Market on Kern Vendor Spotlight: Hamada Farms

Posted by Kim Schoelen

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Hamada Farms has the prettiest produce display, rows of reds and yellows, big apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots and blueberries galore…

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(had to take a moment to wipe drool from my chin.)

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They offer dried fruit as well and the persimmons are my favorite.  But the coolest thing is the backstory.  According to their website; “Yukio’s father, Shotaro Hamada, arrived in San Francisco in 1901. After laboring in the construction of the transcontinental railroad over Donner Summit, he was employed by a farm in Lindsay where he developed expertise in growing oranges and strawberries. By 1921 he owned his first parcel of farmland. After Shotaro’s son,Yukio, graduated from UCLA with a degree in business accounting,Yukio and his wife Yonki joined the family farming business, and managed it together for 47 years. Yonki passed away in 2003. To continue the tradition of farming within the Hamada family, Yukio recently transferred the ownership of the farm to his children. Although they are active in its day-to-day operations, Yukio has retained his role as farm manager.”

I don’t know about you, but I believe that money talks, so when you buy from a local source that has been doing this as a family for generations you’re voting with that dollar to keep small farms and family businesses alive.  You’re also making the statement that knowing your farmer is a priority.  As a culture we’re so removed from what we put in our tummies- and a lot of time with good reason, but it’s important to have that connection.  To know you’re supporting a family’s dream and legacy when you buy a plum is pretty cool, especially when the plums are this delicious.

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I went a little stone fruit crazy this week.  Everything just looked so perfect.  I love this season, I could eat nothing but pluots all day long and be totally happy.  I started looking at recipes to use today’s haul and the stand out was cobbler.  Now I realize I get all kinds of healthy-preachy on my non-animal-tested soapbox in these blogs so you’re probably wondering what kind of healthy “cobbler” I have in store for you today.  But let’s be frank, sometimes even people with a severe case of self-righteousness need some freakin’ sugar.   So today I present to you a dessert, full of fat and sugar.  And fruit.  You can of course, go for the healthy option with maple syrup and rolled oats and minimal oils but that’s not what this blog is going to be about.

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In the early hours after Christmas we lost my grandmother, Dorothy.  It has been a very hard transition, I have memories of her at every turn.  My parents both worked when I was a kid and she lived a few streets over. My sister and I spent so many days at her house.  She taught me how to read a recipe, how to adapt a recipe, how to knead dough, bake cookies, make soup and how to create this wonderful nourishment for the people you love.  Honestly, we’re at the end of May and the feeling of loss still stops me suddenly and knocks the wind out of my sails.  Finding ways to remember her that make her live on have become my refuge.  Tonight I put down my crochet project (her other favorite thing to do) and decided to make her cobbler.

Dorothy’s Easy and Delicious Cobbler

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We have a cookbook with recipes from almost the whole family in it from a church fundraiser that, judging by the massive amounts of margarine and Bisquick used in every recipe I’d guess was published in the late 70’s-early 80’s.  Feel free to use the butter of your choice.  I used Earth Balance because I don’t use dairy products, but this would be delicious with real butter too.  Get it from a local source to make it even better!  Same goes for the egg.  If you don’t use eggs, this can be omitted completely or replaced with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds and 2 tablespoons of water.  Allow the mix to sit for a few minutes before you mix it in just as you would real eggs.

Preheat your oven to 350°

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Cut your fruit.  I used way more than 3 cups. It came out to 1.5 cups of blueberries, 1.5 cups of cherries, 1 cup of apricots and 2 cups of nectarines and plums. In a mixing bowl stir the fruit together with 3/4 cup of sugar.  When shopping for sugar, get the stuff that hasn’t been *as* processed.  That really nice blonde colored sugar is your best bet as far as straight up sugar goes.  Put it in your baking dish.  I went for the larger size, I know my fiancé when it comes to dessert and I’d be a fool to make only an 8×8 cobbler.

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Mix together your dry ingredients until they get crumbly.  I got all cheater-y and did her crumble and then flipped forward in the book to my great-grandma’s coffee cake topping and added another layer of that on top.

For extra goodness, Mollie’s Rivel Topping:

1 Cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup melted butter or butter substitute.

Mix until crumbly.  This is also a good spot to add cinnamon if you’re so inclined.  SO GOOD.  Put this all over the top.  This is why we love cobbler, after all.  The fruit and the sweet crunch are irresistible.

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Bake it.  It took 40 minutes in my oven for the topping to turn golden instead of the suggested 25.  Just keep an eye on it.

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Let it cool a bit, let’s be real though.  The best cobbler is a just-out-of-the-oven cobbler.  Dig in.  Remember your childhood and the people who still mean the world to you, even if they’re no longer with you.  Share it with the people who you love who are still here and laugh heartily.

Get everything you need for your cobbler filling at the Market on Kern! Mix it up, there are so many fun fruit combinations!

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Grandma and I at her 90th birthday party. Our shirts matched and we didn’t even plan it that way!

What are your favorite family recipes?  What memories are most strongly tied to them?

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One Comment

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  1. Even thought they are local, we are so fortunate to have Hamada Farms at a local farmer’s market. They usually go to SF to the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market or to LA, both places where they can get top dollar for their amazing produce. When I lived in SF, only a couple of blocks from the Ferry Building, I would go on Saturdays to get local fruits from Hamada Farms–fresh in the summer and dried in the winter–and to talk San Joaquin Valley stuff with the staff. I am taking advantage of their booth on Kern St. this summer.

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