I feel like my entire weekend was spent preparing or consuming food. And that’s okay—lord knows that I am a big fan of eating, and I’m willing to invest some time so as to make that experience happen—but it helped me to understand that I would’ve survived about a week as a pioneer before being all “Screw this, where’s McDonald’s?”
As you already know, my garden is producing tomatoes large enough to take over Atlanta, and a reasonable person would merely concentrate on those, as there’s certainly enough of them to keep me busy. BUT NO. I am not reasonable. If some is good, MORE IS BETTER, and so with five pounds (so far!) of ripe tomatoes pondering the takeover of my kitchen, I demanded that Otto take me to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday.
We went early, before the kids were up. Without any “this is boring”s and “he’s touching me!”s to distract me, I may have gone a little overboard.
The main mission of our trip was to find beets. I understand that beets are a polarizing topic; I myself lived over thirty years before discovering that I did not, as previously assumed, hate beets. Actually, I love beets, and so does Otto. And recently, so does Chickadee. (Monkey remains our sole hold-out on the beet front, but you have to admit that 3 out of 4 isn’t bad.)
Anyway, the point is that we entered the market determined to buy beets and go home. Hahahahaha!
I forgot that there’s this thing that happens to me when I’m surrounded by fresh produce. Basically, I lose my mind. “What are THESE? They’re so PRETTY! How do you cook them?”
We found beets. Actually, we found them twice: we bought a good-sized bunch of regular ones, and then we also bought a bag of baby chioggia beets, which were so darned cute I nearly began babbling to them in babytalk, which might have been embarrassing.
At that point we probably should’ve gone home. But no. There were sweet onions! And garlic! And we ran into a friend who told us which booth had pink-eye peas, and we’ve never had those, and guess what? THEY’RE SO PRETTY! It was pretty much just a flurry of money flying out of my wallet, after that. (Chickadee: “Isn’t pink eye, you know, BAD? Why would you want to EAT that?”)
I thought we were done for the day at the hand-crafted pasta stall, where I purchased a bag of chocolate cheesecake ravioli (OH YES I DID) to blow the kids’ minds for dessert later this week. But then… we were on our way back to the car with our bags… and there was one last stall.
Hand-crafted, raw milk cheese.
You KNOW how I feel about cheese.
There were samples, people. We didn’t stand a chance.
Just allow me to say that I don’t know if I can ever buy feta at the supermarket again. This stuff RUINED me for the rest. Monkey asked me what kind of cheese it was, when I took it out yesterday, and I said “This here is SEE THE FACE OF GOD feta.” (Him: “It doesn’t say that on the label, but cool.”)
So there was that.
On Saturday afternoon, I cooked. I made roasted tomato sauce (thanks to a recipe left in the comments, thank you!) and while it cooked down, I shelled the pink-eye peas. About halfway through, Monkey came to help me, which was a relief, because it turns out that I hate shelling beans. We finally got them done, though, and I parboiled them (parboil! just the word makes me feel like a pioneer!) and then added in some chopped carrots and pickled the whole mess. I don’t know why; I figured we could eat the results on salad.
On Sunday afternoon, I cooked again. I decided we were going to have a dinner composed entirely from food from our garden and the Farmer’s Market. I roasted the beets and caramelized onions and put them together in a salad with some of that mind-blowing feta. Then I put the rest of the feta in a tomato, cucumber, and watermelon salad. And took out the pink-eye peas and carrots, which were now sweet and crunchy.
I have to tell you: Dinner was DELICIOUS. And knowing we were eating local and in-season was very nice. But the time involved… let’s just say I understand why people just throw some burgers on the grill and call it a day. It’s time-consuming to eat fresh food. On a lazy weekend, it’s kind of fun, but the only way we could eat that way every day would be if I had a staff. (Of people. To work for me. Not just a big stick. Unless it was a MAGICAL big stick.)
Anyway, it was yummy, I patted myself on the back a bit, and everyone was happy. (Remember how I said Monkey doesn’t like beets? Chickadee doesn’t like onions. They were the Jack Sprat and wife with the beet salad, though I drew the line at anyone licking the platter clean.)
In fact, if I’m being completely honest, I was feeling pretty awesome.
Right up until I got up this morning and realized I have no idea what we’re having for dinner tonight. Oops.
Thanks–now I am STARVING. I am so jealous about your homegrown tomatoes. My garden only produced for about a month. It just got too hot too fast. No words can express my mouth salivating over the chocolate cheesecake ravioli. I need to find a market like yours. Or maybe I just need to come over to your house for dinner…
For the record, I think I might be VERY jealous of your farmer’s market…….
