Top Ten Ways to Make the School Year Smooth

  1. Easy dinners – I love making fresh, healthy meals. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that a homemade meal–even if it’s quick and easy–is much healthier than ordering pizza every night. I try to follow the rule that I can only make one “complex” dish per night. For example, if we’re having burgers (easy), I can make frozen green beans (easy) and couscous and black bean salad (more time consuming).
  2. Pizza once a week – I’m going to budget to order pizza once a week. We have church plans on two weeknights, and I tutor after school one of those days. I don’t have time to cook and clean up afterwards. In the past, I would have cooked at home anyways and been depressed about how messy my kitchen was for 80% of the week. No more! Besides, I am very popular around here when I order pizza.
  3. Date Night – We used to cram date night into a week night, and then I’d want to eat out again on Friday because I was so exhausted after a long work week. We’ve moved date night to Friday night, and now I have something to look forward to all week!
  4. Delegating – With pizza night and date night out of the way, I’ll only cook on three week nights. We’ve made an arrangement that Dexter and Luke (our renter) will each do all the dishes once a week, so I’ll only do dishes one night a week! Luke and our future second renter will also clean the upstairs bathroom–so all I have to clean is a half bath.
  5. Decluttering – We’ve worked hard this summer to get rid of a lot of stuff. We’ve even give away the now-empty plastic totes we stored our junk in so we’re not tempted to re-fill the empty spaces. Having fewer possessions means I have fewer responsibilities. We’re not finished yet, but I can already feel the weight lifted from my shoulders!
  6. Waking up on time – Even though we’re almost 26 and have been married for 5 years, Dexter and I are awful about waking up on time. No amount of morning misery has been able to convince us to just get out of bed when the alarm goes off. We’ve instituted an extrinsic reward system to pry us off our buns in the morning: our Friday night date budget hinges on our waking up on time. For every week day we wake up at the designated time, $5 goes in the date night fund. Needless to say, I had a very productive morning today!
  7. Prep the night before – I am notorious for saying, “I’ll do it in the morning.” This is a dangerous thing for a person who can’t wake up to say. (See #6) From now on, I’m making lunches, getting my bag ready, and even picking out my clothes the night before. No more stressful mornings for me!
  8. Family calendar – Dexter and I will have two friends renting rooms in our house this fall. With four adults sharing our home, and three adults eating together, it’s important to know who is going to be where, when. Instead of making an ever-effective “mental note,” we got a big family calendar with plenty of room to write. I think I use it the most, and even if no one else touches it all year, it’s taking away my burden to remember everything all the time.
  9. Saying no – I’m trying to realize that there are some things I won’t be able to do as much as I’d like, and some things I won’t be able to do at all. I haven’t run for a couple of weeks because of school activities (and I didn’t run for a couple of weeks before that). I’d like to keep running, but it may not be four times a week like it was in the past. And I’m deciding to be okay with that.
  10. Having ONE priority – We often talk about our “priorities,” but only one priority can be at the top of the list. I’m making an extra effort to keep my relationship with God at the top of my list at the expense of a clean house, of time to run, and of time to blog.

I’m linking up with OhAmanda’s Top Ten Tuesday.

Market Monday

This week, I forgot to stop for cash on my way to the farmers’ market, so I could only use our CSA punch card for purchases. But as you can see, I came home with plenty.

We’ll eat the green beans as a side with “tuna bake,” a casserole my mom made when I was a kid that Dexter has requested for dinner this week.

We bought regular large eggs, but then decided to get a carton of pullet eggs (left), which are the first eggs a hen lays when they are less than a year old. They are smaller than standard eggs. Some people think they are richer than standard eggs, but our pastured eggs from Salt Fork Farms are so good that it doesn’t really matter if they’re big or small.

The cherry tomatoes were just for Dexter. Although his sweet tooth usually pulls him toward things more like this, he loves popping back tomatoes. I don’t get it, but I do support the habit.

The onions and zucchini will go in spaghetti sauce, in omelets, and atop huevos rancheros.

We devoured the potatoes Saturday night with burgers. I tried an Amy’s veggie burger for the first time.

