Saturday, July 01, 2006

You Better Shop Around

As we reach the midpoint of the year, a visit to the farmers' market proves that the growing season is really kicking into high gear.

Tables lined the parking lot this morning, all filled with a gorgeous array of fresh fruits and vegetables, home baked goods, flowers, and other delights. A few people I hadn't seen for a few weeks were suddenly back bearing loads of good local produce, and the atmosphere throughout the market rivaled that of a festival. With the lovely Phoenix and Mr. Nice Guy in tow, I was ready for a bit of a celebratory visit myself.

Since I still have some greens left from last week's market adventure, I set my sights on other veggies today, and I'm happy to say that my favorite farmers were happy to oblige me.

The Cheerful Lady and her husband, Handyman Joe, had lots of beautiful little red potatoes that called my name, so I ended up buying 3 pints of them. (I'm craving homemade potato salad again!) I also snagged two more pints of shelling peas to stock the freezer, a bag of salad greens (I love this stuff!), a bunch of small shallots, a bunch of radishes, and a big bunch of fresh basil for making pesto.

From the Taste-Everything! Lady, I bought a bunch of cylindrical beets, which she assured me cooked in less time than regular round beets, and a bunch of very fresh garlic. She also encouraged me to try some of her edible flowers and gave me a small bloom of Chinese radish flowers to nibble on as I made my way around the market.

I discovered fresh broccoli at the Tomato Farmer's stand, so naturally I had to pick up some to feed that craving as well. (I should have thought to pick up a few bunches so that I could freeze some, but I guess I'll hope for more next week.)

The Original Organic Farmer greeted me with a broad grin and a small potted plant: the Asian green she had told me about (and I'm sorry I can't remember the name) and promised would grow to a stunning height and beauty.

She also had baskets from her small crop of organic black raspberries, so I bought two pints of those, sure that I would find a good use for them. And when I spotted the fennel on her table, I knew I needed to buy a bulb since I've never cooked with it before and have had a couple of intriguing-sounding recipes I'd like to try.

Because my sweet tooth has been acting up lately, I also indulged in a small piece of her cinnamon cake with a lovely peach-colored frosting rose on top. After all, when she told me that she had spent the better part of a day over the winter making herself learn how to make frosting roses, I simply had to reward her efforts, right?

The Pita Princess was back today with packages of freshly-baked whole wheat pita bread, so I stopped to pick up some of that. I also decided that I had looked at her baklava long enough and needed to try it to see how it compared to mine. She uses pistachios, which is a nice touch, but I find I'm still pretty partial to my own recipe! Still, it's a nice treat to let someone else bake it!

I also asked her if she made her own filo dough, and when she replied in the affirmative, I asked if she would consider selling the dough itself as I like making my own baklava come the holidays. She laughed, crinkled her nose, and said no at first, but then she said she would think about it and let me know later. So... who knows?

I would have loved to have supported the Fiddlin' Farmer and the Gentleman Farmer on this visit as well, but my pack was filling up quickly and the produce they had this week duplicated what I already had at home, so I will simply have to wait until next week's market.

In the meantime, I enjoyed a cup of lemonade brought to me by Mr. Nice Guy as well as the delight that Phoenix had in selecting produce and planning a few meals of her own. And once we had filled our packs and our bellies, we headed back up the hill to my house to savor our finds for the day.

Then, being the big fans of fabulous food that we are, we headed to the next big city over and enjoyed visits to two of our other favorite markets: West Point Market and Mustard Seed Market. But I'll tell you more about that later.

Sometimes it's good to shop around.


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