this morning i woke with the usual enthusiasm and excitement that is typical of a saturday. not only does saturday mean that my husband is home from work for all of us to enjoy for two whole days, but it also means that i will be going to the market to see what my treasured friends and farmers have harvested for my family! because we are a family that goes with the FLOW (fresh, local, organic - most of the time, and whole) and eats with the seasons, summer is always chock full of our favorite farm fresh treats. saturday mornings are the best!
as i dressed for my trip up hudson street to our local west village market at abingdon square, i began to fantasize about what i might find at this time of year. Cucumbers, greens, herbs, radish, cherries, beets, perhaps the end of the sugar snaps from the farther upstate NY farmers, field tomatoes from the jersey farmers, many varieties of squash, freshly dug potatoes and much more. I checked my computer to see if Dave from Muddy Farm sent his usual email last night detailing what he will be bringing to market today. he also treats us to the wanderings of his most hysterical brain. i truly appreciate a farmer with bizarre sense of humor who is also not afraid to talk politics, religion and philosophy on the same page. you can get on lots of farmer's mailing lists and they will happily let you know what they will be bringing each market day. it's a wonderful way to plan your weekly menus and start the creative juices flowing. there is that word again....flow. it's a great word because it suggests constant movement which is how a healthy body operates. living, breathing organisms require vibrant, living, growing nourishment with living, nutrient rich foods to support the constant flow of cellular growth. life, death, repair. cycles. breathing in and out. food being grown according to that flow, in harmony with nature. that is how we attain and maintain a healthy balance and a happy life. our food source is our fuel source. our energy force and our life force. freshly grown and properly grown is how we need to source it!
my first stop is always with my friend and favorite farmer nevia who is the owner at bohditree farm. her daughter uni is usually with her and my daughter sylvia has been working with them on saturday mornings. they allow sylvia to help them with setting up the stand and restocking the vegetables as they are purchased. two hours of work gets sylvia a bag of vegetables of her choice. sylvia is 8 years old and working is very important to her right now. she is starting to recognize her efforts as having value and the need to put her efforts to good use is a real feeling of pride and accomplishment...not to mention the fact that her mama worked the greenmarkets 25 years ago and she wants to follow in mama's footsteps! the other nice thing about the kids putting their hands on useful "tasks" within our community is that they feel a connection and responsibility to the neighborhood and create a social bond with their neighbors within the context of offering & selling healthy food. helping out at a local greenmarket is a golden opportunity for any child to participate in a socially conscious and connected role as helper in their community. not to mention the fact that they also learn great math skills by weighing food and attaching value to it. the adding, subtracting, making change and interacting with customers is a huge plus for self confidence!
from nevia i purchased 5 lbs. of kirby cucumbers to make pickles. our family loves pickles and we really enjoy the process of lacto-fermenting the pickles ourselves and watching how they take on their exciting flavors. these pickles are also loaded with enzymes, vitamins and probiotics. i take much pride in knowing that my children are maintaining proper gut health just by eating pickles with their meals and snacks. we are just finishing up 2 jars of garlic dill with jalapeno spears and 1 jar of tarragon chips. i bought 3 different types of herbs from nevia today and we will be experimenting with new pickle flavors based on those herbs: shiso leaf, purple basil and more tarragon - my personal favorite. the brine will be very simple. filtered water, celtic sea salt, herbs, garlic, a spice perhaps and the cukes. after 3 days we will taste and they will probably be done after 5. they will keep indefinitely in a cool place but i doubt they will last very long. we tend to also give these quart jars to friends as gifts when we go visiting. we will also ferment some chinese long beans today. i love fermented dilly beans and this will be my take on that. i plan to do them with Shiso leaf, one clove of garlic and a nice piece of ginger. that takes care of the kirby cucumbers and the chinese long beans -- the long beans were originally purchased with the intent of accompanying tonight's monkfish dinner. i generally like to saute and blister the long beans in rendered bacon fat and serve with smokey chunks of bacon lardons.
i also purchased sour cherries. this is a personal favorite of mine. i can eat these all day long. today i will set aside half of the quart plus that i purchased for raw eating and then pit & stew the other half as a topping for tonight's dessert of raw vanilla maple ice cream i made yesterday. see how i skipped to dessert already?! i have raw vanilla maple ice cream on the brain today. what else did i buy and how will i use it....i found those sugar snap peas i was after. my son henry adores these simply steamed with a drizzle of either olive oil or more than a drizzle of melted raw butter and lemon sea salt from cyprus. talk about a gift! we have a specialty store downstairs from our apartment, called the meadow, that sells fine sea salt, flowers, chocolates and bitters. a very cool place for a foodie to live above, i confess. i also purchased 4 lbs of assorted summer squash. my favorite is a variety called avocado squash. it looks like the inside, buttery flesh of an avocado and has that same, buttery, sweet flavor. it can be sauteed, steamed, fried, seared, shredded and made into cakes, sliced thinly and eaten raw with just olive oil and sea salt or whatever you desire. squash is versatile and forgiving. it also makes great soup!
lacinato kale and sungold cherry tomatoes also found their way into my market bag this morning. the kale will be chopped roughly and sauteed in coconut oil. i will add course ground sea salt and eat plainly and simply, savoring each flavorful bite. that is what is so powerful about this food we buy at the farmer's markets -- it is so fresh and full of vital energy that we need not do much to it to make it an unbelievable experience. each ingredient is a star that deserves to be showcased in it's full beauty and splendor. i do not recommend tossing this type of food into a pasta all at once, creating a dish that does not sing the praises of each individual ingredient. I usually go with the four ingredient rule but i prefer three when i can. from PD & E seafood i happily purchased $20 worth of monk fish which will be our early dinner -- when my husband and the kids get back from the pool in about half and hour. that's $5 in fish per person plus veggies and assorted aromatics, seasoning...i reckon that will add up to $6.75 per person for the best tasting, freshest dinner ever.
i predict that my greenmarket haul from this morning will feed us all week. a little here, a little there. a meal. a snack. etc. i didn't even mention some of the other vendors today who were rockin' their peaches, nectarines, melons, corn, lettuce, etc. there was so much to choose from that it could have been a crazy race to see how much i could spend and carry. but instead i will pace myself by enjoying a few things that are at peak right now and also by fermenting and putting up some others that we can enjoy beyond it's season in a different state. the summer is a time of seduction and endless variety but we are able to bring all of that diversity and deliciousness from the markets and farms to our Family2Table with intent and creativity. our mission, to design plates that nourish the body, feed the soul and celebrate each individual ingredient which is as special and unique as each individual member of our family. enjoy!