Last weekend, I visited Western Wake Farmers’ Market, intent on finding some kale and perhaps Irish soda bread. Thanks to Annelore’s German Bakery and to Fickle Creek Farm, my “mission” was a success and I was able to prepare a proper dinner to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day using some locally sourced ingredients. By the way, that picture shows one of Annelore’s Hot Cross Buns (and they are as delicious as they look).
While browsing at Annelore’s booth, I was asked if I had time to answer a couple of questions regarding my market shopping habits (Annelore’s niece was gathering information for a thesis project). This week it occurred to me, that I hadn’t really shared what makes me a self-proclaimed farmers’ market fan (except with a handful of people I’ve met in person). So here’s a bit of my personal history, in case you were wondering.
Essentially, it’s a “habit” developed in childhood, thanks to my parents. Many weekends, my siblings and I would join my dad on visits to the local farmers’ market, Denio’s in Roseville, California. As a kid, those visits were great fun, like going to the state fair every weekend. The sights, sounds and aromas of that welcoming market atmosphere stimulated my young, impressionable mind. When I visit our local area farmers’ markets, invariably I spy a family shopping together, the kids engaged in learning. I can’t help but smile when I see a young farmer sharing a fist bump with a young boy. For me, the farmers’ market is where I find fresh, seasonal treats, as well as the next generation of market fans and farmers to carry forward the tradition.
This weekend, I go in search of a favorite spring vegetable, asparagus. The Hillsborough Farmers’ Market newsletter announced that Cane Creek Farm expected to bring in some of their early yield, and included a recipe for asparagus and shiitake risotto (read the newsletter here). I’m putting that recipe on my “short” list of asparagus dishes to try. Other recipes on that list include:
- This Asparagus Pesto with Pasta, via Simply Recipes
- Andrea Reusing’s Asparagus with Butter and Soy, via Serious Eats
- Also via Serious Eats, Old-Style Mustard and Rosemary Asparagus
The Durham Farmers’ Market newsletter also heralds the return of asparagus to that market. In an earlier visit, I purchased a small jar of a grainy mustard from Little Tree Farm. I think that mustard will be wonderful in that last recipe, along with fresh rosemary from the starter plant I purchased from another market vendor.
If you’ve visited your local market lately, you’ve probably noticed seedling and starter plants becoming available. This Saturday the Carrboro Farmers’ Market (another local asparagus source) hosts Carrboro Greenspace’s Seed Swap (9 am) and encourages participants to “bring seeds, share seeds, and discover new seeds”, as well as learn how to make “seed bombs”. Bet the kids will love that activity!
If you don’t find your favorite herb at the market now, just wait. In April, herb fans will converge on Wake Forest for HerbFest 2012, April 20th-29th. Mark those dates on your calendar if you still have space in your garden plot or on your patio for an extra herb plant (or three). And really, who doesn’t have room for one more herb plant? 🙂
So much good Spring produce coming in early this year – time to get our springtime “eat” on! See you at the markets this weekend and thanks, as always, for keeping it local!