The three of us strolled up and down the 3-block stretch of goodies, stopping to check out new things, and chatting up a few people along the way. It took us a little over an hour, and along the way, I grabbed a quart of strawberries, a pound of asparagus, two giant bunches of carrots (with tops so tall, they were cascading out of the basket on the bottom of The Munchkin's stroller!), some locally-made rotini pasta, and a raspberry lemon croissant to share (for good measure LOL).
To top it off, we stopped at Cafe Moxo for a drink, some people watching, and to share our croissant. It was a beautiful morning for the opening morning for our adventure, and we had a great time!
Here are a few ideas/tips for the things we picked up this week:
Asparagus can be a bit woody, so I strongly suggest resisting the urge to buy the fattest spears in the bunch. I tend to prefer the thinner stalks because they are more tender and flavorful.
To prepare asparagus for any kind of consumption, rinse it thoroughly, then hold one end of the stalk in each hand and bend it until it snaps. You may have to rock your hands back and forth slightly to adjust where the stalk bends until you find the weak point, but eventually you'll find it. Throw the bottom portion of the stalk in the compost or trash since it's probably tough. You won't miss it, I promise. :)
- Grilled/Sauteed: Drizzle asparagus spears with olive oil and give a light sprinkling of Kosher salt. Toss the spears on the grill or in a skillet and cook until tender (about 5-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the spears), turning every few minutes to ensure even cooking. Or you could try this Sesame Asparagus variant, if you like sesame oil as much as I do.
- Asparagus Frittata: Here's a good, simple frittata recipe.
- Grilled Asparagus with Cilantro Lemon Butter: I like this concept since I have an abundance of cilantro in the garden, but I don't completely agree with the method or ingredients. I would use regular, unsalted butter (rather than light) and full-fat sour cream simply because I don't agree with all the extra stuff added to "light" versions of anything. I also wouldn't boil the spears before grilling...I would just put them directly on the grill. I'll give it a shot my way and see how it goes.
Fresh, locally grown strawberries are wonderful and taste a million times better than the ones you buy at the grocery store. The first difference I always notice is the smell. Typically, grocery store strawberries don't have anywhere near the aroma of farmers' market strawberries. The second difference is the color. The strawberries I always find at the store are mostly white in the center. If you do find a store-bought strawberry that is red all the way through, it's probably so mushy that you don't want to eat it. Farmers' market strawberries have an intense red color that goes all the way to the center, and they're not mushy! And finally, the taste. Farmers' market strawberries actually taste like strawberries! ("The schnozberries taste like schnozberries!" LOL) It sounds corny, but it's true. Do your own taste test, and see which one you think tastes better...I dare ya!
To prepare strawberries, rinse them well and remove the tops. That's it!
- Strawberry Bread: The original version of the recipe I posted last week.
- Ummm...fresh!: With farmers' market strawberries, you might even find that you don't need sugar. It's worth a shot, right? After all, we all need to cut back on sugar.
- Cheesecake: If you're feeling really ambitious, make a cheesecake and top it with fresh strawberries (and I don't mean the boxed kind!). You'll appreciate the freshness of the strawberries in conjunction with the rich, creaminess of a good cheesecake. The recipe in the link just happens to be my favorite (and there are several variations listed at the end).
- Buy lots of them: Clean them well, remove the tops, and freeze them for use year-round.
Carrots come in an array of colors, and are wonderful fresh or cooked! Farmers' market carrots are generally sweeter than the store-bought carrots. You'll also notice that farmers' market carrots usually have smaller roots sprouting off, and they may not be as "pretty" and uniform as store-bought carrots, but looks aren't everything. It's what's on the inside that matters!
To prepare carrots, rinse them well. Peel them with a vegetable peeler and trim off the tops (and bottoms, if necessary).
- Can them: I recommend hot-pack canning. There is a wealth of information on the internet, but check out the Ball website first.
- Steamed: Bring a 1/2 inch salted water to boil in a large frying pan or saute pan. Add carrots, cover, and cook until carrots are tender and water has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
- Carrot Rice: I found this recipe a while back, and the combination of ingredients intrigued me. I can't wait to try it.
What are your favorite recipes for these ingredients?