We moved last month, to a house we looked at once and fell in love with. We weren’t even really looking to buy a house, but this one went on the market and a friend drove me by and insisted it was perfect for us. Back at the office, we pulled the listing up online. “Too small,” I said. “Go look at it,” he advised. “The location is great, but we wouldn’t really be trading up in terms of size,” I explained. “Go look at it,” he repeated. “It’s probably a better house for a young single person. Or, like, a really really old person,” I offered. “Just go look at it,” he insisted. So we did. Then we bought it.
There were actually quite a few steps between the looking and the buying, all of which were unbearably nerve-wracking. Early in the process, people warned me that buying a house is stressful, and I nodded politely while secretly thinking, “I’ve bought stuff before. How hard can it be?” Here’s the difference: when you buy regular stuff, you click add to cart and a few days later the UPS guy shows up with something pretty; when you buy a house, the bank calls you several times a day to say comforting things like, “I’m reviewing your loan application and I have to ask: do you have any other money?”
But now we live here, in an adorable little mid century ranch with a river for a backyard and a kitchen twice as big as our old one.
There are a handful of things I’ll miss about living at our old house, and the farmers market is one of them. The market in our new town doesn’t start until the end of the June, so yesterday I drove back to our old town to get my fix. Guess how many of those things I bought just because they’re pretty. Hint: four. I was particularly captivated by the flowering arugula, which I’d never seen before. Evidently the flowers are nice in salads or scattered over soups or deviled eggs. Any other ideas?
My market is one of the only markets in the area that continues beyond September. I mentioned that to a coworker yesterday and he seemed surprised, not that more towns weren’t still holding markets but that mine was. “What do they even have?,” he asked. In addition to this stuff, there were pumpkins and squash and all sorts of leafy greens, tomatoes (yes, still!), mushrooms, broccoli, a dozen varieties of apples, and rutabagas the size of your head. I’m not sure what one does with a rutabaga the size of a human head, which is why I didn’t buy one. (As it turns out, ancient Celts carved scary faces in them and used them as lanterns to ward off evil spirits at Samhain. Duh.)
This week, with carrot greens and leek tops, it was tough to take a photograph that didn’t include at least part of a very portly little cat. She swatted at me when I took the leeks away and followed me to the refrigerator meowing. Which was not nearly as amusing as the time she got her head stuck in a bag of Twizzlers.
I don’t have a picture of that. Here are some leeks and carrots instead.
My brother texted me yesterday to tell me he’d just eaten the best apple of his life. It was a Honeycrisp. This year everyone’s all about the Sweetango but I find they have little to offer other than overwhelming sweetness. Plus, it’s hard to take yourself seriously when you’re eating something called a sweetango.
The Bartletts need a bit of time to ripen, and I need to figure out what type of plums those are. Italian prune plums, I think, in which case they’re going to become a tart. Or this delicious-looking thing. Probably both. There’s plenty of plums.
From my boss, the Obi Wan Kenobi of fruit: “No mystery. . .they are Stanley prune plums, the most commonly grown plum in Michigan.” And evidently you can just eat them. I tried one. It was pretty, um, common.
It was pouring at the market this morning! And it’s supposed to be crappy all weekend– a good weekend to spend in the kitchen.
corncob wine (no, really)
Marcella’s tomato sauce (to freeze)
oven-dried tomatoes (with the Juliets)
basil preserved in salt
and I’ll probably end up canning some of those Romas, because that’s a hell of a lot of tomatoes for just sauce.
And then there’s this:
One goes in gin and the other gets bourbon.
I’m showing remarkable restraint at the market these days, y’all. Remarkable. Restraint.
We’re having 15 people over for dinner on Tuesday night. Obviously I’m planning on feeding them herbs and tomatoes. I think I need more tomatoes. . .
Also, you should not make pinky swears and home improvements at the same time. The bathroom’s still not quite done, but it’s fully functional and a hell of a lot prettier.
At some point I’m actually going to tell you about something I made with all the produce I’ve been buying. We’re in the midst of renovating our only bathroom, and every spare second is devoted to returning the room to a semi-functional state. Next week, an actual recipe. Pinky swear.
Oh, you’re probably wondering what Shunkyo radishes are. They’re an heirloom variety my favorite farmer grows. I didn’t need two types of radishes, but he tucked them into my basket as a freebie. I think I might pickle them.
More strawberries, more garlic scapes, more fish. And this week, potatoes!
Last week, Amy asked what to do with garlic scapes. I’ve got a grilled garlic scape pizza in mind, but you can use garlic scapes in any recipe that calls for garlic. Just chop the scapes up and use them in place of garlic cloves.
My god, will you look at that rhubarb?! It’s a good thing I got married in August instead of June or I would have been some wacko bride carrying a bunch of rhubarb down the aisle instead of a bouquet of flowers.
I bought the rhubarb and the garlic scapes solely because they were pretty. I’m not really a shining example of frugality and practicality at the market, but I do know how to get a really good deal on toilet paper.
The fudgies ate all my vegetables!
I know that in high season, if you don’t get to the market by 10 you’ll miss out on some good stuff. But there are a lot more people up north now than there were a week ago, and this morning we missed out on almost all the stuff! When we got to the market a little before 10, my favorite farmer was already sold out and packed up. Everyone else just had lettuce and spinach, which I still have left from last week. The good news is that quite a few farmers had strawberries, and there’s still a bit of rhubarb around.
The other good news is that all these visitors generate revenue that ultimately ends up in my paycheck, so I’m happy to share my farmers with them. Still, I guess my Friday nights should consist of a little less Buffy and a lot more sleep so that I can get my lazy ass to the market earlier.
I left for the market this morning with the intention of buying asparagus, rhubarb, and fish. You can see how well that plan worked out. A thunderstorm blew through around dawn and I guess a lot of farmers decided to stay home, including those with rhubarb and asparagus. It was pretty quiet at the market, which is how I ended up with all these leafy greens: my favorite farmer kept tucking spinach and kale into my basket as we chatted. I have no idea what he charged me for and what he didn’t. Or what I’m going to do with all that spinach.
Asparagus, finally! That wild mint is especially beautiful, isn’t it?
I didn’t intend to buy more rhubarb this week, but my favorite farmer ran out of ones so we agreed that I’d just take my change in rhubarb. Pretty good up-selling strategy. Think he learned that in farmer school? Also, DUH, I should have taken my change in extra morels!
This the third week of the farmer’s market and the first week there was any fresh produce for sale. Here’s what I bought. Not pictured: a cookie for Chris because, as he explained to me, “I came to the farmer’s market with you. And I didn’t complain!”