Savory Gooseberry Sauce - Camas Farmer's Market 2009
I can't believe it is already midsummer! It's just been in the past couple of weeks that I've gotten into the habit of shopping at the farmer's market again, reveling in the abundance of fresh berries and other wholesome tastes of summer. My zucchini plants in my backyard garden are just beginning to set fruit and the first tomatoes on the vines are just beginning to blush. Nonetheless, the garden section at Target has already been marked down, moved to clearance and replaced by back-to-school merchandise. I feel so out of step just as I am finding my summer groove here in the Pacific Northwest. I guess that's as good a reason as any to avoid the chain retail stores as much as possible, especially during the beautiful summer months.
The farmer's markets, on the other hand, are just now beginning to offer a wide variety of seasonal products from local growers. More and more venders are showing up with the things I crave most at this time of the year. While the blueberries in my backyard are still green, huge luscious berries from my favorite grower, Meadowglenn Farms, showed up at The Camas Farmer's Market last week. They were almost sold out by the time I got there but I managed to get home with a few cartons of blueberries. I'd love to share a recipe but the first few times I bring them home each year they disappear so fast by the handful that I hardly have a chance to cook with them.
Camas Farmer's Market
The Camas Farmer's Market has changed it's location and schedule this year. It is now held on Wednesdays from 3-7 between the beautiful Camas Public Library and Camas City Hall. After 5 there is live music at the market and there are food vendors where you can grab a snack or a meal.
The new time and location also encourages shoppers to combine their trip to the market with a visit to the art exhibit at the Second Story Gallery upstairs at the library. Starting later this month a visit to the market might also provide for a sumptuous picnic at Crown Park while enjoying this summer's free concert series.
Other discoveries at the market this summer include Heather's Toffee. Heather makes delicious toffee using high quality, and often organic, ingredients in a number of fun and original flavor combinations. One of the most intriguing is Key Lime Macadamia Toffee, an enticing combination of butter, coconut, white chocolate and macadamia nuts with a twist of lime and a smart crunch. She also offers a melt in your mouth soft Salty Peanuts-n-Chocolate Toffee, Mud Pie Toffee, Minty Rum Toffee and more. Or if you don't find a flavor you like ready made you can order your own custom flavor combination on her website. How fun is that?
There were also some delicious looking tarts, cupcakes and more at a booth shared by Around the Table, a fabulous restaurant in downtown Camas, and Truly Scrumptious, boutique baking by Kimberly.
Lacamas Lavender Farm was back this year with a variety of lavender products including homemade soaps, spice rubs and lavender sachets in addition to lavender bundles. I picked up a bundle for cooking and plan to buy more for a craft project in the near future.
There was also a variety of inviting produce from Camas, Washougal, Vancouver, Hood River, Portland, Canby and more. Fresh vegetables were brimming from baskets, bright and beautiful. Still, so far the stars of the market have definitely been the abundant fresh berries.
Ever looking for something new and different I spied boxes of bright green gooseberries among the more familiar offerings from Boones Ferry Berry Farm. There, in marked contrast to the red raspberries and dark purple blackberries around them, these beautiful, subtly striped gems stood out and grabbed my attention. I had never before seen or tasted a gooseberry. Curious, I had to try them.
Once home, my web search suggested they are far better known in the UK than in the states. The most interesting suggestion I found was for a savory sauce made from these tart little berries to accompany salmon or pork.
As my research suggested, these berries were indeed a bit "fiddly" to prepare. Both ends need to be trimmed before cooking. That done I cooked them with a little onion, sugar, salt and pepper for a simple savory sauce that was bright and interesting, and similar to a tart applesauce. Though I didn't find the taste to be a perfect fit with the wild salmon I had for dinner, I do think it would be delightful with pork or lamb especially with the addition of few fresh mint leaves to the cooking pot.
Savory Gooseberry Sauce
1 cup gooseberries
½ cup chopped onion
¼ cup water
1 Tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper
Place gooseberries, onion, water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, covered, over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until berries soften. Remove from heat.
Place the sauce in a food processor and puree until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or cold over salmon, lamb or pork.