Farmers Market 09.24.11

This week I had the opportunity to volunteer at my local farmers’ market. I have written before about my CSA membership with Victory Farms and how I aim to visit their stand at the South of the James market or Byrd House market weekly. This Saturday was the first time I was able to experience the farm stand from the other side of the table and I loved it!

It was a dreary, rainy Saturday morning but a lot of people came out to get their fresh, local produce. It was crazy to see how quickly everything flew off the tables and into people’s baskets. It really reinforced for me the importance of getting to those markets bright and early to get the best of the bounty. My favorite part about working the market stand was answering food preparation questions. So many people asked how to prepare the veggies we were selling and I was delighted to offer suggestions and tell stories about my experiences. . . go figure! I was also able to go shopping during a lull in the action and I brought home a great selection of fresh food.

  • Basil
  • Salad mix
  • Poblano peppers
  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Arugula
  • Watermelon radishes
  • Lacinato kale

How awesome are these watermelon radishes? They are seriously so pretty, inside and out.

I also picked up this one eggplant because I simply had to. I buy Chinese eggplants often, but I have never seen anything like this.

We have had a lot of rain here lately and on one rainy night last week I decided to rent the movie Monsoon Wedding per the suggestion of a close friend of mine, Rachael Ray. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I highly recommend that you pick it up. It was wonderful. If you have seen it, then you are probably familiar with a certain wedding planner who has an affinity for marigolds. This character is stringing marigold garlands throughout the film, and he has an odd habit of spontaneously chomping down on a single delicate marigold flower and slowly chewing it while he thinks. I noticed a similar occurrence when I glanced over at a Victory Farms employee who was staring into the rainy distance and eating a whole bright red Carmen pepper, biting from bottom to stem. I love how much these people enjoy their veggies. It’s fantastic!

After making suggestions to market-goers all morning on Saturday, I find myself in a bit of a quandary of my own. I bought a bushel of apples last weekend to split with two coworkers and I can’t decide what to do with my share.

There were 115 apples in this box, which left me with 38 apples for myself. I have eaten a few but I still have almost 15 pounds of apples in my fridge, waiting for inspiration to strike. Do I make pies, applesauce, apple juice, apple butter, or something else? I think I will freeze some for apple cinnamon smoothies but I still need suggestions on the best use of my huge stash. Please leave a comment if you have a good recipe or idea.

Farmers’ Market 05.28.11

I finally made it! The South of the James Market!

This Saturday morning tradition is my favorite farmers’ market in Richmond. Due to a crazy weekend travel schedule, I have not been able to make it there since its season opening in early May. It is always busting at the seams with people, strollers, dogs, and delicious food. This week, vegology added one more eager shopper to the mix and I was so excited to be there. So excited that I nearly stripped naked with delight. But we’ll get to that.

Let’s have the loot first, and the story second.

  • Arugula (CSA)
  • Shelling peas (CSA) *first time!
  • Summer squash (CSA)
  • Beets (CSA) *first time!
  • Carrots (CSA)
  • Cucumber (CSA)
  • Fennel (Pleitez Produce) *first time!
  • Pumpkin cinnamon whole wheat bread (Norwood Cottage)

My CSA share is with Victory Farms. As you can see, I have a lot of cooking to do. It has been awhile since I have highlighted a weird ingredient, and I am looking forward to hitting the books to research what I can do with the fennel. I also have never cooked with beets – can you believe that? And I have never purchased my peas in the shell.

Kyle and I sat on the balcony and shelled the peas when I got home.

Then I told him the story of how I involuntarily joined the ranks of the local entertainment at the market this morning.

It all started with a Crossroads’ bagel with the works.

Paired with an iced coffee, this is the perfect farmers’ market breakfast. I chose a table in direct sunlight, right in front of the Crossroads truck. About 30 people mingled around me, some waiting in line to order, others fixing their coffees with cream and sugar, and still others catching up with friends and family, as human and canine children ran circles around the cafe tables.

