If you’re struggling with menu ideas to cook up these days, there is no need to look any further than the farmers' markets, farms and farmstands in and around Pottstown. With fall produce at its peak, you can let things like butternut squash, cabbage and turnips guide you to recipes that speak to the season.
The Pottstown Farmers Market as well as nearby Frecon Farms, Boyertown, are just a couple of locations that are worth making your way to this month, to seek out the freshest foods our area has to offer this time of year.
“With the local farm market I love that I can walk there from my house,’ said Rachel Smith, a mom of two from Pottstown with her husband, Dan. “But there is parking for people who come farther.”
Smith has been letting her Pottstown Farmers Market finds and her CSA share from Kimberton CSA, Kimberton, Chester County, inspire her in the kitchen. It also minimizes the guesswork in weekly shopping and menu planning.
“I love that I don’t have to think with the CSA — I just pick up my box and go,” she said.
Smith has an appreciation for the health benefits she gains from sourcing her food locally, which has meant healthy eating for her and her family. She also discussed the benefits of Pottstown offering a market which equates to easier access to healthy food for her and her neighbors.
“It’s a community space that makes Pottstown itself healthy in terms of being a community where people’s health and social needs are being addressed,” Smith said.
She also appreciates local restaurants, such as J.J. Ratigan Brewing Company, Pottstown, that highlight local and seasonal items.
“The specials and features change all the time, so there is a focus on stuff being hyper-seasonal,” said Conrad Flynn, general manager of the brewery. “We do a lot of seasonal menu updates and every week our specials are focused on what is fresh and available.”
The wagyu beef on their menu is sourced from Stonyrun Farms in Spring City, Chester County. The brewery even contributes to the grain the cattle eat.
“The spent grain from our beer coming out of the brewing process goes over to that cattle to eat and it becomes part of their feed,” Flynn said.
Home mealtime menus can center on the same seasonal philosophy. When it comes to home cooking and mapping out weekly meals, Smith shared some of the produce she has been enjoying cooking with and eating as of late.
“I especially love when the root vegetables come in with the fresh greens attached,” Smith said. “I love to make sauteed beet greens with sliced beets.”
Recently she was inspired to make an impromptu soup with some leftovers along with some items in her latest CSA share and was pleased with the outcome.
“Yesterday for lunch I took turnip greens and turnips and I sauteed it with scallions,” she said. “I added chicken bouillon and leftover potstickers to make awesome soup.”
Smith and her husband have been taking advantage of cooking on the grill this fall while it’s still warm enough for cooking outdoors.
“We have had awesome grilled eggplant just sliced and thrown the grill outside and I usually hate eggplant,” she said.
In addition to their produce CSA, the Smiths do a chicken CSA share with Snouts and Sprouts, Chester County, and a fruit share with North Star Orchard, Cochranville, Chester County.
“They have a pickup at Kneehigh Farm, which is another local farm,” Smith said, referring to Kneehigh Farm, North Coventry Township, Chester County.
Most recently, Smith has been getting creative with butternut squash.
“We have had a butternut squash bonanza lately the last few weeks and the smell of that baking is worth the CSA right there,” she said.
Smith said that when she’s feeling organized she will cook up a treat for her kids using the seeds from the squash.
“I will also wash and roast the seeds for a bonus snack,” she said.