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.
My Mom asked me, “If I was becoming Southern?” when I told her I made collard greens.
There are many foods, which come to mind when someone says Southern cooking and collard greens is at the top of my list… Other than fried green tomatoes, okra, and sweet tea.
Collard greens are a staple in eastern North Carolina. People grow them. Pick-ups parked along the road sell them. Restaurants serve them. Every grocery store stocks them year round. They are cheap, abundant, and easy to prepare.
After two years of living in the South, I finally made collard greens. I purchased a shopping bag full at my local farmer’s market.
Collards in general are a healthy leafy veg; however, the traditional preparation is less than so… Pork, lard, etc. While that tastes really yummy, it isn’t exactly good for our health or waistlines.
I made my collards with turkey bacon, sliced garlic, chicken broth.
I cut out the stems then cut the collards into smallish pieces. Then I sautéed the sliced turkey bacon and garlic in olive oil until cooked. I added the collards sautéing for a couple of minutes. I added enough chicken broth to cover the mixture simmering over low heat for an afternoon allowing the collards to becoming tender. When serving, finish it with apple cider vinegar and a dash of red pepper flakes. Yum.
Here’s the finished dish:
I served it with grilled pork chop and rice.
Maybe, I’ll tackle brewing sweet tea… Or maybe I’ll just to continue go to McDonald’s…
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Hanging my head in shame. I admit since we left Lexington, KY two years ago, I haven’t visited a local farmer’s market, but that changed today. Now that I live in downtown Tarboro, I have no excuse not to visit the market on a Saturday morning. It is a 15 minute walk from my new house. And a pretty walk at that… Tree lined sidewalks pass grand old houses. As I walked I wondered what goodies I might find.
The Tarboro Farmer’s Market is very small. There are great efforts to expand it. This community needs a farmer’s market where small family farms can sell and share the bounty of their labors as well as their pride in what they do. And where the community can go get fresh, quality produce at reasonable prices.
Today, there were two booths: a veg farmer and a pie maker. The farmer had wonderfully fresh veg on offer. All picked very early this morning. And the mini pies the baker had were still warm from the oven. Both were proud of their offerings and shared advice on how to prepare the veg. You rarely get this passion at a big box grocery store. Nor the freshness.
My taking from the farmer’s market. I can’t wait to prepare and eat all of this! Especially the pies!
So go out to your local farmer’s market. Discover what wonderful food is produced locally!
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone