Melissa Elsmo

Farmers Market Manager, Colleen McNichols, has tips from Prairie Wind Farms about Bartlett pears and sweet Empress Plums.

Prairie Wind Farms will have  Empress Plums at the market this week. These Italian variety, plums are large in size, firm, and sweet. Empress plums are particularly good for baking would make an especially nice addition to a plum cake.

Bartlett Pears are brought to the market on the firm side in order to prevent bruising during harvest. Vendors recommend allowing them to ripen at room temperature. Placing pears in a paper bag at this point will speed things up because it traps the ethylene gas that pears naturally emit during the ripening process.

This Week’s Vegetable Harvest:

  • Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Kale
  •  Parsley
  • Arugula
  • Red/Yellow Bell Peppers
  • Crimini Mushrooms – from River Valley Ranch in Burlington, WI 
  • Sweet Onions
  • Tomatoes

This Week’s Fruit Harvest:

  • Bartlett Pears
  • Fredonia Grapes
  • ‘Empress’ Italian Plums


J2K Capraio Artisan Creamery: Offering cheese in just about every style on Saturday ~Fresh, Semi-Soft, Blue, Hard made from both goat & cow milk!

Brunkow Cheese (LaFayette Creamery): Try their mozzarella with the market heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil sold by many OPFM vendors.

Katic Breads: This week’s bread specialties include Challah and Buckwheat. The featured croissant is Cinnamon Roasted Walnut, along with a mix of savory croissants.

Brian Severson Farms: Heirloom Popcorn popped – plain and with maple sirup.  (They get it from Funks Grove and they spell it sirup.)  Try their Yellow cornmeal made with their Henry Moore corn variety.  Previously, they only ground it into grits or flour. Their flour was one of the star ingredients in most of the pie crusts in last week’s phenomenal Pie Bake-Off. 

Ellis Family Farm: This week’s harvest includes three varieties of apples, peaches (Glowing Star), red raspberries, a tiny bit of blueberries, nectarines, two types of pears, two types of grapes and six varieties of plums.  Look for the tomatoes and both yellow and green zucchini too.  

Mint Creek Farm: This week they have plenty of eggs and ground meats, along with pork chops, sausages and beef patties.  We still have some beautiful weather for some quality grilling time! Also, Join the farmers on Saturday, Sept 22nd for a full farm tour, and farm-to-table dinner, with Chef Ashlee Aubin of Salero. HERE for tickets! River Valley Ranch: Enjoy fresh batches of Sweet Peach Salsa, using only fresh Michigan peaches. And their fresh mushrooms are always a great addition for barbecues and more.

K.V. Stovers and Sons: Choose from new Cresthaven peaches or Red Haven peaches (featured in last week’s pies), Regarding Fall apples, they will have Gala, Macintosh, Early Golden, Delicious, and Molly Delicious. Also, Santa Rosa plums, Fantasia Nectarines, Red Seedless Champagne grapes, broccoli and cauliflower. And to perfect your presentation, Kenny has some lime light hydrangea for your supper table. 


Nonna Nancy’s  Sicilian Tomato Salad

This easy salad make the most of a summer tomato harvest. Just a couple ingredients and splash of water is all you need to bring big flavor to your dinner plate.


  • 3-4 ripe tomatoes, sliced or chunked; I try to vary the cuts for texture variety
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2-3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper 
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • A splash of cold water


Place the tomatoes and onions in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with the oregano, basil, salt and pepper and mix gently. Drizzle with the olive oil and add a splash of water to the bowl. Mix again and allow to sit at room temperature for about an hour before serving. 

*Have some leftovers? Last week I made this salad and had a bit leftover; I also had a leftover ear of grilled corn. To extend the tomato salad for a second meal, I simply cut the corn off the cob and mixed it right in.

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