Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Food for Thought—Farmers’ Markets

I’ve been to two farmers’ markets this week, and have to say it’s one of my favorite things about summer. Everything is locally grown, organic and very fresh. Much of it is harvested the morning of the day it goes on sale.

This week I bought red and yellow peppers, English cucumbers, baby salad greens, asparagus, baby bok choy and a bunch of turnips. I also bought delicious herb-and-cheddar focaccia bread and a whole wheat bagette from a small, local bakery.

All week we’ve been eating 100-mile salads, and the baby bok choy made its way into lemon chicken stirfry. The focaccia is long gone. It was so good, I wished I’d bought two.

We marinated some of the asparagus in equal parts olive oil, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce, and grilled it on the barbecue for a couple of minutes. Yum. But this week’s favorite find was the turnips.

The turnips were still attached to their crisp green tops, that’s how fresh they were. I peeled and diced the turnips and braised them in a 50:50 blend of butter and olive oil till they were tender and a little golden on the outside.

Since the green tops looked so lovely, I decided we might as well eat those, too. While washing the leaves, I discovered the tiniest of baby slugs.

A good sign that these veggies were definitely organic.

At first he wasn’t moving, but then I realized the poor little guy had been in the fridge overnight. So I waited a few minutes and, sure enough, he stretched himself to his full length—about one-quarter of an inch—and waved his minuscule antennae around.

I couldn’t bring myself to wash him down the drain, so I took him outside and gently shifted him from the turnip to a dandelion leaf. Then, with a clear conscience, I sliced the leaves into thin strips and sauteed them with a clove of minced garlic in a little olive oil and several dashes of hot sauce. Delicious.

Tomorrow I’ll be shopping again at one of my local farmers’ markets. Next Friday I’ll let you know what I find.

Until next time,


Marin Thomas said...

Lee-I love the farmer's market. The ones in our area are a bit pricey but it's worth the extra money when everything is so fresh!

I always by tomatoes at an FM for my salsa recipe--never store bought tomatoes!


Jodie Esch said...

Wow! My fav - peppers, in all their glorious colours!
I've been reading Barbara Kingsolver's non-fiction book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. She's an outstanding fiction writer and this book is worth looking at as well. She celebrates a year in her family's life and their efforts to eat more natural foods.

Lee McKenzie said...

Marin, the markets where I live tend to be on par with grocery stores, so I'm happy to buy local when I can.

And what is it about store-bought tomatoes? They're so often pulpy and anemic.

Any chance you'd care to share your salsa recipe? We're BIG salsa fans at my house.

Lee McKenzie said...

Jodie, you are the second person to recommend that book, but I have yet to read it. Must do so, soon. Thanks for the reminder!

Gillian Layne said...

Yum! Can't wait for July corn on the cob. My mom is already using small onion from her garden.

Lee McKenzie said...

Gillian, I've been thinking about corn on the cob as well! I buy it from a local farmer who grows quite a few varieties. My favorite has big, bright yellow kernels that are packed with flavor. I'm pretty sure the variety is called Crunchy Yellow. It lives up to its name, and then some!

Anita Birt said...

Lee, I live fairly close to you and have never gone to a farmer's market. I've gone to places on Oldfield Road for fresh fruit in season.

My mouth water as I read what you were cooking. Please don't do this to me when I'm hungry.

You are an admirable woman. Do you go the FM at Moss and Fairfield?

Lee McKenzie said...

Yes, Anita, that's one of my favorite markets. Great produce as well as bedding plants, locally made soap, etc.

LissaMe said...

I love shopping the farmers market. I get so excited when the season rolls in. My favorite part of summer.

Lee McKenzie said...

Hi, LissaMe! Thanks for dropping by The Writer Side. Enjoy the summer and all its bounty.