Archive for Farmers Markets

Back to Basics: Canning Apple Butter

I have taken a relatively long break from canning in my life. The last canning adventure I had was during the summer, when I made blueberry, strawberry and peach jams. I really enjoyed the experience, and the jams taste delicious, but it was a lot of work! 

Now that fall is here, and the farmer’s market is filled with various apples, squash, and pumpkins, I was inspired to can some fall produce. I decided to try apple butter, filled with chunks of pink lady apples, cinnamon, and cloves! The recipe turned out great- not only am I keeping a few jars to enjoy myself, but I have decided to save the remainder for some unique holiday gifts!

Only 4 simple ingredients required to make apple butter!

Apple Butter

Recipe From: Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving

Yield: about 3 pints (6 half pints)


4 pounds apples (about 16 medium)- I used Pink Lady apples from the State Farmer’s Market

4 cups sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cloves


*Be sure to wash and sterilize your cans and lids in the dishwasher prior to spooning your apple butter into them!

1. Wash apples.

2. Core, peel and quarter apples.


3. Combine apples and 2 cups water in a large saucepot. Simmer until apples are soft.

4. Puree using a food processor or food mill, being careful not to liquefy. Measure 2 quarts apple pulp.

5. Combine apple pulp, sugar, and spices in a large saucepot. Cook slowly until thick enough to round up on a spoon. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking.


6. Ladle hot butter into hot jars, leaving ¼” headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust 2-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.


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Little Italy Farmer’s Market

On the first day of my trip to San Diego, I had the opportunity to explore the Little Italy Farmer’s Market. This was no ordinary farmer’s market…this was the most beautiful and extensive farmer’s market I have ever seen! The Little Italy Farmer’s Market is open every Saturday from 8am-2pm, and features various food carts, street food, fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, flowers, and much more. There were about 5 blocks of town that were blocked off to traffic, and vendors set up large white tents bordering the San Diego bay to sell their unique products. The weather was absolutely perfect!

I tried some wonderful homemade foods, and learned a lot about the food culture in San Diego. Did you know that avocados are one of the most popular produce items in the area? Also, the seafood in San Diego is literally straight from the fisherman’s boat, and sea urchins are a popular dish at the farmer’s market and on restaurant menus. Although I was all for adventure during my trip, I couldn’t bring myself to try a sea urchin!

Check out some of the fabulous photos that I took while visiting the Farmer’s Market. These photos display a good representation of the local foods available on the west coast…so much different from what is available in North Carolina! That is what is so inspiring about studying food and nutrition-you see new things everywhere you go!

There were an abundance of CSA's available to customers!

A coffee shop turned into a food original!


Ever heard of a calamansi? It's a popular local fruit, known as the "lemon of the Phillipines"

"Locally grown" produce stands populated the market streets


Do you have any local food pictures that you took while on vacation? If so, I would love for you to post or describe them here!

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It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

I love everything about fall…not only am I super excited about baseball playoff season (go Phillies!), but I love leaves changing, pumpkin carving, the weather getting cooler, and all of the new seasonal produce at the farmer’s markets.

Fresh herbs and pomegranate plants


A variety of local honey


Delicious acorn squash


Last call for seasonal tomatoes!

I am also excited to introduce Kristen Gallagher as a guest blogger on “Fresh From the Farm.” Kristen enjoys local foods and photography- what better combination could I ask for? She is going to post some lovely seasonal produce picks each month for us to enjoy, so be sure to check it out!

This month, Kristen ventured out to the State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh and took lovely end-of-summer pictures of the fresh produce. Let’s see what she found:

Bright purple beets

Bursting with berries

Artisinal bread, straight from the bakery


Sweet muscadine grapes


Kristen Gallagher is a Museum Studies student at Meredith College. Currently, she spends her free time volunteering at the NC Museum of Natural Science, photographing plants and things, and painting. She is trying to cook with more local food and is always on the lookout for people to go to the Farmer’s Market with. She hopes to one day keep beehives, chickens and her own garden.

cell – 704 619 1414
email –

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America’s 20 Best Farmers Markets

Promote Farmers Markets in Your State

The news is out! Researchers have finally started to be more concerned about local and seasonal foods in our county, and have gathered some statistical data about farmer’s markets in our country. According to this article, “figures released from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in early August revealed that the number of markets in the U.S. has grown 17 percent, with some states seeing up to 46 percent more farmer’s markets this year than last.” This is wonderful news! Not only are people being more conscious about their eating habits, but this is a great boost to our local economy.

