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Baby, It’s Cold Outside But Here’s a Little Taste of Summer for You

This month we are going back to revisit our most popular blog, as measured in the number of distinct views on our website, from last summer’s Market season. It’s the ladies of Feathered who will be back in force at this Sunday’s Winter Market inside the Bridgeport Conference Center from 11am to 2pm.

Before we get there I want to get you up-to-date with a couple of recent events that the Market has gotten involved in. First, thanks to Josh Halstead of the Halstead Insurance Agency, which recently relocated to new digs on Main St in Bridgeport, we have a unique BFM fundraiser. For every insurance quote that Josh writes this year he is donating $25 to the BFM! You don’t even have to buy the insurance, just get the quote. Give Josh a call today at 304-848-9110 or stop and see him at 237 East Main St in downtown Bridgeport.

Lastly, the BFM is taking its success to the fabled Country Roads of WV. Recently, founder Deb Workman and Board President Kent Spellman headed up a panel discussion for the WV Hospitality and Travel Association‘s annual Hospitality University which was held at the Greenbrier last month. Deb and Kent put together a panel of professionals that included local chef/farmer and Appalachian foods expert Mike Costello, the founder and owner of Lewisburg’s Hawk Knob Cidery Josh Bennett, and James Beard award-winning chef and soon-to-be-owner of three restaurants in the Bristol, VA, area Travis Milton.

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L-R: Kent Spellman, BFM President; Deb Workman, BFM founder and Treasurer; Josh Bennett, Hawk Knob Cidery; Mike Costello, Lost Creek Farm; and Travis Milton, Chef/Owner of Shovel and Pick Restaurant in Bristol, VA.

The topic of the panel was how to promote the history and culture of Appalachia in general and its food traditions in particular in order to best appeal to the new age of tourists who, like us, are interested in such things. It’s taking the ideas that have been cultivated at the BFM for the last nine years and pushing them out state-wide. Needless to say, there was plenty of interest in the topic judging by both the quality and quantity of questions that were asked during the Q&A session. It was also one of the best attended panels of the entire conference which also included speeches from our new Governor Jim Justice as well as our new Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher and new Tourism director Chelsea Ruby.

And now let’s hear what Quinn and Shalayna had to say last June!

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We Don’t Cook: 6 Reasons the BFM is a Godsend for the Culinarily Challenged

It’s 5:30pm, and I’m just about to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when a familiar text comes across my phone.

“Hungry?”

It’s my cousin and Feathered business partner Shalayna, who lives 400 feet up the street.

“Starving!! What did Adam make us?”

“Omg…a tortellini in white wine sauce with garlic chicken. You’ve got to come have some.”

Hi, we are Shalayna and Quinn of Feathered, and we don’t cook.

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L-R: Quinn Edgell and Shalayna Pulice, the girls of Feathered.

Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City once said, “I keep sweaters in my stove.” While we haven’t taken it that far, we won’t deny that we both transformed the third bedrooms of our homes into walk-in closets. It’s not that we aren’t interested in learning to cook- it’s just that in addition to our full-time day jobs and running Feathered, other projects have taken precedence. My main reason has been that I haven’t had a kitchen since I started remodeling my 1920s-era home and the kitchen is the last room to go. Shalayna’s reason for not taking up cooking? Well, her husband Adam does such a wonderful job, and we wouldn’t want to take that away from him now, would we? But in all seriousness, he has owned that passion, and she’d much rather spend her evenings learning about dinosaurs with her son. I’m sure Austin has a great new story about a stegosaurus or triceratops to share.

Shalayna and I set up Feathered at the Bridgeport Farmers Market on select Sundays throughout the summer. Now ranked #1 in the state, the market draws about 1,000 people every Sunday from all walks of life. Amid the sound of acoustic music, we see couples walking hand in hand, families with strollers straight from church, girlfriends laughing, and singles with dogs. After the rush of setting up our booth is done, we take turns meandering around the Farmers Market between customers. We always knew the market was a great atmosphere for Feathered, but we didn’t realize just how much it had to offer.

If you don’t cook and think the farmers market just isn’t your thing, here are 6 reasons you’ll love the BFM:

#1 – The Fabulously Descriptive Live Chef Demos

At noon, a small crowd gathers around the demo tent to watch a guest chef create a dish with local ingredients from the farmers. Free. Live. Local. It’s like Pinterest in real life. Shalayna and I have been inspired to buy all the ingredients ourselves to make the local dish for dinner that evening. It’s especially helpful that they provide a take home cheat sheet.