I just love reading your blog. You make vegetables funny, for pete’s sake. Thanks for the laugh this morning – I needed it!!
What, exactly, switched you from a beet-hater to a beet-lover? I need this information… I want to like beets… truly, I do! I just have never, ever, ever, ever met a beet that didn’t make me gag. Help a girl out!
5 pounds of tomatoes from your garden = 4 tomatoes, right? Everything you made sounds delish. I have the same reaction at the farmers’ market – I’m so visual I buy pretty, then wonder what the heck I’m going to do with all that food.
Are you auditioning for a Food Network show or just showing off?! Sounds like sandwiches and cereal tonight. Also, beets?! UGH ick blech. Buy all you want. I do want some of that cheese though, sounds delicious.
I have noticed since we moved down to the area known as ‘the South’, that Farmers markets just arent the same as back home in ‘the North’. Up there it may be only really good for 2 or 3 months… but when its good they LOSE THEIR MINDS on it… you can make a whole day for the entire family and not break a sweat (or your budget). Down here it lasts longer but they arent nearly as large or as fun. Oh to be back in the Apple, Dairy, and Maple regions……….
Thanks. I just ate breakfast, and now i’m hungry again.
Burgers on the grill of course. Or McDonald’s. :-)
I am growing tomatoes for the first time and I L-O-V-E it! I also have green beans, garlic and cucumbers. Such fun to check on things every morning and see the progress.
I recently watched FOod, Inc……..ugh and so while I picky about my food before now I am determined to eat local when possible. So I ventured to our Farmers Market this weekend too! Love the Farmers Market!
I can’t cook, but I can eat :) sounds fun.
Oh, this all sounds AWESOME!!!.. and yes, as growers of a big garden… good food is hard work. Now I know why farmers feel undercompensated. They are!!…
Our tomatoes are all still green, we’re behind you by about two weeks I think.
The Athens farmers market or the big one down by the airport? It all sounds yummy, maybe it’s time to check out the Tuesday afternoon version of the AFM :-)
All that and here I am soooo excited because I have a tomato!!! A little itty bitty, not even as big as a dime, tomato on my one tomato plant!!!!! Jealous much?!?!?!
The roasted tomato sauce sounds simply wonderful! You are really making me hungry and anxious to go to my local farmers market.
Farmer’s markets are always fun – I should go to one here sometime. I’m a lazy cook though so most of what I buy would probably go to waste.
Lord, I wish you were closer; my CSA has beets coming out my ears and we NO LIKEY. Any recipe you might share that could change my mind?
That same thing happens to me when I see fresh produce… “Pretty! …How do I cook them?”
My top two bad surprises in my life? That my mom and dad were getting divorced and that I would have to start cooking after my first born got sick of canned baby food. WTF?
We used to get one of those farm-fresh-produce bins delivered to our door each week. And each week I’d delve in there and find at least one item that was a TOTAL MYSTERY vegetable. Never seen it before, no idea what to do with it.
That? Was FUN!
I have a couple of terrific beet recipes, if you’re interested. Both with protein (one has lentils, the other tofu and almonds) for Chickadee-friendly meals!
For Damsel: The thing that turned me into a beet-lover was borscht. I make it the same way I make any beef stew, it’s just that there are beets in the pot along with all the other veggies and the meat. Top a bowl of it with a dollop of sour cream and it’s HEAVEN!
I also make a beet risotto (I’m sure you can find some yummy recipes at allrecipes.com) that has a lot of Parmesan. It looks like a gory murder scene on the plate, but it sure is delicious!
*Sigh* Now this weekend I’m going to have to pick up tomatoes and cucumbers and green beans and corn…. I really could keep going here. Oh! And squash blossoms! Maybe I’ll get some good goat cheese from one of the stands too. I LOVE farmers markets!
Damsel: have you tried just roasting them after peeling and cutting into small pieces ?~! No, I guess you havenâ€™t. Keep in mind, sugar is made from beets in lots of parts of the world. Beets are sweet, so they taste good to little ones, too. And they come in pretty colors now too, so we are not stuck with deep red fingertips for days after indulging in them.
Peel with a regular potato peeler and cut into 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch chunks. Preheat oven to 350 F. Oil a baking dish and spread the beet pieces out in a single layer. Bake for 15 or so mins until they are soft. Poke with fork for desired doneness. Yummy with just a touch of kosher salt as they come out of the oven.
