Fourth Of July and the Farmer's Market
Yesterday was the 4th of July and the 4th time I've been to my local Farmer's Market. Coincidence? Every week there's something new and fresh. As the summer wears on, the produce and plants change colors, textures and price. It's a great way to mingle with the farmers, bakers and fishermen that produce what we eat.
Buy Local ~ Support Your Farmers
I'm a firm supporter of buying local and trying to keep my money fueling the neighborhood economy. These Farmer's Market vendors work long and hard to bring us the best and freshest eggs, seafood, baked goods and produce they can. I know, I was one of them. We had a stand at our local Farmer's Market in Vergennes, Vermont for almost 10 years. I know what it's like to stand in the rain, our shoes soaked through, trying to keep our bread dry and in the sweltering heat, fighting to stay cool and keep the lettuce from wilting. Staying up late to get that last bag of greens bagged and cooled overnight and up early to make the cinnamon rolls. Kudos to these men and women of Farmer's Markets all over the country. You Rock!
Farmer's Market Booty
This week I was looking for a nice loaf of bread. I'm WAY too picky, trying to find an exact duplicate of the breads we used to make. The "bread guys" back their truck up into the circle, pop out a table and sell good things like danish, bagels, 4-5 different varieties of gorgeous breads, pizza strips, and spinach pies. They speak a different language and it's not always easy to figure out what they're saying or what they mean. I get something from them every week, but every week their prices change. Last week the bagels were .50 cents, yesterday they were $1.00. They don't have signs on anything to say what it is or how much it cost. It's always a guessing game for me - the customer - on the other side of the table. Maybe it's Rhode Island, but in Vermont we didn't do business like that. I want to know before I buy. It shouldn't be a painful shopping experience. I know of some market stands in other parts of the country, including Boston, that operate like this. It's all part of the show - the bantering, bickering and bargaining. The rest of the stands here all have prices and labels. I like that.
The Bread Guys
Case in point..."What kind of bread is that?" The other guy, clearly not in charge says, "Not sure?" Like it was a question. I asked, "Is it rye or whole grain?" Again, he shrugs his shoulders because either he really doesn't know, or he doesn't understand a thing I'm saying. I stood for a few seconds thinking I need to move on, but I really like his stuff. He asks his buddy something I can't understand. Then he tells me "I think it is rye bread." Why couldn't the guy in charge tell me that himself? I said, "I'd like a loaf of rye bread please, how much is it?" Again, he shrugs his shoulders. Would it be easier if there were a price tag on it??? He asks his boss how much. And with a wave of his hand he says "$4.00 for these, but for this one you want, is $5.00." Of course it would be! And the pretty blond lady behind me would get a special deal of only $3.50, especially if she bent over to get some change out of her purse! I said very politely, "I'll take the rye, and a spinach pie. How much are those?" Again with the questions. He comes back and says, "$3.50" I told him I want one with cheese. He asks his buddy which one had cheese. He puts it in a bag and I quickly ran away $8.50 poorer for the experience.
The kicker to the story? I get home and bite into this luscious spinach pie to find only spinach. That's right...no cheese! After all that, no cheese! AND, John and I ate the thing before I remembered I had a camera. Duh!
Purple Basil, Cilantro and Apple Mint
Not all vendors are vague and difficult. The herbs I bought from another stand were clearly marked and priced. The lady was helpful and friendly. You could tell she does this as a labor of love. The basil and mint are beautiful and healthy, but the cilantro looks a little sad. I'll have to re-pot them quick to get them jump-started again. It cost me $8.00 for all three. My boat is beginning to look like The Love Boat with a garden off the deck! I love it! They'll look great next to my tomato and green basil that I have.
What the heck are garlic scapes? Have you ever heard of them before? It looks like a cross between garlic and scallions with a little bulb at the end of all the twisty, turney, loopy tendrils...if that's what you call them! I wasn't sure what to do with them. I just bought them because they were weird looking in a sci-fi alien sort of way! Maybe they'll make it to our Sunday night grilled pizzas. mmmm...pizza! Garlic Scapes: $2.00
Red Juicy Ripe Strawberries
Look at these photos. Don't they just make you drool? They were beautiful and tasted as good as they looked! I used them last night in Mixed Berry Shortcakes. Buttermilk biscuits, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries all topped with fresh homemade whipped cream! We ate them way too fast after supper, and I forgot to take pictures! You'll just have to trust me on that one! Strawberries: $4.00
So, that's my trip to the Farmer's Market this week. There weren't many vendors being the 4th of July and all. I'm sure next week will be busier and maybe the bread guys will be selling their bread and bagels for more or less...again! I think I'll dye my hair blond and wear a low-cut blouse ;-)