Friday night when I went to bed, I told The Man I wasn't sure if I wanted to try to sleep in or get up and go to the farmers' market (it was his morning to tend to The Munchkin). So I didn't make plans either way. If I had made a plan, I knew I would wake up wishing I had the opposite.
I woke up at 6am Saturday...I laid in bed for nearly an hour, wishing I could go back to sleep, before I finally gave in. I got up, got ready, wrote a quick "Went to market" note for The Man, and I off. It was like I was being drawn to the market, even though part of me was wishing I was still in bed.
I arrived shortly after the official opening time, and the streets were already full of people. I like to get there early, mostly because there are several stands that sell out very quickly, and partly because I like to have the rest of my day to think of fun and interesting things to do with the items I score.
This week, I managed to get my hands on some strawberries (from one of the stands that sells out quickly), blueberries, plums, a cucumber, hydroponic tomatoes, kale, and green beans. Here's what I'm doing with the spoils:
- Strawberries: The Munchkin and I will eat these, but probably not fast enough. So, I'm going to make something yummy with a portion of the quart of berries and a few stalks of rhubarb that are hanging out in the fridge.
- Blueberries: These are primarily for The Munchkin, since she seems to eat them like candy. It's great because they are little nutrient powerhouses. (She hasn't turned blue yet, either, so I think we're safe.) The pint of blueberries I bought will probably get a little mushy before she finishes all of them, so I'll do something fun with a portion of these, too...maybe blueberry yogurt drops for her to snack on.
- Plums: I bought two plums...also for The Munchkin. Though now that I'm thinking about it, a plum-blueberry galette sounds fun. I'll think some more on that, though.
- Cucumber: I bought one cucumber, and I intend to eat most of it myself (sliced or in a salad), but The Munchkin will help me. Surprisingly, she likes cucumbers, and I'm cool with that.
- Tomatoes: I bought a red one for me and a yellow for The Mom (she LOVES yellow tomatoes). I'll use this on the yummy panini I make (along with fresh basil picked from my garden) and in my salads.
- Kale: Kale is new to this household, so we're going to experiment with it a bit. I bought one bunch of it, mainly to make kale chips for The Munchkin and me to try, but I want to incorporate it into an orzo dish for dinner one night this week to see what The Man thinks of it.
- Green beans: I canned two pounds of these yesterday (made nearly 5 pints). I managed to get them snapped, cleaned, and in jars while The Munchkin ate her lunch, and I was so proud of my clever use of her high chair time! :)
Look for recipes for these items a bit later.
Also, a few of my friends and relatives have asked me a question, and I feel like this is as good a place as any to answer it. The question: Do I plan my menu or shop the market first?
This is really a matter of personal preference. I shop the market first. That way, I can plan my meals around the things I find. This makes it easier to eat local and in-season (in case you hadn't noticed, this is kind of a big deal for me). I can then go to the grocery store and buy only the staples.
At the Old Capitol Farmers' Market in downtown Springfield, I can find virtually everything: produce, meats, eggs, cheeses, breads, pasta, and all the baked goods you can imagine. So it's feasible for me to walk away with everything I need for the weekly menu. Maybe I'll challenge myself (and you) to shop only the markets for one week...see if you can skip your trip to the grocery store. Are you interested in taking the challenge?
I suggest you menu plan and shop in whatever order suits you. It's not hard to guess, based on the season, what types of items will be available at the market, but keep in mind that things like the mild winter we had, pests, and other factors can change the availability of items from week to week. Also, if you're going to plan your menu before you hit the market, remind yourself that you may not find some of the items on your list.
It all really depends on how much you're relying on local, fresh foods to complete your menu...
Stay tuned for the challenge...we might have to try this! :)
Mangia bene, friends!