Tag Archives: Local

Last Haul of the Season

24 Jan

Ah, summer. That magical time when I visited the Farmer’s Market each week and planned our meals accordingly. Now that the market has closed and the local fruit stands have boarded up their windows, I have only my memories and occasional trips to the local remate to tide me over. It’s tough to get there with the kid, and cold and muddy, too, and I have a hard time struggling to carry all those purchases the distance I have to walk back to the car. I can’t wait until May.

These photos are from the last market of the season back in October. This trip was extra special because I was able to fit some thrifting in that day, too.

The plates, bowls and hangers are all thrifted. Purchases that day included green beans, pea shoots, pomegranates, raw almonds, peaches, grape tomatoes, hummus, red pepper tapenade, and a butternut squash.

The sunflower seeds pictured here were actually grown in my garden. Earlier in the season Isobel and I checked out a local nursery’s booth at the Farmer’s Market and they had a display with soil, a little peat pot and seeds. We happened to run into my cousin’s family there, so Isobel and her cousin Victoria got to plant their own sunflower seeds. We watered it and placed it above the sink and two days later it sprouted. It was so magical for Isobel and I to watch. We watched it bloom and eventually cut it down. Isobel helped me pluck the seeds from the flower head. It was incredibly easy and required little more than water on my part.

The amber jar and wooden salt and pepper shakers in the background were also purchased secondhand that day, along with the Pyrex, mushroom cruets, and very awesome (but naturally, inaccurate) vintage dinosaur place mat. I picked up the letter sorter for Isobel and milk glass dish below for a song.

I miss you, summer.

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Farmer’s Market Haul

1 Aug

Today’s Farmer’s Market Haul is actually from three weeks ago. Last Friday I had to help my Mom with something and the Friday before that I helped my friends move, so I’ve been lacking on the Farmer’s Market Hauls in my house. I stopped by a farm stand for produce to get by, and I’ve been rationing the last of the hummus, much to Isobel’s dismay. My Dad was able to do a little bit of shopping at the market last week, plus my friend Jake gave me more squash, so I should be okay for another few days.

This particular trip I bought:

Peaches, at Isobel’s request. Her favorite. Apricots, peaches, and nectarines are kind of a three-way tie for me, but if I had to chose a favorite, I’d say nectarines. But Isobel has shown a marked preference for yellow peaches.

Olive oil, locally grown and pressed extra-virgin olive oil. At ten bucks a bottle, it’s competitively priced compared to some of the fancy oils I’ve bought at the grocery store. Of course, oil like this I save for bread dipping, salad dressing, or other special touches.

Nectarines, for myself mostly, but Anthony and Isobel helped me polish them off.

Lemon Garlic Toasted Pita Chips, normally I get the garlic herb kind, but these were somehow even more amazing, with a bright lemon flavor that makes these chips dangerously addictive.

Tomatoes, local tomatoes are so freaking awesome.

Bell peppers, our market is never overflowing with them, but these looked good.

Heirloom cherry tomatoes, although we’ll occasionally toss them in salads, my preferred method of eating this is standing at the counter, grabbing fistfuls from the bowl, and shoving them into my mouth. Even the tiniest little globe has enormously potent flavor.

Day-Old Baguette, since it wasn’t fresh I got it for only a dollar. A dollar. It was so good Isobel and I snacked on it with butter for lunch and toasted up the rest and ate it with Jake’s basil and tapenade for lunch the rest of the week. It made some amazing croutons, also.

Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade, Anthony is not fond of hummus. He’s a good sport, and allowed me to foist it on him a couple of times, but he just doesn’t like it. I decided to give him a break and instead of getting my usual hummus I sprang for this, which Anthony gobbled down. We really like eating it with roast chicken.

Farm Fresh Eggs, if you follow me on Twitter then you’re aware of my obsession with someone I call the Egg Man at  the Farmer’s Market. Eggs are what I look forward to the most, and I’m devastated if the Egg Man skips a week at the market. I just so happened to be visiting with my friend Valerie that day, and her chickens went nuts and laid a ton of eggs overnight, so she brought me some of their bounty. Isobel remembers Valerie’s chickens, vividly, as they once scared the shit out of her. These eggs were amazing.

More Torpedo Red Onions, these are labeled as Italian, but they’ve been grown in this area forever. I’ve never seen them at the grocery store, but my Dad remembers his Dad buying them locally and cooking with them all summer long. My mom remembers them from growing up in the Delta. They’ve been in the area forever. I particularly like their flavor.

Goat Cheese – Queijo Nicolau, really, really good with the eggs. I kind of want to try it with macaroni and cheese.

Raw almonds, I have a recipe that I’m itching to try for spiced almonds. The problem is someone keeps snacking on them before I have a chance to try it. Anthony.

Purple Green Beans, I had never seen these before, and so my natural and immediate reaction is of course to buy a whole bunch. They taste the same as regular green beans, and once you cook them up they resemble green beans, if a bit darker.

Literature, I can’t go to the Farmer’s Market without coming home with something interesting, be it a flyer for a tour of an alpaca farm or free books from Dolly Parton or a tiny sunflower plant.  This time it was a newsletter and a DVD about saving local farm land in our area.

The best thing I’ve made so far with our Farmer’s Market vegetables is gazpacho–a refreshing, cold tomato soup that is Spanish in origin. It’s the perfect thing to eat when you don’t want to cook and you need something fresh and cooling for the palate. It’s best made with ingredients at the peak of their season, and really shouldn’t be made at all otherwise. I used a modified version of this recipe. Practically every ingredient came from the market.

We ate it with a steak dinner (the one I burned the holy hell out of my hand preparing) and it was very, very good.

The next day I served it with brown rice and mixed the two together. Isobel really liked it that way. She wasn’t interested in it as a soup, but ate almost a whole bowl full of the rice mixture. I froze most of the soup for later in small containers so I can just pull another one out of the freezer when we finish our current container.

I’ve also been cooking up squash my friend Jake has given me from his garden, and there’s nothing quite like fresh, local squash, cooked thin and sauteed in olive oil. It caremelizes and cooks up like candy.

My Dad brought over small red potatoes and I cooked them and mashed the hell out of them and added butter and nutmeg.

I return to work for two days this week to train my replacement. I have some safe, fall back meals planned to get me through. Wish me luck!

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.