Just got home from my Saturday morning trip to the Covington Farmer’s Market. Yes, it’s cold today. And it’s Saturday and maybe you want to sleep in. That’s okay 😉
While you were still snuggled up dreaming, I was already out and about and dreaming up this week’s menu for Chez Frittata.
I don’t set my alarm. My body just knows it’s Saturday morning – something I look forward to all week. My eyes start to blink open and I can tell its already a gorgeous sunny day. That makes it easier.
I pull on my favorite leggings, a thermal, my favorite wool hat and wrist warmers. Grab my coffee and my market shopping bag and I’m out the door.
Market starts at 8am but the early bird gets the worm, so I try to get there around quarter til. We’ve hit our winter weather here in South Louisiana which means we are in transition between fall and spring crops. That always makes for an interesting variety of fruits and vegetables to choose from, but nothing is in huge abundance so I start by making a quick pass through to see what the treasures are.
One of the best things about the Covington Farmer’s Market is that the farms have diversified crops and planned for year round production so not everyone is offering the same thing and there is always something new coming into maturity. I love being able to buy a little something from everyone and to support the off-season or trial crops. I’ve been working through Nick’s starfish peppers for like 2 months and I’m starting to stress because once they’re gone, they’re gone. No worries – by the time I run out he’ll probably have a new variety to try. (GROW. Farm)
Today what really struck me was how lucky I am to live in a community with an established market like this. It’s not Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, but I’m telling you our market rivals that of much bigger cities. Its January and I got greenhouse cherry tomatoes – like 4 pints – which will roast up later this week and become one of my favorite go-to easy weeknight dinners: Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce over Pasta (coming soon on the recipe page). Good thing I always over-stock on Huckleberry Fred’s goat cheese because they were not at market today. I use a couple dollops of their plain goat cheese on a piping-hot bowl of fresh cheese tortellini with the roasted cherry tomato sauce. There is no fresh basil in my garden this time of year, but I stocked away plenty of Jenny’s Basil and Cashew Pesto over the summer so I just mix some of that with fresh olive oil and drizzle it on the pasta to finish.
Northshore Greens is a newer vendor at the market but has quickly become a coveted booth. Becky and Lenny are regenerative farmers and they are producing the most sublime salad greens – mixed varieties – but their arugula is perfectly peppery. They also have a selection of fresh herbs on most weekends. Fresh dill in the middle of winter? Why not! I diced some up and threw it on my salad last night for a special kick.
What I went to bed thinking about was buying a big bag of mixed mushrooms from James because I found this Hungarian mushroom soup recipe that is calling my name. It starts as a brothy mushroom soup, but you puree some of the mushrooms to give it a little body, and finish it with potatoes and some sweet paprika to make it Hungarian. I’ll be pairing that with a little artisanal French bread from Bear Creek Road bakery. I had my mind on Bear Creek’s broccoli cheese soup too… but Jennifer had a caramelized onion and roasted garlic soup instead today. I didn’t get it and I’m now kicking myself.
So you don’t really like to cook? Don’t have the energy to start with the naked ingredients? No problem. This market has such a unique variety of pre-prepared goodies – some staples that you can count on like Bear Creek’s mini pizzas or flatbreads and the cult favorite walnut pate from Norma Jean. Bhakti Farms is also a newish addition and they are making breakfast while you are shopping – how about a fresh farm egg on a toasted English muffin with avocado? Or you slept late so it’s closer to lunch? Try a black bean burger. They had a new item today – a veggie sandwich with Sam’s Sprouts, carrots, avocado, vegannaise, Johnny’s seasoning and Dave’s Killer Bread – all products from vendors at the market.
Today’s treasure was a new item from Crescent City Cultures. This unassuming booth has been selling homemade tempeh for a while but may be better known (or should be) for the Gunpowder seasoning. It’s a totally unique dry seasoning made from ground lentils and Indian spices. Not Indian enough to be a curry and not spicy enough to be Tony’s but somewhere in the middle. I quickly became obsessed with it and I’m still experimenting with ways to use it (dry sprinkled on a salad for a little crunchy kick, mixed with olive oil as a dressing or marinade, seasoning for chicken).
Today I got a Tempeh Kimbap Roll which is basically a vegan sushi roll using Cameron’s tempeh and incorporating kimchi (available from the Korean family that makes the killer Korean breakfast pancakes). I can’t wait to have this for lunch today. UPDATE: The roll was freaking spectacular so I’m already praying he has more next week.
Topped my shopping bag off with a dozen eggs from Double K Farms – this IS FrittataBlog people, I’ve gotta have fresh farm eggs!
As the title of the blog says, some things are well worth waking up for. Sure, I shop in grocery stores too. I live near “The Pig” in Madisonville and that is my all-time favorite mini-mart. I often stop at Acquistapace’s after market for the staples – avocados, wine, milk, quinoa. But when I get home on Saturday mornings, and unload my market bag and write up my menu for the week to ensure I don’t waste any of the bounty, I am complete. Content.
Part of the spirit of Once Upon a Frittata is to inspire you to explore the world of food. Even I get in the habit of buying the same things week after week and I have to nudge myself to go outside my comfort zone.
Perfect example – I’m not much of a fruit person. My palate wants savory most of the time. But 2 weeks ago I bought a little bag of kumquats from Northshore Greens (they are selling for a neighbor who is blessed with more than she can use). I had no idea what to do with them. I Googled of course, and found an idea.
Sliced them very thin, popped the seeds out. Sauteed a little sliced shallot in olive oil, added the kumquat slices (you don’t peel them which I learned after the fact and laughed at myself for). Let them heat up just a little and then add about 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar. Keep cooking for about 2 minutes until some of the vinegar has reduced then turn off the heat and let it set. Meanwhile, sear up a perfect piece of salmon and roast some brussell sprouts. Serve the salmon with the kumquat sauce on top – delish. I also pureed seeded kumquats with a little olive oil, shallot and vinegar and made a tasty salad dressing.
So you don’t have to set you alarm. If what you’ve read above sounded tempting, just go when you wake up next Saturday. The bonus of going later is that you’ll usually arrive as the music is starting which makes the whole market more festive. You may not score the lone eggplant like I did this morning, or chocolate milk from Mauthe’s Progress Milk Barn, but there are still plenty of treasures to discover.
Sleep in on Sunday.