The Jimenez family has some pretty interesting things going on at their Santa Ynez Valley farm these days. When the couple first began selling at local farmers markets, they offered a bounty of fresh beans, lettuce, herbs, carrots and heirloom radishes, along with a few seasonal fruits. As their customer base started to increase, owner Marcie Jimenez decided to go back to her previous specialty -- pie making -- and began to sell her exceptional berry pies filled with farm-raised blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. In the winter, pumpkin pies were added to the mix, produced directly from pumpkins grown on the farm. The past couple of years, Marcie and Gus Jimenez decided to expand their product mix even further by offering farm-raised lamb and goat meat -- again, raised directly on their farm. Feeding on summer and winter squash, greens, corn and fruit from the leftover harvest, the stock eats well. It is also free of hormone and antibiotic injections. The quality is instantly noticed in the meat -- the best I've tried. The farm has taken it one step further with the newest addition, fresh pork.

photoNow available at the Tuesday Santa Barbara, Wednesday Solvang, Saturday Santa Barbara and Sunday Camino Real farmers markets, this meat is as good as it gets (you can also get exceptional pork from Rocky Canyon Ranch at the Saturday Santa Barbara market). With a vast range of cuts ready for pickup each week, you will surely be able to find what you're looking for, with everything from stew meat to pork tenderloin and ribs. Upon opening the vacuum-sealed packaging, you notice the quality.

When many people think of eating pork, bacon in particular, fat comes to mind. While all forms of meat have their heavy and leaner cuts, pork is one that is actually exceptionally lean, which is why it's often referred to as "the other white meat." A 4-ounce cut of pork tenderloin contains only 5 grams of fat, with 2 grams of carbohydrates and about 20 grams of protein. Combined with seasonal veggies, you have a healthy meal.

Pork is a versatile meat, perfect for grilling, roasting, frying and braising. With so many cuts to choose from, it is difficult to know where to start. I recommend the tenderloin cut if you want the cleanest finish, free of any bone and surrounding fat.

For this week's Fix, I decided to go with sirloin steak cuts (two steaks per package). They have a small bone running through the center, releasing exceptional flavor into the meat. The surrounding layer of fat (which cooks off quite a bit) also enhances the flavor and tenderness of the cut, which is delicious when roasted in the oven and finished under the broiler. With the aromas of fresh garlic, thyme and honey pleasantly filling the kitchen, your taste buds will be jumping.

Sam Edelman is general manager of the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market Association. His column appears every Thursday. E-mail him at food@newspress.com.




GARLIC-HERB HONEY-GLAZED PORK SIRLOIN

1 package pork sirloin steaks (about 1.2 pounds, with 2 steaks total; substitute pork tenderloin if desired) (available from Jimenez Family Farm at the Tuesday Santa Barbara, Wednesday Solvang, Saturday Santa Barbara and Sunday Camino Real farmers markets each week)

1 bunch seasonal beets, peeled and cut in half if large (try Tom Shepherd's candy-stripe beets at the Tuesday Santa Barbara, Thursday Goleta and Carpinteria, and Saturday Santa Barbara markets)

3 tablespoons local honey, reserve 1 tablespoon (available from San Marcos Farms at the Tuesday Santa Barbara, Saturday Santa Barbara and Sunday Camino Real markets)

2 tablespoons fresh loose thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced

Juice from 1 lemon and its zests

2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove pork from package, rinse and pat dry. Put steaks in an aluminum or glass baking dish and place beets around steaks. In small mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Spoon mixture over pork sirloin, cover with foil and cook for approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes. Remove from oven and spoon pan liquid over top of the pork along with reserved tablespoon honey. Place under broiler and cook for about 7-8 minutes, or until the top caramelizes and turns golden brown. The beets should be fork tender. Serve with side of steamed kale, broccoli or Brussels sprouts.

Yield: 2 servings