Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday Morning Farmer's Market

I'm still reading and enjoying Barbara Kingsolver's new book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, about the pleasures of being a "locavore". It's my daytime book and daytime has been busy lately, so I'm reading it a few pages at a time.

I used to go to Farmer's Market's regularly in my young adulthood, fresh with the newfound fervor of my new organic, vegetarian lifestyle. As years went by and my garden space as well as my gardening skills grew, I didn't have much need of farmer's markets. I grew almost all my food. Sigh. Those were the days. Although even then I remember missing the pleasure of a trip to the farmer's market, the fun and companionship of getting together with others who loved the asthetics of buying and cooking with real food.

The last decade I've had very limited gardening space, less and inconsistent time at home during our short summer growing season and fewer people at home to eat what I grew. The last few years I've been lucky if I have vegetables and fruit in my house and doubly lucky if those vegetables and fruit managed to be eaten before they turned slimy or fuzzy. Things change. But this year I'm determined to get back to my roots. And leaves. And seeds. And... you get the idea.

We have a very small farmer's market that got off the ground about twelve years ago. (At one point I was asked if I wanted to be the director in charge of the new market - gosh, I'd forgotten all about that!) In the beginning they were lucky to have even a couple of vendors show up to sell anything. Things have been picking up in the last few years. I tried to attend regularly last year but always seemed to forget until it was too late. It doesn't help that they are there at the crack of dawn and most vendors are packed and gone by the time I usually get out of bed.

This year I'm making it a priority to attend. I missed the first week entirely, remembering later that same day. Last week I forgot until the clock showed ten more minutes before closing time, but since we only live a few blocks away I jumped in the car to see if anything was left. Surprisingly, there was enough for me to bring home fruits and vegetables for most of the week! The fruit, usually ignored by everyone but me, was exceptionally sweet, and once William realized this was no ordinary supermarket fare, it disappeared quickly. We even had fresh tomatoes which I had to assure my family was safe and salmonella free, as it was grown locally - well, 100 miles away. We'll be lucky to have red tomatoes here by August. It was such a treat - instead of veggies that sat in the refrigerator bins growing old, we ran out of everything I bought last week a few days ago and I've been anxiously waiting for the next market day!

This morning I had to get up disgustingly bright and early, as William had to be dropped off at the high school to travel to football camp. So I went straight from there to the farmer's market and discovered that if you get there early, there's LOTS of people! I had to park across the street!

Don't get me wrong, it's still not a huge market. Here's a photo of it, set up in the parking lot of the historical Depot and trailhead. There were about a dozen vendors.

A new Mennonite community in the area is making beautiful baked goods for the market. The prices are a little steep for me since I know how to make it all myself. I've been able to resist so far but one day I think I'll be buying some of their apple or cherry turnovers (out of the photo to the right of the pies). Don't the big chocolate cookies look like giant macarons?

This is the "fruit lady", over from the hot Central Valley. She was the most popular vendor there, with a line across the parking lot. Look at those awesome Doughnut Peaches. I bought nectarines, pluots, three kinds of peaches, cherries, and tomatoes.

This is my friend Hannah. She's a very cool lady because.... well, she's a cool lady for lots of reasons, but what I was going to say was because she comes from a long line of women ranchers. She has both sheep and beef cattle. I don't usually buy beef but I bought a package for making fajitas because I figured it was healthier to eat the local beef than who-knows-what from the supermarket. Plus, Lisa and Joli will be here this coming week (Squeeeee!) and I didn't want to force them to eat tofu for the entire visit.

It was a toss up between the strawberries and the blackberries. But then I thought of all the fun (not) of picking those blackberry seeds out of my teeth and went with the strawberries. I want to make some old fashioned homemade biscuits for them. So much better than the store bought sponge cake ones.

We're down to half of one tiny jar of apricot flavored honey so I bought some local honey. These beekeepers (this gentleman and his wife) live up in the woods so I'm betting this is a strong honey from the manzanita and sage that grows as underbrush up there. Oh, (smacks head) I forgot we have a half gallon jar left of honey in the pantry - oh well. Honey lasts forever.

I love to snack on radishes. I was tempted to get the extremely spicy white icicles but chickened out at the last minute and bought a bunch of white globe and a bunch of red globe. The leaves on these were so pretty, can you use radish leaves in salads? Anyone know? Speaking of chickening out, he also had hormone free, free range chicken for sale last week but he was completely sold out for the entire summer. Today I asked if he had a waiting list and indeed he did so I signed up for any cancelled orders.

I also bought two bunches of beautiful baby turnips from another vendor I didn't turn my camera on. I grew some one year and they were melt in your mouth delicious. I hope these will be even half as good. I'll get two meals out of them, one of the turnips and another of the large green tops. I wonder if Lisa eats sauteed greens? I'm sort of doubting it. Oh well, more for me.

Do you have a farmer's market near you?


Blogger Cindy ~ My Romantic Home said...

I'm in N. Cali too! Here's the post with the birdcage that you were looking for. Again my chihuahua is in the picture!

4:00 PM  
Anonymous Deirdre said...

I actually have plans to go to our Farmer's Market - ours is 2x a week and it was started by Paul Newman (to go with his restaurant and promoting local growers).
Check out the link its pretty impressive
:-D eirdre

6:03 PM  
Anonymous alala said...

Yep. But it's on Fridays, the one day a week I'm out of town.

I've thought about reading Barbara Kingsolver's book, but the premise makes me feel defensive. I always think snarkily to myself, she moved to Virginia to conduct this little experiment, instead of staying in Tucson and subsisting on scorpions and tequila.

3:21 PM  

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