L-R: Chefs Tarik Kalwar and Ted Hastings at last week’s chef’s demo; Chefs regularly provide a recipe to either take home or snap a photo of

# 2- The Freshest Organic Smoothie Ingredients in NCWV 

Smoothies are a non-cook’s best friend. You just throw a bunch of super food ingredients in a blender and BAM- a liquid meal you can feel good about. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making your own, visit Rus Ruppert, That Smoothie Guy. When Rus isn’t strumming under the music tent, he’s concocting up blissfully delicious organic smoothies at the market.

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Rus Reppert AKA That Smoothie Guy

#3- The BFM is Bridgeport’s best kept Sunday brunch secret

The market runs from 10:00am-2:00pm, which is the perfect time for BRUNCH. Let us just say, the food is- unbelievable. All week, we look forward to the loaded premium bagels from West Virginia OO Bagel Company, the garlic parmesan fries from Thyme Bistro, and the specialty omelets from the Bridgeport Conference Center. And Hashbrowns and New Grounds, Foggy Dale Café, and My Little Cupcake bring food trucks that totally give the market an Austin, Texas vibe. It’s a refreshing break from all the chain restaurants in the area to shake up your Sunday lunch plans.

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Clockwise from top left: Hashbrowns and New Grounds Food Truck; Shoppers take a break under the brunch tent; The Bridgeport Conference Center is a brunch staple; Thyme Bistro brings flavor from their Weston cafe to the market; My Little Cupcake has developed a local cult following

#4- The BFM has the perfect tools if you want to get started cooking 

 Raw and organic doesn’t have to mean ‘from scratch’. Mountain Momma Organics is known for their best-selling soup kits. These bags contain a base with all the nutritious goods you need, and you can add your own flair from there. They also have build your own granola bars available for pre-order & pickup at the market. This is a popular concept that is really catching on- you’ll see other vendors that provide starter kits for anything from baked goods to dressings.

Clockwise from left: Mountain Momma Organics has a massive booth that spans two tents; Mountain Momma’s Soup Kits; and their Build Your Own Granola Bars

#5- The BFM is the best place to start your meal planning for the week 

The timing of the market fits in great with your meal planning at the beginning of the week. If you start at the BFM, you can pick up all of your locally grown, organic fruits, veggies, meats and eggs. All you have to do is simply supplement the ingredients you couldn’t find at the BFM with a stop at your local grocer on the way home. Truth be told, as the season progresses you’ll find your grocery store shopping list getting shorter and shorter!

#6- When in doubt, shop the artisans

If you just can’t get into the food aspect of the market luckily there is plenty of guilt free shopping available. Local artisans make up about 15% of the market’s 50+ vendors. You can shop everything from handmade cutting boards at Z&Z Woodcrafters to handmade soaps from House on the Hill Soap Co. to pressed flower jewelry at The Pretty Pickle. Oh yeah, and vintage clothing at Feathered.

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Handmade Cutting Boards, Z&Z Woodcrafters

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House on the Hill Soap Co. setup at last month’s Winter Market

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Resin Pressed Botanical Jewelry, The Pretty Pickle

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Vintage Clothing & Upcycled Jewelry, Feathered Vintage

For two non-cooks, we find plenty of excitement and inspiration every Sunday at the Bridgeport Farmers Market. Visit all summer long on Sundays from 10am to 2pm on Jerry Dove Drive.

<3, Quinn & Shalayna

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And now, a word from our President…

No, not either one of those guys. In this case it’s our BFM Board President, Kent Spellman!

Let’s Share New Year Resolutions!

It’s a New Year and the folks at the Bridgeport Farmers Market are all about New Year Resolutions!

We made a few of our own.  How about you?  Tell you what — we’ll show you ours if you’ll show us yours!

The Board of Directors and the many volunteers who make the BFM possible are looking forward to a wonderful 2017 and we certainly hope it will be a great year for you and yours.

Market Volunteer Amanda Workman and our newest Market volunteer, her son Samuel, born on December 18.

At the BFM Board of Directors meeting in December, we set some ambitious goals for 2017.  Here are some of our resolutions for the New Year:

  • Make our weekly summer market bigger and better than ever
  • Provide better quality control and more consumer information
  • Increase support for our vendors
  • Grow the number of kids in our Power Of Produce program
  • Offer more activities for families and kids
  • Continue to offer music and chefs demos each week
  • Continue to explore options for a permanent home for the BFM
  • Host another Wild & Wonderful Table culinary event (you won’t want to miss what we’re planning!)
  • Increase the number of SNAP customers at the BFM
  • Recruit two new Board members

But to achieve those goals, we need your help. We sincerely believe that by helping us achieve our goals, you can improve the quality of life for yourself, your family and your community.

