral Center where the Monitor office is.
So, with the absolutely right place to celebrate Earth Day locally so close at hand, Scott Alessi – the Monitor’s photo and online editor – and I took a very short spin to the Farmers Market where spring Jersey Fresh produce and plants are available.
With Jack and Marcia Ball — co-managers of the farming cooperative and longtime members of St. Hedwig Parish, Trenton — as guides, we celebrated Earth Day by taking an up close look at Jersey fresh spinach, parsley, chives, arugula, radishes, scallions and asparagus.
The cook in me found it too good an opportunity to pass up. That being the case, as I write, a bunch of the most beautiful asparagus I’ve seen this season and a good sized hunk of home grown farmer cheese to serve along side it rest near the desk in a recyclable shopping bag from the Farmers Market.
I cannot wait for dinner!
The asparagus, like all the produce out on the Farmers Market stalls, is home grown and fresh out of fields or greenhouses from Ewing to East Windsor to Chesterfield and that’s precisely the wonder of it said Jack Ball.
“It’s great to know where your food comes from,” he said with a big grin while surveying the plump radishes and scallions at the stand operated by Bud Docherty, a farmer from East Windsor and a member of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Hightstown.
In weeks to come, all manner of area grown flowers and produce will be lining the shelves of dozens of stands in the Farmer’s Market, Marcia said. “Depending on the weather, the first ‘Jersey Biggie’ of the season should arrive in May — field grown strawberries.”
These are so good that when the season starts, I can’t keep away from the Farmers Market. The only thing I can liken them to are the incredibly good, smallish and sweet strawberries I became so fond of during a visit to Rome.
You can track the local growing season with the help of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture at this great site http://www.getmovinggethealthynj.rutgers.edu/jersey_fresh.html where you’ll find a garden of “how-tos” on eating healthfully and locally.
Check out this site http://www.state.nj.us/jerseyfresh/recipes/index.html for Jersey Fresh recipes contributed by Jersey Fresh cooks around the state including Dorothy Green, Pittstown, whose recipe for fresh spinach soup caught my eye:
Dorothy Green’s Fresh Spinach Soup
Ingredients: 1 large bunch Jersey Fresh spinach; 1 cup chicken broth; 1 tsp lemon juice; 1 tablespoon heavy cream; 1/2 cup water; 2 tablespoons butter; 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Directions: Wash the spinach very well, remove the stems and cook the leaves in about 1/2 cup water until the spinach wilts and is soft. Puree the spinach in batches in the blender. Add 1 cup chicken broth, 2 tablespoons butter; 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt to pureed spinach. Re-warm the soup and serve in small bowls. Lightly stir the top of the soup with cream to make a swirl pattern. Serves 4.