Summer is for Tomatoes (Farmers’ Market 07.09.11)

Do you like the new header? In case you haven’t noticed, I change the header image seasonally to reflect what we see locally during that time of year. Spring 2011 was greens, Winter was pomegranates and snow, Fall was apples and pumpkins, etc. For me, summer is all about the tomatoes, and I have patiently waited until tomatoes were abundant at the market before I traded the purslane for tomatoes in the header. This photo was taken in August of last year, so we aren’t really seeing this variety quite yet. However, I have seen the first of the heirloom and modern varieties this weekend, so it’s finally time to celebrate the star of the summer.

Farmers’ Market 07.09.11

I got to the market earlier this weekend to avoid the crowds. . . no such luck. The South of the James Market has really exploded in the last few years! I remember meeting friends there two years ago, with a standing appointment at 9:15 AM “to beat the crowds” and get there before the fresh eggs were sold out. Most people showed up between 10:00 and 11:00 so we tried to get in and out before we had to fight our way to the zucchini.

This year, I have had a much more flexible schedule and I have tried getting there at 10:30, 9:15, and 8:30 and I have met the same crazy crowds every time! Kyle and I arrived yesterday between 8:15 and 8:30 (the market opens at 8:00) and almost didn’t get a parking spot. And I still had to muscle my way to the squash, peppers, and tomatoes.

I have a tendency, especially before coffee, to groan about the inconvenience of the throng of people standing between me and my fresh vegetables, sometimes loudly complaining about people from certain far-flung neighborhoods “invading” my beloved market. How awful of me! Lately I have made a conscious effort to find the calm within, hold my tongue, and appreciate how wonderful it is that so many people have taken an interest in supporting local farmers and putting fresh, seasonal food on their dinner tables. This is a very good thing. Ommmm.

Here’s what I brought home this week!

  • Summer squash (CSA)
  • Cucumbers (CSA)
  • Purple sweet peppers (Walnut Hill Farm)
  • Heirloom tomatoes (CSA)
  • Green beans (CSA)
  • Cilantro (CSA)
  • Blackberries (Walnut Hill Farm)
  • Jalapeรฑo Penne (Bombolini Pasta)
  • Red potatoes (CSA)

I diced up one of the heirloom tomatoes last night and threw it on a pizza with pesto and arugula, and it was so juicy and delicious! The tomatoes + greens + pesto combination reminded me of another pizza that came out of my kitchen last year: Pesto Pizza with Escarole and Heirloom Tomatoes. Looking at this recipe from last year reminds me that if I’m lucky I will be able to enjoy tomatoes through October – three cheers for Hanover County tomatoes!

Another Gardenology Update

This week I lamented the loss of the only tomato I have ever grown. I wrote about it here, called my best friend for moral support, whined about it at work, and retold the story while out to dinner with friends on Friday night. I knew that this late in the season, with no flowers on the tomato plant, and my only tomato gone forever, I wouldn’t have the satisfaction of plucking a tomato from my garden and putting it on my dinner plate this year.

A week after the tragedy occurred, Friday night’s thunderstorms (and half a bottle of wine) washed away my sorrow. And then Saturday morning brought a miracle!

I will protect these babies with my life. What a beautiful summer this is turning out to be.

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