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Posts Tagged ‘farmers’ market’

As October progesses, tomatoes are on their way out. Looks like next week may be our last week at the farmers’ market. I guess for everything there is a season, and for tomatoes, October is not a happy time. It is, however, the beginning of winter squash.

My favorite exchange of the day:
Customer (buying tomatoes and some squash): Gotta put these in the bag carefully so I don’t squash the tomatoes.
Me: Yep, that’s exactly what you would be doing. Squashing the tomatoes. Ba-dum-ch!

Painful jokes aside, at $1 a pound, I’m inclined to say winter squash is one of the best deals out there. These babies are usually between one and four pounds, with the smaller ones being more than enough for a hearty two person serving.

A visual squash guide:
– Sugar pie pumpkin – pretty recognizable
– Acorn squash – dark green, pointed end
– Carnival squash – I believe these are a hybrid of acorn and delicata
– Delicata squash – longer squash

We get a lot of people who buy these for decoration. Understandably so, since winter squash will keep for about a month at room temperature, and even longer if kept somewhere cool, dark and dry like a garage. I’ve even had a few people ask if they’re edible — I guess before this year I usually thought of them as just decorative also! Gourds are, however, not edible, and the jack-o-lantern pumpkins at pumpkin patches aren’t going to taste nearly as good as the sugar pie pumpkins.

Each week brings a few of these tiny cabbages — literally petits choux — that everyone always likes. I’m tempted to joke that they’re giant brussels sprouts.

This was the cutest one today — less than one-tenth of a pound! I like that they’re the right size for a one-person coleslaw or something.

I definitely took advantage of all the seasonal produce October has to offer. I snagged some beautiful kale and rainbow chard, some dried torpedo onions, some pears (Bosc, Warren, and Asian), Pink Lady apples (there were some incredible Galas today too), and a giant amount of squash.

There’s also some slightly droopy flowers from last week’s market in there. The pears are destined for muffins, the Asian pears and apples are probably destined for eating by hand, and the squash, well… let’s just say that if the apocalypse does happen, I can survive on squash.

In the face of crazy amounts of winter squash (Acorn, Delicata, Pumpkin, Carnival, and Butternut), I declare from now until (U.S.) Thanksgiving SquashFest 2008. More to come…

ETA: I have more varieties of squash than I thought! Internets inform me that the smaller green and white ones are Sweet Dumpling Squash. Interesting…

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Alarm clock goes off. 6 AM on a Saturday. Gross. I flop out of bed and manage to grab a hoodie and my keys through the fog of slumber. There are a few cats meandering the streets, but that’s about it. It’s early. It’s dark. I’m tired.

But I’m happy. Or I will be. Early Saturday morning can only mean one thing: I’m working the farmers’ market again!

This is a real tea towel that we had around, so we hung it up today. Love it. I feel almost as happy as they look. After some coffee and an apple.

Today was a great day at the farmers’ market. We had insanely sweet Gala apples, lots of our organic dry farmed Early Girl tomatoes (our main focus), giant Walla Walla onions easily six inches in diameter, and some beautiful purple bell peppers and Anaheim peppers:

Will someone get on it and make me some sock yarn in those colors? I love all the purple we ended up having today at the stand; between the bell peppers, our cabbage, the red Italian Torpedo onions, and our purple flowers, I’m in color heaven.

So, as I was saying, it was a great day to be selling at the farmers’ market. The sun came out about 7:30, and there were a lot of happy people walking around, looking for the last remnants of summer’s stone fruit, getting serious about beets (so many beautiful beet greens!), buying up summer squash and zucchini flowers… the vendor two stalls down brought his mandolin, so we even had lovely tunes intermittently throughout the day.

One of the best parts about the market is the kids. One kid came up to the stand with his mom, who was buying tomatoes. He told me and my co-worker we “looked funny with our aprons on.” “Oh?” I asked, “And what do we look like?” He thought a bit, and responded, “Tomatoheads!”

You know, there are worse things to be.

Check out these conjoined tomatoes! We usually snag the funny-looking tomatoes and put them on display near our scale. I thought these were just too cute, being joined at the stem and all.

I’m always impressed by how red our tomatoes are. And part of the reason they taste SO GOOD (and why any fresh tomato will taste way better than conventional tomatoes) is because they’re allowed to ripen on the plant. According to my hero Alton Brown of Good Eats (from whom I get much of my food knowledge), industrial tomatoes — those sold in big grocery stores, even if they are organic — are picked when they’re just starting to blush. They’re then put in a room with chemicals that make them redden. Now, they may get red… but their ripening, or sugar development, stops the moment they’re picked. They may get prettier, but they’ll never get tastier.