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Pati Espinosa of Green Acres Farm

Here are some examples of resolutions you might make that will bring you and us value:

  • Regularly attend the BFM, starting with this Sunday’s Winter Market (11 AM – 2 PM, Bridgeport Conference Center)
  • Each week this summer, before you go to the grocery store, shop the BFM, each Sunday, 10 AM – 2 PM, at Charles Pointe. You’ll be surprised at how much it reduces the amount you purchase at the grocery store
  • Challenge yourself to eat more healthy, locally-produced food
  • Learn a few new dishes to cook using fresh produce and make them a regular part of your family’s menu
  • Support the local farmers and artisans at the market with your purchases. These are locally-owned businesses, and locally-owned businesses keep four times as much of their revenue in the community as chain businesses
  • Give unique locally-produced gifts that you’ll never find in a big box store. It will be a more satisfying experience for everyone involved
  • Regularly visit the BFM website (bridgeportfarmersmarket.com) and like our Facebook page (Bridgeport Farmers Market). Also follow us on Instagram (@bridgeportfarmersmarket) and Twitter (BridgeportFM)
  • Tell your family, friends and co-workers about the market and encourage them to visit. Help us build the BFM community!
  • Plan to have lunch at the market when you visit – the food is special, and the fellowship under the dining canopies is fun!

We hope you will consider some of these New Year resolutions! We encourage you to show us your resolutions about pursuing a healthier lifestyle and supporting local businesses on the Bridgeport Farmers Market Facebook page. And if you love the market, and want to help it grow by serving as a volunteer or Board member, please contact us through the contact page of our website or by messaging us through our Facebook page.

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L-R: Brian Gainer of Ginger Blue Naturals and Market volunteer Bob Workman abide.

See you this Sunday, from 11 AM to 2 PM, at the Bridgeport Conference Center, for the first Winter Market of 2017!  And mark your calendars for the other Winter Markets of 2017: February 12th (Mardi Gras!), March 12th (Spring is Almost Here!), and April 9th (Happy Easter!).  The first summer Bridgeport Farmers Market is Sunday, May 21st, from 10 AM to 2 PM, and will run weekly until mid-October.

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Frank and Kaycee Crislip of My Little Cupcake

Thanks Kent! Today’s pictures are from last month’s Ugly Christmas Sweater Market.

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Have Yourself A Merry Local Christmas

It’s hard to believe that this is the last blog post of 2016! What a wild and wonderful year it has been. My first management experience on a market Sunday resulted in the first ever time closing early. I think Chef Jay and I had rain every Sunday we were under the market tent, but we still saw many smiling faces, braving the rain and the elements to help support our local farmers and artisans. It’s really a great thing we’ve got going on here in Bridgeport!

Now that we are nearing the Solstice and the market has moved indoors, we don’t have to worry about the elements. But, our farmers still have to brave the cold and snow or rain to keep the animals fed and the winter crops protected from the elements. Even though the days are short and the nights long, some vegetables thrive. Greens such as mustards, tatsoi, kale, and other Asian greens love the chilly weather. Lettuce develops a sweetness that is unmatched by any summer lettuce you can find.

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Greens in the high tunnel at Jennings Brae Bank Farm, available this Sunday at the market

Besides not finding tomatoes and watermelon at the winter markets, another thing that might be in short supply is eggs. There is a common misconception that the cold is what slows down a hens egg laying over the winter. But, in fact, it is the daylight length that triggers a hen to lay an egg. Chickens need 14-16 hours of light a day to lay an egg. Some farmers and backyard chicken owners artificially light their coops in the winter to keep their hens laying through the winter. There are some that don’t, however, and I am one of them. Hens go through a process called molting in the late fall and early winter, where they essentially shed their feathers and get a fresh set for the upcoming year. This process takes a lot of the hens energy and most, if not all, don’t lay during a molt. Allowing the hens some time off over the winter allows them to molt and rest. Also, chickens tend to fare better in cold weather than hot weather. So, cherish those farm fresh eggs if you can get them!

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Jam of the month, available from In a Jam! this Sunday

Our farmers AND artisans have been busy gearing up for this Sunday’s Ugly Sweater Market. This is *the* market to shop local for your holiday cooking and gift giving needs. Stop by In A Jam  to sign up for a jam of the month club. Or maybe soap is more your style. House on the Hill Soap Co is also offering a soap of the month club. Bonds Creek Farm will be there with a selection of JQ Dickinson Salt Works gifts for the salt lover in your life. The girls over at Dirty Hippie Creations have been working hard this week to bring you the best in holiday candle scents, many poured in festive jars and mugs. Jughead Pottery will be bringing along some great West Virginia mugs for the coffee and tea lovers in your life. Pair the mug up with some coffee from Quantum Bean Coffee and you have a dynamite gift. There are plenty of gifts available to please even the most discerning aunt or uncle on your list. So, be sure to pull out your ugliest sweater and come shop local for holidays this Sunday!

