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The Santa Rosa farmers market in early fall could not be more beautiful. Strolling through dozens of stalls marveling at the colorful abundance of the season, I cannot imagine a happier place to be.

All markets have their own character and over the years, the year-round Santa Rosa market has developed into exactly what it should be, a bountiful celebration of our region?s best agriculture and the talent of so many who are inspired by it.

Recently, the market seems to have matured to a new level, with farmers expressing their personalities in more vivid ways than in the past. For example, there?s Canvas Ranch, the farm in Two Rock that is well known for its CSA program and its weed-eating miniature sheep. Their market stall reveals the thoughtful aesthetic of farmer Deborah Walton, who could give Martha Stewart a run for her money when it comes to displaying just-harvested vegetables and fruits.

Nearby is the French Garden stall, with a nearly completely enclosed tent that has a sort of secret salon-like feel to it. Peering through the opening, I wasn?t sure if I would find vegetables or a fortune teller. Of course, on one level, I knew exactly what to expect but, still, there is an intriguing flourish of mystery in the set-up.

Mostly, though, I notice all the colors, huge rainbows of peppers and tomatoes punctuated here and there with plump melons, including exquisitely delicious yellow watermelons, and the season?s first winter squashes and fresh shell beans.

There is one development that does not please me so much. As I was searching for a perfect pomegranate, one with an unbroken crown and good color ? it was to be a gift to someone who appreciates the beauty of the pomegranate as much as I do ? I started to ask a question when I noticed the cell phone at the vendor?s ear. I tried to make eye contact but to no avail. Eventually, the call ended, but a few minutes later, a similar scene unfolded at another booth. The intimacy of the market was suddenly infected by that strange form of commerce ? point to this, point to that, while you talk to someone other than the person in front of you ? that has come to inform so much of the public sphere.

I don?t love the Santa Rosa farmers market any less. I think it is a glorious market, one that we should all treasure and be proud of. But could vendors please put their phones down when they have a customer? If you have to take or make a call, walk away.

This recipe is adapted from one I found in ?Farmers Market Cookbook,? by Neill and Fred Beck. It was published in 1951 and includes an introduction by M.F.K. Fisher.

Farmers Market Baked Eggs

Makes 4 servings

4 bacon slices

? Butter, at room temperature

2 small ripe heirloom tomatoes

? Kosher salt

? Black pepper in a mill

4 large backyard eggs

1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano

4 tablespoons heavy cream or creme fraiche

4 to 8 slices sourdough bread, toasted

?Boiling water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Fry the bacon until it is crisp; set on absorbent paper to drain; crumble and set aside.

Coat the inside of 4 small ramekins with butter. Cut the tomatoes into thick rounds and set a center slice in each ramekin; reserve the remaining tomatoes for another use.

Season the tomato slices with salt and pepper and sprinkle with half of the crumbled bacon.

Carefully break an egg on top of each tomato. Season the egg with salt, pepper and a little oregano and top with a tablespoon of cream or creme fraiche. Scatter the remaining bacon on top.

Set the ramekins in a baking dish and set the dish on the middle rack of the oven. Carefully pour boiling water into the dish until it comes about half way up the ramekins.

Bake until the whites of the eggs are set, about 15 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven and set each ramekin on a small plate. Set the toast alongside and serve immediately.

This recipe, originally published in ?A Cook?s Tour of Sonoma? in 1990, is a longtime favorite and perfect at this time of year, when the aromas mingle beautifully with the warm perfumes of fall.

Pork Roast with Chorizo Stuffing and Hot Pepper Jam

Makes 6 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

1large shallot, minced

5 or 6 garlic cloves, minced

1 or 2 serranos, minced

? Kosher salt

1 pound bulk chorizo

? Black pepper in a mill

1 pork roast, such as Boston Butt, about 4 pounds

? cup hot pepper jam

? cup sherry vinegar

? Fresh cilantro leaves

Put the olive oil into a medium saute pan, set over medium-low heat, add the shallots and saute until soft, about 5 minutes; add the garlic and serranos and saute 2 minutes more. Season lightly with salt, add the chorizo, increase the heat to medium high and cook, breaking up the meat with a fork, until the chorizo loses its raw look and releases its fat. Continue cooking, crumbling the meat all the while, until it is fully cooked. Drain off excess fat, taste, correct for salt and season with several turns of black pepper. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Set the roast on a work surface and use a long sharp knife to make a lengthwise cut through the center of the meat, cutting into the meat from both sides to form an opening about 2 to 2? inches wide.

Put the cooled stuffing into a pastry bag fitted with a large tip, insert the tip in the opening in the meat and push in as much stuffing as possible. Repeat from the other side to fill the meat evenly.

Put the jam in a small saucepan set over low heat and stir in the vinegar.

Season the roast all over with salt and pepper. Brush with the pepper jam.

Set a rack in a roasting pan, set the roast on the rack and cook until the pork is very tender, about 1? hours. Baste with the pepper jam every now and then.

Remove from the oven and let rest 10 or 15 minutes. Cut into ?-inch thick slices, arrange on a platter, garnish with cilantro and serve.

One of the glorious things about early fall is that you can enjoy the year?s last tomatoes with the season?s first pomegranates. The salad is flexible, so don?t worry too much about exact quantities; just make it taste good and look good. If you have fresh corn, add a cup or so of kernels cut from a cob that has been cooked.

Persephone?s Rice Salad

Makes 6 servings

1 shallot, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

? Kosher salt

? Juice of 2 lemons, preferably Meyer

? Black pepper in a mill

? cup extra virgin olive oil, such as DeVero

3 ?cups cooked jasmine rice (from 1 cup raw rice), cooled and fluffed with a fork

1 small red onion, cut into small dice

2 cups cherry tomatoes, mixed colors, stemmed and quartered

? cup pomegranate arils

2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley

1 tablespoon snipped chives

2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted

Put the shallot and garlic into a small mixing bowl, season with salt, add the lemon juice and let rest for 20 minutes. After the mixture rests, season it with several turns of black pepper and whisk in the olive oil. Taste and correct for salt and acid balance, adding a bit more oil if it seems too taste.

Put the rice in a large bowl, pour half of the dressing over it and toss thoroughly.

Add the onion, cherry tomatoes, pomegranate arils, parsley and chives and toss again. Let rest for at least 15 minutes and as long as 30 minutes.

To serve, pour the remaining dressing over the salad and toss gently. Transfer to a platter, scatter the pine nuts on top and serve.

Michele Anna Jordan hosts ?Mouthful? each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 90.9 & 91.1 FM. E-mail Jordan at michele@


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