Oven-dried Tomatoes

I had an overflow of Roma tomatoes from the Farmers' Market last weekend, so I decided to make my own pseudo sun-dried tomatoes.

They're easy and yummy, so if you want to give them a shot, try this out:

Preheat your oven to 200.  Slice several Roma tomatoes vertically and place them in a bowl.  Salt them with fine sea salt, throw in some  chopped herbs, and add a couple of glugs of your favorite olive oil.  I chose a combination of Texas Olive Ranch's EVOO and Mesquite-smoked varieties to give the tomatoes extra oomph.  I selected rosemary for my herb.  Toss the tomatoes in the salt, herb, and oil, then lay them on a Silpat in a roasting pan.  If you don't have a Silpat, use parchment.  These will get caramelly-sticky all over your pan if you don't create a barrier.  Now for the slow part:  Put them in the oven for between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the thickness of your slices.

Start checking on the tomatoes after a few hours.  You're looking for a dry, crinkly texture and sweet, condensed flavor.  When they're ready, cool them and pack them in a jar with olive oil.  Put them in the fridge and they're ready to use.  Mmm-mmm good.

Pretty, too.  Don't you think?


A Farmers' Market a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

I fantasize about Austin having a giant, accessible, indoor Farmers' Market open daily to cater to my every whim. In the meantime, there are at least a few markets or farm stands open each day in the surrounding area.  If you're willing and able to drive a bit, you can get the freshest at the best of the Texas Hill Country any day of the week.

Markets, Farm Stands, and Farms by Days Open



Pflugerville Farmers' Market 3 to 7 pm
Georgetown Farmers' Market at Sun City 9 am to 12 pm
Lund Produce Co., Branchgrove Farms in Elgin 9 am to 12 pm
River Valley Farmers' Market in Elgin at 410 Main Street (Next to Library) 1 pm till sold out
Dyer Dairy Mercantile (in Georgetown) 10 am to 7 pm
San Marcos Farmers' Market 3 pm to 6 pm (address unknown)
Killeen Farmers’ Market 3 pm to 6 pm (address unknown)
Bastrop Producers' Market 11 am to 7pm

Boggy Creek Farm  9am to 1 pm
Springdale Farm 9 am to 1 pm
Lund Produce Co., Branchgrove Farms in Elgin  9 am to 12 pm 


 Georgetown Farmers' Market (in Georgetown) 3:30 to 6:30 pm
River Valley Farmers' Market in Smithville: Main & 1st Street (Next to Gazebo) 1 pm till sold out
Dyer Dairy Mercantile (in Georgetown)10 am to 7 pm 

Green Gate Farms 12 to 6 pm
Lund Produce Co., Branchgrove Farms in Elgin  9 am to 12 pm 


Austin Farmers' Market 9 am to 1 pm
Barton Creek Farmers' Market 9 am to 1 pm
SFC's Farmers' Market at Sunset Valley 9 am to 1 pm
Springdale Farm 
9 am to 1 pm
Georgetown Farmers' Market in Round Rock 8 am to 12 pm 
Lund Produce Co., Branchgrove Farms in Elgin 9 am to 4 pm 
Green Gate Farms 10 am to 2 pm
Bastrop 1832 Farmers' Market 10 am to 2 pm
Angel Valley Farmstand in Jonestown 9 am to 1 pm
Killeen Farmers’ Market 3 pm to 6 pm (address unknown)
The South Austin Farmers' Market Sat 8 am to 1 pm 2910 South Congress, Austin TX
Burnet Farmers' Market 9 am to 1 pm 
Texas Specialty Cut Flowers (near Blanco)9 am to 5 pm
Bastrop Producers' Market 9am to 6pm


Community Supported Agriculture Programs
Green Gate Farms 
Johnson's Backyard Garden

Check out my cream line!

Okay, so you can't actually check out my cream line because I shook the milk to pour it, but I can tell you it was awesome.

