The Cranky Yankee adds spice to Seaside Farmers Market By Wendy O. Dixon
Master Gardner and naturalist John Kratt loves gardening. And after 50 years of growing and 30 years canning, he’s figured out how to produce wholesome, tasty, chemical-free produce and spices for shoppers at the Seaside Farmers Market each Saturday morning.
On his farm in Freeport, Fla., Kratt, known as the Cranky Yankee as a nod to his Pittsburg, Pa., roots, uses only organic materials, producing vegetables, herbs, spices and sea salts.
During the spring, Kratt plants tomatoes and peppers. “Mostly hot and some sweet,” he says. “And specialty items others are not growing — squash, eggplants, Persian cucumbers and potatoes.” His gourmet herbs include bay leaves from Turkey, and organic ground Saigon cinnamon from Vietnam, as well as oregano and thyme, which he buys from importers. “At the farmers market, I sell starter plants in March and April — basil, tomato, pepper, eggplant and other veggie and herb plants.”
The Cranky Yankee’s specialty sea salts, rich in healthful minerals found in the ocean water, are pure and flavorful. The Himalayan pink has a delicate pink color, and makes a dramatic finishing salt. The Pacific Blue, a kosher flake sea salt coats food with a clean, bright saltiness. The pyramid-shaped crystals of this salt make it ideal for cooking, seasoning, and for use as an accent for refreshments that call for a salt-rimmed glass. Not iodized, it is quite possible the best tasting sea salt, complete unrefined, the natural minerals add subtle nuances of flavor. It is evaporated Pacific ocean water with no additives.
The exotic sounding black lava salt, a premium Hawaiian natural sea salt, has a deep black color, and is course but brittle with a crunch texture. And the Tamise French Grey is made of a course crystal, making it a perfect finishing touch to a meal with delicious flavor and texture.
“Our own Creole seasoning blend, The Bayou Blast, is perfect for blackened fish,” he says. “The Ragin Cajun, also called magic dust, is great with seafood, chicken and pork.”
Infused salt flavors include chipotle, rosemary, habanero, garlic dill and apple wood smoked. “I’m a real stickler for what ingredients I use,” he says. “I think people should eat real foods, unadulterated, and know what a real fresh vegetable should taste like, it’s the best I can find, freshly picked that morning. That’s why I enjoy the farmers market.”
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White Bean and Collard Greens Soup
Collard green soup is a wonderful way to prepare these nutrition-rich greens. Great Northern beans, chopped yellow onion, white wine, garlic, and our 15-spice blend, and thyme give this soup incredible flavor. For a weeknight supper, serve with slices of crusty bread spread with goat cheese.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion or sweet onion
2 diced carrots
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup pinot grigio or other light white wine
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
6 cups finely shredded collard greens (about 10 ounces)
1 teaspoon of 15-spice blend
1 teaspoons thyme
2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken or veggie broth
1 (15.5-ounce) can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté for 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Add wine, pepper, and salt. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Add greens, carrot, thyme, spice blend and broth. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes or until greens are tender. Add beans; simmer 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.