Last week, I had high hopes for cooking meals and following recipes. I’ve realized that since school has started, quick meals are the only ones that are going to get made. This week we’ll be eating:

  • Huevos rancheros, yogurt
  • Tuna bake, green beans
  • Omelets with zucchini, onion, and cheese
  • Spaghetti with store bought sauce ramped up with onions and zucchini, salad

What did you find at the farmers’ market this week?

Market Monday

Saturday’s farmers’ market was nice and cool. I wore a sun dress and even wished I’d brought a cardigan. Even though the temperatures have been summery, in comparison to the recent sweltering weather, it feels like fall is here.

My breakfast came from Devotay, the makers of auf laufs. It was a tortilla espanola made with potatoes and onions, topped with aioli (a tangy, garlic mayonnaise).

Since our city has a festival about every other weekend during the summer (for art, jazz, books, you name it), we decided to check out this week’s festival: Sand in the City.

The city brings in professionals to build a massive sand sculpture in the middle of the street.

Local businesses create their own sculptures as well. Can you name this classic children’s book?

“I am the Lorax. I speak for the Thneeds.”  -The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss


Humpty Dumpty

This week, I picked up tomatoes, potatoes, onions, zucchini, eggs, and a whole broiler chicken from our CSA. (I still haven’t dared to cook the stewing chicken I bought in May. I see a whole-chicken-cooking-adventure post in my future.)

We bought the beets from Grinnell Heritage Farm and the corn from an old hippie-looking man whose sign advertised “bodacious sweet corn.”

I’ve really been enjoying the red onions from our CSA this summer. They leave a delicious caramelization on the bottom of the new not-nonstick pans I got for Christmas. Now I finally know what Rachael Ray was talking about when she exhorted me to scrape all the goodness off the bottom of my pan when I added my vegetable stock.

I’m headed back to work this week. I definitely have one of those “ugh” feelings about how busy things are about to get, but I’m also excited about having some structure back in my schedule. I imagine I’ll find time for things I never got around to this summer thanks to that structure. I hope to cook some low-stress meals as I get back into the swing of things.

This week, we’ll eat:

  • Zucchini, onion, and kale omelets, potatoes
  • Burgers and corn on the grill, baked beans
  • Beet soup (I’m in the market for a recipe!), bread, veggie
  • Scalloped tomatoes with croutons, salad

Did you make it to a farmers’ market this week? What’s cooking in your kitchen?

Market Monday & 200th Post Giveaway Winner

heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market

I wanted to buy everything at the farmers’ market this week. We’re actually getting both sun and rain here in Iowa (finally!), which means that the more colorful vegetables of summer are finally ready to harvest.

I went to our CSA stand first thing on Saturday morning to get eggs. We’ve become pasture-raised egg snobs around here. First, we love buying the eggs directly from the man who raises the chickens so we know that they really are pasture-raised–we’re not just relying on a sticker on an egg carton at the store. Second, the yolks are brighter, the whites cook up more tender, and we pretty much devour the carton of eggs within a few days of purchase.

From our CSA, we also bought four tomatoes, three cucumbers, three eggplant, a pile of tomatoes, a red onion, a head of garlic, and fennel.

I bought another bottle of Lemon Basil Balsamic Vinegar from Pickle Creek Herbal. We’ve been following the simple (1:2 vinegar to oil ratio with a drizzle of honey) recipe for salad dressing Jocelyn gave us when I first met her and have exhausted our first bottle. She also recommended using it on caprese salad, which I think will be a good use for those four tomatoes. (Or three tomatoes. See how the top one looks a little funky? It looks really funky now.)

I also stopped at a stand to by goat cheese for a muffin recipe I wanted to try for Sunday morning breakfast. I’ll share that recipe with you soon so you can see if you want to start waking up to goat cheese.

We bought the cherry tomatoes and yellow squash from an organic stand that was very friendly and helpful to Dexter one morning as he was getting his stand set up. Dexter loves these cherry tomatoes and will enjoy having them in his lunch in place of the carrots I usually send.

For the sake of full disclosure, I should tell you that we also bought apple cider doughnuts and a savory tomato auf lauf at the farmers’ market. They were devoured much to quickly and ravenously to make it onto the camera.

