Monday, July 18, 2011

great moments in produce part 2

Another week, another farmer’s market!

Had a great time this week. Was feeling still sleepy from driving Steve to the airport before sunrise the day before, so I took a leisurely pace in the morning, made pancakes, read the paper, didn’t arrive til 11. And then just strolled through, chatting. It was great!

Stopped at one stand with a whole expanse of colors of cherry tomatoes. I asked the guy working which variety was his favorite, and he pointed to these and said, “Try one!” So I did, and the juicy sweetness made my eyes practically roll back in my head and I said, “Yes. That. I want that one.”


Bought some squash from the people we lovingly refer to as “the sarcastic farmers”. Because they’re always there for me with beautiful and tasty produce… but they’re going to make fun of me while I’m there.

Remind me- I’ve totally been LIVING on squash ribbon salad with pesto but have yet to take a picture.

Query: I almost cropped that placemat corner and its shadow out of the edge of this picture but sort of thought I’d miss it. Does it add visual interest or just look sloppy? Anyway, it’s my attempt at artistry.

Also, yknow. Corn. You just have to eat corn.


One piece was already starting to fray open (well more likely someone had ripped it. There was a hilarious sign- being totally ignored- at one place saying “Don’t feel up our peaches!”). Anyway, it was ripped, but it was ripped open to show beautiful corn. So I’m good.


Next: Wow oh wow. There were samples of these white nectarines and they were like THE BEST THING I’VE EVER TASTED. Which I said to the guy I bought them from.

Him: “If they’re the best thing you’ve ever tasted, why are you only buying four?”
Me: “Well, you’ll be here next week.”
Him: “No. Hahaha, just kidding!”
Me: “Yeah, I kind of think you’re going to be running out of nectarines in July.”

Man, I wish I could hang out with farmers all day.


This lady too! Oh yeah! So I was asking her how to cook these fresh field beans (answer: boil them for 40 minutes) but then she was sharing a recipe where you brown bacon, caramelize some onions in the bacon fat, throw in some tomatoes, then cook the beans in there with just a little water (sounds SO GOOD RIGHT?!) and then I told her I was thinking about making a recipe from the new Cooking Light and she said I should and we’d swap stories next week. I love it!

Aren’t these so awesomely weird looking? Tim Burton vegetables!


And in the protein department, buffalo and eggs of many colors, from the friendly Mennonites.


I always specially request green eggs :D


But on the subject of ANOTHER farm, how cool is this:

Our kids get food bank food for their daily snack, so we have a partnership with the Capital Area Food Bank. As part of that, they have something called the Farm Youth Initiative in which our kids get to participate every summer.

They hop on a bus, journey to Clagett Farm (which also does cool stuff with environmental education that just got written up in the Washington Post), and live it up on the farm! They help pick vegetables and make a meal of what they just picked (don’t you wish you could do that?! The first half of our kids went last week, I go this week. So excited!)

Anyway, somehow Steve ended up bringing me home a huge bag of veggies for dinner. Don’t mind if I do :D

I started with some carrots, which were so wee and precious!


When something is that fresh, my feeling is that you should do as little as possible to it.

SO I started a little butter and oil going in a pan. Added some garlic, browned that up. Added the carrots (didn’t bother to peel, as it would’ve reduced the small amount there already was and they were tiny and delicate and not at all tough). Put in a little bit of honey, salt and pepper, a splash of water, put the heat on lowish, covered it up, and left it alone.

And lo and behold, nature is beautiful. Cranked up the heat a teensy bit at the end and YEAH it caramelized.


Steve was vair admiring of this, and pointed out that many fancy restaurants and so on drown vegetables in butter, and of COURSE they taste good, because BUTTER tastes good. But these tasted like carrots. Really really good, really really fresh carrots.


Also from the farm, rainbow chard! One of nature’s prettiest creations.


Made it the way I always make it: steamed, drizzled with olive oil and lemon, salt and pepper.


This next dish was all Steve, featuring the squash he very kindly brought over. He started with sauteeing onions and then added some of the farm garlic and WOW.

I have never eaten garlic the day it was picked. First of all, Steve said cutting it was making his eyes water, like onions. But there was no abrasiveness when it came to eating. The flavor was unbelievably fantastic- I was just picking chunks of it out of the bowl with my bare fingers and eating them straight up. They almost had that mellow sweetness of roasted garlic. Just fab.

Plus garnished with oregano from the deck. I picked Steve a sprig and said, “This is what Greece smells like”. (The herbs grow wild everywhere, it’s paradise).


On the subject of herbs, also picked some basil (my mom always tells me to pick it off the top or it gets “leggy”. Which apparently means it gets all high and skinny but doesn’t spread out wide with leaves. So noted.). That basil OBVIOUSLY went into my Favorite Summer Salad: tomatoes (did a mix of red and yellow) with basil, salt and pepper, and oil and balsamic. All I need (well with mozzarella it’s obviously great too).


Now, I would’ve probably been happy to just eat plants but yknow… protein. Plus I was feeding my hungry man. So I decided to be lazy (ish). Lazy because I just opened a can of baked beans. Ish because I find canned baked beans WAY too sweet without some doctoring.

SO I cooked up some onions til golden in oil, then added cumin and let it toast, then added two tomatoes and let them break down.


At which point I did add the can of baked beans, but also some black beans, apple cider vinegar, and Texas Pete’s hot sauce, to further cut sweetness.

The end product was excellent, if I do say so myself.


Oh, summer. You are magic. I wish my plates could always look like this.



Steven Alexander Heathcliff Basil Bert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Alexander Heathcliff Basil Bert said...

If Bugs got a hold of those carrots, it may have been the end of him. LOST IN BLISS.