Saturday, August 05, 2006

Aw, Shucks!

It's been a long, busy day, and I'm feeling a little corny at the moment. So if you'll lend me an ear, I'll tell you all about it.

The day started off bright and early with a visit to the farmers' market, slightly displaced this week as the town prepared for Festa Italiana. The first farmer I spotted was the Corn Queen, with the back of her pickup open to reveal a bountiful harvest. I stopped there first and bought a baker's dozen ears of bicolor corn, knowing that if I didn't get those into my backpack first thing, I wouldn't have any room for them at all.

Onward I browsed, and I greeted the Cheerful Lady's son and daughter, standing in for their parents this week. I bought three bunches of peppermint from them (since my homegrown supplies were non-existent), as well as more shallots, two red onions, and another bag of basil.

The Fiddlin' Farmer had plenty of okra this week, so I bought two quarts this time around in the hopes that I might actually move beyond fried this week. I also bought more curly kale and two small Japanese eggplants from him... I can never resist!

The Original Organic Farmer had the same kinds of produce today as last week, so I just stuck with a bag of romaine for salads. I also enjoyed a nice chat with her, which may open the possibility of helping her at her stand next year!

The sweet older couple had grape tomatoes this week, so I bought some from them (hoping to dry them), but I bought some larger tomatoes from the Gentleman Farmer, along with a small zucchini and an equally slender yellow summer squash.

I picked up more pita from the Pita Princess, and after sampling her roasted red pepper hummus, I decided to splurge and buy some of that, too, for sandwiches. And when I spotted that among the containers of goat milk fudge at another table was a mixture of peanut butter and chocolate fudge, I immediately snatched up a container and gladly handed over the money.

I had a lot to haul home, so I stopped at My Favorite Coffee House first for a muffin and a mocha, then I gradually made my way back up the hill, ready to get into the kitchen and do something with all that fabulous produce.

First, I had a nice little corn-shuckin' party all to myself, getting those 13 ears of corn ready to boil.

Once the corn had cooled, I shaved the kernels off the cobs and froze most of them for later, saving about 2 cups' worth for dinner.

I also dried the peppermint in the oven, followed by two pans of my homegrown chocolate mint, for use in teas and baking come winter. I also finally got around to making the green tomato chutney I had meant to make last weekend (before it got too miserably hot).

By early evening, I was ready to spend the time to make one of my favorite summer dinners: midsummer risotto. With homemade vegetable stock and fresh produce from the market (red onion, tomato, zucchini, summer squash, corn, and basil), this simple dish may take a while to cook properly, but the rich creamy texture and the mix of fresh flavors is unbeatable, especially when topped with toasted pine nuts, a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, and chopped fresh basil.

Sure, a lot of my own effort went into gathering and cooking all this wonderful local food. But I don't see it as work as much as a pleasure to give all this good food the respect it deserves... and then to enjoy it myself.

And by buying plenty to save for later, I'll be able to enjoy this good food over and over again.

What can I say but, aw, shucks?!


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