And that’s why tomatoes from your garden or local farmer are downright yummier — because they’re actually ripe. I thought I didn’t like tomatoes until this summer. What I realized was I do like tomatoes. Real tomatoes.

Speaking of tomatoes… and tea towels:

I’m not going to get into details right now, but I will tell you that the stains are from tomatoes, and that this probably saved us half a roll of paper towels today! Stay tuned for total crafty and veggie dorkiness.

P.S. Obtained new Mason-Dixon book. Overcome with sudden urge to add to my kitchen cotton yarn stash. Predict I will not be able to resist the appeal of more knit objects in my kitchen.

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I have a deep hatred of plastic bags. I’ve recently exiled plastic bags (like the ones they give you at chain grocery stores or Target) from my life for a couple reasons. More often than not, they get thrown away. Those that don’t end up in the ocean — where they ensnare marine life or entice seals to eat them — end up in landfills, where they will never ever break down. Even if they get successfully recycled, the problem with plastics is that they only recycle down; plastics get recycled into less-good plastics, creating a spiral into a product that is ultimately unrecyclable. Down with plastic!

OK, sorry, I can get a little carried away. So! Lots of people and places are perking up to the fact that plastic bags are evil. You can only imagine my excitement when, perusing Mason-Dixon Knitting (one of my favorite knitting blogs), I came across the (totally free!) Monteagle Bag pattern from their new book (which I am so trying to find this weekend).

And I was so excited that I knit my own in about two days!

In an effort to reduce-reuse-recycle, I dove into my stash and came up with some Sugar and Cream cotton yarn that looked just funky enough for this macrame-style bag. I figured, “If I’m focused on reducing my consumption of plastic bags by knitting the bag, I should further reduce my consumption (of yarn) by using something I already have.” Hooray for conserving… and having a new bag to use instead of plastic bags!

The pattern knit up great. It was a bit of a challenge, and I consider myself a more-than-decent knitter. Very few issues though, just needed to read the pattern carefully and trust it. The horizontal stitch is totally the most fun part of the pattern, but lassoing my needles for the long stitches was pretty fun too. I did find that the longer wrapped stitches needed some coaxing to unravel. Maybe it was the cotton? I guess I’ll get to see when I knit a linen version…

My only change, as evidenced above, was to give it a longer strap. Most of my food shopping is done at the farmers’ market, and I need room in a bag for beet greens to stick out!

Let’s see that horizontal stitch up close and personal:

I foresee making a few of these for people I know. I think one of these with some embroidered tea towels inside would be a great gift to encourage someone towards eco-friendliness… a cute bag to take to the store, plus a way to curb paper towel usage. Awesome!

Can’t wait to take this to the farmers’ market next week!

…and that IS bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress in the bag… if any of you were wondering…

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I worked my first farmers’ market this weekend, helping out at the booth of a local organic farm known for their incredible dry-farmed tomatoes. It was great to give out samples (essentially enticing customers in, because apparently I am, as my co-worker put it, “more attractive than the two of them”) and see people’s reactions. I saw a lot of, “Oh, tomatoes, cool, okay… [insert taste here] Oh, wow. Those are really good. Honey you have to try some of these…”

What makes these tomatoes special is the way that they’re grown. They’re cultivated in soil that has a lot of clay, and this allows it to retain a lot of water. The tomatoes are never (or very infrequently) irrigated — so their water is drawn up from what’s already stored in the soil, bringing up a lot of minerals in the process. And voila — incredible tomato-y flavor. I don’t even like tomatoes that much and I love these guys!

Since it was my first shift, I was paid in produce. A pretty good deal if you ask me. I came back with three giant Italian torpedo onions, three purple bell peppers, a bunch of green beans, two heads of cabbage… and about 12 pounds of these incredible tomatoes. Now, however, I face the dilemma of dealing with said tomatoes.

Witness:

I decided to make a tomato-heavy soup that would also utilize the onions I received: this recipe from Alexandra Cooks (a blog I read regularly for food inspiration). It smells delicious only twenty minutes in… but look how many tomatoes I still have left:

If nothing else, I’ll be drying them, but I’ll probably be eating lots of caprese and trying this as well (tomato pesto pie… sign me up!). I guess this really will be the summer I learn to love tomatoes…

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