I visited the Mercantile at Dyer Dairy in Georgetown a couple of days ago.  Dyer Dairy is one of the few dairies around Austin that is licensed to sell raw milk.  Raw milk is unpasteurized.  While this may sound scary, it's fantastic.

Raw milk contains beneficial enzymes and lactase-producing bacteria to facilitate the break-down of lactase.  It is whole and contains all kinds of goodies such as fat-soluble vitamins you could live on indefinitely.  The farmer is solely responsible for the safety of the product and typically sells it direct to the public.  State agencies frequently test the milk and there is zero-tolerance for pathogens.  Because the milk comes from healthy, clean, well-cared for cows from small dairies, the milk is healthy, too.  It isn't all pumped into one enormous milk truck mixing the milk from hundreds of hormone-fed, possibly ill cows.  Just think:  if one cow is sick, that entire milk truck has contaminated milk.  Of course that has to be pasteurized.  With the small dairy's tight supervision and sterile equipment, this isn't a problem.

So when you buy raw milk, the cream rises to the top, creating a "cream line."  Susan Dyer told me some customers stand in front of cooler staring trying to find the perfect amount of cream.  I picked one with plenty, of course.  "Just remember to shake it before you drink it," she called as I left the store.

In addition to delicious, creamy, sweet milk, the Dyers sell beef, raw milk cheeses, preserves and jams, spice mixes, locally-roasted Coyote Moon coffee, bulk beans and nuts, honey, and seasonal produce.  I was dying to try the cheese and was disappointed to find there wasn't any ready.  They apparently make over 50 varieties  including Manchego, Gouda, Havarti, and Chipotle-Cheddar.  Mmm.  Next time.

I did pick up some reasonably-priced grass-fed beef for stir-fries and two t-bones.  I also couldn't resist the apple butter pictured above.  It's sweetened with juice instead of sugar and is really yummy on Yegua Creek Farm's Bread of the Seven Seeds.


Happy Girls in Bastrop

On Saturday, I'd planned a little trip out to Bastrop to hit the two markets I know of there:  the Bastrop 1832 Farmers' Market and the Bastrop Producers' Market.  My friend Dana loves Real Food, too, so we put an ice chest in the back of the car and took the pretty drive down 95 into Bastrop.

The 1832 Market was holding a Tomato Festival.  This mostly consisted of a cooking demo with some yummy tomato dishes (my favorite was the cornmeal-crusted fried green tomatoes), a variety of tomato dishes to sample, and tons and tons and tons of tomatoes of many varieties for sale. 

The market offered a wide variety of produce and beef.  I bought some beautiful local produce, beef, and some nice raw doggy bones.    I love knowing my food was picked in Texas this week.  It wasn't trucked in from another state or country under-ripe and yucky. 

We were getting hungry, and luckily Faifoo Cafe was there to rescue us with shrimp and pepper egg rolls and traditional spring rolls.  I definitely want to visit that cafe the next time I'm in Bastrop!

Next, we drove to the Producers' Market on Hwy 71.  They were holding their 2nd Anniversary Celebration.  We entered all the raffles and sampled some good food. I bought even more goodies: a chicken, eggs, cheese, kombucha, produce, plants, bread, nuts.  This is a good week to eat at my house.

It occurs to me that I've had kind of a personal food revolution over the past couple of years.  In the past, I'd worked at Whole Foods and thought "low-fat" and "vegetarian" meant healthy.  After stumbling onto some good reads from people like Nina Planck and Michael Pollan, I came to the common-sense conclusion that eating foods produced in labs or even factories doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  Don't get me wrong, I fully believe in eating whatever I want on special occasions.  I love food too much to restrict my diet to health food.  I firmly believe that food is more than nourishment; it's community, culture, family, fun.  But I have redefined what is healthy for me based on research and listening to my body.  I know what makes me feel good, and it isn't what I used to think it should be.