Farmer’s Markets, part 2

I wanted to share a bit more about my love for the farmer’s market. Here’s my first post.

I’m a very boring eater. Each week, I eat more or less the exact same thing (making minor adjustments every few months either because I found something new to try for a while or because of the changing seasons).

This is what I eat:

  • Eggs + veggies for breakfast
  • Salad + protein (usually fish but sometimes tofu) for lunch.
  • Beans, pasta or soup + salad for dinner
  • Most snacks are fruit + protein (nuts, etc.)
  • Afternoon snacks while at work is always a granola bar (my current favourites are the Kashi bars with chia, but I also love simple no-bake “energy bites” sometimes)

I never make fancy salads. Anything with more then about 3 ingredients is too much bother for me (except on special occasions). They’re usually giant handfuls of greens (mesclun, spinach, baby kale or baby chard) and either a few veggies on the side (ex: mini tomatoes, peppers) or some fruit and goat cheese. I don’t even use dressing, except to occasionally drizzle a tiny bit of straight Balsamic vinegar (no oil) on my fruit and goat cheese salads.

Everyday. More or less the same. Even my adventures in cooking fit this mold: veggie stuffed fish, a new simple pasta dish, etc. While I do like to try something special now and then, I mostly stick to recipes with very few ingredients (or, at least very few ingredients that I don’t normally have on hand). I like simple foods. I like to taste all the flavours instead of drowning individual ingredients in sauces or spices (Indian food being the exception – I love curries).

For a treat, I like a slice of hearty bread with a bit of butter and honey or molasses. Maybe jam, if I’ve been able to steal some of my brother’s homemade jam. Sometimes I go all out and pick up a tart or some cookies from a bakery. And, of course, I do have the occasional bit of junk food (mmm, chocolate) or processed food (mmm, mac and cheese).

I know this would drive some people nuts, but I love it. Especially in the summer when I have access to so many delicious goodies from the Farmer’s Market.

Mesclun mix from the farmer's market

My two favourite things for salad are mesclun mix (baby lettuces) and spinach (preferably baby spinach, but I find that spinach that’s been locally grown isn’t as bitter as store bought spinach, so I’ll take whatever I can find). This summer, I discovered Reclaim Urban Farm. It’s a very small scale urban farming operation (a pair of farmers on about 1 acre of land scattered around on various pieces of property). They have a variety of greens to choose from,  as well as sprouts, radishes, and more to come as the season progresses. One week, early in the summer, we even had a few edible flowers tossed in the greens. It was a lovely surprise.

Who needs more honey? Me! Me! Me!   I bought some clover honey today. Beanstalk Honey, at the @citymarket104 , is my favourite. As soon as she has some wildflower honey, I'll definitely buy a large bottle.

My love for honey knows no bounds. Dandelion honey is robust and phenomenal in a hot cup of chamomile tea. Clover honey is a mild flavored honey, but Beanstalk Honey (my favourite honey vendor at the market) doesn’t process honey to the nth degree, so the flavour is much more complex than what you find in the grocery stores. I still need a bottle of her wildflower honey (which she expects to have soon, as it’s her first harvest of the summer). It’s my favourite.

She’s not always easy to find over the winter, so I’ll be stocking up for the winter to avoid having to buy honey from the store, which I had to do last year (hence the bottle on the far left). Thankfully, honey lasts forever, so my store bought honey has been banished until needed to the dark corners of my cupboards, where the few specialty oils, vinegars and baking things live.

I bought myself a little treat at the market last weekend. I have every intention of eating these raw, because they're extra summery that way.

Sometimes the treats I buy myself are odd. For example, peas in the pod. It’s not what most people would buy themselves, but it brings back memories of our garden at the cottage. We grew a lot of peas and beans, so we ate fresh peas and beans all summer. Shelling them might be tedious, but it’s a nice little treat to add to dinner. I tend to eat them raw because it feels more summery and involves less cooking, but they’re also lovely when cooked (try them with a bit of fresh mint sometime).

A week of delicious food from various vendors at the @citymarket104 , including @reclaimurbanfarm , Kulmann's, Prairie Mill Bread, and the big fruit stand at the back who's name I never remember. #yegdt #yeg #farmersmarket

Farmer’s market foods are generally more expensive than what you can find in the grocery store, but it’s worth it. This past weekend I spent about $65 for everything you see above. The only thing I cringed at was the price of the peas (I bought a lot and they aren’t cheap). I usually need to add about $20 to $40 worth of grocery store foods, though I could buy almost everything I need at the market (even pasta, fish, nut butters and cheese). And, as mentioned in my last post, I have far less wastage and enjoy what I get a great deal more, so it makes sense to spend a bit extra. Truth be told, I spend about the same amount per week on groceries through out the whole year, regardless of whether I’m buying at the market or the grocery store.

The one thing I don’t do is preserve fruit and veggies. I much prefer the fresh version, I hate pickles, my freezer’s too small for any significant amount of frozen goods, and I have no patience for making jam. I think that if I could at least make space in my kitchen to store preserves and the gear needed to make them (pots, bottles, etc.), then I might be more willing. Even if I just made a few batches of jam, it would be worth it. Pb and homemade jam for breakfast would be nice!

Needless to say, I love the market. I know it’s not for everyone (ex: I know plenty of families who can’t afford it), but it works for me and it’s a little luxury I can afford.

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