Unfortunately, North Carolina did not make the top 20 market rankings this year. Which quite honestly, I don’t understand why…we have some pretty amazing farmer’s markets and CSA programs here! Anyways, you can check out the results here:

Another great resource that this article referred to was On this website, you can actually vote for your favorite farmer’s market, and check out what the top 5 farmer’s markets are in your state. According to this website, the Durham Farmer’s Market is the most popular market in North Carolina. You can also register for a free “No Foods, No Farms” bumper sticker on this website as well!

For more information, check out:

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Local Food Resources



Farmer’s Markets are becoming increasingly prevalent throughout our country. Over the past 20 years, local foods, farmers markets, and community supported agriculture have gained popularity. Fortunately, North Carolina has been a front-runner in setting a good example in supporting the local food movement. I am so thankful to be living in a healthy local food environment, and my job as a Dietitian (and a foodie blogger!) is to provide you with the adequate resources you need to eat healthier and become more active in the local food movement!

I have discovered that the lovely folks at Nebraska Cooperative Extension have several free resources that can help you learn what’s in season, how to sell foods locally, how to can and preserve foods, how to shop at the farmers market, and much more. I encourage you to check them out!

1. Local foods by the season, recipes and food preservation handouts:

2. Helping people get started to sell foods locally:

3. Powerpoint presentations, handouts on shopping at farmer’s markets:

4. Generic farmer’s market pictures to download for handouts, publications, powerpoints, blogs, etc:

Remember to buy fresh and buy local!

vegetables in cartons


Support your local farmers!

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Creole Okra Dish…Sweet, Spicy, and Cheap!

Until I moved to Raleigh exactly two years ago, I have never heard of okra in my life. My first trip to the State Farmer’s Market was very interesting when I first discovered okra at a farmer’s stand. I had quite the lengthy conversation with the farmer, starting by asking, “What’s that?” Ever since that day, I have been hooked. I enjoy eating okra sauteed or fried, and I especially enjoy this creole okra recipe that I used during my first cooking experiment with okra. I recommend serving this side dish on top of rice, quinoa, or serve alongside a spicy black bean burger.

Not only is this okra dish tasty, but it is very inexpensive to purchase at the farmer’s market. Here is the cost breakdown of my ingredients (found at the State Farmer’s Market):

$1 for 1# okra

$0.50 for 1 tomato

$0.75 for 1 onion

$0.75 for 1 green pepper

Total: $3.00

FYI– this dish makes a large amount of okra…I would say it is enough to feed 4-5 people generously…so this stretches the $3 even further!


Creole Okra


¾ cup sliced okra

¼ cup minced yellow onion

¼ cup minced green pepper

1 tbsp. margarine/butter (I like to use Best Life Buttery Spread for the added mono and polyunsaturate fats…aka the heart healthy stuff!)

¾ cup chopped tomato

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp sugar

1/8 tsp pepper

Ingredients required to make creole okra- chopping all of your veggies ahead of time is a great time-saver!


1. Saute okra, onion, and green pepper in margarine or butter for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Saute vegetables in a small amount of margarine or butter


2. Stir in remaining ingredients, continue to sauté.

3. Cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve hot.

Serve creole okra with quinoa for a nutritious meal!

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Organic, Seasonal, Local…on a Budget!

I hope you are having a happy and healthy Fourth of July!

There are so many benefits to organically grown foods! According to the Toxic Free NC organization, organic farming reduces pollution, uses no pesticides or chemicals, promotes biodiversity, and bring a fairer price to farmers for their hard-earned produce. I enjoy purchasing organic products whenever possible; however, I often find that purchasing organic produce, meat, and eggs at the supermarket is too expensive for my “graduate student budget.” How have I solved this problem in my daily diet? I now purchase the majority of my food at a local farmer’s market, or I get it straight from the farm in my weekly CSA box!

Buying at the farmer’s market eliminates the “middle man,” and lets you buy produce that is grown just a few miles down the road from your home. Prices on organic produce are often much lower than in a retail store, not to mention they taste so much fresher! Another great perk of buying from a framer is knowing where their food is grown, what their labor practices are like, and how to best prepare and serve their produce.

