Spring Farmer's MarketOn March 24th, I went to the Farmer's Market to see what our local farmers were offering despite the very cold, dry, generally strange winter we'd had.
Despite the cold, there were plenty of options:
-an abundance of oranges (especially the large navel oranges, but also smaller "juice" oranges, and various mandarins)
-pomelo (the giant green citrus fruit that are periodically mistaken for giant grapefruit, though they have a subtler, milder flavor than the average grapefruit)
-kumquats (which I see used more for festive decorations than I do as food)
-a few yellow pears (but very few - the pears you see in stores right now, especially the brown pears, are likely from South America)
-Asian specialty greens like bok choi, gai lon, the round-edged mustards, and others (available here year-round, usually)
-onions (green and yellow)
-mints (a wide range, including the strangely named "chicken mint")
-daikon radishes (which are fabulous, but which I don't do anything with, for some reason... I need a recipe for pickling them, I think, so I can serve them with other things)...
Plus the items I chose:
-broccoli (to cook with tofu, black bean sauce AND Vietnam-style chili garlic sauce)
-tomatoes - which were a bad idea, because it's too early, and they were from far, far away, sold at the little stand that always has a wide range of foods, but which always look likve they've spent too long on a truck. (I suspect the stand sells conventional produce from a distributor in northern Mexico, since they often have off-season items which aren't quite at their prime.) I mixed these into a pasta sauce containing canned, diced, roasted tomatoes, capers, and garlic - their firm texture held up after simmering, which was pleasant over pasta.
-strawberries - Real California strawberries!! It's early in the season, and so they're not as sweet as they'll be in a few months, but they were firm and fresh. A basket of strawberries is at least half of a perfect breakfast.
-red chard. (Prepared the way the broccoli was, above.)
-gai lon (which got wilty before I got to it, since I didn't seal it's bag well enough, so I composted it. It was just a buck, so I don't feel too bad.)
-lettuce (huge, gorgeous, loose-head. In sandwiches and salads.)
-prunes (Steven's choice)
-golden raisins (which are good in my cinnamon oatmeal)
-dried peaches (mmmmmmmm)
-leeks (for soup, with potatoes and garlic)
-and Sukhi's Indian specialties: spinach parathas, pumpkin parathas, samosas, mint chutney, and a strange sour-cream based "paratha dip" which was too rich for me.
We also bought quite a few fresh flowers, for an experiment in printing anthotypes, which I'll write about later.
My favorite summer fruits and veggies are still a few months away, but it's definitely worth going to the farmer's market when I have chance to wallow in freshness, and know that I'm eating foods that are locally grown by local farmers.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:45 PM