We made our first run to the produce market this afternoon. Imagine a city park with 200 year old oak trees casting much needed afternoon shade. Imagine twenty or so little tent-like awnings (the craft show variety) pulled into a circle around a parking area with trucks or vans pulled up behind them, and a wealth of fresh produce, bread, jams, sauces and the obligatory craft or two, hand-lettered signs and professional banners. Then imagine 30-50 people arriving in their cars with fabric bags and baskets in hand. And, imagine varieties of veggies that you haven't seen before, but which look tasty and tempting. That's our new produce market. Mitchell and I agreed that it's what we imagine small town markets were like 200 years ago with everyone bringing what they had to sell into town on Saturday and then buying what they needed to take home.
What we needed was a few strawberries to get us thru until our CSA produce share comes on Thursday. What we bought was strawberries, bread, more bread, and beets. Only the fact that we have plenty left from last week's share kept us from buying more. Everything looked so good!
We are already experimenting with "new" vegetables this summer. I have discovered kale. The last time I ate kale was [literally] at Sequoyah Hills Elementary School in the first grade. In those days the only known way to cook kale was forever. My grandmother used to tell me that to cook greens one had to boil them until the smell got into all the closets. The fine ladies in the school cafeteria certainly used the same recipe. The resulting green slim made it to my very short list of foods I won't eat - and I am not now, nor have I ever been, a particularly picky eater! My friend Elizabeth gave me a more modern recipe for kale and I like it a lot. That's one veggie crossed off the do-not-eat list.
Another new food for me is turnips. I believe I never had the opportunity to eat one before. Nonetheless, I knew I did not like them so they were on the DNE list, too. I believe this is a result of my parents not liking turnips. I am fairly sure that if parents don't eat something, their children are likely to inherit the dislike, since they don't get the opportunity to taste. I sauted them once and liked them fine that way, but really like them raw in a salad. Today at the market we found little turnips in both white and a lovely purple - definitely tempting.
We are still experimenting with Swiss Chard. It's the symbolic joke of the CSA group and represents all the veggies that we don't know how to cook. In fact, we have only gotten one meal of Swiss Chard so far. Mitchell didn't like the way I fixed it, but I have another recipe to try the next time we get some.
We do like beets and bought some today, but we stuck with the "normal" red beets. Another vendor had orange and yellow beets. Next time I want orange beets and a purple cauliflower. I'm really getting into this new food thing.
Other vendors had breads of several kinds - french baguettes, foccacio, various grains and sweet breads. Again, we bought at the first vendor and I wished we had waited. We could have bought bottled sauces of several kinds, and lamb or beef, or eggs, or plants, or cut flowers, or even barbecue! There were craftsmen with carved wooden bowls [very well done and reasonably priced] and stained glass [some pretty suncatchers], handmade jewelry, and several others that we did not really visit.
Everyone from whom we purchased thanked us for buying locally, or for supporting small farmers. That was an interesting experience, but it underscored for me that we want to continue to do it. While it's not possible all year round in our climate, we can certainly do it six to nine months a year. So call us locovores - at least until October.
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