Some of the cucumbers will probably make it into a salad, but we’ve been using them to add some pizzazz to our drinking water. I fill the pitcher in our fridge with water and add five slices of cucumber and half a lemon, sliced thinly or cut into wedges. (Wedges make it easier to squeeze the juice directly into the water, but I’ve found that slices flavor the water well enough if left to sit.) I usually refill the pitcher without replacing the cucumber and lemon slices once or twice so we can extract all the flavorful goodness from them before tossing them in the garbage disposal. Dexter doesn’t like plain water, but he was enamored with this water when I made it once last month and has been drinking it almost as enthusiastically as he drinks coffee.

I’m not a huge fan of eggplant, but I really want to like it. I plan to bake it (like in the first half of this recipe) and then serve the crispy slices on top of spaghetti. It’ll be my adapted version of eggplant parmesan. (My beef with real eggplant–or chicken–parmesan is that everything gets soggy, and I don’t want to go to the trouble of making something delicious and crispy if I’m just going to dump sauce all over it. Does anyone else feel this way? Am I the only one who has soggy-parm issues?)

The large pile of yellow squash will go into Sunny Summer Squash Soup, which I found on Once A Month Mom’s August Vegetarian Menu. The onion, some garlic, and two of the potatoes will go in the soup, and the rest were eaten, grilled in slices, with Monday night’s dinner.

What I’m left with, however, is a bulb of fennel. I didn’t have any plans for it. It was sort of an impulse purchase. (You know you’re kind of a kitchen dork when fennel is your impulse buy.) Any suggestions for my fennel?

Finally, before I hit the sack on this barely-got-it-posted-on-Market-Monday, I want to announce that Sarah is the winner of the Eating Animals giveaway. Your book will be in the mail as soon as I confirm your address.

Market Monday

***Remember to enter my giveaway to win a copy of Eating Animals! The winner will be announced next Market Monday.***

Saturday was possibly the best farmers’ market day ever. We did get some good veggies, but the day started out spectacularly. After dropping Dexter off to work the market, I had my first successful morning run ever–and got one day closer to earning my new shoes. (And then on Sunday, I earned them!)

Aronia Auf Lauf and Spearmint Tea

Capanna’s stand was set up right next to Devotay‘s stand, so we forewent our usual apple cider doughnuts and bought “auf laufs.” Auf laufs are an Austrian version of crepes, but they’re a little thicker than crepes, and can be served with sweet or savory fillings like crepes. Dexter and I shared mango and aronia (also known as chokeberry) auf laufs. They were perhaps even more delicious (and probably one hundred times more healthy) than our doughnut habit, although they were four times as expensive. I also bought a glass of spearmint tea from Devotay for just a dollar–which included a free refill. I was happy to find a refreshing, caffeine free drink to sip on since it was incredibly hot outside.

At our CSA, we picked up a dozen eggs, several potatoes, a large head of broccoli, and a huge bag of kale and collard greens. We also bought a pork shoulder roast because I’ve promised to make Cuban sandwiches this week for dinner. They’re Dexter’s favorite. Finally, we bought a basket of yellow and purple beans from a stand we’ve never purchased from before. I forgot to take a picture of all the food before I cooked and ate it.

Sunday night, we ate baked eggs with greens and mushrooms (loosely based on the Smitten Kitchen recipe found here), roasted potatoes, bacon from Grass Run Farm, and some delicious whole grain cornmeal lemon-blueberry pancakes.

Tonight, we had stir-fry with broccoli, greens, carrots and last week‘s cabbage. I need to acquire some frozen fruit so I can use the gigantic bag of greens in my fridge in some green smoothies.

I’m hoping to try out this Bobby Flay recipe for Cuban sandwiches. Has anybody out there ever made a Cuban before? Any tips?

Did you make it to a farmers’ market this week? What’s cooking at your house?

Market Monday…er Tuesday (and 200th Post Giveaway!)

Forgive my Market Tuesday post. I had some technical difficulties and didn’t want to wait until next week!

Happy Independence Day to you, and Happy 200th Post to me!

I’m here to break my unintentional two-week blogging hiatus. My summer job scoring writing tests will be over tomorrow morning, and I did not anticipate the amount of time it would take up. I am so looking forward to Wednesday, and making some headway on those projects I wrote about last month.

Two weekends ago, I didn’t make it to a farmers’ market. Dexter’s family had a reunion at his mom’s place, so although we didn’t make it to a market, we did spend a day ingesting cake pops, apple cake, and even a s’mores pie topped with bacon. (Dexter’s family is serious about desserts. Entire tables are devoted to desserts at their gatherings–the meal-like foods are just a ruse in case any “outsiders” make it in to the reunion.)

