The Meal-Planning Market

12 Jul

Since I’ve been buying part of each week’s groceries at the Farmer’s Market it’s totally changed the way I’ve been going about meal planning. Although I’ve been chipping away at my Life List goal of planning meals for a year I’ve only experienced limited success, but this new world local food has given me new inspiration and motivation in a way that supported my meal planning goals.

Each week I’ve been posting my Farmer’s Market finds each week in a flickr group called Farmer’s Market Hauls started originally by Jim of Sweet Juniper. I’ve also convinced two food-blogging, local-shopping friends to join in, the fabulous Lead Paint Cookbook and home cook extraordinaire, E of Outpost 505. If you shop at a fruit stand, flea market, farmer’s market or CSA, please snap a photo of your haul and add it to the group. I think it’s time we breathe new life into it. Clicking on the photos below will take you to my flickr where you can read notes describing each item in the picture.

What I’m loving is that while I’m at the market buying produce I’ll find other, nonfood-related but still very awesome things. I’ve so far grabbed a flier to tour an alpaca farm (friends, I’m going to arrange a trip for this–let me know if you want in), signed up for free books via Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, and Isobel was able to plant a little sunflower in a peat pot. All of this, free, too.

We’ve been watering the little sunflower and watching it sprout. Last night it I decided it was large enough to put in the ground. That booth also gave us free seed packets: parsley and lettuce. I told her that seeds were tiny baby plants and she helped me water them. I can’t wait for them to sprout but I really hope she won’t love them too much.

In addition to the produce we’ve picked up some fabulous clam chowder from near San Jose, Dutch chocolate zucchini bread that is so good it haunts my dreams, endless varieties of hummus and fresh pita bread, and dried organic spices. Isobel often asks for pita and hummus for breakfast, and it makes me ridiculously proud when she does so.

Our farmer’s market is still pretty small. It was just started last year and buzz about it is only just taking off. There are still a lot of things not available at the market–no meat is sold and only one vendor sells cheese and offers only one kind. But I’ve still managed to make a wide variety of things with the selection of things I do bring home, and I feel I’ve only scratched the surface.

I’m still mulling over how to pull my Farmer’s Market shopping into a cohesive plan, but I’m getting there. For now I’d like to share a list of things I’ve made with the items from my haul:

* Spicy Eggplants in Honey Sauce from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food

* Blanched wax beans with dill butter.

* Figs: Cut in half with market goat cheese and honey.

* Gazpacho with local bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, olive oil and lemon.

* Crudites with wax beans, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and cucumber dipped in hummus.

* Zucchini ribbons dressed with oil and goat cheese.

* Zucchini ribbons dressed with leftover Spicy Honey Eggplant sauce.

* Goat cheese slathered on baguette rounds, toasted, drizzled with honey and thyme from the garden. I could very easily eat this all day.

* The most amazing green salad with butter lettuce, cucumber, red Italian torpedo onions, heirloom tomatoes, and olive oil dressing. Even the oil was from the Farmer’s Market!

* Corn on the cob with cilantro and lime butter.

* Chopped up fresh fruit by the bucketful.

* Omelet with portabello mushroom and red onion.

* Scrambled eggs with cheese. Practically every day. Also, tastes so good with a side of spicy eggplants. I can’t explain this, but it works.

* New Hatten chowder with garlic herb pita chips.

* Pita bread spread with hummus and cucumber.

* Sliced cherry tomato salad with corn, red onion, and bell pepper and dotted with feta.

I’m looking forward to sharing detailed recipes and pictures with you (and maybe even meal plans, if I get my act together), and I really hope everyone joins me posting to Farmer’s Market Haul. I can’t wait to see what you’re bringing home.

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6 Responses to “The Meal-Planning Market”

  1. booksNyarn July 12, 2011 at 4:11 am #

    You are EXTREMELY inspiring! I just picked up my CSA share yesterday, and while I cannot control what actually comes home in it (five heads of lettuce? REALLY?) it is posts like this that make me want to keep working on making them meals for all three of us.

  2. Anne the Librarian July 12, 2011 at 7:00 am #

    Inspiring indeed! We get a delivery of fresh produce every week (thanks, Door to Door Organics!) and I REALLY need to get on board with meal planning. I always end up making the same couple of things over and over, getting tired of them, and sort of petering out. Do you have a system for meal planning?

  3. Cameron July 12, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    Okay, now I’m starving. Amazing dishes you’ve made!!

  4. Eman July 12, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    Love your food posts. I’m rather lucky with the farmers markets as I live down here in SoCal. I hope yours gets bigger and gives you more options. Keep it up! Cheers…

  5. Christene July 12, 2011 at 11:36 am #

    My husband and I started meal planning recently, and it really is a huge help. Great post!

  6. han_nahj July 12, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    Your photos always inspire me to try my own, but they pale in comparison. And it seems the Ohio produce will permanently pale in comparison as well, but it is so refreshing to visit our farmer’s market every week.

    I’m quite partial to cherry tomato, feta, & spinach naan pizza this summer–because there is no such thing as too much cheese!

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