The feedback mechanism that allows consumers to identify varieties that they like, and ask for them by name has been lost. Why? And, why is it important to know which variety of fruit you are buying?
The weather forecast for today is 100 so I was up early watering and getting a few chores done before my 7:30 bicycle getaway to the Farmers’ Market. Another beautiful ride and this time I had my trusty little camera with me. The market was packed when I got there; evidently everyone else had the same idea. I made the rounds and found another vendor with fresh corn. The corn I got last week, although touted to be excellent, wasn’t much better than field corn. To say I wasn’t impressed would be putting it mildly. Sweet corn is serious business. This looked to be, not only fresher, but also sweeter. Of course only tasting would answer that. My market bag filled quickly with white nectarines, Donut peaches (more on these later), apricots, several kinds of summer squash, green and yellow wax beans, a couple of tomatoes, two Walla Walla onions and two ears of that beautiful corn.
On the way back I stopped to snap a couple of pics so you could all see the nice views of the river that I have on my ride. The first picture was taken just south of Old Sacramento and the second shows the Old Sacramento riverfront area. Quiet this morning, but this afternoon it will be busy with lots of folks enjoying the river.
Once I was home I laid out my bounty for a couple of quick pics then stored it all away. Since it was now close to 10 and I hadn’t eaten yet, I thought it would be nice to have brunch. Actually I wanted to have the corn I bought so I rationalized that it was late enough for brunch. And, since I was dining alone I could pretty much do what ever I wanted. My version of brunch included some leftover BBQ chicken and grilled veggies from yesterday and the corn. OH, THE CORN! I wish now that I had bought at least six ears. I would have skipped the the chicken and veggies and just had corn, slathered in butter and sprinkled with just a tiny bit of sea salt. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Look at these really cool Farmers Market accessories Allie, found on Etsy. I love the personalized market bag. What a great gift idea. And, if you’ve read my blog before you know how I feel about reusable produce bags. The ones featured here look like they’d be great. You can find my other posts on that subject here and here.
Allie wirtes the blog Tiny Pants and is a wedding photographer, all-around theatre gal, crafter and mummy(her words). She lives in Toronto and loves going to the Farmers’ Market. Thanks for the great post Allie!
For those of you who may not be familiar with Etsy it is a web site that features hand crafted items and always has some incredible products.
Like most mornings I awoke bright and early Sunday and ambled into the kitchen to make my morning tea. It was beautiful outside, not too cool, which it has been for the last few days, you could feel that summer just might be really going to come. Teacup in hand I found myself in my garden puttering around as I am apt to do. Often puttering involves watering the many potted plants that line the patio and that’s where I was when I found myself thinking about the many errands that I needed to run after I finished my weekly trip to the Farmers Market. But, it was so nice out. Was I really going to drive to the Farmers Market then continuing driving around doing errands? NOPE! Not this Sunday. As soon as I finished my puttering, I was off to the garage, to check the air in my bike tires and attach my
The ride was really beautiful. I decided to check out the new section of the Sacramento Riverfront bikeway which runs parallel to the river and then cross over the freeway on the newly opened pedestrian/bike way. The new section of trail is really great. I wish I had taken some pictures so I could show you. From the Riverfront trail and freeway overcrossing it is just a few blocks, through urban streets lined with beautiful mature trees, until I arrive at the market where my focus would be to see if I could pick up a few tangelos and for a muffin recipe I would make upon my return. Oh, and get some fruit and veggies for the week, which I did; a couple ears of corn, assorted summer squash, some green and yellow wax beans, two red onions, eight white nectarines and peaches, and three tangelos.
Today is the first day of summer and with its heat comes the real beginning of the summer squash season. In about another month the newness of summer squash will have started to wear off and those of us with squash plants will be getting more than we need much less want. We’ll be eating it often and giving the excess away. And then, there will come that day when we and even our friends and neighbors have had enough squash. Before it comes to that and while we’re all excited about summer squash I wanted to give you idea for another way you can use it. Bake up a nice batch of Tangelo-Zucchini Muffins. Bake them in the morning like I did and serve them warm, preferably on the patio or in the garden. A beautiful, and I might add tasty, way to celebrate a summer morning.
makes 12 muffins
1 cup shredded summer squash (I used zucchini but any summer squash will do. If the squash is really large discard the seedy part before shredding.)
½ cup safflower or other high-quality vegetable oil (I used canola and a little olive oil since I didn’t have enough of the canola.)
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed juice (I used tangelo. You could use orange if you’d prefer.)
1 ½ teaspoons grated zest (I used the zest from one tangelo.)