Dexter got to meet (for the first time as an adult, anyway) his great-uncle Bernie. We discovered that Bernie’s vocation was graphic design and that he still sketches daily to keep his skills sharp. (Really, “sketch” seems like a silly word. He makes amazing color drawings and even takes a portfolio filled with fancy pencils and other drawing tools with him wherever he goes.) It was cool to find out that Dexter’s artistic interests could be a genetic echo of Uncle Bernie’s skills.

Fast forward to this weekend–I made it to the farmers’ market!

We bought some delicious iced coffee from Capanna (not that we’re biased) and apple cider doughnuts, which are our incentive to get out of bed early on Saturday mornings when we forget that we really do like the vegetables enough to get up early to buy them.

From our CSA, we got a dozen eggs, a bunch of turnips, several very dirty farm-fresh-looking potatoes, two heads of red romaine, a cabbage, and two heads of garlic. We also stopped at a mushroom stand and bought a carton of portobellos.

Two weeks ago, I cooked up a storm every night. We ate delicious, balanced meals, and I was constantly exhausted from trying to clean the kitchen. Last week, we were so busy I barely cooked. When our schedule slowed down, however, my desire to get in the kitchen didn’t come back. Dexter made oatmeal raisin pancakes and eggs on Friday night. Then, he made crepes filled with farmers’ market portobellos, potatoes, and turnips for dinner on Saturday night. They were delicious, and I was glad to get to run instead of cook. Dexter is the things-made-with-eggs master around here.

Since then, I have cooked, and it has been okay, but I’m still not excited about it. I do have a plan to use what remains of our farmers’ market finds. We’ll grill the potatoes tonight and serve them alongside the coleslaw I’ll make with our cabbage. The romaine will make lots of salads for side dishes in the evening and lunches for me now that I’ll be home during the day. The garlic will go in just about everything, and we’ve been eating so many eggs that they’re practically gone already!

Now, for the good stuff.

To celebrate my 200th post and in light of my recent controversial, freshly pressed post on Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals, I’ve decided to give away a copy of Eating Animals.

How to Enter:

Leave a comment below telling (or linking to a post where you tell) what you’ll be cooking this week and if you found any of the ingredients at a farmers’ market.

For up to three bonus entries (leave a comment for each), tweet, facebook, or blog about this giveaway.

The giveaway will close on Sunday, July 24 at 11:59 pm CST.

Thanks for reading! Here’s to 200 more posts!


Market Monday

I didn’t start making the rounds at the farmers’ market on Saturday until close to 11:00. After dropping Dexter off at 6:45 to help man the coffee shop stand, I went home and dozed on the sofa, read, and ate a chocolate chip cookie and some trail mix for breakfast. (In my defense, I didn’t fall asleep until 2 am the night before, and I thought I would be a much better wife if I had a little more than four hours of sleep. I was.)

By the time I got to our CSA stand, they were out of eggs and several of the veggies they started the day with. I bought a big bunch of radishes and some garlic scapes (see my post from last year to learn what they are).

I’m still fairly new to radishes, and before this year hadn’t been a fan. The radishes I’ve bought this year have been fairly mild, and they’ve worked well to give a little crunch to salads at lunch time. Brecca, a schoolmate from years ago, posted a recipe for radish-thyme spread on her blog last week that I’m itching to try. It involves butter and bread, so I think it will be a winner.

I’ll probably throw some garlic scapes into some scrambled eggs, but I’d also like to try the pesto recipe here.

Before making our way back to the coffee stand, we bought a breakfast burrito from the “local burrito” stand. It was delicious, containing eggs, potatoes, carrots, and greens, among other things.

Remember two weeks ago when I got the basil plant from Jocelyn who owns Pickle Creek Herbal? Remember how I was keeping a “watchful eye” on it? My eyes did fine–my brain, not so much. It held a place of honor in the middle of our kitchen table for a week, in the plastic pot it came in, until I realized it was turning brown, possibly because it had no sun. I (over) watered it and spent the next few days moving it into the sunlight outside. But it was too late.

