Brake for Farmers Markets
I know I do whenever I get a chance. I spent the morning wandering through a farmers market on the Northern Neck of Virginia. In our move up the East Coast, I am enjoying the regional food culture of wherever we are staying. The Northern Neck is rich with farmers markets and produce stands dotting the countryside. The markets here tend to rotate among towns very weekend. It is not just fresh produce, but locally-made cheeses, bread, and meats that are sold.
I cannot help myself; I always have been that way. I have to stop and check out these markets and stands out. Growing up, my family had a huge garden on the side of the house on Greenlake Drive in Middletown, NJ. During the summertime, what we didn’t grow, we would go to produce stands along side of the road. Everywhere I have lived there was a summer farmers market. Lexington, Kentucky had the best one to date. It was huge and the products offered was of an amazing variety. They were very progressive by taking credit cards and accepting food stamps. The market made it easier for you shop fresh and wholesome regardless of your economic status. The last town I lived in, Tarboro, North Carolina, just formed a farmers market with the leadership of local business owners and town government. Every market day it is getting bigger as more vendors and visitors come. Having access to fresh, affordable produce is important to the health of the community.
There is something special about picking out fresh off the vine tomatoes while talking to the farmer about the weather. The farmers are very passionate about what they produce and are very proud of it. And you should too be passionate about what you eat. The produce you purchase is in season and fresh. Most of it came from a couple miles away and often you can see the actual farm where it was grown.
Visiting a farmers market forces me to think about food and meals. You never know what kinds of produce will be offered that day. It depends on what is ripe and ready. Today I came across butter beans, tiny tomatoes, green tomatoes, sweet pepper, and big sandwich slicers. That sets my thought process as to what I can make with these fresh ingredients. Lots. I plan on making a tiny tomato butter bean salad where I will add some asparagus and a vinegarette. With the green tomatoes, I will make fried green tomatoes. The sweet pepper and some of the tiny tomatoes will go in tonight’s hummus roasted veg tart.
This summer and fall, think local for your produce. It will open your mind and taste buds to new flavors.
Hurricane Matthew Flooding Recovery
Destruction from Hurricane Matthew flooding as far as the eye can see, yet people are hopeful. People are in recovery mode. They are returning to their homes. Families and volunteers are helping clean out homes while waiting to rebuild.
I made my first trip over to Princeville since the Hurricane Matthew flooding in October 2016. The historic African-American town has been destroyed for the second time since 1999. I brought my son with me since I felt it was important for him to see what the flood had done only a couple miles from our home across a bridge.
It was a sobering moment. People have lost everything. Broke my heart to see piles of children’s toys and books. I cannot imagine as a parent having to tell my son he has lost his special toys.
Families, disabled, and the elderly are still in shelters and waiting for the opportunity to move to temporary housing. People are still visiting the community feeding station in Tarboro. The animal shelter is still filled with animals rescued or surrendered as people evacuated. The donation center is still making sure people have the basic needs met. The FEMA center continues to be open. Many lives are in flux currently.
Give Thanks, Donate.
The hardest work is beginning now. As member of the community spared, I feel compelled to continue to use my voice to share the story of recovery. Consider donating to assist with long-term recovery as the season of thanks comes upon us.
My friend Brandy Paige Chappell who is a teacher at a local school where over 120 children have been displaced has a GoFund page to help the children with recovery. The North Carolina Community Foundation has a fund just for Edgecombe County.
Some of the sights I saw today, but photos cannot fully show the destruction and the spirit of the people…
The Tropical Storm Hermine has cleared North Carolina ushering in some glorious weather. Perfect weather for porch sitting again. The porch life has returned. And oh how I have missed you. This summer has been brutal between oppressive heat/humidity and bugs making enjoying our porch impossible.
Our porch is special to us and one of the main reasons we purchased the house. You see we live in a home built in 1904 and our porch wraps around the front. We live in the historic district where everyone has front porches and there are sidewalks. The house was designed for lazy weather and living. It is very welcoming. We have rocking chairs and they are few things better than rocking the evening away on the front porch. We often have breakfast and lunch as well as playing afternoon board games.
Small Town Life
We can spend hours just porch sitting watching our small town life just slowly go by. Living in a small town rural town in North Carolina certainly has an unique case of characters. It really is a Tennessee William’s novel every day down to the tin roofs and the freight train running in the middle of the town whose whistle you can hear nightly. Everyone who goes by on foot or in a car waves even though we do not know each other. Front porches are designed for visiting and getting the gossip from those walking by. There is a flow to it and you get use to everyone’s patterns. And when someone is not seen in a while then they are missed. Often prompting a visit to their house to check in or inquires to the other regulars. It creates a sense of community. Something that is missing in modern day houses and communities. The front porches and the interaction that come with porch sitting.
I am sitting on the front porch typing away as I sip a treat of a Coca Cola while World War II big band music plays in the background. It is time for me to get back to rocking in my chair and doing some serious porch sitting.
We all have those places. Places where we go and we just feel at home. The Highway Diner is my comfort place. It is Cheers without the beer. It is where everybody knows your name and your order depending on what time of day you come in.
The Highway Diner hasn’t always been there, but it feels that way. It gives the authentic diner experience. An experience from the golden age of the diner. It is part of Americana. Hearty breakfast is served all day long. Coffee is always flowing. And the cakes are mile-high.
We go there at all times of day, but mostly on weekend mornings for breakfast. It is a great way to start your day. And the breakfast fills up me for the whole day. I usually order an omelet with homefries (the homefries are the BEST) or the U-Turn breakfast (right.)
Sometimes after school, we shoot over there for snack. Any of their cakes are good choices with ice cream or a basket of fries with a Coke.
While the food is great, the people are great there. They make it special. And keep us coming back more than we usually would.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the cookies. The Christmas Cookie to be exact. A sugar cookie with icing and sprinkles. One big sugar high for days if you eat one cookies.
We made cookies for Santa. I’m not a cookie maker, so I got ready-bake cookies already cut into shapes.
We decorated them for Santa. And for us.
I’m sure Santa will enjoy them.
Happy Christmas, everyone!
The photo is what my dishwasher looks on any given day. I usually cook three meals a day plus snacks in my kitchen.
Doing that creates a lot of dishes. I’m not a fan of doing dishes. And Jeroen points out that I’m not very good at washing up.
Recently, the water pump had to be replaced. I was without my dishwasher for about four days. It was a long four days. I got creative in my usage of items which would require washing. I rejoiced when it was fixed.
What kitchen appliance can you not do without?