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Candles ready for gift giving from the girls at Dirty Hippie Creations

And from all of us at the Bridgeport Farmers Market, we’d like to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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In Their Own Words: Meet the Bards of Yellow Wood

Bob’s Note: For the first month of this year’s Winter Market season we feature another in our In Their Own Words series. This time it’s our resident Market poets, The Bards of Yellow Wood. I mean, how many farmers markets have resident poets, anyway? We came by ours very much by kismet. As you may know if you are a Market regular we started a book club this past summer season called The BFM Book and Bean. Here you could sit and read a book or magazine related to local foods, or West Virgina/Appalachian history or both. We also have a great selection of kids books on these topics. All this while enjoying a fresh-brewed cup of joe from our resident coffee roaster, Quantum Bean Coffee.

As luck would have it, the Bards caught wind of our plans and one thing led to another and they ended up as our Book and Bean hosts. Their contribution to the Market this past summer is hard to overstate. Not only do they support a great cause but they bring a certain cache to the proceedings with their literary pursuits. And our customers get a great memento to take home. Personally, the poem they wrote for me upon the death of my mother is a keepsake for me and my sisters. So, here they are to explain themselves. And with a little poetry to boot!

By Brian Elliott

Words matter. Words can move countries to crush each other. Words can knit minds together across time. Words can rebuild the lost pieces that you never knew you lost. The Bards of Yellow Wood believe in this more than anything.

Origin of the Bards of Yellow Wood

Daniel Summers, Rebecca Dewitt and myself (Brian Elliott) are local English teachers that want nothing more than for our students to have access to books. Any books. All books. The problem (as it so often is in education) is funding. Sure, we buy books with money from our own pockets, but there are limits to how much you can spend from your personal funds. We needed another way.

When Daniel and I were in grad school, he suggested that we use our meager talents in poetry writing as a fundraiser for an organization we were part of. Though we both loved the idea, nothing ever came of it. About two years later, we were both into our teaching careers and looking at a lot of empty bookshelves in our classrooms, so we revisited the idea as a way to help our students.

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Bard Daniel Summers, Center, with Market founder Deb Workman, L, and volunteer Betsy Spellman, R.

If you aren’t familiar with us, here’s how it works. If you bring us a monetary donation, or donate a book, we will write you a poem about pretty much anything. We’ve written about Lego Batman, lost four legged family members, football games, breast cancer survivors, goats, and West Virginia. There really isn’t anything we won’t write about.

The size of the donation doesn’t matter. A penny will get you a poem, so will a well-worn copy of Leaves of Grass. We are so grateful for the help; and to be honest, we love writing poetry so much, that any small amount will send us over the moon. It usually takes about ten to fifteen minutes, so see us on your way in and get some verse on the way out.

Meet the Bards

Daniel Summers is an English/Business teacher at University High School in Morgantown. If you are looking for that Appalachian voice or aesthetic, then Daniel is the man for you. The images and tones he creates are West Virginia to the core. I’ve never met someone who cares about the written word or stories more than Mr. Summers.

GROW 

by Daniel Summers

It seems so different, inspiration…

I heard the mother tell her daughter

Willow trees lean over because they know

Life is in the soil, in our roots.

But they keep stretching don’t they?

 

In the evening-hands reach up,

Dance with the moon, dance with my beauty—

I bend down, scoop the pads of my fingers

Across the dirt, spring—

Spring…

Clouds are the best dancers,

Especially the old ones.

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R-L: Daniel and Brian and kids

Brian Elliott is an English Teacher at Bridgeport High School in Bridgeport. Brian is at his strongest when he has a very specific emotion to evoke. He frequently uses scientific terms in poetry about very emotional subjects.

Preservation

by Brian Elliott

My memories of Grandma—

Sunday afternoons, jam

Spread on toast, glistening

In the summer sun—

Inside the beveled edge

Of a jam jar.

 

Strains of an Appalachian

Tune, locally grown and picked

Reverberate outdoors—echo

Off the mountains,

Singing auditory fruit

Like gleaming, delicious

Apples.

 

To take berries grown

From West Virginia soil

Is to take West Virginia

And preserve it—

Sell it so that market

Friends can uncap

Memories—tart and tangy

Savory and sweet—

And enjoy them

One more time.

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L-R: Rebecca, Brian, and Daniel

 

Rebecca Dewitt teaches English and Yearbook at Fairmont Senior High School in Fairmont. Rebecca’s poetry is a wonderful blend of simple and complex. Mainly lyrical in nature, she adeptly reveals emotions without being too sentimental.

