This is the Bi-Monthly E-Newsletter of Contra Costa Certified Farmers' Markets for Friday, May 11, 2007
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From Chef Lesley Stiles:

Cherry Balsamic Drizzle

3 cups pureed cherries
3 cups balsamic vinegar
2 cups red wine
½ cup honey

Pour wine and balsamic vinegar into a non reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce by half. Add cherries and reduce by one third. Add honey and simmer for 5 minutes. To this base you can add rose mary, tarragon, orange peel, crushed cranberries etc. Use for a dressing on salad with olive oil or as a sauce to grilled chicken or vegetables. Makes 3 cups.

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From the General Manager, Jessie Neu:

The Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority will be offering a Home Composting Workshop for Busy People in Walnut Creek on 5/20 from 11:00 to 12:00.

The Contra Costa County Fair dates for this year are May 31-June 3 (Thursday - Sunday)

The new edition of the Edible East Bay magazine is available at all the markets.

Visit: "The Harvest Time" website at:

Three is a charm.... and... its just in time for Mothers Day! Saturday May 12, marks the 10 year Anniversary and Grand Opening Celebration of Orinda's Market Season! The 2007 kickoff will begin with a ribbon cutting at the "NEW " beautiful, central, very easy to find, location on Orinda Way in Orinda Village.
Good idea City Staff!
We want to express our Thanks to the city for all its' support services. We wish to recognize all the behind the scenes work that happens in order for us to deliver successful events. We are very appreciative of the in-kind and financial help that is offered for the markets.

The Pleasant Hill Market on Saturday and Martinez Sunday Markets were spectacular with new participants and customers a like! ...both market days had gorgeous weather and plenty of gorgeous fresh product to match. We had some visionary guests from the past who shared some thoughts with us.... in Pleasant Hill where it all began 25 years ago... these were an extraordinary group of people who layed the foundation of our organizations purpose. It was a delight to visit with our old friends and talk about the future..... Heck... Paul Lamborn ( the peach man) opened a market in Utah last year! He seems to be competing with our friend Geoff (the English man) in New Zealand who also opened a market in Nelson ....both men are over 70....... it's in the blood... it can't be helped! Our plans for this year are to grow our three seasonal markets.

The jungle telegraph is rapidly communicating... with people telling each other about the good renewed market energy ... there is a lot of interest in participation! We'll do our best to fit everybody in! You can help.... bring your friends and neighbors to shop at the farmers' markets. Sign them up to receive the e-newsletter and get the word out.

The Walnut Creek market was voted the best place to buy flowers last year... lets make sure the other 3 markets are also voted as the best... help us build them.

Remember a farmers' market is only as strong as the community that supports it.... one group depends on the other.....

Jessie Neu can be reached at
In this Issue:
Next issue of The Lettuce Leaf Newsletter will be on May 25.
Music 5/13: Growiser
Music 5/20: Prairie Rose
Manager: Joey McNaughton.
From Joey McNaughton, Manager:
Our grand opening was a success!!! Thanks to everyone for coming downtown and supporting our local farmers and merchants. Let's plan on seeing each other every Sunday! If you enjoyed what you saw, purchased and devoured last week there will be plenty more for you this week. We'll be having Cecchini and Cecchini’s asparagus, Gotelli and Son's beautiful cherries, Mehl Berry's strawberries and CCCFM's newest member – Diaz Farms with delicious stone fruit and dried apricots. We’re also blessed to have Madame Ovary in all her recycled glory this Mother's Day Sunday with fun kid's activities. Speaking of Mothers Day, don't forget that Rose Lane has all the roses you'll need to show your homegrown affection for your dear mom. See you Sunday!
For more info

Market will open for the season Saturday May 12th.
Music 5/12: Growiser
Music 5/19: Susanne Holland
Manager: Janice Faust.
From Jan Faust, Manager:
Hello Orinda Shoppers!
I really look forward to our Grand Opening each season. This year feels extra grand because of our new location, new look and new vendors. In many ways it's like starting a brand new market and that is pretty exciting. This Saturday we have lots of special activities planned, including a cooking demonstration, two cookbook signings, lots of kids activities, music, a ribbon cutting, and much more. Of course the best reason to come down is always the fabulous fresh, local produce. The cherries alone are worth the trip! I hope to see you this Saturday. Stop by the manager's booth and say "hi".
For more info

