Saturday, May 12, 2007

Treasures from the farmers' market

This morning I got up early (for me on a Saturday)because my pesky cats insisted on being fed at 7AM and went to the farmers market at about 8:30AM. I have to be disciplined when I visit the market or I spend too much money. I usually take about $30 and when the cash is gone, I go home. If I had more than that in cash on my person, I would spend it. I could easily and happily eat my way into poverty. When I get to the market, I walk past all of the stalls before I buy anything in order to see what is on offer and who has the nicest looking specimen of whatever I'm after.

Now is the season for greens: arugula, chard, turnip greens, mustard greens, and lettuce of all sorts. I bought a bag of mixed greens and some spinach.

Asparagus is also in season. The best asparagus, which is hard to find in the supermarket, is the thin, young shoots. They are especially tender and sweet. Did you know that the correct way to eat asparagus is with your fingers? The key is for the asparagus to remain crisp enough to hold. Droopy asparagus is hard to eat and unattractive.

Strawberries were in abundance at the market. I bought a quart but next week I will either go pick some or buy a big basket so I can make jam.

The local purveyors of cheese were also out at the market today. I bought a small piece of goat meunster from Elodie Farms and a round of smoked mozarella from my favorite place in the world the Chapel Hill Creamery. They also sell pork from their free range, grain fed pigs. I bought some sausage when I went on the farm tour. It was delicious and spicy but not too hot.

I didn't buy any pork but I did buy beef from one of the farms. I got a NY strip that I cannot wait to put on the grill when it warms up and stops raining.

My other treasures were green peppers, hot house tomatoes, eggs, and oddly some garlic shoots. I never heard of much less ate garlic shoots before. The shoots of the garlic should be trimmed in order for the bulb to grow large. Apparently the shoots are delicious when chopped and cooked. I will soon find out!

Some wise people also set up a stand for selling cups of coffee! Genius. I picked up a cup of coffee and bought an empanada from one of the bakers selling at the market. It was a perfect breakfast for strolling around the market.

I am devoted to the farmers' market. In addition to having great local and organic produce, it is a good place to see people. I always run into someone I know. It makes me happy to start my weekend at the market.

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