However, for some reason I have a new determination not to be defeated by gardening. I mean–God created these things to grow, and everything they need to grow is all around me. This should not be that hard.

So, this week, I went to visit Jocelyn again. I admitted that I destroyed the plant she had successfully nurtured from a seed (probably from another plant she had grown from seed), and she was very kind, asking me questions and helping me figure out how I had killed the previously thriving plant. I bought another basil plant–this time it had three plants in it, to my surprise! When my friend Amy told me how easy mint was to grow (and that she thought it would survive even if she mailed a clipping to me) I thought, “I should be able to keep something alive that could survive in a dark envelope for a few days,” so I bought a mint plant, too. I almost went a little crazy and bought more herbs, but I figured I should take care of what I have first.

We stopped at a hardware store on the way home. I picked out some organic potting soil and three terracotta pots for the basil. I killed some tomato plants a few years ago, so I decided to use one of those larger pots, at Jocelyn’s suggestion, for the mint since they grow so prolifically. As soon as I got home, I re-potted everything. This afternoon, I’ll set up Dexter’s desk in front of a window and put the basil there to hopefully thrive. The mint is staying outside on the front porch. And I will remember to give adequate sunlight and not to over water.

My new basil plants, hoping for survival.

I’m counting on the reputation for hardiness mint has. Fun fact: This Cuban variety of mint is the same mint Hemingway drank in his mojitos while he lived in Cuba.

What did you find at the market this week? Do you have any tips for an obtuse, novice gardener?

Top Ten Rhubarb Recipes

It’s safe to say that I have developed a bit of a rhubarb obsession. It’s so red and cheerful, and I love an excuse to bake when I’m just baking for fun. I’ve come home from the farmers’ market with rhubarb the past few weeks, knowing I would make something delicious, but not having any idea what that something would be.

The following is my list of rhubarb inspiration. I’ve personally tested the top three recipes and can attest that they are worth turning on your oven even on a hot summer day.

Rhubarb Crisp – I told you about this last week. When rhubarb season is over, the crisp part of the recipe can be used in another other type of fruit crisp. Since it contains walnuts, it would be great for apple crisp.

Rhubarb Muffins – I took this decadent Smitten Kitchen recipe and substituted in white whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup honey for both kinds of sugar. I also left off the crumb topping. I was left with a delicious, barely sweet muffin that traveled well and didn’t leave my fingers sticky with sugar after a rushed breakfast.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake – My roommate bought a New York Times paper last week and left it on the end table with this recipe facing up. It was so thoughtful, or clever, that I decided to make the cake Sunday evening. The rhubarb turned out the perfect combination of sweet and tart, and the cake was  sturdy but soft, and rich but mild enough to balance out the tartness of the rhubarb.

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam – I am confident that combining two foods that I am mildly obsessed with into something that can be spread on toast will be a winning combination.

Rhubarb Custards – I’m hoping this will be reminiscent of the custard/pie combination we saw on our trip to the United Kingdom. Since it lacks a pie crust, it’s probably significantly lighter, too.

Rhubarb & Red Lentil Curry – What fun is a “secret ingredient challenge” if you don’t make a savory application of the usually sweet food?

Mexican Rhubarb Chocolate Chunk Brownies – I am not a proponent of mixing fruit and chocolate. Generally, I believe it ruins both perfectly good fruit and perfectly good chocolate. However, I think this needs to be attempted if just for a taste.

Rhubarb-Cream-Filled Brioche Doughnuts – Brioche is a rich, eggy bread that I fell in love with while eating French Toast Napoleon at the Cheesecake Factory in Illinois. It was love at first bite. And I don’t think frying, cream, or rhubarb could possibly not improve something delicious like brioche.

Rhubarb Tart – I know that pies are the natural application for rhubarb, but I love tarts because you don’t have to make the edges pretty–the pan does it for you!

Frosted Rhubarb Cookies – Again, I’m appealing to the “good + good = really good” argument. Frosting + rhubarb + cookies = Really awesome good.

What is your favorite rhubarb recipe?

I’m linked up at OhAmanda‘s Top Ten Tuesday.

Market Monday

On Saturday, Dexter worked the farmers’ market with our roommate Luke. I showed up halfway through and dutifully delivered the apple cider doughnuts. And let me tell you, delivering doughnuts to hot coffee stand on a drizzly Saturday morning is no punishment.

