I love to cook and bake -- when I'm relaxed and have time! And so I also love farmers' markets. Because of several out-of-state trips, this weekend was my first visit of the year to our farmers' market.
It was a perfect day -- warm and sunny. Apparently everyone else in town also thought so, because the parking lot closest to the market was jammed. I broadened my horizons and found a spot in the parking lot on the other side, near the splash park, which was full of little children even at 10:00 in the morning.
My farmers' market strategy is to walk through the entire market and then go back and buy at my targeted stands. It's not so much shopping for the lowest price -- they're all in the same ballpark -- but what looks the best and which vegetables and fruits should I choose from all the choices. This time I had arrived with both a list and an open mind.
Happy sounds of people, dogs, and music along with fresh scents, not so much of specific items but a general fresh plant smell. I like to talk to the vendors -- nearly everyone is so friendly and eager to chat about their vegetables and fruits. And sampling is usually encouraged -- trying to decide between blueberries and raspberries, I taste-tested. Raspberries won. I was so excited to find tart cherries from Michigan! (We are within driving distance of both Wisconsin and Michigan.) Pie went onto the menu immediately.
The only laconic farmer I met was the meat guy. Not unfriendly, but certainly not interested in chatting. It was a quiet transaction. Others asked what I planned to do with the things I bought, how was I going to cook them, or had I ever tried such and such? It adds a lot to the shopping experience and I appreciate that these farmers take the time to chat, even when they're probably tired from getting up super early to get to the market.
And so, I went home, made the cherry pie, and then made a delicious vegetable stew inspired by Provence. Leeks, cauliflower, portobellos, garbanzos, carrots, celery, garlic (of course!), all cooked together with a little wine and a selection of herbs from our backyard. Served with homemade garlic aioli.
I love summer.