Saturday, August 12, 2006

When the Gettin' Gets Good

Learning to eat in season has helped me pay more attention to the cycle of harvests found at the farmers' market, and that in turn has helped me appreciate how that affects my work in preserving produce for the winter.

As soon as I was tired of drying peas and freezing beans, it was time to freeze, dry, and bake with berries. And as other vegetables start to wane, I walked to the market this morning with one very clear goal in mind: start stocking up on tomatoes.

Of course, I always browse the market for what can be eaten during the week, but I've been buying more this year for the sole purpose of preparing part of the harvest to use later.

Happily, my goal was easily met this week, as I walked home with five different kinds of tomatoes (in large quantities), with reassurances from all the farmers that the tomatoes would keep coming in for a few more weeks.

But before I get too focused for the weekend, you'd probably like to know what I found otherwise at the market, wouldn't you?

The Fiddlin' Farmer had more okra, so of course I bought a quart as I've been tweaking the fried version, adding a hefty spoonful of curry powder and a sprinkling of chili powder to the cornmeal mix. He also had huge paste tomatoes that he said would be good for making sauce, so I bought two quarts of those, along with a bunch of flat Italian parsley for drying.

The Corn Queen had another pickup full of fresh ears this week, so I bought half a dozen ears of yellow corn for use in cooking this week, and I also picked up another small bag of ruby red popcorn to have on hand.

The Cheerful Lady and Handyman Joe had left their stand in the capable hands of their children for another week, and from them I purchased more fresh peppermint (to be dried and used in herbal tisanes), carrots, green beans, and lots of garlic. (Personally, I can never have too much garlic!)

I picked up another pint of honey from the Bee Man and a large zucchini from the sweet older couple next to him, and since the Tomato Farmer had some beautiful Roma tomatoes this week, I bought two quarts from him.

The Gentleman Farmer and his son also had tomatoes, so from them I bought two pints of grape tomatoes, two pints of cherry tomatoes, and a quart of Early Girls. I also picked up two slender zucchini from them just to have on hand for quick sautés.

I know I've got plenty of work ahead of me now, but what a joy it was to climb back up the hill with so much good food!

And it's only going to get better over the coming weeks...


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