In two strolls around the market, we picked up everything we needed: a pound of rhubarb, a bag of spinach, a carton of eggs, and a stewing chicken, all from Salt Fork Farms.

We had resigned ourselves to not joining a CSA this summer. The couple we had split our CSA share with in the past decided not to join, and our old CSA had concocted a really inconvenient delivery plan. I also felt bad for wasting much of what we took home in our share each week. We were elated when we ran across Salt Fork Farms, which specializes in pasture-raised poultry and eggs as well as fresh produce. Since I am on the fence about continuing to be vegetarian, I was excited to see a local option that seems to raise chickens in the best possible way. We also loved the punch card based format of the CSA. Instead of getting a like-it-or-not box of veggies each week, we got punch cards that act like cash at the Salt Fork Farms farmers’ market stand. Each week at the farmers’ market, we buy whatever we want from our CSA and get a 10% discount off the market price. It’s the perfect arrangement for us because we can stock up on the things we love, and if we miss a week, we’re not giving up the food we paid for.

After perusing to my heart’s content, I camped out with Dexter at the coffee stand. I was intrigued by the stand next to ours which sold tiny herb plants, homemade soaps and lip balms, and herb-infused vinegar and olive oil. I had my eye on a bottle of balsamic vinegar for my new homemade salad dressing habit. The girl running the stand, Jocelyn, was so sweet and helpful. She coached me through choosing a basil plant for Dexter’s desk that would hopefully produce lots of usable leaves despite my black thumb. She also recommended a salad dressing recipe for my new vinegar: one part vinegar, two parts olive oil, a little bit of honey. It’s simple, but it was a hit with all three boys at the dinner table last night!

I got to chat with Jocelyn during the slow moments of the market, although her stand attracted crowds! She told me that she grows all the herbs and makes all the products herself. You can check out her company’s website, www.picklecreekherbal.com. I got to watch her stand for a few minutes and “play vendor” while she was gone. I talked up her product and even sold three items. I thought this shy girl did pretty well! (Like seriously, I talked to strangers in real life. On purpose.)

We haven’t potted the basil for Dexter’s desk yet, but I’ve been keeping a watchful eye on it.

My plans for this week’s market finds:

  • Rhubarb – I think rhubarb is turning into a bit of an obsession. Last week it was rhubarb crisp. This week it is rhubarb muffins and rhubarb upside down cake. Stay tuned tomorrow for a top ten list of delicious (or at least interesting) sounding list of rhubarb recipes.
  • Spinach – We may use this to supplement some store bought mixed greens for lettuce salad. However, it will more likely make its way into a few green smoothies. Dana has some great green smoothie recipes here.
  • Stewing hen – This will sit in my freezer until I have the guts to cook it. I plan to cook it with veggies to make broth and to cook the meat for use in other things. (Stewing hens–which are originally used for laying–are best eaten in something since the meat is a little tougher.) Then I’ll use the bones and more veggies for another batch of stock.
  • Eggs from pastured hens – Oh heavens. These are delicious. I’ve had them poached and fried. Dexter has had them scrambled. We’ve eaten them with toast or with veggie hash. They’re full of flavor, healthier than standard eggs, and I don’t have to block out what I know about chicken farming while I eat them!

To share what you found at the market, in your CSA box, or in the seasonal section of the grocery store:

  • Tell us what you found in the comments.
  • OR write a post (link back to me!) and post your link in the comments.
  • Feel free to snatch my button with the following code: <a title=”marketmonday by kjacobs729, on Flickr” href=”http://mrsdexter.wordpress.com/category/market-monday/”><img src=”http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5308/5748976749_a03567b98d_m.jpg” alt=”marketmonday” width=”150″ height=”150″ /></a>

Market Monday Begins

I have a confession to make.

Those of you who might consider me your connection to youthful-vegetarian-hipster-environmental culture may be disappointed. And it’s not just because I’m past the quarter-life mark and sometimes throw away my tin cans.

Until last year, I didn’t like farmers’ markets. Don’t get me wrong. I like farmers and I like food, I just hated going to my city’s farmers’ market. I only went occasionally on a weekday night to pick up my CSA box, exhausted from a day at work, and in a hurry to get home. The aisle between the vendors was interminably filled with strollers, old people, and chatty gawkers.

