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?

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>