We live in a cozy neighborhood that we often joke feels like Mayberry. Everyone seems to know everyone, we have honest-to-goodness block parties all summer long and half the time every kid around seems to be running barefoot from house to house.
Our neighborhood also features a small but thriving farmer’s market that runs from spring to fall. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, it is one of my favorite features of my ‘hood. In addition to a good selection of booths featuring local produce, there is usually face painting, a kid-friendly activity, a balloon artist and musical performances (my favorite so far was a guitar & electric harp duo. For real).
The activities, delightful though they are, aren’t even the best part of these trips. It’s the chance to watch the featured fruits and vegetables change over the course of the summer. It’s the time I get to talk to the farmers about the different varieties of peppers, melons, or whatever is on offer this week, or to get their recommendations for something new to try with an old favorite. Best of all, it’s the opportunity to dream about the meals that could come from this wonderful abundance. Thinking of all the wonderful things I could make means I get double the pleasure from these purchases. In my book, that’s money well-spent.
Above is the latest bunch of produce I purchased from the market. Beets, tomatoes, Czech black peppers, kohlrabi, a sweet red onion and two bunches of scallions. So far, I’ve made a big batch of my grandma’s cucumber salad using the red tomatoes, lemon cucumbers from our garden and a few scallions. The yellow tomatoes and a bit of sweet red onion appeared in another salad last night, and a batch of kohlrabi slaw is on deck for this evening’s dinner. So far the beets and peppers have not made an appearance, though I have a fabulous idea that I’m not at all sure will work. I can’t wait to spend some time in the kitchen this weekend testing it out.
I’m interested to know what other people do. Do you go to the market with a plan, or do you prefer to let inspiration strike? Do you stick with tried-and-true recipes, or are you willing to make something up on the fly?