Editor's note: Vince Scalise has retired, and "The Time is Ripe" column is now being written by Debra Morris, the Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association promotions coordinator.

We'd like to bid Vince Scalise a fond farewell as he retires from Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association. We've enjoyed his column about the farmers market for several years now.

Vince has been with PCFMA for 18 years. We'll miss his boisterous good fun and larger-than-life personality, but he won't be gone forever. You'll see him at the markets on occasion, to say hello to farmers and customers alike.

Stop and say hi and thank him for his many years of service supporting the producers and farmers, and the market. We'll miss you, Vince!

Citrus is peaking now, and there is a wide selection from which to choose. Visit Aoyama Farms for blood oranges and kumquats for Chinese New Year celebrations (Feb. 10). Tangerines, lemons and kumquats are important to the celebration, given as gifts, and used in displays for New Year.

And late winter/early spring flowers are arriving at the market. From tulips and roses, to lilies, iris and more, you can select from a wide variety to please any valentine. Stop by and select some wonderful fresh-cut flowers from Sunrise Nursery and Ochoa Nursery, and gorgeous orchids from Rose Mae.

February is also Heart Health Month. And there's no better place to get heart-healthy fruits and vegetables than ... you guessed it ... the farmers market.


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Think antioxidant-rich foods in a rainbow of colors. Winter squash and sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, citrus, berries, root vegetables and more are available now. You can find lots of leafy greens at Nunez Farm and J&M Farm, sweet potatoes and winter squash at Halog Farm, and sweet berries at Cortez Farm.

Here's a fresh and simple recipe for Chinese New Year, or any time of year. It's also heart-healthy, high in fiber and low in calories.

Bok Choy and Citrus Shrimp

6 baby bokchoy, halved lengthwise

2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil, divided

1½ pounds uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/3 cup fresh tangerine or orange juice

1/3 cup Asian sweet chili sauce

12 strips tangerine peel

1½ teaspoons distilled white vinegar

1 teaspoon oyster sauce

2 green onions, chopped

1½ tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger

Cover bottom of large skillet with ½ inch water. Add bokchoy; drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover; cook over high heat until bokchoy is tender, about 5 minutes. Arrange bokchoy around edge of platter. Boil liquid in skillet until reduced to glaze, about 1 minute; pour over bokchoy.

Mix shrimp and next 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in skillet over high heat. Add onions and ginger. Saute 1 minute. Add shrimp mixture. Toss until shrimp are just opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to the platter with bokchoy on it. Cook sauce until thickened, about 2 minutes. Spoon sauce over shrimp.

Farmers markets are open rain or shine.

  • In Martinez, the Sunday market is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. year-round, at Main and Estudillo streets.

  • All East County markets are closed for the season.

    The Time is Ripe is a monthly column written by Debra Morris, promotions coordinator for the Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association. Email her at debramorris@pcfma.com.