Pleasant Hill:
Music 5/12: Prairie Rose
Music 5/19: Paulette Rene
Manager: Karen Stiles.
From Karen Stiles, Manager:
Thanks to all the shoppers that helped make our 25th opening a great success! Thanks also to our farmers and vendors! I hope everyone got a chance to meet and greet all the Pleasant Hill community members who had booths on the closed part of Trelany Ln. Our favorite peach farmer Paul Lamborn was one on site to see all his old friends and customers. Glad he is doing so well and looking so good. We miss his excellent peaches but are fortunate to have a pretty good selection of fruit and veggies available. The cherries and strawberries are great and I'm looking forward to some nice, sweet blueberries soon. We now have canvas shopping baggs, a new apron marking our 25th anniversary and "European" shopping baskets for sale at the information booth. Stop by and take a look, we also have some great recipes from market Chef Lesley. Looking forward to a great season!
See you there.
For more info

Walnut Creek:
Music 5/13: Jump-In
Music 5/20: Steven Gary/guitar
Manager: Keith Farley.
From Keith Farley, Manager:
Mothers' Day Alert! This Sunday is THE day to treat mom like you should treat her all year round. The flower vendors will be stocked and waiting for you. Hint, Hint.

A whole lot of news this time! We have switched to summer hours in Walnut Creek, we are now open an hour earlier at 8:00 am and close at 1:00 pm. The seasonal markets are open for business with Orinda opening this Saturday - that completes the trifecta. They are all looking good; make sure to visit them often. Cherries hit the market last week like a ton of, well, cherries. It has been a long time since I've seen the cherries come in so strong and sweet. It has been my experience that the first crop are not as sweet as the later pickings - not so this year. I sampled cherries from every grower and all were sweet, makes me wonder if the later crops will be even sweeter. Along with cherries came the year's first apricots and even early varieties of peaches. If you remember last year the apricot crop was all but wiped out by weather. So this year should be a bountiful crop. Time to dust off the jelly and jam recipes. Peaches and nectarines are coming, all the wonderful fruits of summer. For all you Paul Lamborn fans, he is still retired, sorry.

Which grower should I buy from? Let your taste buds be your guide. All the farmers are happy to let you sample a piece of fruit. I have my favorites, so do many of you, try all of them first and then make a decision.

Now for the big news. Can anyone guess which blue haired baker has a bun in the oven? Yep that's right, BakeSale Betty is with child. In a phone interview with her Tuesday, she says "Michael and I are overjoyed to be having a little baker's apprentice". Whether the child will take after Betty or Michael is anyone's guess, but one thing I know is, this is a joyous time for the happy couple and our market family! Everyone at CCCFM wishes Betty a smooth time and a problem-free pregnancy. Betty will be taking the rest of May off from the market to let this all sink in, but will return on June 17th on a regular basis. We all miss you Betty, hurry back. You can reach Betty at When I find out about the baby registry I will let everyone know. Do they still make the Easy-Bake Oven?

We have new market aprons and canvas bags. Limited edition no less. The aprons are a delicious shade of maroon and the market bags are sand colored, both have the CCCFM logo and 25th anniversary printed on the front. The market bag is a new design, square-bottomed like a regular grocery sack so you can fill it with ease and not squish everything. You can pick up yours at the market table and they are $10.00 each. As always we will have the wicker market basket available until supplies run out, and I am told that we are in no danger of running out any time soon.

Come to the market and bring a friend, they'll thank you for it.
See you Sunday!
For more info.
FROM OUR MARKETS by Chef Leslie Stiles
Orinda farmers' market opens this weekend with some fun attractions. We have Chef Arno from Shelby's doing some seasonal culinary magic; Linda Carrucci, popular local author and chef signing copies of her book "Cooking School Secrets"; Rudy the Magician and Clown and the ever popular East Bay Depot for Reuse and Recycle will be on hand for the kids. Growiser, awesome jazz are our tunes for the morning. Ribbon cutting with the Chamber of Commerce at 10 am!