The Bridgeport Farmers Market has been our gracious host for all of the Summer Season this year. We are thankful for the space, and the opportunity. Our students matter to us. We want to provide them with the ability to read and understand the world around them. The support from the community at the Farmer’s Market has been overwhelming at times. We love to write. We will be at all of the winter markets, so stop buy on your way to buy the best coffee I’ve ever had, and share your story with us. We can’t wait to hear it.

Watch Daniel read one of his poems at the Market:

 

 

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It’s a Wrap: Top Ten Events of the 2016 Summer Season

As we come to the end of our 8th outdoor season all of the folks involved in the running of the Market would like to thank all of our loyal customers and vendors. We couldn’t do this without you! In keeping with end-of-season tradition I once again present to you a Top Ten list of events that took place during the season. And don’t forget to join us when we move inside the Bridgeport Conference Center starting Sunday, November 13, for the first Winter Market. Winter Markets will continue to take place the second Sunday of each month thru April. See ya there!

It was a banner year at the Market with lots of new things to see and do so, here we go:

10) The Great Variety of Music under the Music Tent all season. Once again the Market brought out the best in local musicians of all genres. We had the best in classic rock from the likes of Greg Gregory and The Masons and classic country and Americana from Annie Neeley’s band and Nate Frederick. You could also hear classic bluegrass from Hillary Kay and John Posey or jazz from the Jenny and Nathan Wilson Duo as well as Seth Maynard and Randall Hall. One week we featured some excellent original pop tunes from Madison Douglas and the next week we had the exotic Eastern European stylings of Ancien. Huge kudos to our resident guitarist and booking agent Rus Reppert!

 

9) The Refresh of the Market’s Marketing Efforts thru our new website and blog space as well as a new logo. If you’re reading this chances are you’re already familiar with our new web presence. We also for the first time had a regular schedule of bloggers including homesteader Heidi Nawrocki and Chef Jay Mahoney and once a month featured a Market vendor in their own words. Thanks to all from me for all of your contributions!

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8) The New Initiative to Support local WV Authors and Poets. Now in addition to supporting local musicians the Market realized a long-time ambition this season by regularly featuring WV writers for book signings. This season we featured children’s authors Diana Pishner Walker, S. Hardy, and Lisa A. McCombs as well as well-known WV poet Kirk Judd.

7) Bridgeport Farmers Market Picture of the Year!

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POP Club favorite, Caroline, loves the BFM!

 

6) The June 26 Outpouring of Support by the Market’s vendors and customers for the victims of the devastating floods in southern WV. Many vendors donated a portion of their sales and the Market collected food and supplies and arranged for them to be delivered to the affected areas. In addition Market board member Chef Jay Mahoney volunteered his talents to help feed the folks of Rainelle, WV.

 

5) The New and Wider Selection of Food Vendors. This year in addition to the Bridgeport Conference Center, Mia Margherita, and the Hash Browns and New Grounds food truck the Market also saw the return of the WV OO Bagel Company as well as the debut of well-known Weston restaurant, Thyme Bistro, and the Foggy Dale Cafe BBQ trailer from Ritchie County. Prepared foods were also available from My Little Cupcake, That Smoothie Guy, and Quantum Bean Coffee as well as the Market’s bakers, Little Red Hen and This & That.

4) The Addition of our Appalachian Foods Series with Mike Costello and Amy Dawson of Lost Creek Farm. Throughout the season Mike and Amy presented demonstrations of traditional Appalachian food preparations. Preserving and pickling ramps, foraging for mushrooms, and cooking with nettles were just a few of the things that we learned this season.

 

3) The Market’s POP (Power of Produce) Club for kids finished up its second season by signing up over 330 kids who participated in all manner of activities and got $2 in Market tokens to spend with any produce vendor each week. This season saw the kids playing with worms, saving seeds, and making veggie art among many other activities!

 

2) The Addition of a Reading Program Thru the Market’s new Book and Bean Club. The Book and Bean Club tent is setup each week next to the Market’s coffee vendor, Quantum Bean Coffee, and features a selection of books and magazines about WV, Appalachia, healthy eating and the intersection of all three. A fine selection of children’s books is also available. The books and magazines can be read under the tent or purchased to read at home.

The B and B Club, by sheer coincidence, also brought us the delightful Bards of Yellow Wood. The Bards (Brian Elliott and Daniel Summers, l-r in the picture below) are poets and high school English teachers. Each week they setup at the Market and write and recite spontaneous poems for folks who donate books that they then give away to their high school students. They’ve made themselves a home at the BFM and have added a whole new element to the special atmosphere that exists each week at the Market. Thanks, guys!

