The following recipe was incorrectly printed last week. It should read: FRESH CORN SAUTEED (8 servings) 8 ears fresh corn, shucked and kernels cut off 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1 tablespoon water 1 tablespoon chopped parsley. Salute the corn kernels in the butter over low heat 5 minutes. Add the water, cover tighly and cook 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients.
The last time a contingent of farmers appeared on the doorstep of the Department of Agriculture they were there to lay siege to the place. Agriculture Secretary Bob Bergland had to be escorted out a side door by police.
Last week another group of farmers drove their trucks right into the courtyard of the department's administration building, and Bergland was there to greet them.
Not only greet them but spend $17 purchasing what they had come to sell: potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, corn, peaches, cantaloupes, etc.
Farmers from nearby Maryland and Virginia had been invited to participate in Open-Air Market Day, which was supposed to last from 10 to 3. Some were sold out by 11; by one o'clock there were just a few tomatoes and picked-over ears of corn left.
Bergland said he had organized the event, with some assistance from Maryland and Virginia agriculture departments, "to get farmers and consumers together. We want to encourage people to take advantage of the various kinds of direct-marketing outlets that exist."
And, he added, as he walked around making his purchases "for a barbecue" that night, "so that people will know that fruits and vegetables don't grow in cans."
One of Bergland's pet projects is getting farmers and consumers together, without a middleman. Even before he had been nominated as secretary of agriculture, he said in an interview that he hoped there could be more contact.
In 1976, Congress appropriated money to implement the Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act. Since then, $2 million has been made available to 23 states and Puerto Rico to stimulate roadside stands, "pick-your-own" farms, truckside selling and farmers' markets in inner cities.
According to the USDA, direct marketing should result in "lower prices to consumers, higher returns for farmers, reduction in middleman costs and improved farmer-to-consumer understanding."
If last week's "market day" is any gauge, everyone gets away happy.
"If I'd known there were going to be so many people. I'd have brought twice as much," said one satisfied farmer. "I sold out 150 dozen ears of corn in an hour. They were lined up in two lines waiting."
"I'd like to do this more often," said another. "It's almost the end of the season now, but maybe they could do it every week next year."
Several of the 20 or so farmers, with spouses and children as helpers, usually sell their produce at farmers' markets near where they live. They were delighted with the huge crowds of people, some of whom had come all the way from Buzzards Point on their lunch hour to buy.
"We don't get near so many people down at the La Plata (Md.) market," one explained. That farmers' market is open on Saturdays only.
Another said that this was even better than the Silver Spring farmers' market, which operates on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
The customers, with the exception of those who came after 12 and were disappointed to find little to choose from, were equally pleased with their purchases.
"Of course it's better than the supermarket," said one, surprised that anyone would even ask. "It's fresh, instead of days or weeks old. And besides it's cheaper."
And it was. Prices at a local supermarket chain for produce, most if not all of which had already traveled 3,000 miles, were higher on everything: The farmers' tomatoes were 25 cents a pound, those in the store, 33 cents: summer squash was 30 cents a pound instead of 59: cucumbers cost 10 cents a piece (10/$1), they were 8/$1 in the supermarket.
Along with lower prices there was plenty of free advice.
"What do you do with those squash," said one potential buyer as he looked at crooknecks.
"I bake it and then split it and take out the few seeds. Then I mash it and serve it with butter," said a helpful seller.
"Can I buy those soft tomatoes from you for a sauce?" said another careful shopper.
"Sure, I'll let you have them for 10 cents a pound."
Trucks like those at USDA last week have sprung up on many of the major arteries leading out of the District into the suburbs. It is a way for the small farmer with limited resources to market his produce. Otherwise, he might be forced to sell out to the urban developer of tract housing, who continues to turn country into city at an astonishing pace. Until the direct-marketing bill was funded, the small producer was virtually ignored by the federal government, with "disastrous results," according to an article in a 1976 issue of Community Nutrition Institute Weekly Report. Many states "have begun a systematic appraisal of their food economies as a first step toward reestablishing a diversified, locally based agricultural sector.
"Tests run in Pennyslvania indicate the produce marked "Pennsylvania grown" outsells 'foreign' produce two to one."
Even though the various methods of direct marketing only account for three percent of all the fruits and vegetables sold in this country, it is extremely important to the small farmers, who have the most trouble making the ends meet.
But next year's funding to continue the direct-marketing act has not been approved by Congress so far, and there is danger that it may be slashed from the agriculture department's appropriations - almost before the effectiveness of the program has had a chance to work.
If the enthusiasm of shoppers in USDA's courtyard could be translated into votes, there would be plenty of money to keep the project alive.
