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Farmers Market great in the fall

The Hamburg Farmers Market has a six-month season, stretching from May to the end of October. The market is great all summer, but I think that fall is the best as far as enjoying the harvest bounty.

A few weeks ago, I came across some vegetables I had never seen before. Well, I may have seen kohlrabi before, but on a much smaller scale. Usually this vegetable looks like a pale green, alien turnip.

The kohlrabi I saw at the farmer’s market was probably eight pounds and the size of a Halloween pumpkin. For the bargain price of $2 I bought that monster kohlrabi and took it home. Two hours later I was on the internet looking for recipes, because I had no idea how to cook my giant green alien.

I must say that so far, I’ve gotten three meals out of that kohlrabi, and there is still enough in the refrigerator for a couple more. Kohlrabi covered in a velvety cheese sauce, or simmered in a homemade tomato sauce on pasta, or cubed and stir-fried with greens and rice, are just the beginning.

I have no idea what to do next. Maybe a chicken kohlrabi soup? It’s possible that eight pounds of kohlrabi is a trifle much for my little family. But it’s also possible that one can never have too much of a vegetable that only cost a couple of bucks.

Another out-of-the-ordinary find at the market is a Japanese green called mizuna. This one I have never heard of before, but when I walked past this vibrant green, I knew I had to have it. Mizuna can be eaten like a salad green, or sautéed, steamed, or added to soup.

Again, for a small price, I got a bundle of mizuna the size of Miss America’s bouquet of roses. In other words, more mizuna than I knew what to do with. I was back on the Internet in no time, trying to find recipes for this marvelous wonder.

I can tell you that it is delicious raw as a salad, sprinkled with olive oil and apple cider vinegar. It has a snappy, smokey taste that is really addictive. We’ve stir-fried it, cooked it in sauces, and even used the stems as a substitute for bean sprouts in a Korean soup with great success. Mizuna is my new favorite green and the only place I know where to get it is at the Farmers Market.

Another great find is a little stand that has a variety of hot peppers actually graded according to hotness using the Scoville scale. To give an idea of how the scale works, a sweet green pepper has a rating of zero on the scale, and a jalapeno is rated somewhere between 2,500 and 8,000.

A cayenne pepper falls between 30,000 and 50,000, and a habanero comes in at 100,000 and 350,000. So imagine my surprise and delight when I saw a small basket of shiny orange peppers rated at 500,000. I had to buy them. I need to cook with them. The vendor was kind enough me to warn that in the wrong hands, this pepper is a lethal weapon. I’m a little scared, but I’ve never met a pepper I couldn’t handle. I’ll let everyone know how this turns out.

So, when the Farmer’s market closes for the season in a few short weeks, I will be sad because my culinary adventures are going to have to hibernate for the winter. But I look forward to next season. It’s only a little over six months away.


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