New COVID guidelines are posted at the entrance of Ithaca's farmers market on September 12, 2020. (Benjamin Velani / Dining Editor)

September 16, 2020

Farmers Market Report: COVID, Farmers’ Recipes and Must-Get Treats

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COVID Safety Report:

I was a little nervous going down to the farmers market this past weekend, as I have actively been trying to avoid public places since March (grocery stores and other necessary stops being the exception). But, when I got there, I didn’t see nearly as many cars as I have in past years, not to mention that it seems much of the foot traffic was locals. This apparent emptiness proved a fallacy as Amelia and I approached the entrance. Stretching from the front gate and all the way around the bend in the road was a line of market-goers, young and old, local and semesterly transplants. We walked to the end of the line, a good 250 yards long and for which it took us nearly an hour to get through. To be fair though, we got there by 11:00 a.m., so not early enough to be the hungover Cornellians making their way towards good smelling food.

Once in the open-aired crucifix known as “The Pavillion,” there was usually plenty of space to maintain social distancing. But, it was not always the case, as it’s not a terribly wide building, especially when a number of people are all interested in the same vendors of hot food or exotic-looking legumes. What I was pleased to see, however, was that everyone was wearing a mask.

I was curious to see how COVID has affected the vendors at the farmers market. I asked Duane Waid of Waid Apiaries LLC, whom I bought honey bee pollen from, how his sales have been. He told me that while most of his income usually came from the farmers market, sales took a serious dip late last spring when all the students left and were low all summer. Instead of the farmers market, Waid relied more on local grocery stores and co-ops to sell his honey and bee wax products. Because Ithaca’s economy largely relies on students from both Cornell and Ithaca College, the vendors I talked to generally seemed pleased to have students back and shopping. I even saw some CBD hemp for sale — talk about appealing to a market.

Benjamin Velani is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He currently serves as the dining editor on The Sun’s editorial board. He can be reached at [email protected]

Farmers’ Recipes:

There’s nothing quite as intimidating as walking into the farmers market and making eye contact with a vendor selling 15 types of vegetables that you’ve never seen in your life. Like many other students, I follow one of two paths when this happens: I give an awkward smile to the vendor and move along quickly, or I peruse the vegetables sagely with completely falsified discernment, frowning every once in a while and smiling at other times as I pretend to know what I’m doing. It is, in short, a mess.

Knowing that this is a fairly common experience for those of us that don’t come to the farmers market every week, I learned how to use local ingredients from those most qualified to teach us: The farmers themselves. All recipes mentioned in this article will be listed below.

First: Crosswinds Farm and Creamery

You may have seen Crosswinds at the end of the farmers market where they boast a selection of delicious hard and soft cheeses. When asked for some creative ways to use their products, the vendor explained that their Morning Glory Chive soft cheese can be used as an impromptu alfredo sauce; it melts down nicely to create the quickest and most delicious cream sauce you’ve ever had. The Crosswinds website also gives a recipe for a crustless quiche which you may wish to explore.

Second: Blue Oyster Cultivation

Despite its name, Blue Oyster Cultivation isn’t a seafood company. Instead, it offers a wide range of mushrooms. Especially relevant to any vegan or vegetarian readers who may have loved seafood prior to changing their diets, I learned that Lion’s Mane mushrooms are common replacements for crab meat. With a slightly fishy flavor and a texture remarkably similar to crab, Blue Oyster Cultivation recommends making vegan crab cakes with their Lion’s Mane mushrooms.

Third: Food and Ferments

Food and Ferments describes their products as “edible alchemy” — the result of local vegetables paired with long fermentation times to produce sour, tangy condiments ready to excite your taste buds. The more I talked with the Food and Ferments representative at the farmers market, the more amazed I grew by the many ways I would have never thought to use their products. Though we’re all familiar with the painful trend of taking shots of apple cider vinegar in the morning, the vendor stressed that this is just one use of his “Fireside Tonic” and beet kvass. The tonic, an “apple cider vinegar infused with an array of potent natural cold and flu fighters,” works brilliantly mixed with oil, salt and pepper as a salad dressing. You can also use a splash to deglaze a pan when cooking vegetables to give the meal an extra kick of flavor.