One Saturday morning last summer, we were lured downtown by free coffee (a benefit of Dexter’s job which we possibly appreciate as much as the insurance premiums my job pays). Our secret free parking area is just steps away from the farmers’ market, and for some reason we decided to go in. We had no time constraint and no goal other than to look around. We took one lap around to take it all in. We took another lap around to distinguish who was advertising spray-free or organic produce.

I think it was the point at which we bought our first pastry that I fell in love with the farmers’ market. One week we found handheld apple pies. The next week we discovered cherry turnovers. We have developed an addiction to the apple cider doughnuts.

Our Saturday morning addictions are from Barb’s Pantry.

My curmudgeonly distaste for farmers’ markets has turned into a somewhat fanatic enthusiasm. And only in part because farmers’ market day can also be referred to as coffee and doughnut day. I looked forward to the beginning of the farmers’ market all spring, and looked forward to going all through the work week. My beginning ESL students have all known what a farmers’ market is since last fall when we eased into Monday mornings with a “What did you do this weekend?” conversation and all their teacher could talk about was food.

Fortunately, I have also become aware of the vegetables and other products that are sold at farmers’ markets. We decided to forgo our traditional CSA for a variety of reasons (which I will delight you with in a future post) and make a point to shop at the farmers’ market this summer.

This week, I bought a dozen eggs from pasture-raised hens. (I actually bought them from a man, but they originally came from hens.) Last week, I bought these same eggs but used them all up in baking projects. My goal this week is to eat the eggs alone or make omelets so I can find out what these eggs really taste like!

I also bought a bunch of rhubarb. Last week, I made rhubarb crisp. Print off this recipe and make it. If you’ve never tried rhubarb, buy some now and follow this recipe. You will be changed. I thought my mom was crazy for years because she like it, but I made her a mothers’ day dessert with it once and now I have a slight obsession.

Finally, I bought a bunch of radishes. I don’t have a radish obsession by any means, but the the combination of green leaves, red bulbs and white tips was just irresistible. We used the radishes in this delicious salad:

Spring Market Salad

Serves two as a generous side dish

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 1 small head romaine, rinsed and dried,
  • 2 handfuls spinach, rinsed and dried (leftover from last week’s farmers’ market purchase)
  • 1 handful radishes, trimmed and washed
  • 2 oz. feta cheese, broken into small pieces

Dressing:

  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. cold water
  • 1 pinch salt
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • a drizzle of honey or agave

Instructions:

  • Combine dressing ingredients in jar. Secure lid on jar. Shake.
  • Chop romaine and spinach into bite sized pieces.
  • Slice radishes
  • In a large bowl, toss dressing with lettuce.
  • Divide lettuce into two salad bowls. Top with radishes and feta.
  • Add meat, nuts, and/or dried fruit to make into main course salad.

I knew I’d want to blog about my farmers’ market finds. I also knew I’d want to hear about what friends and strangers on the world wide web were finding at their local markets, and maybe more importantly, how they were using those finds in meals throughout the week. Because buying kohlrabi is a cool thing to do, but cooking with it and subsequently eating it is much more impressive.

marketmonday

And so begins Market Monday. I plan to share with you each week what I found at the farmers’ market and how I plan to cook with it. Here’s how you can play along:

  • Leave a comment below telling what you found at the farmers’ market and your plans for cooking and eating it. Or link to a post you’ve written addressing the same things. (Then, link back to me in your post so your readers can get in on the fun.)
  • Couldn’t make it to the farmers’ market? Tell us about what was in your CSA box, or even what seasonal produce you found at your grocery store. Did you choose local tomatoes over imported? The goal here is learning and progress, not farmers’ market snobbery.
  • Read the comments below for inspiration. Visit the links and comment on those people’s blogs because comments are so exciting to get. Seriously, I get palpitations when I see a notice in my inbox that I’ve received one.

So, what did you find at your farmers’ market this week?

P.S. – Want to grab the cute Market Monday button my handsome graphic designer husband made for me? Use the code below:

<a title=”marketmonday by kjacobs729, on Flickr” href=”http://mrsdexter.wordpress.com/category/market-monday/”><img src=”http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5308/5748976749_a03567b98d_m.jpg&#8221; alt=”marketmonday” width=”150″ height=”150″ /></a>