Immediately I was a spectacle. I noticed people pointing at my plate and saying, “oh I need to get one of those” and “isn’t that gorgeous” and “excuse me, miss, what is that you are eating?” The Works was a big hit and I was showcasing it to the crowd. Self-conscious about the possibility of cream cheese on my nose and tomato juice running down my chin, I decided I needed to get a napkin to make sure I didn’t look like a sloppy fool in front of the gaggle of onlookers. Only when I took a few steps toward the napkin dispenser and felt the warm breeze on my left cheek did I realize that my sundress had gotten bunched up and caught in my minimal undergarments. Yes, that cheek. I had mooned the farmers’ market.

I readjusted, grabbed my napkin, and scurried back to my seat, my face as red as the thick tomato slices on my bagel. I received no tips, hollers or applause. I thought, perhaps I need to hit the gym a little more often? Although I heard no gasps or groans of disgust so I suppose the yoga routine has been working. Just a local food blogger, enjoying local food, and demonstrating the power of lunges to the good people of RVA.

 

First Market of the Season

Has your local farmers’ market opened yet?

Today marks the first day of the South of the James Market 2011 season, and this week was the first that I could start debiting from my CSA share with Victory Farms. Unfortunately, I missed opening day at the market because I was at the beach this morning. However, I made up for it earlier this week when I visited the Byrd House Market in Richmond’s Oregon Hill. Victory Farms visits two markets a week: Byrd House and South of the James. Tuesday was the first day of CSA share debiting, so I biked over the market after work.

As a matter of fact, I biked to work that morning and then hit up the market on my way home. See my cool new basket? It’s perfect for carrying groceries home.

Although I felt pretty weighed down on the ride home, I successfully biked about 6 miles that day and felt great at the end! I think the added weight from my fresh fruits and vegetables in the basket and my work laptop on my back made things a little more difficult. Regardless, I plan to bike commute as much as possible before it gets dreadfully hot and humid here.

Check out my loot!

  • Black pepper linguine from Bombolini Pasta
  • Cucumber
  • Tomatoes (greenhouse I assume)
  • Asparagus
  • Leeks (CSA)
  • Broccoli rabe (CSA)
  • Arugula (CSA)

Happy Market Day!

It’s CSA Time

It’s that time of year again, and I almost missed it! I just submitted my application for our CSA share with Victory Farms. Kyle and I have been discussing our CSA options over the last few weeks with friends, and I thought I had settled on getting a half share for just the two of us. But that seemed like a whole lot of vegetables, so I wasn’t quite sure.

About a week ago I attended Gina Collins’ class at Ellwood Thompson’s called Discovering Greens and learned a ton of different ways to incorporate some new ingredients into my diet. Gina, who is Vice President and co-owner of Victory Farms, also taught us a lot about the farm and the CSA program. I already knew I wanted to purchase a share with Victory Farms this year but I didn’t realize how quickly I was running out of time! Now with the application finished and the check in the outgoing mail, I feel a little more secure about our fresh vegetable future.

In case I am carrying on about something you don’t understand at all, you can read about CSA, or community supported agriculture, here. You can learn more about the Victory Farms CSA here.

Why I like the Victory Farms CSA:

  • VF is a Certified Naturally Grown farm
  • The VF CSA is a debit system, so I can choose the items I want each week and not get stuck with a box of beets if I don’t feel like rocking fuschia fingers all week. Also I can miss a week or double up a week and debit from my prepaid account as I go.
  • The VF CSA members do fun activities like canning parties and gleaning parties, where you can harvest your own food for your own consumption and to donate to the CVFB
  • I can get to know my local farmer, which is so important to me since I have gotten more interested in educating myself about the sources of my food.

I also just learned that Victory Farms has a really informative and extensive Recipes section on their website. You might notice that a certain Richmond food blogger ::cough::vegology::cough:: contributed the Recipe of the Week this week! If my pizza recipe stops just one person from scratching her head about what to do with escarole, then I think I’ve done my job here, folks.

Are you joining a CSA this year? Where is your favorite place to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables?