On Saturdays at the Farmer’s Market in Syracuse near Shed E you’ll find two people named Nancy and Miki. You may have seen them. Nancy has lovely red hair and Miki is a handsome lad who’s accent gives away his Hungarian roots. They work for a Dryden-based company called Fingerlakes Family Farms (FFF), a dealer representing a number of small organic Amish farms in the Interlaken area. They sell some amazing stuff.
A couple of years ago, I bought some bone-in pork chops at the supermarket. One way I like to prepare them is to season them with salt and pepper and some crushed mustard seeds (or even slathered with prepared mustard). I sauté onions and garlic in butter and oil over medium heat until they soften, about 10 minutes. I remove the onions, add a bit more oil, and brown the chops well on both sides. I return the onions to the pan with the chops, cover it, and put it into a 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes until the chops are just cooked. I pour off most of the large amount of liquid, add some white wine, deglaze the pan, and reduce until the sauce thickens. When we sat down to eat, the chops “looked” perfect but had absolutely no flavor. Ugh!
At the time, we had grown terribly fond of the amazing dairy products sold by FFF. They sell cream-on-top non-homogenized jersey milk free of antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides. It’s sold under the brand Meadow Creek Farm. They also produce heavenly yogurts and butter. I knew they sold “happy pig” pork but had never tried it. I bought two chops and prepared them like I described above. The pork meat was so full of flavor it overwhelmed the sauce. The next week, I went back and bought more and prepared them with nothing other than some salt and pepper seasoning. Unbelievable!
Nancy and Miki have been working there for about three years. She said that she loves her part time job at the market (she works full-time at SU) because she enjoys interacting with the customers so much. But even more important is that she believes in the quality of what she’s selling. “I’m a customer too,” she said.
Last holiday season, I stopped at their booth and inquired with Nancy about a custom order. I wanted an entire bone-in fresh ham to prepare for the 12 of us having Christmas dinner. A couple of days later, I was called by a butcher who said that he was about to slaughter a pig and wanted to confirm my order. He said it would be waiting for me on Saturday at the market. My guests still talk about the amazing meal we had that day. Christmas is coming!
My Fall 2010 cooking class is starting soon. If you are interested, please contact me at [email protected]