“Farm-fresh Cooking that will boost your Energy! “

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food groupsBy Portia Little

One of the delicious rites of the summer season here in New England is going to a farmers’ market. It’s a chance to pick up some locally-grown fresh produce, munch on delectable baked goods, and to buy a gift from a local artist. In addition to our regular favorites, new markets are cropping up all around as communities get into the act to show off and sell their own products.

In addition to the bounty of fresh fruits and veggies, there is also a wide variety of herbs, eggs, meats, seafood, and cheeses at the markets. In early to mid-summer, you can find locally-grown vegetables, including those recently picked or from storage, such as beets, broccoli, salad greens, spinach, green beans, onions, and rhubarb. (Yes, rhubarb is indeed a veggie, altho we usually treat it as a fruit in baked dishes.) Fresh fruits include blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and cherries. But don’t look for local peaches this year – unfortunately the crop was ruined by the extreme temperatures this past winter, both warm and cold.

But there is plenty to enjoy, eaten fresh or made into a favorite dish such as a rhubarb nut bread, veggie kabob, or spinach salad tossed with your favorite fruit.

Rhubarb Nut Bread


2 cups (about 3 stalks) coarsely diced rhubarb

¼ cup sugar

1 or 2 tablespoons flour for dusting

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

1 ½ cups flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 large egg, room temp

1 cup firmly-packed brown sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup buttermilk, room temp

¾ cup chopped pecans (reserve some to sprinkle on top of bread)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or spray 9×5-inch loaf pan. In bowl combine rhubarb, sugar, flour (for dusting), cinnamon, and lemon zest; set aside. Set aside ¼ cup rhubarb mixture and some chopped pecans.

In large bowl, combine 1 ½ cups flour, baking soda, and salt. In mixer bowl, lightly beat egg. Mix in brown sugar, oil, and vanilla until well combined. Add one half flour mixture and one half buttermilk; beat until smooth. Add remaining flour and buttermilk; continue beating until smooth. Stir in rhubarb and chopped pecans.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan; sprinkle reserved rhubarb mixture and chopped nuts over the top. Bake 50-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes. Cool completely before slicing. Makes 1 large loaf or 2 small loaves.


Citrus Spinach Salad


2 pounds fresh spinach, washed

1 8-ounce can mandarin oranges, drained (or 1 cup fresh berries)

1 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained

1 small red onion, sliced

Salad dressing (recipe below)


Break spinach into bite-size pieces. Combine spinach, oranges, water chestnuts, and onion rings. Cover and chill. Toss with dressing to serve. Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish.

Dressing: Combine ¼ cup vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons orange juice, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon dry mustard.


Veggie Kabobs


¾ cup olive oil

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon each chopped fresh basil, rosemary, and thyme

¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper

1 large red onion, cut into chunks

2 green peppers, cut into wedges

1 medium zucchini, cut into thick pieces

8 ounces large mushroom caps

2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges


Combine olive oil, vinegar, basil, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper in large bowl. Add veggies to marinade and refrigerate 2 to 4 hours. Then thread on skewers, reserving marinade. Grill or broil 4 to 5 inches from heat, turning and basting with marinade, for 10 minutes or more, until veggies are tender. Serve as a side dish, or over brown or white rice. Makes about 4 kabobs.


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