For those who missed the open-air market, there are still plenty of roadside stands and trucks laden with fresh fruits and vegetables. Here are a few recipes to make good use of late summer's bounty.
Three simple recipes from "The Family Circle Quick Menu Cookbook," by Jean Hewitt (Times Books, $10.95) FRESH CORN SAUTEED (4 servings) 8 cups fresh corn, shucked and kernels cut off 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine 1/3 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1 tablespoon water 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Saute the corn kernels in the butter over low heat 5 minutes. Add the water, cover tightly, and cook 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. FRIED TOMATO SLICES (2 servings) 1 large firm green or red tomato 2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal 1/4 teaspoon salt Pinch pepper 1 1/3 tablespoons bacon drippings or shortening
Slice the tomato into 4 thick slices. Dip slices in cornmeal mixed with salt and pepper. Melt the bacon drippings or shortening in a medium-sized skillet; when hot, fry the tomato slices until browned on both sides. SWEET AND SOUR RADISHES (2 servings) 2 bunches red radishes or 3 white radishes 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon light brown sugar 2 teaspoon soy sauce 1 tablespoon sesame oil or salad oil 2 tablespoons wine vinegar Watercress
Trim off ends of radishes; srub well and slice thinly into a bowl. Combine remaining ingredients and toss with radish slices just before serving. Serve over watercress or other salad greens.
"Use either imported Chinese soy sauce or Japanese soy sauce for best flavor. LEMON ZUCCHINI (3 servings) 6 cups (about 3 pounds) zucchini cut in 1/2-inch slices 3 cups cherry tomatoes 6 tablespoons butter 2 1/2 tablespoons grated lemon rind Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 1 1/2 cup bread crumbs
Saute the zucchini and tomatoes in 3 tablespoons of butter in large skillet until tender. Add 1 tablespoon lemon rind with salt and pepper. Meanwhile brown the bread crumbs in the remaining butter and stir in remaining lemon rind. Spoon vegetables into serving dish and sprinkle with crumbs.
From Robert Ackart's lovely book of recipes and menus for meals with vegetables, "A Celebration of Vegetables" (Atheneum, $10.95) GINGER PEACHY FLAN (3 servings) 1/3 cup butter 1/3 cup sugar 1 egg yolk 1 cup unbleached flour 1/4 cup sugar 2 tablespoons cornstarch 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon ginger 3 cups milk 2 teaspoon vanilla 6 fresh peaches 1 cup macaroon crumbs
Cream the butter and 1/2 sugar together until light. Beat in yolk. Then add the flour and mix to make firm dough. Roll into a ball and chill one hour. Press chilled dough over bottom and sides of 10-inch flan ring. Prick all over with fork. Cover bottom with wax paper and fill with uncooked rice or dried beans. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes; remove rice and wax paper. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 10 minutes more.
Combine remaining sugar, cornstarch, salt and ginger. Blend with milk until smooth. Cook, stirring, until boiling and thick. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour into baked flan shell.
Peel, halve and remove stones from peaches. Cut each half into three pieces. Arrange evenly over filling. Sprinkle with macaroon crumbs. Bake at 400 degrees 15 to 20 minutes. Chill. FRESH TOMATO WITH PESTO (4 servings) 2 cloves garlic, peeled 1/2 cup olive oil 1/4 cup water 2 tablespoons soft butter 2 tablespoons pine nuts (pignoli) 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese Pinch salt 1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves (dried basil will not do) 4 large ripe tomatoes, peeled Salad greens
In container of blender combine garlic, oil, water, butter, pine nuts, cheese and salt. Whirl until mixture is smooth. While the blender is running at medium speed add the basil, a few leaves at a time. (More oil may be added, if necessary, to faciliate blending the basil.) Transfer the sauce to a bowl and press plastic wrap onto the surface (exposed to air, pesto darkens). Use the sauce at room temperature. Cut off the stem ends of the tomatoes and remove a little of the pulp. Cover and chill the tomatoes. Prepare salad greens of your choice. (At this point you can stop and continue later.) Fill the cavity of each tomato with some of the pesto . Serve on bed of salad greens. PLUM CRUNCH (6 servings) 24 Italian plums or 16 large purple plums, pitted and quartered 1/4 cup brown sugar 3 tablespoon flour 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1 cup sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 cup sifted flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 egg, well beaten 1/2 cup melted butter
In the bottom of a shallow 2 quart ungreased baking dish, arrange the plums skin side down. Sprinkle a mixture of the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon over plums. Mix thoroughly with fork. Combine the sugar, baking powder, flour, salt and egg and sprinkle evenly over plums. Pour over the melted butter and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve warm or cooled.