 

1) A Wild and Wonderful Table-the Market’s new branded fundraiser. In its inaugural season WaWT was a major success as both a fundraiser and an evening of fine dining and entertainment in a rustic setting in Sutton, WV. Thanks to all who contributed to the evening’s success! For more on A Wild and Wonderful Table see my recap blog here.

 

 

Well, that’s all folks! Until next month, Stay Fresh!

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Never Mind the Soup Nazi, Here’s Some Soup for You!

As we finally move toward autumn (not to be confused with Indian Summer) the first thing I think of (when thinking of food) is not how much I’m going to miss all the fresh vegetables and salads but how I’m going to make the transition between cooking light and cool salads to hearty and warm soups and stews! Ok, well I do still have to consider my health, caloric intake, cholesterol, triglycerides, fats, sugars and all that stuff but of course now I have to also start reading labels more thoroughly again as well since I’ll be unable to use quite as many fresh ingredients. Sure, I wish I didn’t have to read any labels and had a pantry well stocked with preserved delicacies from the field and garden however I do not have that luxury. I do have many friends who do have that luxury and I will work for food! Ha! Seriously though, I won’t have to give up all those things entirely, I simply have to take advantage of all the summers bounty by way of canning, pickling and preserving.

Whether it’s by using the many value added items available at the market or by using my favorite grocer, I will inevitably be utilizing the things that we keep in our cupboards a little more frequently. Yes I think we can all agree that it is a little disheartening at first but I believe that if we approach this change in the same manner in which we look forward to the changing seasons then we can begin to appreciate the offerings in a similar fashion. For example: Now I can pull out that batch of trout that I froze in the spring and dip them into something crunchy and into the frying pan, or I can thaw that last leg of venison and cook up a pot of stew. Heck, I still have one more wild turkey in the freezer to turn into Coq au Vin as well! I think you get the picture, and once we really think about it we begin to realize these changes can also be refreshing.

Although grilling has been one of the most elemental and enjoyable cooking techniques for eternity, I find braising and stewing very rewarding and just about as much fun as the summertime ritual of the barbecue. It’s extremely gratifying to take a potentially tough piece of meat or a slew of vegetables and turn them into something tender, flavorful, and filling. Take soups for example. One can essentially take any ingredients and turn them into a meal with a few knife skills and a little imagination. Well, a little stock too. I don’t know what it is besides the sheer simplicity but I think I find it somewhat therapeutic to make soups. I enjoy making them just about as much as eating them; I guess it’s a chef thing. But whether it’s a brothy vegetable laden chicken soup or a velvety rich and creamy mushroom soup, I don’t think there’s anything better than a good bowl of hot soup on a cool afternoon or evening.

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Chicken Consomme

What makes a great soup? Well, generally like anything else they’re made with the freshest ingredients. However, many of my favorites have come from using leftovers in my refrigerator from the previous day’s dinner or meal. Turkey and Rice Soup after Thanksgiving right! And the list certainly goes on and on! I keep all my shrimp and shellfish shells throughout the year in bags in my freezer so I can make bisque over the holidays. That’s right you actually use the shells to make Shrimp Bisque. I like to roast them first, pulverize them and then complete the bisque with things like thyme, shallots, tomato, brandy, sherry, herbs, and cream. That’s not the full recipe of course but think about it, you make the best beef vegetable soup by using the bones to make the broth or stock first right? Chicken too, you’d have to be nuts to throw away the bones from a roasted chicken and not use them for stock. I’m sure most of you are familiar with the concept, but I freeze stocks all the time and pull them out when I’m ready to make a Mean Bean Soup or Pasta Fagioli! One of the greatest soups ever invented is also one of the easiest, French Onion Soup! It really is easy but I do recommend you buy onion soup crocks if you’re going to make it. And please use Gruyere, Jarlsberg, or Swiss cheese not those other imitations; they just don’t produce the proper gratin! I also use a combination of beef and chicken stock when making mine.

And here’s a somewhat exotic recipe for a soup you can make with some fresh pumpkin from the Market, a creamy Lobster Pumpkin Bisque.

We can hardly step into the month of October without mentioning this most popular autumn soup; Roasted Butternut Squash Soup seems to be the rage lately and there’s a good reason for it too! It’s just about one of the most delicious comfort foods to hit the shelves in years! Not like it’s anything that hasn’t been done for eons but it has had its appeal of late. I am going to share with you a soup recipe that I’ve been doing for many years I think you’ll really enjoy. Butternut Squash & Black Bean Eclipse. It’s actually two soups that when made separately and served together are quite exquisite and well worth the time, especially when entertaining. You’ll see why when you see the picture I’ve included.

