Willow Creek Ranch featured at Lincoln's seasonal Farmers? Market

Lincoln Farmers? Market column
By: Billie Jean Salle Special to The News Messenger
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The basics: Willow Creek Ranch 1301 Clark Tunnel Road Penryn Gordon Poulsen from Willow Creek Ranch in Penryn is one of our local farmers who participates in our weekly Sierra Fresh Farmers? Markets in Lincoln. In his first career, Gordon was a produce inspector for the Department of Food and Agriculture, spending his days inspecting other farmers? fruits and vegetables. He made sure everything was picked and packed in accordance to the strict codes of California. Even after spending a career working with produce and farmers, Gordon still loves being associated with the dirt and the miracle of a tiny seed. He and his family returned home to the farm in Penryn that his father started in 1959. With great pride, Gordon tells of the years building his home and cultivating a large garden to feed his family while working full time for the state as an inspector. Gordon has diversified the old plum and pear orchard he grew up helping his father maintain into a haven of citrus trees and large beds of assorted vegetables and herbs. Today, Gordon?s main crop is mandarins but his orchards include fruit trees and vines such as apples, cherries, berries and blueberries. But his row crops are where he spends most of his time. Potatoes of all colors and shapes, even striped Zebra ones, are what fills his days. Gordon loves cherry tomatoes and has found a niche in growing an assortment of this time-consuming vegetable. Pepper varieties of varying degrees of heat are another specialty of his farm. Carrots, okra and cucumbers are a must for his vegetable pickle medley. He does a fantastic job of pickling all his vegetables and will give you great advice on the how-to-dos for the home canner. In the farmers? world of bragging rights, we all strive for the biggest or the sweetest or even the first, such as in tomatoes. For Gordon, though, it is the most unique. He spends his winters reading seed catalogues looking for the unusual and planning for the next season. If you can?t find it in the store, Gordon might have it or he may add it to the list of next year?s plants to grow. Gordon never takes the credit for the success of his gardens. After all, it is a family affair. Everyone, especially his grandchildren, are involved and responsible for their own row or rows (depending on their age) of vegetables and their increasing flock of multi-colored chickens. His years of experience and his never-ending enthusiasm for farming is catching and has brought the rest of us farmers ?up? on those down and out lousy days of farming. With a crop failure or a weather disaster, Gordon views it as a lesson learned and an opportunity to improve. He keeps us excited and focused. His booth reflects this dedication and pride in being a farmer. When eating his locally-grown produce, you can have a peace of mind that this food is nurturing and grown with love. Billie Jean Salle is Sierra Fresh Certified Farmers? Market manager. The Downtown Lincoln Farmers? Market runs from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays. The market is at F Street between 5th and 6th streets. Salle also runs the Sun City Lincoln Hills Farmers? Market from 8 a.m. to noon Wednesdays. The Lincoln Hills Market is at 965 Orchard Creek Lane. Saving berries from molding 1 part vinegar (white or apple) 10 parts water Dump the berries into the vinegar mixture and swirl around. Drain, rinse if you want (although the mixture is so diluted you can't taste the vinegar) and pop in the fridge. The vinegar kills any mold spores and other bacteria that might be on the surface of the fruit and voila! Raspberries will last a week or more and strawberries go almost two weeks without getting moldy or soft. - Billie Jean Salle Eggplant Parmesan Ingredients: 2 large, round eggplant (such as Black Beauty variety) or 6 long, thin eggplant (such as Ichiban variety) 2 eggs, beaten Panko (bread crumbs) or flour Oil for frying 1 quart pasta sauce Mozzarella cheese Grated Parmesan cheese Fresh basil (optional garnish) Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel the skin off the eggplant unless you are using the long, thin Japanese type, which does not require peeling. Slice to 1/2-inch thick. Dip slices in egg and coat with panko or flour. Fry in hot oil for about two minutes or until slightly golden brown. In a baking dish, layer fried eggplant with pasta sauce. Top with cheeses and fresh basil. Bake for about one hour or until golden brown. - From Gordon and Brenda Poulsen