In addition to the Fireside Tonic, Food and Ferments produces a plethora of different sauerkraut variations. Their classic sauerkraut flavor goes well tossed with a salad or thrown into soup, while the “Sea King” flavor pairs nicely with pork dishes. Add their “Hearts on Fire” sauerkraut to steak or a bacon-and-eggs breakfast and discover the smoky paprika flavor shine.

Though vegetables are not inherently difficult to cook, the task can be extremely daunting. I highly urge you to speak with the vendors about any ingredients which you may not be familiar with. I was deeply surprised by how easy it can be to incorporate these new, diverse ingredients into my diet. This is just the smallest peek into what is possible in the world of vegetarian cooking, and it is much more welcoming than many of us know.

Even though the line was long, the crowds were relatively small inside the pavilion. (Benjamin Velani / Dining Editor)

Even though the line was long, the crowds were relatively small inside the pavilion. (Benjamin Velani / Dining Editor)

Crosswinds Farm and Creamery Crustless Quiche:

(Recipe from

Serves 4-8

  • 4 oz shredded cheese
  • 6-7 slices cooked, crumbled bacon (or an equivalent amount of ham, sausage or veggies of your choice)
  • ½ C sauteed mushrooms
  • 4 unbeaten eggs
  • ½ C chopped onion
  • ½ C flour
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp each, salt and pepper
  • 1 ½  C milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a blender (or jar with lid), blend eggs, onion, flour, butter, salt, pepper and milk. Place bacon, cheese and mushrooms in a buttered 10″ pie plate.  Pour liquid over all. Bake for roughly 35 minutes. Let stand 3-4 minutes before serving. (Flour can be omitted for a gluten-free version.)

Vegan Crab Cakes with Lion’s Mane Mushrooms

(Recipe from

Makes 4 “crab” cakes

  • ½ pound Lion’s Mane Mushroom
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg replacer
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar or white vinegar
  • ½ tsp Molasses
  • 2 Tbsp vegan mayo
  • Lemon
  • Parsley
  • ¼ C red onion chopped
  • ½ tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • ¼ C panko bread crumbs
  • ½ C bread crumbs

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Shred your Lion’s Mane mushrooms until it resembles shredded crab meat. In a bowl, add minced garlic and a small amount of olive oil to lightly coat the shredded mushroom. Place the shredded mushroom on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix together egg replacer, soy sauce, vinegar, molasses and vegan mayo. Mix and add chopped parsley to taste, minced red onion, the roasted Lion’s Mane, Old Bay seasoning, bread crumbs and the juice of half a lemon. Season with salt and pepper. Preheat a skillet with olive oil over medium heat. Form pancakes with your mushroom mixture, and cook the disks for three minutes on each side, or until nicely browned.

Amelia Clute is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]

Melanie’s “Must-Gets”:

The 30 minute (or more) wait to get into the farmers market is made worthwhile by a few stands. I’ve decided that I should reward myself for standing patiently in line with multiple purchases, whether fresh vegetables or a tall drink. My favorite vendors are Macro Mamas, Wide Awake Bakery and Forty Weight Coffee.

Macro Mamas is a plant-based catering company that sells their food on Saturdays at the farmers market, as well as in Green Star Co-op and select stores around Ithaca. They sell delicious salad and lunch bowls, pastries and their well-known peanut noodles (previously featured at Temple of Zeus). On my most recent visit to the booth, I bought a salad with mixed greens, quinoa pilaf, roasted beets, cabbage slaw, seasoned chickpeas and a lemon poppyseed dressing, along with a tapioca pudding and a slice of their chocolate tart for later. The salad was delicious, with the perfect combination of ingredients, the tapioca pudding made a simple and filling breakfast and the tart was dense, not too sweet and had a slightly spiced kick. I highly recommend Macro Mamas for vegans and non-vegans alike, and cannot wait to try more of their creations.

Wide Awake Bakery makes delicious sourdough breads which are hearty, chewy and have a great shelf life. My housemates and I have grown accustomed to buying one per week. Their booth is only open on Sundays, but they also sell their breads at Green Star Co-op.

Forty Weight Coffee was instrumental in getting me back to drinking coffee on the weekends. Their nitro cold brew is amazing, with a rich and creamy taste that is well complemented by a splash of oat milk. Their coffee is also used in various cafes around Ithaca. Luckily, their booth is open both Saturdays and Sundays.

Melanie Metz is a junior in the College of Human Ecology. She can be reached at [email protected].