June 15, 2010

Market Day

Posted in Food, Friendships, Health, Money, Recipes tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:06 am by Liliana

Market Day

Market Day

Grocery shopping in modern supermarkets is not one of my favorite chores. In fact, I don’t like doing it much at all.

But I love, LOVE, shopping at our local farmer’s market.

Maybe it reminds me of my childhood. My mother, sister and I went shopping several times a week at the nearby farmer’s market in Belgrade. Mother carried a large wicker basket and my sister and I carried little wicker baskets. We bought food that smelled tantalizing and tasted delightful, was in season, ripe and delicious. We had our favorite farmers. They let us try samples. They told us what was best. They gave us ideas on how to prepare new dishes.

I am lucky to live in a town, here in Michigan, that has a lively farmers market. On Wednesday and Saturday mornings, from early March until the end of December, it is the center of our downtown area. For me, going there is a gratifying adventure.

I usually try to be at the market by 8 am, not only so I can find a parking spot easily, but also because the selection of the seasonal bounty is not picked over yet. I quickly walk through the aisles, look over the offerings, compare the prices, and greet the farmers I have gotten to know.

Frequently, I meet my friend Ann at a nearby café, for coffee and some much needed girlfriend conversation. Ann is not just one of my dearest friends, she is my market buddy. We drink hot coffee, share a delectable pastry, and talk about anything that comes to mind that particular morning. Then, we go to the market together.

I haven’t found a wicker basket I like, but I always carry several canvas bags so I can store all my purchases. I always bring cash, mostly in small bills. Farmers don’t take credit cards or personal checks. I don’t’ haggle with farmers over the prices. My grandparents were farmers and I know how hard these people work for a living. I talk to farmers, just like my mother did. I ask them what they recommend. When I don’t recognize a particular vegetable or fruit, I ask about it. Sometimes, I get new recipes.

Our market has a lot more to offer than fruits and vegetables. I frequently buy fresh eggs (from a lady everyone calls grandma,) artisan cheeses, meat (from an Amish family,) flowers (from a friendly lady who makes beautiful wreaths,) herbs, coffee. I bought a large leather bag from a woman who designs and makes them from the softest leather. At Christmas time, we come here to buy fresh trees.

I miss the market terribly during those dark, cold winter months when it is closed. But when spring arrives Ann and I are ready.

April 10, 2010

Spring Vegetables

Posted in Cancer, Food, Health, Recipes tagged , , , at 6:43 am by Liliana

Enjoy the bounty of early spring!

Early spring is the perfect time to enjoy these delicious and nutritious vegetables. This is what’s in season now:

  • Asparagus – Fresh, crispy local asparagus is one of my favorite spring vegetables. The stalks should be firm and tender at the same time; the color bright green, and the tips tightly closed. Steam or boil for around 5-8 minutes until just tender, or brush with olive oil and roast in the oven. Serve just as it is or with a dressing of olive oil and lemon juice. Use in salads, quiches, soups or pasta sauces.
  • Chicory – Look for firm heads, tightly furled leaves and no brown streaks. Chicory is great steamed or gently sautéed in olive oil. It compliments fish and is also good raw in salads, mixed with other leaves and slices of orange.
  • New Potatoes – Cook them in their tender skins for a wonderfully delicate flavor. Boil, roast or steam them, and serve simply with olive oil and salt. They are also excellent in salads.
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli –  Look for firm, slender stems and leaves with intense purple color. Cut the stems into pieces and steam until tender. Delicious tossed in a olive oil, sesame seeds and a dash of chili. Also good in soups, sautés, and pasta sauces.
  • Radishes – I love their bright red or pink skins and peppery flavor. Wash, discard the root and leaves, and slice. Good in salads, sandwiches, soups or just on their own.
  • Spinach – A super-food filled with vitamins. Wash well, and cook with no additional water. Spinach shrinks as it cooks, so buy plenty of it. Steam or boil it, covered in a pot, for just a few minutes. I add it to soups, sautés or eat it raw in salads.
  • Spring Onions  or Scallions – This is another of my favorites among spring vegetables. Wash well, cut off the roots and peel outer leaves. Use in salads and stir fries. Spring onions cook quickly, and can replace ordinary onions in any recipe.
  • Watercress – Belongs to family of cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, which contain anti-cancer chemicals and are full of vitamins. Look for crisp dark-green leaves, crisp and fresh with no sign of wilting. Wash well before use. Chop into salads or sandwiches, or use in soups or stir fries.

And don’t forget carrots, all kinds of greens and salads, beets, etc. etc. If you have a farmer’s market in your area, it is the best place to find fresh, local produce. Enjoy the bounty of early spring!