25 July 2006
At the Farm Market
I've just returned from the local farmers' market. What bounty!
We are so far north that the market does not begin until high summer sets in, just around the 4th of July. Onions, potatoes, garlic, beets, radishes, beans and cucumbers are among the first offers. But frugal shoppers who are also savvy cooks can easily build a meal around these staples.
I spent $23 today — about twice what I usually spend. But, the prices are so much better than the local supermarkets and the produce is so much fresher. Today I bought two kinds of garlic, red and yellow potatoes, red onions, a huge cucumber, spinach, wax beans, cherry tomatoes, young peppers and some very good looking basil.
My husband will enjoy the spinach salad I serve tonight. And, since he's a garlic fan, he will appreciate knowing we've got steady supply.
Tonight I am going to roast red onions in balsamic vinegar and olive oil. When they are finished, I will sprinkle them with grainy sea salt from France — wonderful!
I lived for 10 years in Madison, Wis., where the Saturday farm market is one of the best — if not THE best — farm market in the U.S. I'm delighted that the little town I now live in has markets on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. By mid July, farm stands abound and you can buy fresh corn everywhere.
A year or so ago, I was distressed that few people were shopping at the Hmong stands at the farm market. That's now my first stop, as both of the Hmong families clean and bundle their produce beautifully. I am happy to see that their traffic has picked up. This is a small town where people are set in their ways and suspicious of foreigners.
This year, a very nice female farmer is selling fresh currants and gooseberries. The currants are lovely, sort of a cherry red color. I am off in search of a muffin recipe now.
One more thing about farmer's markets — they smell wonderful! Today's was very garlicky — like a market in Provence. I was fortunate enough to visit the Saturday market at Place Maubert the last time I was in Paris. Better than any pricey Parisian perfume!