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups unbleached flour
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup chopped pecans (you could use walnuts instead)
½ cup dried cranberries (you could use golden raisins instead)
Preheat oven to 35o° F. Grease 12 regular-sized muffin tin or I used paper cupcake liners
Beat the egg in a mixing bowl until lemon colored. Add the sugar, oil, juice, zest and vanilla. Beat until thick and smooth.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, pecans and cranberries. Fold the dry mixture into the egg mixture, stirring just until well blended. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin-tin, filling each hole about three-fourths full. Bake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of a muffin tests clean, about 20 – 25 minutes. Cool in the muffin tins for about 3 minutes before turning out. Serve warm.
Variation: To bake as a loaf, pour the batter into a greased 9 by 5-inch loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out.
It’s Friday night and I’m tired. I really don’t want to take a lot of time to cook something and the urge to just snack on junk is strong. I’ve had a busy week and have been fighting off a sinus infection so my energy level is real low and my attitude is not a pretty thing. Pushing myself into the kitchen I avoid the pantry, where the snacks are, and browse the fridge for ingredients. There are 4 small zucchini, a few mushrooms, carrots and some salad greens. Ok that’s easy. I’ll fix a zucchini frittata (or open-faced omelet if you prefer) and a nice little salad. Sometimes I forget how meditative preparing a meal can be for me. It gets me out of my head, out of feeling sorry for myself and into caring for myself. This week that’s a good place for me to be.
For the frittata I slice a shallot and some garlic and brown then add the sliced zucchini, add a little water, cover and steam for a few minutes till almost tender then I add 2 eggs that have been beaten and some shredded cheese. I put the cover back on and cook over a medium heat until the egg is cooked. At this point if you want to go the extra mile, which tonight I didn’t you can put the frittata under the broiler to brown it, or you could fold it into an omelet.
For the salad I sliced several mushrooms thinly and grated some carrot then added some vinaigrette, then tossed the mixture with the greens and topped the salad with some toasted sliced almonds.
The meal was just right and I’m really glad I won’t be going to bed tonight with “snack guilt”.
I’m looking forward to getting to the farmers’ market this weekend where I hope to buy some white peaches and nectarines and of course a nice selection of veggies.
Wish I had found this last weekend when the weather got up into the 90s. For all of you folks out there who are experiencing the same, here’s a wonderful post on making Homemade Herbal Lemonade. Thanks to Straight from the Farm for this timely post.
Have you ever found you have just a few carrots, maybe a little spinach and just a handful of green beans in the refrigerator but there’s not enough of any one of them to feed two people much less three or four? Here’s an easy solution; The one pan option, or as some might call it stir-fry.
I love stir-fry. I don’t always use it to solve the little of this, little of that problem. Sometimes I choose it because I can cook everything in one pan, which a lot of the time is a huge motivating factor. Whichever reason, I’ve been keeping track of some of the ways I made quick, tasty, easy to clean up meals over the last month and here are the results.
A curried version using Crimini mushrooms, onion and garlic, zucchini, carrots and leftover chicken served over brown rice mixed with a little curry sauce.
An Asian version using Shitaki mushrooms, onion and garlic, snow peas, spinach, yellow summer squash served over brown rice flavored with a little oyster sauce.
This one I came up with after my experience with the fava beans. In this version I used Crimini mushrooms, onion and garlic, chard and feta cheese served over left over rice penne pasta.
A celebration of the first green beans of the season was the occasion for this simple stir-fry of Shitaki mushrooms, onion and garlic, green beans all flavored with bacon bits and served over brown rice.
I start by sautéing the mushrooms, then add the onion and garlic, sometimes I remove those ingredients to a serving bowl then brown the longer cooking veggies like the squash, green beans or chard stems, then I’ll add back in the mushroom/onion mixture put what ever greens I’m going to use on top, add a little liquid (water, broth, wine) to create steam and cover until the greens just wilt and the thicker veggies are just right. If I really don’t want to clean another pan I will sometimes put the rice or cooked pasta in with the thicker veggies and the liquid, cover and let it all steam for a little while then add the greens to wilt them right before serving.
This is one of those things that you’ll want to play around with. There is no wrong way. Just think of the colors and textures of what you have on hand and what might taste good with them as a flavoring. I used curry sauce, oyster sauce, feta cheese, and bacon in these versions but you might want to try soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, or even a BBQ sauce. Herbs are also a good addition. Nuts and seeds are good ways to add protein if your not adding cheese or leftover meats. And, don’t forget tofu. Tofu is really great in these stir-fry dishes. I usually don’t cook rice or pasta for this dish I usually have some leftovers that I use. If you do cook pasta especially for this, use some of the pasta water when you do the steaming.
I am using a wok style pan but a large fry pan can work too. Just make sure you have a lid that fits the pan you are going to use. For oil I use either olive oil or canola oil. The addition of a little sesame oil to an Asian style version is very nice.
Just use your imagination, the options are endless and now that we have a whole new selection of summer vegetables coming to market I’m sure I’ll be trying some new combinations. How about you? Let me know what you come up with. I love trying new ideas.