Saturday was the last indoor Farmer’s Market at Old Trail School. While I’m happy that the Farmer’s Market continues outdoors at the Howe Meadow in May, I will miss the challenge of the winter farmer’s market.
What challenge, you ask? Well, the winter farmer’s market is smaller, which means less vendors, and of course, in the winter in Ohio, there is less produce to be sold. I’ve learned that to get the best haul, it is necessary to get there early and wait for the market to open. Here’s my favorite part – they open the market by ringing a cowbell! As soon as the cowbell rings, all the people eagerly lined up at the door surge forward with one goal – get the carrots! Or greens. Or radishes. Or whatever it is that looks the freshest, the most crispy – and get it before it’s sold out!
I’ve got this down now – as soon as the bell rings, you bypass the vendors on the first floor (coffee, tea, prepared foods), go past whichever musician is providing music this week, and head immediately down to the gymnasium of the school. This is where the good stuff is! Ignore the cheese, the bread, the pasta – it’s not going anywhere. Instead, push (politely) through the crowd to the back of the gym and the produce vendors.
This week, I grabbed Siberian Kale, mixed salad greens, two bundles of tiny beautiful carrots, and a bunch of ramps from one vendor, plump red radishes from another, and lovely bok choy from a third. Veggies done!
Next – eggs. There is no comparing a supermarket egg to a fresh, local egg. It’s just no contest! Fresh and local wins hands down every time. The eggs have better color and unbelievable flavor.
This time, I also picked up some brats from Brunty Farms. They had both beer brats and apple brats, so of course I wanted to try both! (They were awesome, by the way.)
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I eat and why. If I look honestly at what I’m eating now compared to what I ate a year ago, I can say that I eat more vegetables and much less processed food. Whenever possible, I am buying and eating locally grown produce, and spending very little time and money at the conventional grocery store. Can I get better? Of course – and I’m continuing to work at it.
One reason that I love the Farmer’s Market and my CSA is that I like to know where my food come from. I get to meet the people that grow what I’m eating, and what’s cooler than that?
However, I’ve realized that I haven’t applied that same philosophy to the meat that I eat. I’m not going to lie – I like meat. But when I buy a steak or a pack of chicken from the grocery store, what do I really know about what I’m putting in my body? Not much, that’s for sure. I’m lucky to have places like Brunty Farms to get locally raised chicken, pork and turkey, and like Dumas Meats, where they raise the majority of the beef that they sell. I need to take advantage of that.
Whoops – made a bit of a speech there, didn’t I? Let’s get back to what I cooked – and ate – this weekend. Saturday, we grilled the brats from Brunty Farms. The apple brats were a little softer, with a slightly sweet taste from the apple that went well with the spicy mustard and hot peppers (the only way to dress a brat!). The beer brats had that awesome snap! when you bit into it, and the flavor was amazing. I’ll definitely be buying those again!
The radishes also bit the dust on Saturday – Brian demolished both bunches in one sitting as an afternoon snack.
Sunday, I made Tuscan Glazed Chicken and roasted potatoes, but the star of the show was the roasted carrots. I trimmed the tops of the tiny carrots and scrubbed them with a vegetable brush, but didn’t peel them. (I did trim the bottoms,)
Then, I tossed the carrots in olive oil, salt, pepper and some Penzey’s Bonnes Herbes mixture. I roasted them in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes – just until they were tender. Conveniently, the potatoes took almost the same amount of time to cook.
It was a good weekend for food.