When I shop at the Farmer’s Market, I feel like a kid in a candy shop- there is to much healthy food to choose from! This past weekend, I had the opportunity to visit the Midtown Farmer’s Market in North Raleigh. Not only did I find some delicious produce, but I found some unique specialty items that are hand-crafted and made with local ingredients. Here are my top finds for local and fresh items, made just for you at the farmer’s market!

1. Best BBQ sauce and rubs: J-Rod’s Backyard Grill

I am not a big meat- eater, but J-Rod’s Chipotle Brown Sugar Rub and BBQ Sauce makes any local meat taste amazing! This sauce is best used on chicken, beef, pork, seafood, and burgers. They are a locally operated company in Morrisville, NC and include natural ingredients such as sea salt, paprika, peppers, ketchup, onions, vinegar, and tomato paste.

One tablespoon of BBQ sauce has only 15 calories and 2 grams of sugar, compared to Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce which contains over 16 grams of sugar! The brown sugar rub doesn’t contain any sugar. J-Rod’s rub and sauce have a sweet, tangy, even spicy taste and is so delicious you will be coming back to the farmer’s market for more!

2. Best dessert: Prodigal Farm’s goat cheesecake

Prodigal Farms is well-known for their rich and creamy goat cheeses. They have recently taken their specialty one step further by making homemade cheesecakes, made from goat cheese instead of cow’s cheese! I was a bit skeptical at first…but after tasting a sample of the Mexican chocolate, I was sold! Goat cheesecake has a rich and tangy flavor, and a creaminess to die for! I would much rather indulge in this cheesecake over original cheesecake. The flavors offered this week at the farmer’s market were Mexican chocolate and Lemon Creme. An 6″ homemade cheesecake costs $8…which provides 4 slices of rich cheesecake. This is a must have for special occassions!

3. Favorite daily snack: Senora Dixie salsa

This spicy salsa comes in three flavors: Mild, medium and hot! Every jar of salsa is made with fresh and all natural ingredients. The best thing about this salsa is it is a low calorie and low sodium snack, especially when paired with vegetables. Salsa is a very versatile ingredient and can be paired with chips, rice and beans, eggs, or used as a marinade.

4. Best baking ingredient: The Pleasant Bee Honey

This honey is made locally in Raleigh by two certified beekeepers. They sell regular honey and creamed honey, as well as various lotions, soaps, and lipbalms! This week, I tried creamed cinnamon and wildflower honey, and this was quite amazing! So far, I have tried this honey on toast, in slow cooked oatmeal, and on top of grilled peaches. It adds a unique and sweet flavor to any snack. In addition, this local ingredient has helped my terrible summer allergies, because it acts as a natural antibiotic, antihistimine, and anti-irritant.

5. Favorite selection of produce: Wild Onion Farms

Besides its adorable name, Wild Onion Farms is a small and sustainable family produce farm that focuses on quality, variety, and consistency. During this particular trip to the market, I purchased eggplant, squash, and cucumbers. Believe me when I tell you that this farm produces the BEST cucumbers I have ever tasted…and they’re only $1 each! Check out Wild Onion’s great summer selection of tomatoes, squash, zucchini, potatoes, peppers, carrots, and berries as well! Everything is grown using strict organic methods. This week, I have made eggplant parmesean, roasted squash, and sliced cucumbers and hummus…all of which were hearty, fresh, and flavorful!

6. Favorite sweet treat: The Chocolate Flower, Chocolates and Truffles

This had to be my favorite item of the day, and although this is not the best food to be trying samples of at 9am, I was immediately drawn to this stand. The chocolate flower is owned by Jennie Orcutt, who rents a church kitchen weekly in order to work on her “truffling” skills. These truffles and chocolates are made with fresh and local ingredients, and are melt in your mouth delicious! The Chocolate Flower rotates their flavors weekly, and offers flavors suchas Green Tea Ginger, Basil Pistachio, Orange Honey Caramel, and Elderflower…just to name a few. Truffles are $1.50 each or 8 for $10, and homemade chocolate bars are only $2 each. My favorite flavors this week included the Mexican chocolate and pumpkin seed bar, Kai Kai Peanut Butter truffle, and the Equal Opportunity Banana truffle. Yum!

Do you have any farmer’s market treats that you enjoy? If so, share them here!

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