Notes from the Farmers’ Market Chef

By Barbara Cornell

This is the season of bounty for tomatoes and summer squash—and for recipes to creatively use the excess.  I subscribe to two daily newspapers and one weekly, and they—and their attendant weekly and monthly inserts—have all taken a shot at tomato and/or zucchini recipes this summer.  You can come to Howard County Library System’s Glenwood Branch and ask for a copy of the handouts from the August 6 Farmers’ Market Chef class to see some of these.

Garrison Keillor
says that July is the only time country folks lock their cars in the church parking lot lest they find a few squash left on their car seat.  Barbara Kingsolver, in her 2007 book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: a Year of Food Life, also describes a kind of reverse larceny.  Otherwise friendly neighbors have been known to sneak up to your house and leave a bag of zucchini hanging from your mailbox!  Kingsolver’s daughter Camille developed sneaky ways to use zucchini, including in chocolate chip cookies!  You can find her recipes at

I have a few books to suggest with recipes that will make your bounty—or your friends’ gifts—exciting rather than a burden:

Tomatoes are one of The 10 Things You Need to Eat in Dave Lieberman and Anahad O’Connor’s book by that name.  The authors start with the heartening news that pizza (at least the way Italians eat it) is very healthy!  Lycopene has gotten news coverage for its anticancer and cardiovascular-protective qualities, but it must work in concert with all the other phytonutrients and vitamins in tomatoes. So take your tomatoes whole.  Pick up a copy at the library to find out what other 9 things you need to eat.

The Tomato Festival Cookbook by Lawrence Davis-Hollander is truly a gold mine of information about the history and science of tomatoes as well as some wonderful recipes I intend to try.  I’m not sure why the pages are yellow, but it doesn’t make the text harder to read, so we’ll forgive.  Davis-Hollander has great advice on growing tomatoes and  saving the seeds or sourcing heirloom seeds.

Chocolate and Zucchini: daily adventures in a Parisian kitchen
is from a then-27-year old Parisian,Clotilde Dusoulier, who created the blog. She says, “It is a good metaphor for my cooking style: the zucchini illustrates my focus on healthy and natural eating: fresh produce, artisan goods, and a preference for organic and local ingredients. And the chocolate represents my decidedly marked taste for baking in general, and chocolate, glorious chocolate in particular.”  I enjoyed the French flavor of this charming little book, and, yes, you will find a zucchini dessert recipe!

The Classic Zucchini Cookbook: 225 Recipes for All Kinds of Squash
by Nancy Ralston, Marynor Jorday, and Andrea Chesman is a great resource  for general information on the subject of squash as well as some very creative recipes.  When Chesman began using chopped zucchini in place of apples in a pie, her son said she should call it Zapple Pie.  The Squoconut Pie, using yellow squash in place of coconut in a custard pie, is a bit more of a leap of faith.  There are no photos to reassure me.

The Heirloom Tomato Cookbook on the other hand has beautiful photographs of more than 20 varieties of heirloom tomatoes and close-ups of almost every recipe.  The Kendall-Jackson Winery in Sonoma, California, hosts an Heirloom Tomato Festival every September.  Bay Area chefs bring their best to the festival resulting in these recipes.  Predictably, most have a wine pairing suggestion.

So, if you didn’t cultivate any tomatoes or squash this year, go and cultivate a friendship with someone who did!

Barbara Cornell joined the Howard County Library System in 1993 as Assistant Branch Manager at the new Elkridge Branch.

Since 2000 she has enjoyed a shorter commute to the Glenwood Branch.


1 Comment


  1. Notes from the Farmer's Market Chef | Well and Wise - [...] Barbara Kingsolver’s 2007 book  Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: a Year of Food Life in my August 2011 post.  Her family …

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