Market regulars brave cold, get creative

Feb. 01, 2014 @ 11:53 AM

Once again, our local farmers are dealing with unusually cold temperatures.

To protect their crops and livestock from the cold, farmers must take extra precautions beyond their usual work. Vegetable farmers often cover crops with special fabric or heat greenhouses. Farmers must clear the snow and ice that accumulates on greenhouses to prevent damage and possible collapse. Livestock farmers work diligently to keep their animals warm and water troughs thawed. But, I’ve heard that cows get especially frisky in the snow!

Over the past month, I’ve talked a lot about how the farmers have dealt with the cold, but what I haven’t talked about is how the farmers’ market patrons have dealt with it. Even on the coldest, windiest and rainiest of Saturday mornings, hundreds of Durhamites still make it out to the market to buy the local food grown and produced by market vendors. Even with the dwindling supplies of green vegetables (due to the cold), lots of people are creatively and excitedly cooking and eating what our local farmers can provide.

A couple of weeks ago, on a cold, windy Saturday morning, I ran into a regular customer named Frank. Frank and I often chat during market and that morning he was holding a medium size pumpkin. I asked him what he planned to make with his pumpkin and with a big smile on his face, he described a simple and delicious pumpkin soup of his own recipe. It sounded so good that I wrote about it the following week in the market newsletter to encourage other farmers’ market patrons to cook this type of simple and creative winter meal.

The next week, I saw another regular farmers’ market customer -- named Suzanne -- at a distance. We made eye contact, smiled and waved. Then Suzanne pointed at the pumpkin she was holding and gave a big thumbs-up. Later, I learned that Suzanne had read about Frank’s pumpkin recipe in the newsletter and while in line to buy her pumpkin met Frank, who was purchasing another pumpkin. They discussed the soup and by Saturday evening, Suzanne had posted her version of the recipe on our Facebook page!

As the farmers work hard to keep crops alive and animals warm, it is the customers that really keep them going. We hope that you’ll brave these cold Saturday mornings and try out what our farmers are bringing to market!

Frank’s Pumpkin Coconut Soup

1 Pumpkin

Coconut milk

Salt & pepper to taste

Cut the pumpkin into quarters, scoop out the seeds and roast in the oven until soft. Once it has cooled, scrape the flesh off the skin and puree it. Once pureed, blend with  coconut milk, warm it in a pan on the stove and add salt and pepper to taste.

Suzanne’s additions -- Sauteed garlic and ginger, some curry mix, red pepper flakes, lime juice, and a bit of Thai fish sauce.

Erin Kauffman is market manager of the Durham Farmers’ Market. It is open in the winter on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon in downtown Durham.