Pleasant Hill and Martinez farmers' markets opened for the season with record crowds of shoppers loading up on cherries, strawberries and asparagus. There is nothing like local, seasonal eating and it seems that folks in our communities are on to it and do not plan to give it up anytime soon. It is nice to be back for the season. Cherries are coming on strong with Berlats and Brooks most prevalent so far. In a week or two Bings and Rainer's as well as Tulare and Lamberts will make their special appearances. I am partial to those Tulare with a huge cherry flavor and so much juice that you drink them instead of actually eating. I do like a Bing too though. Actually I really like them all. Eating cherries out of hand, cold, crisp and clean is an indescribable spring pleasure as much as it is a ritual but the time does come around that you know the season is short so you absolutely must buy them but you may want a little variety in your seasonal cherry experience.

Try getting a handy little pitter at any house hold goods store and toss pitted cherries into a salad with torn spring lettuces spiced up with a bit of arugula Add crumbled chevre and sliced cucumbers. Tear some fresh basil into the bowl and toss the whole thing with Big Paw lemon oil and rice vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. You could also add smoked chicken for a very sexy main salad meal.

There is nothing like fresh cherry cupcakes with fresh cherry icing. Make a batch of your favorite vanilla cupcakes and toss in a cup of pitted cherries. Whip together a cup of softened cream cheese and a ¼ cup of organic butter. Add about a ¼ cup or to your taste of powdered sugar and a couple of teaspoons vanilla. Chop about a cup of pitted cherries and fold them into the mix. Frost your cakes and go crazy. Be sure to eat enough frosting out of the bowl to make you just a little high. Asparagus is holding it's own against the other spring delights. Grilling has become a second nature, thoughtless meal time pleasure and I will miss it when it is gone. Louie from Cecchini and Cecchini tells me to expect another month. That will work.

Green garlic is starting to get a little bulbous but is still really good. Grab it now though because this current heat wave is going to mature it quick. I am seeing squash, cucumbers and a pepper here and there as we get into a nice seasonal crossover with spring veggies and fruits while the summer love is coming on quick. Peak season in California is a miracle we are blessed to live with and I plan on taking full advantage, I bet you are too. Hike early and often as it gets hotter. I was out today and it was 80 degrees by 8 o'clock!! Time for the shady hikes again. Take lots of water but most importantly, get out there! See you at the markets!

Lesley Stiles can be reached at or on the market hotline 925 431-8361
WHAT'S BEEN, WHAT'S IN, WHAT'S OUT by Barbara Kobsar
This week I'll travel up another country road and branch off to take a fresh look at our farmers' markets - past, present and future. Almost 20 years have flown by since I took on my public relations job with Contra Costa Certified Farmers' Markets (Lesley Stiles is now managing that department). A few familiar faces that looked at me across the job interview table back then still remain vital parts of this dynamic association - Jessie Neu, general manager (formerly owner of From the Ground Up Nursery), Stan Devoto (the apple man) and John Barbagelata (local grower from Linden).

CCCFM opened its doors in 1983 at Taylor and Morello in Pleasant Hill. This market holds the distinction of being the first farmers' market in Contra Costa County and celebrates its 25th season in 2007. The Walnut Creek market opened in the summer of 1984, with Orinda joining in 1997 and Martinez Main Street in 2002.

In 1990 I created The Cottage Kitchen, selling my preserves and pepper jellies at our farmers' markets. In 1991 I began writing for the Contra Costa Times. Today I continue to sell jams and write stories about fresh produce and farmers' markets. Meeting so many interesting people each week and wandering the farmers' market aisles gives me all the inspiration I need.

Choosing the fruit for jam making is the fun part. This week it's Red Heart strawberries from Medina Farms and Chandler strawberries from J & J Farms. These berries are rich in flavor and color – not the biggest variety but definitely some of the best for eating out of hand or whipping up into delicious desserts, salads and sauces.

My stand at the markets is an open invitation to stop by for a visit and catch up on what’s "hot" at the market. This week I'll have the new 2007 Harvest Time Map from Brentwood. If you’re planning a trip out to Smith Farms (#33 on the Harvest Time map) to check out over 4 dozen types of tomatoes be sure to visit their website at for up-to-date reports on what's ripe and ready. Robin Pastor from Smith Farms is scheduled to return to the markets soon with luscious, vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes so get ready!
See you at the market!

E-mail Barbara Kobsar at or call (925) 933-2552.
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