If there is one thing I have learned from going to the farmer's market, it is that everyday is a sale. Not literally speaking, of course (though today's deal featured a flat of strawberries for only $3--oh my!), but in the sense that with prices as good as these, they are actually better than sales at the grocery store. And as if that was not enough, the market is filled with fresh, local (sometimes organic), and absolutely beautiful produce that is enough to make your heart sing.
There is no way I would rather spend my Saturday mornings than basking in this wonder with my mom. What is your favorite way to spend a lovely summer weekend?
Today was an especially good day at the market. It seems that with every summer day, the produce seems to get more beautiful and bountiful, calling to me, "eat me, eat me." Naturally I was happy to oblige.
For the obligatory green-action, I decided to get romaine lettuce, broccoli, and kale. All of these were so large that they did not even completely fit on my recyclable bag for the picture! Usually I would not share prices, but all of my finds were just too good to be true. The broccoli that was bigger than my head (maybe about 2x my head or so?) was only $2. Both the romaine and kale were $1 each for a generous head and bunch respectively.
I wanted to show you a bit of a close up of these because I really like the texture. I have found that farmer's market produce generally has "character" and is more "rugged" in texture than their store-bought counterparts. I actually really like this because it shows me that they were grown with care and are produced on a smaller scale. Let's be honest, who actually sees "Michigan-grown" on a label in their supermarket (unless, of course, you are a Michiganian)? Basically, these local farmer's are producing on a small scale which allows everything to be fresh and mindfully taken care of, not to mention extremely delicious.
More veggies included cauliflower, zucchini, yellow squash, sweet peas, and (the return of) an avocado. I am so excited about the sweet peas because I cannot remember the last time I had them. Something about sweet peas just says summer to me. What food says "summer" to you?
I also bought two red peppers ($1 for both) and both green and purple asparagus (2 for $5, I think) from my neighbor. The purple asparagus are definitely a new find for me. Has anyone every had them before? I did a little research and found that their purple color comes from their cancer fighting phytochemicals called Anthocyanins. Apparently they are also sweeter than their green counterparts. Sounds good to me!
The bounty of gorgeous veggies certainty could not distract me from my other love: fruit. First up was 3 pears that are destined for either sorbet overnight oats or as an addition to a salad.
The deal of the day was a flat of strawberries for $3. Yes, my friends, that is indeed $3 for 8 boxes! However, they looked a bit too ripe for my taste. I can go through strawberries like nobody's business, but not that quickly! Instead, my neighbor offered me a great deal on Michigan strawberries that were not quite as ripe. She charged me $2 for 1/2 a flat. Is she a sweetie or what?
My little splurge for the day was a basket of black raspberries. I was intrigued by the farmer and his daughter's little table that was filled with only these precious gems. Unsure of what they were, I inquired about them and got to talking. What can I say, I love to chat it up about good food.
The farmer told me that they were freshly picked this morning and offered that I could try some for myself. I knew almost immediately that it was love. Through chatting, I learned that black raspberries are only around for 3 weeks, so naturally they are quite the rarity. Not wanting to miss my opprotunity, I asked my mom if we could buy some.
We decided that our $4 splurge (which, in reality, is not so much of a splurge when comparing it to the store and considering that it we were supporting a local farmer) was completely worth it. Once the black raspberries ripen a bit more, we will savor them all as they should be: au natural, in the company of loved ones.
With all this beautiful produce, I see a lot of fresh and flavorful meals in my future. The joy of eating food that is good for my taste buds, body, and even the local economy delights me like no other. What more could a girl want?
I definitely see a lot of salads in my future (which will probably be even more exciting than this beauty below).
Do you have any ideas of how to use all this produce? What are your favorite meals using these finds? Do you have any recipes to share? Salads are my go-to meal because I get to enjoy all my favorites (veggies, of course) in their natural state. Yum!
Aside from picking out produce and googling recipe ideas, I have also been pretty busy baking in the kitchen. First up, I made two batches of cookies for presents for my mom's students (she teaches a water aerobics class to senior citizens). The first batch was coconut cookies.
Next, I decided to make cranberry almond cookies. I must admit, the fact that this combination sounded like something my grandmother would like had a large effect on my decision. I knew she would want a little taste (remember the little mouse?), so why not make it something special?
However, I was really wishing I had a Twitter while making these. I spent more than an hour trying to decide what kind of cookies to make and still to no avail. Some blogger inspiration could have fixed this in a jiffy!
Even with my lack of inspiration, my cookies seemed to turn out well. First, my mom and I packaged them up in patriotic dish towels (the picture she took of the packages is below).
Then I left a few extras out for my family to nibble on.
Even with a sign on them explaining that I had not done my blogging duties yet (i.e. I had not taken pictures so to please refrain from eating too many), they disappeared before I knew it.
Accordingly, only a few were left for the photo op, including one that my mom was in the process of eating. Munch, much, munch.
Since my family was obviously gobbling up the baked goods faster than I could turn them out, I decided to continue on my baking spree.
Somehow we ended up with a surplus of black bananas in our fridge so I felt it was my duty to fix that. No wasting!
Add to that some chopped strawberries that were on their way out (last week's $5 a flat deal---wahoo!) and you have delicious and savvy vegan strawberry banana muffins.
Whew! Looking back at this post, there is A LOT of stuff going on. What have you been up to this weekend? Here's a hint about how mine started...
Enjoy this beautiful summer Sunday and have a lovely start to the week, bloggies!