Sue’s Morning Stretch: Fresher the food, the easier the preparationContinue reading.
Sue’s Morning Stretch: How to shop, cook from farmers market
When I woke, saw the rain and that it was 42 degrees, I almost decided to skip the opening Thursday of the Daley Center farmers market.
I mean, really; who wants to brave rain AND cold? But then I thought, ah, but the farmers won’t let the weather deter them, and they come from farther away. So, off I went.
Even though it had only warmed to 44 by the time I got downtown, I was glad I went. So even if the weekend weather’s lousy, I’d encourage you to dress appropriately and stop by your neighborhood farmers market, as a number of the city-run ones open this weekend. (Here’s a list of the different markets.) And make sure it’s someplace you stop by regularly.
Besides the food there’s often entertainment. Picking through produce together brings about a feeling of togetherness, so strangers often strike up conversations. The farmers are always willing to tell you about what they are selling and share cooking tips. It’s fun and educational.
One thing, though; remember to be flexible. Don’t go thinking, “I must get X so I can make Y.” Instead walk around, see what looks good and plan to have that in a meal.
This trip I came home with some very long green onions (the longest is 29 inches in length). The asparagus looked good, so bought some of that, too. I decided on some hydroponic tomatoes because the guy kept touting the lack of pesticides and I was craving a fresh tomato.
When farmers markets started to expand beyond produce, initially I didn’t like that. But the more I thought about it, the less I could see why there’s any real problem. It’s a way to support small producers, and that’s always a good thing. On this trip I bought a package of Brunkow’s Baked Cheese, which is baked to form a crust. (I got the one with smoked bacon. Yum!) At the market the sample I had was diced up and cooking in a skillet, so I did the same. (I saw that same cheese end up in a good-looking salad on Instagram.)
Here’s the thing about fresh fruit and veggies: you don’t have to do much to make them part of a meal. From time to time during the farmers market season I am going to head to one and shop. I’ll share with you what I do with my purchases, so you can see how easily a meal can come together.
Here’s what happened with Thursday’s purchases:
We started the meal with a couple tomatoes, sliced and drizzled with a bit of balsamic vinegar.
I sliced up some roasted chicken I’d made a couple days earlier, then sautéed it in a little butter. Some of green onions got chopped and sautéed, again in butter. (I’m a big fan of butter.) I tossed in diced pieces of the baked cheese and followed that with walnuts I’d toasted for about 5 minutes as the oven heated. To all that I added a couple shots of buttermilk.
All of that became a sauce/topping of sorts that I poured over the chicken. I served it with the asparagus, which I bathed in olive oil and topped with salt and pepper before roasting at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes.
And just like that, dinner was ready in 35 minutes. Easy-peasy.
Isn’t that worth braving a chilly spring day?
– Sue Ontiveros