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Butternut Squash and Black Bean Eclipse. Click here for recipe

 

I could go on for hours about soups; as a matter of fact I’ve been called many things in my life including Gourmand Geek and Soup Guru! But I prefer to think of myself as an “Appicurean” you know, half epicurean and half Appalachian. Yes, I think I like that!

As our summer season at the market comes to an end and we begin to prepare ourselves for another autumn and winter I hope we will all take time to give thanks to the numerous individuals who have made another great season at the market all possible. From the incredibly generous folks at Genesis Partners and Bridgeport Conference Center to all the vendors, musicians, guest chefs, helpers, and Board of Directors who have dedicated their time to the success story that we’ve come to know so well as the Bridgeport Farmers Market. As you also know, it is unlike any market we’ve experienced here in West Virginia and we’d like to think that makes it pretty special. We’re fortunate for all these things to fall into place to make it such a fun experience and we also owe it to those of you who continue to support the cause. Please keep us in mind over the winter season and stop by and see us at the Conference Center, same friendly people, music, value-added products and food so we hope to see you there! Pierpont Culinary Academy Pastry Chef Allison McCue and students will be making Beignets along with Quantum Bean Coffee serving samples, so don’t miss our outdoor season finale Sunday, October 9th, same place, same time!

Bonne cuisine!  jay

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Tis the Season for Pumpkin

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

-Anne of Green Gables, L.M.Montgomery

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Assorted winter squash from Green Acres

The seasons, they are a-changing. After a splendid Harvest Moon last week, the transition into fall is in full swing. The changes are becoming apparent at the market as well. Yes, there are still plenty of peppers and tomatoes at the market. But, signs of fall are slowly creeping in. It started a few weeks ago with the appearance of the first butternut squash. This was followed closely by a wagon load of pumpkins and corn stalks. And pie pumpkins. And gourds. And plenty of fall squash – Delicata and Long Island Cheese just to name a few.

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Check out all those pumpkins and corn stalks from Jason Poth Farms

The pumpkin has been around for centuries. It is of course most famous for gracing our tables at Thanksgiving as a pie. And the first pumpkin pies were made by slicing the top off of a pumpkin, removing the seeds, and filling the insides with milk, spices, and honey. The pumpkin was then baked in hot ashes. It sounds delicious to me! Now, of course, we have pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice Cheerios, pumpkin cream cheese…pretty much anything food manufacturers can put pumpkin into, they do.

If you are like me and enjoy to bake with pumpkin, there’s a more economical way to get your pumpkin puree than to buy it in the cans at the grocery store. Pick up a pumpkin at the market – Long Island Cheese is my pumpkin of choice. Once you get it home, admire it for a few days because it is beautiful! When you get the courage, cut it in half (or have your husband do it if you are prone to cutting yourself or have gotten stitches in the past for a cut from a…butter knife…). Scoop out the seeds and put them in a colander to rinse them off. You can roast the seeds, too!

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A Long Island Cheese Pumpkin from my garden – also available at the market from The Vegetable Garden

Preheat your oven to 350. Lay the pumpkin halves cut side down on a baking sheet with some water as well. Pop it in the oven and keep an eye on it over the next hour or so. When the pumpkin starts to fall in on itself and you can easily pierce the skin with a fork, it’s ready to go. Place the baking pan on a cooling rack to cool. Once cool, scoop out the roasted meat of the pumpkin from the skin and whiz it up in your food processor or blender. Place it in a cheesecloth lined colander over the sink to let some of the water drain off – pumpkin has a lot of water! Once drained, measure out into freezer bags and freeze for future use. Or maybe whip up a batch of these . When I roasted a Long Island Cheese from my garden a few weeks ago, I got 7 cups of pumpkin! Take that Libby’s.

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7 cups of pumpkin frozen in quart freezer bags. To get the bags to lay flat in your freezer, freeze the bags on a baking sheet first!

Pumpkin isn’t the only fall squash that deserves our attention. We are also fans of butternut around our house. My six year old is especially fond of this. Paired with a loaf of fresh bread and you have a rocking dinner. Delicata squash is another great fall squash. Cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and stuff it with your favorite stuffing. Perhaps you like quinoa, cranberries, and pecans. Or maybe some sausage and kale. No peeling required and you can even get away with no dishes!

So, whether you are a pumpkin spice latte fanatic or a delicata squash lover, be sure to get out to the market and grab some. There are only three regular season markets left! Oh, but the great thing about all these wonderful squashes is their storage quality! Don’t want to use that delicata this week? Great! Toss it in your pantry and save it for a few weeks. See you on Sunday!

