Saturday, March 21, 2009


Spring is here! The warmer weather means (more) fresh greens grown by nearby farmers are now available at the farmers' market. When we arrived at the Ann Arbor farmers' market this morning, we headed straight to the Brines Farm table where Shannon and Priscilla (both pictured here) were busy bagging several different types of baby greens - pac choi, arugula, mixed greens (and others). Shannon is the proprietor of Brines Farm. He has a hoop house operation in Dexter, Michigan, which is about 10 miles northwest of Ann Arbor. I guess you could call him a hoop house harvester of sorts. A hoop house functions like a greenhouse but unlike a greenhouse, it is unheated. It has a series of hoops for a frame and it is covered by looks like a long, white tunnel with a door. Virtually unheard of a few years ago, they are catching on in places like Michigan where the winters are long and cold. Thanks to hoop house harvesters like Shannon, it is now possible to eat fresh, locally grown greens on an almost year-round basis. We left the market today with a 1/2 peck of Braeburn apples from Alex Nemeth and from Brines Farm, a bag each of arugula, mixed greens, and pac choi .

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Claytonia from Brines Farm

Spring is finally approaching. It's not here but it is approaching. Tree buds have begun to appear, the snow has melted (finally), and vendors at the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market are selling more than apples, soap, and lamb pelts. Even though it poured rain on Saturday, there were more people at the market than there have been the past few weeks...or, has it been months? By the time I made it to the market, Alex Nemeth had run out of Fujis and Braeburns (my second choice variety). I was disappointed but ended up buying a half peck of Red Delicious apples. I don't care for the thick skin of Red Delicious apples but the flavor of these apples is quite good and the texture surprisingly crunchy for this time of year. For months now, apples have been my only market purchase. But on Saturday, I couldn't help but the notice the delicate salad greens the shape of small flower petals at the next stand over. Priscilla from Brines Farm in Dexter was selling Claytonia. I had never heard of Claytonia but it looked so fresh and beautiful so I bought a bag ($3 for about 6 ounces). I served it Saturday night as a side salad with paper-thin slices of roasted orange beets and lightly dressed with seasoned rice vinegar, olive oil, and freshly ground pepper. It was delicious. I did a quick Google search to learn more about this mysterious vegetable and learned that Claytonia is part of the Purslane family, a family of greens that many people treat as weeds. It was slightly tart and tasted almost like very young spinach. Caroline was interested in this new vegetable and nibbled at the pieces on her plate. With any luck, she'll eat more of it the second time around.
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