Funny story: cooked these one night for a Chinese family who were guests. The mom smacked her lips and asked, â€œWhat are beets made of? These are good!â€ We had a good laugh and a second helping.
Fresh produce, with money you can spend on said produce, is better than sex.
I am pretty sure that if a wife and mother created the world, it would have said, “And on Monday, she rested and ordered take-out, and it was good.”
I am dying to try some of this Supergood Feta because even the storebought kind makes me think I’ve died and gone to heaven!
I have been doing the same thing, and loving it. I recently joined a local Community Supported Agriculture group where I pay a fee for a weekly box of local, organic produce. I find myself pour over new and exciting vegetables every week and making all sorts of things I didn’t think I would.
But it does take way more time than I have, especially with a one year old begging me to pick her up the whole time I cook.
I make beet and ricotta pancakes all the time which is another delicious way to enjoy beets. Our whole family loved them.
Your Farmer’s Market is way better than ours ….pout pout :( Sounds amazing! So what – pizza tonite?
I’ve been too alot of Farmer’s Markets but never one that had cheese. WTH?
I think you get a week off for being such a bad ass this weekend.
Mmmmm… what a wonderful sounding weekend!
I sort of hate that I like to watch cooking shows (only SOME cooking shows mind, I’m very, very fussy about my cooking shows. America’s Test Kitchen ’cause it’s nerdy and uses science to blind me; Jaime Oliver ’cause he giggles about food and gets all excited and… hmmm… nerdy again – pattern? and the Fat Ladies ’cause their food looks AWFUL, but they are sort of hilarious really, plus, dude, side-car? It’s FAB). Trouble is that cooking shows lure you in, right? You already think you’re a sorta-kinda foodie and then WHAM there’s Jaime Oliver going all googly for a particular kind of prosciutto and next thing you know you’re eyeing your Costco packet of salted meat and wondering if it’s really, really truly quite as nice as you thought. Most recently it was ATK having this whole tasting of feta which made me realize I’d been robbing myself – robbing! – by using horrible, nasty, boring old COW feta (supermarket) and not the artisinal goat stuff. Sigh.
Srsly, it’s lucky there aren’t more idiots like me or some ego maniac could take over the world by wafting a slice of pancetta past our noses and promising there are some truly fine olives at the little deli just up the road. We’d totally follow him and do his evil bidding.
@ Damsel: I HATED beets growing up. Turns out I just hated canned beets, and boiled beets. I absolutely adore them roasted in their skins (then rub off the skins while they’re still hot, and roll ’em in butter….MMMM!)
I also roast them, and when they’re cool, I chop ’em and toss them with onions and feta cheese, sometimes some orange segments, and maybe a little vinaigrette. I also use the cooled roasted beets to make make pickled beets with onions and vinegar and sugar (and sometimes hard boiled eggs) and just have a big ol’ bowl of them in the fridge to add to salads, to eat plain, etc. There is also a beet hummus recipe that is absolutely divine, and gorgeous to boot!
Recipes (all of these are from Elise at Simply Recipes, but you can Google lots of others!):
I love the Farmers’ Market! We always discuss our shopping “list” and then go over and above it.
Last time we sauntered through the farmer’s market we ended up with this huge loaf of AMAZING asiago sour dough….oh man…we waited till the kids went to bed and had a FEAST on that thing HA. (with four kids, two of whom are teen-ish, you don’t dare bust open the most sacred foods till they are ASLEEP! HA)
I still day dream about that darn bread….mmmmm
My friend was staying with us for a month, and she had a CSA (full share) for two weeks. Even for three grown ups and one toddler with a limited/ restricted eating habits (of her own making), we had to work really really hard to make food every night. I felt like I would come to work, start looking for recipes, getting any last minute ingredients, get home, and start cooking, then the cleaning. It was definitely fun for the two weeks, but I can’t imagine putting so much effort in dinner EVERY night!! The next two weeks we took a break so we had a lot of none sense. But the food we made from the CSA was awesome!! And I did feel very Earth Motherly…
Your title is the content of the “Why I Work” essay, right? Love it.
This was me in the grocery store last week. They got local produce in that was beautiful! I try to cook a lot on weekends, and then have it to reheat for the beginning of the week or freeze it for another busy night.
I do the SAME thing in the farmers market. My husband has to go with me and control the cash otherwise I blow our entire weeks grocery budget on tomatoes -we’re in MN and they’re still not in :(- and sour cherries.
This sounds like me at the farmer’s market. Even though we have a garden. And a CSA share at a local farm… but it’s all so good!