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Getting to Know Food: The Farmers Market

Farmers Market Bounty

Farmers Market Bounty

For years, I’ve loved going to farmers’ markets and picking out juicy organic strawberries or artisan cheeses.   Fresh herbs are always on my list because they are so much less expensive then at the grocery store and so much fresher.  But, let’s face it, I was and am a farmers market rookie.

On my drive to and from work and while at home cooking I’ve been listening to Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” on books-on-tape.  The book centers around Kingsolver and her family’s move from Tucson, Arizona to the Appalachia and the journey they undergo when they commit to spending an entire year eating local food (grown by them or available from their neighbors or the farmers markets), with a few exceptions (coffee for one).  What I quickly realized was that with the exception of pumpkins, I have no idea when other fruits and vegetables are in season.

In Orange County I was spoiled by warm weather that brought a bevy of fruit and vegetable choices almost year-round and supermarkets that shipped those same fruits and veggies from half-way around the world to us – New Zealand kiwi anyone?  Since moving to Seattle, I’ve made a conscious effort to cook more and eat organic fruits and veggies whenever possible (especially berries).  Those goals sent me to the farmers markets where I quickly learned that apples that have not been put in cold storage burst with crunch and sweetness from the first bite to the last; you can’t get watermelon in September; and unlike frozen, fresh broccoli can be eaten without cheese.    

Last weekend, my husband and I headed out for what is quickly becoming a Sunday ritual – a trip to the Broadway Farmers Market.  While there we picked up our breakfast at Anita’s Crepes (nutella and banana for me, egg, goat cheese, ham and spinach in a buckwheat crepe for him) and we shopped.  We bought green cauliflower because we had never seen it before; broccoli, heirloom tomatoes; honeycrisp apples that I eat everyday with lunch; carrots pulled out of the ground that morning; organic dried basil (no fresh to be had anymore); hot italian sausage from organic, true free-range, grass-fed pigs, and a nice wedge of cheese.  Of course I had no idea what I was going to do with all of this!

That night I paired Italian meatloaf made from the dried organic basil, organic grass-fed beef procured from Trader Joe’s and an assortment of other ingredients, with bread I had baked that day, a wedge of cheese from the farmers market and an heirloom tomato salad (3 different varieties, chopped with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and blue cheese crumbles in my husband’s).  Delish.

On Monday, I tackled the other vegetables.  I found a quick and easy solution:

Veggie Fried Rice

  • 1 1/2 c. rice
  • 3 c. water
  • 3 TBSP oil that can withstand high heat (peanut if you have it, I used vegetable)
  • 2-4 tsp. Chinese 5-spice powder (adjust to taste)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 c. broccoli
  • 1. c. cauliflower
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • onion
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • soy sauce to taste

In a large saucepan combine 1 1/2 c. rice with 3 c. water.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes.  Once cooked, rinse and drain.

When rice is about 6 minutes away from being finished, heat up a large wok over medium-high heat.   Once the wok is hot (test it by dropping a drop of water in, if it sizzles you’re in business), add oil, garlic and Chinese 5 spice powder and cook (stirring throughout) for 30 seconds. 

Add broccoli, cauliflower and peppers.  Cook for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. 

Add onion.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. 

Add rice (you can also add tomatoes and/or peas at this time if you wish).  Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Take off the heat, sprinkle with sesame oil and add soy sauce to taste.  Mix it all together and serve.

My husband is a dedicated meat and potato guy and he loved this vegetarian dish!

Veggie Stir-Fry

Veggie Stir-Fry

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