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A Wild and Wonderful Table: The Recap

Last Saturday dawned bright and beautiful, a great day for a Wild and Wonderful Table. This year the Market decided to change things up a bit for our fundraising event. First off, the event is now branded with a spiffy new name and logo. Secondly, we decided to take it on the road. To Sutton, WV, to be exact. And lastly, we decided to up the ante by inviting chefs from all over the region to participate. Using the freshest, local ingredients available from the BFM they created some amazing dishes. Wild and Wonderful, indeed!

 

So now you’re asking, why Sutton? Good question. One that even I asked when it was first proposed. I think it partly has something to do with the Market becoming recognized as one of the finest, if not the finest, farmers markets in the state. Couple that with the fact that the Market has grown to become much more than just a farmers market for folks in Bridgeport. Any given Sunday we see folks from all over the region. And we have vendors from at least 15 counties. And since Sutton is the geographic center of the state (who remembers 8th grade WV History class?) it made sense. At least we think it did and everyone who attended agreed! We are also fortunate to have two major fans in Anthony Majestro and Jennifer Meinig. Tony and Jennifer opened up their beautifully restored Sutton home, known as The Kelly House, and played host and hostess for the evening.

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Our gracious hosts for the evening, Jennifer Meinig and Tony Majestro. Tony was also our Chief Lighting Technician!

As for the chefs I think I will let the following pictures of their dishes speak for themselves. All of the chefs donated their time and dishes and for that the Market is eternally grateful.

Starting in the upper left and going clockwise we start out with Chef Michael Diethorn from the Country Vintner of WV and his beautifully presented and yummy Smoked Ham & Rosemary Biscuit Sliders. Next is Chef Jay Mahoney and his Pierpont Culinary Academy students’ Duck, Pistachio, and Dried Fruit Terrine (for those following along at home this is as fine an example as you’ll find of Garde Manger that Chef Jay talked about here two weeks back.) Our third dish is Bridgeport Conference Center Chef Joe White’s scrumptious Pork Rillette Crostini followed by the lovely Melody Urbanic of Cafe Cimino in Sutton showing off Chef Tim Urbanic’s delectable Eggplant Involtini.

Again clockwise from the upper right we have Chef Cody Thrasher of Cody’s in Bridgeport putting the finishing touches on his surprisingly rich Cantaloupe Gazpacho. Chef Geoff Kraus of Thyme Bistro in Weston contributed his Rabbit Hand Pie (this blogger’s personal favorite) and to end the meal on a high note we had a decadent Cape Gooseberry Bavarian Jaconde prepared by Chef Pamela Delaude of Mia Margherita in Bridgeport. Of course, no great meal would be complete without a few craft cocktails, in this case shaken and stirred by mixologist Rilley Lydon of Tin 202 in Morgantown.

And this is just a sampling of the dishes as each chef presented one and in a few cases two more dishes than what is shown here. And I can speak the gospel truth here as I had at least one of everything (and seconds on most!), it was truly a gourmand’s delight in Sutton that night.

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Let’s hear it for our chefs! L-R: Chef Joe White, Cody’s Sous Chef Anna Estenson, Chef Cody Thrasher, Chef Pamela Delaude, Chef Jay Mahoney, and Chef Geoff Kraus

And two that missed the group shot: Chefs Michael Diethorn and Tim Urbanic

Now, if you think the dishes are works of art then wait until you see a backyard transformed into a rustic yet somehow elegant outdoor banquet hall. Perfectly fitting for our theme, A Wild and Wonderful Table.

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Ready, Set, Go!

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It’s a full house!

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Feathered’s Quinn Edgell designed the decor and here she puts some last minute touch ups in place. Our beautiful flowers were all courtesy of Market vendor Rising Moon Farm.

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And it’s a wrap. A very successful first Wild and Wonderful Table.

And, again, going hand in glove with our theme was the pure, authentic bluegrass sound of two folks who are quickly earning a place in the Market’s heart and our pantheon of great musicians, Hillary Kay and John Posey. Hillary and John will be back at the Market next Sunday so you can come out and hear what I’m talking about.

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And no fundraising event is successful without people attending and having a great time. Here are just a few folks having way too much fun. I know I did. If you like what you see here watch for the 2017 edition of A Wild and Wonderful Table around this time next year.

All photos courtesy of Daniel E. Raines who is pictured in the red shirt above. Wait a minute, who took that picture then?! Thanks Daniel!

Before signing off I just want to give a shout out to the Greater Clarksburg Kennel Club who will be having their annual “The Market Goes To The Dogs” day at this Sunday’s Market. And we also have the return of our most eclectic musical performers, Ancien, for their annual stop at the BFM.

Until next week, Stay Fresh!