My kitchen, refrigerator and freezer are so full of good stuff that I bought at the farmers’ market that if I were home each evening I would be cooking up something different each night! And I want to let you know how easy it is to do just that. Depending on whether you are new to the kitchen or whether your kitchen is the hub of a busy household — or whether you have been developing your craft over many years of reading cookbooks as you would novels and working your way through them like in Julie & Julia — having a kitchen full of ingredients that can be put together in many different ways is heaven on earth for any cook.
I am working hard to bring to the markets not just samples of the foods you can make from our market recipes but also a working chef who loves cooking enough to cater for others — at the same time that she is also a singer and musician who performs throughout the area. Being a natural performer, I am sure she will be delighted to teach as well as demonstrate, but you can learn on your own too — and you can develop your own instincts in the kitchen with a little practice and patience. For those of you just starting, I would recommend a couple of the food magazines that highlight seasonal recipes — much cheaper than a cookbook and much more focused on home cooking for two to six people.
Two of my favorites are Cooking Light and Eating Well — Cooking Light is especially geared to the novice cook and also the cook with a family to please, while Eating Well includes a wealth of information each month about the latest nutrition updates and also incorporates recipes that include ingredients that you can buy at the farmers’ market — especially the fruits and vegetables.
And while you may end up not using everything you buy, it is a great adventure to buy what looks good at the market even without having a recipe or menu in mind. It sounds scary, I know, but it is the way to go if you want to feel confident from the start about the endeavor.
A week or so ago I served a wonderfully tender and flavorful whole grilled chicken from Heritage Farm and Kitchen with a melange of summer vegetables including sweet onions, colorful peppers, zucchini and yellow squash, all diced and sauteed in olive oil and with a final addition of corn cut from the cob. A dish such as this one brings summer into the house and onto the table with little effort and a minimal commitment of time. Last night it took me 20 minutes to make a sauce from fresh tomatoes, onions and garlic from several farms. In another 25 minutes I made pizzas by combining the sauce with leftover grilled sausage from Simply Sausage and fantastic focaccia from our market baker. And if I can do that these days with my schedule, you can too.
You can also prep our gazpacho and succotash recipes in 45 minutes or less and be ready to eat in an hour. So while I am working on getting us some instructional assistance at the markets, go try this yourself and see what happens! Learn what you need to ask when you do have the opportunity — and learn what you can do on your own to substitute a couple of cooked-from-scratch meals for fast food or grocery-store prepared foods. Anything you make at home from scratch is going to be healthier — fresher, tastier and more wholesome than anything you “outsource.” And you may even discover that it’s more fun! I am counting on that. And so are our vendors.
See you at the market!