Friday, June 17, 2005

Happy Pigs

porkchop Market Report 6/16/05: As the humidity lifted yesterday and the cool breezes blew in overnight, it was not only almost bearable yesterday but downright pleasant first thing in the morning at the Farmer's Market. It was easy to ruminate over the pleasures of pastoral living as I took in the sights and sounds of the decidedly urban landscape around me. I lived on a farm about a hundred years ago, just outside of Charlottesville, but even then, I really was just a tourist. I didn't run the farm (which primarily raised Angus cows and brood mares), wasn't even allowed to collect any eggs from the farm's prolific chickens. I did, however, have a small garden that ran riot with tomatoes and basil; because of its fecundity, I felt like a real farmer. Decidedly delusional, I know, particularly when I realized that the sharp, acrid stench making my nostrils burn as I took my daily walk down our dirt road was chemical fertilizer spread by the small planes I heard periodically. All of my organic efforts in the garden and at the table were negated every time I left my house and breathed in the air. I could forget about the darker side of farming (not just the chemicals but, you know, all that hard work) yesterday though and concentrate on the food. I wanted to make the strawberry jam I read about on The Amateur Gourmet's site--I love his sense of humor and real, practical advice--and so inspired, I made my way to Amy's Garden. Unfortuantely, no strawberries this week, but she did have her amazing bicolor squash, sugar snap peas, tiny beets, pac choi (baby bok choi) and little, red-skinned potatoes. Most of her greens were sold out by the time I arrived, just after 9 am, and I had to make due with some peppery arugula. I was slowly perusing the other stalls, sipping a bubble tea (note to self: not my favorite), when tucked away in the corner, I discovered the wares of the Double A Farm, home of free range pork products. I've been increasingly frustrated with the limited cuts of organic pork, beef, and recently, chicken (!) available in the local grocery stores. Why, I ask, why can't you buy bone-in pork chops? Or ribs? I'm happy to see the bacon and the pork tenderloin but why can't I have variety in my choices? The farmers at Double A Farm have solved at least the pork part of the problem. They have not only nice, thick bone-in chops but ribs, bacon (actually, thick uncured strips of pork belly) and yes, spicy homemade sausage. I can even get fresh rendered lard (don't knock it till you've tried it in your pie crust) if I call ahead (434-535-8406; ask for Linda or Ronnie Beale). I immediately went home and made plans to make Pork Chops with Golden Onions and Wilted Tomatoes with sauteed bicolor squash and garlic. The chops were as I'd hoped, juicy and flavorful, and this recipe was gratifyingly easy, complemented by Amy's outstanding squash. Why are her squash bursting with so much flavor? How does she get them to taste so unexpectedly delicious? How many other ways can I think to serve them? All questions I hope to answer as the summer wears on. Hopefully, everyone else in Richmond will join me as I cook and eat my way through the Farmer's Market this season. , , squashrow2


Blogger Sam said...

I don't know what it is about that picture, but believe me, it made me cross my legs

June 24, 2005 5:54 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

Funny, pork chops don't have the same effect on me as they do you--maybe I need to re-read the recipe . . .

June 25, 2005 9:23 AM  
Anonymous stef said...

brandon, i think she was talking about the summer squash:D

i've had luck ordering meat from you can also do a search on for a store near you.

June 29, 2005 7:39 PM  

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