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May 14, 2017

Market haul. Lots of good stuff this early in the season!

Yes, I am still alive. I’ve just been…busy.

Between Friday, May 5, and this past Friday, May 12, I was home for exactly 12 hours, during which I neither cooked nor ate. Between those dates, I went to a conference, at which I contracted a stomach bug; I went shopping at an outlet mall, saw a bear (not at the outlet mall), and lost only $45 at a casino. Then I came home (after approximately 1,000 miles), slept, unpacked, repacked, and went to Little Rock for the announcement of an 800-job, $410-million project on which I’ve been working for a year and a half. Then I came back on Friday, after spending two days at the factory site with the architect.

Then I slept. A lot.

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Market goodies. I do dearly love the farmers’ market.

With apologies, of course, to Andy Williams. Christmas is wonderful, too, but Lord help me, how I DO love spring. Not least because of all the food-related bonuses it brings. Gardening, strawberries, salad greens, fresh asparagus, grilling out, draft beer and a cheese-and-sausage plate at the ballpark…

…and farmers’ markets!

Which I love as much as I love spring. Or maybe it’s because I love spring. ┬áMore likely, it’s because I love to eat. And a trip to the farmers’ market means there’s some good eating to be done, either there, or when you get home, or over the course of the next several days.

I made my first market of the year back last month, when we’d gone to Hot Springs for a weekend. Had some time to kill, and our hotel was just down the street, so I walked down. Saw some old friends, bought herbs, and oh my God, there were the first strawberries of the season! I grabbed some. Back to the hotel, stashed them in the fridge, set the herbs on the desk. One of our traveling companions came in, was checking out the herbs, and wanted to go. So we went back. I bought honey that time.

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At last!

July 2, 2016

About damn time. Fresh veggies dinner.

About damn time. Fresh veggies dinner.

Had pork chops thawed. Didn’t cook ’em. Didn’t want ’em. Didn’t need ’em.

Because the above, you see is the first farmers market dinner of the season, two or three weeks late because today was the first day I’ve been able to GET to the farmers market since I’ve been hobbled by this damn ankle.

And tomatoes by God and me. Out of my very own, terribly grassed-over, garden. That was possibly the best tomato I ever ate in my life. Seriously. Perfection in a tomato.

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This time of year

May 28, 2016

One batch of market goodies -- potatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, peas.

One batch of market goodies — potatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, peas.

Lord help me, I love summer. I especially love it from the middle of May through the middle of July, when gardens and farmers’ markets are bringing forth some new delight every week. No accident my birthday falls right in the middle of that period, I’ve always thought.

Second installment of market haul: Cinnamon rolls, tomatoes, blueberries, peaches.

Second installment of market haul: Cinnamon rolls, tomatoes, blueberries, peaches.

Witness this morning at the market. I had to make two — TWO!! — trips to the car, because I filled my basket up before I got through. Read the rest of this entry »

Ahhhhhh, yes. Farmers' market season has begun. Hallelujah!

Ahhhhhh, yes. Farmers’ market season has begun. Hallelujah!

Besides Mothers’ Day and stunningly gorgeous weather, this past weekend was noteworthy for being the first Farmers’ Market of the season.

It brought both delight and complete disappointment.

I was thrilled to see that there was an exceptionally large variety of produce available for this early in the season. I got tomatoes, both ripe and green; zucchini; cucumbers; green beans (I have NEVER seen green beans this early in the season; the Amish couple started seedlings indoors, and then planted them in a hoop house for an early start); the best radishes I think I ever ate; and snow peas.

I was crushed to find no asparagus. (What you see in the photo is from the grocery, because, by God, I was going to HAVE asparagus, no matter if the grocery store stuff is a pale imitation of the fresh local thing.) In fact, my Whitton Farm vendor wasn’t even at the market. Memphis Guinea Pig, who goes to the Memphis market, said they were there (generally, she goes to Memphis and he comes to J’boro), but had no asparagus there, either.

I would have been hacked if he got asparagus and I did not, I can tell you.

Part of this bounty has already gone into spring pickles, which I mentioned yesterday. To reiterate, slice up all kinds of fresh veggies; I used the cucumbers and radishes, along with some carrots and cauliflower I already had. Make a brine of a cup of cider vinegar, a half cup of water, three-quarters of a cup of sugar or Stevia (I used Stevia, which has the added benefit of dissolving much easier, thus not requiring you to heat it), a quarter teaspoon of white pepper, a quarter teaspoon of dry mustard, a half-teaspoon of celery seed. Pour that over the veggies (I had a quart-plus size Gladware container, the one labeled “large deep-dish” or some such, and it was overfilled) and stash them in the fridge.

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Ahhhhhh, yes. Farmers' market season has begun. Hallelujah!

Ahhhhhh, yes. Farmers’ market season has begun. Hallelujah!

It’s a day to spend in the kitchen. Just because I can.

By the time the clock struck noon today, I’d made a quart of yogurt (well, it’s still incubating, but I had it started), a pound and a half of ricotta cheese, some tuna-and-tortellini salad with the leftover cheese tortellini from last night, some tuna noodle salad with the traditional mayonnaise dressing for Child A, and I had the dough rising for a big batch of rolls. Plus I’d been to the first Farmers Market of the season, and to the grocery.

I feel plumb virtuous.

Also on today’s agenda is to cook some beans for baked beans (they’re soaking now); make a marinated vegetable salad with carrots, cauliflower and cucumber; make another salad with asparagus, green peas and hearts of palm; bake the rolls, some as slider buns to go with country ham, as it is Derby Day and one just ought to; some as rolls for dinner tomorrow, some as po-boy buns for the freezer; and make some potato salad for lunch tomorrow. The pork loin is already sous vided (and if that’s not a verb it ought to be), and the plan is to get everything else ready so I don’t have much to do on Mothers Day except enjoy the 2/3 of my children who’ll be here.

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Let there be spring!

May 3, 2014

I won't attempt to name 'em in order. Or even name 'em. Herbs.

I won’t attempt to name ’em in order. Or even name ’em. Herbs.

And about damn time, too.

In honor of the occasion, I have:

  1. Gone to the first farmers’ market of the season. Strawberries, green onions, asparagus, radishes, some all-natural lotions and creams, and some other stuff that I forgot about already.
  2. Hooked up the gas bottle I bought when I moved here last summer, and grilled some steaks. Too done, but who’s counting? They were good. Also large.
  3. Planted the herb garden. All 10 pots worth of it. And made myself a hefty vodka and tonic with which to recover.

All in all, it’s been a fine day.

Steak, baked potato, corn, asparagus. Hello, spring.

Steak, baked potato, corn, asparagus. Hello, spring.

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