The St. Paul Farmers' Market season started in May and I actually went. Not only did I go one time, but my friend America and I have GOTTEN UP EARLY every Sunday to fetch vegetables.
I've gone once or twice over the years, but this year it hit me. I had just read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingslover and a bunch of articles about GMOs and Monsanto. I was feeling less-than-healthy and in need of Real Food. I wanted the ladies to know where their food came from (because it was identifiable). I am a big fan of the local restaurants (and hotels, who knew) that were making locally sourced, f-ing phenomenal food.
Our first trip to the market? Epiphany.
Greens that looked like damn floral displays. FOR $3!
Great fistfuls of herbs that still had dew on them for $2. $2!
Farms selling fresh chicken, fresh brats, fresh beef, fresh eggs from animals that had seen the sun and eaten grass.
Flowers as big as your head! Pierogies! Bourbon vanilla maple syrup (which tastes exactly as amazing as it sounds)! Handmade pasta! Delicious cheese of every variety made from sheep's milk!
Scary vegetables like rhubarb, kohlrabi, parsnips, shallots, leeks, and garlic scapes that were going to test my kitchen know-how.
Each week, I've picked something (well, America often picks for me) that I had NO IDEA what to do with. To be fair, we started pretty easy with rhubarb. I mean, I knew it could go in pie. I had just never liked it before. So, pie it was. And pie was good.
Garlic scapes became "pesto" which is mellowing out in the freezer because DAMN that cleared up my sinuses with one whiff.
Parsnips became parsnip fries.
Shallots got added into everything from tuna salad to an omelette to tacos.
I squeal each time there's something new: strawberries [squee!], carrots [squee!], new cheese variety [squee!], tomatoes [SQUEEE!!]. Even if it's not a challenge, it's something different, local, and fresh.
Right now, the kohlrabi is stumping me. Apparently, it's great fried or in soups, but both of those sound like cheating. I mean, EVERYTHING is good fried. And soup can hide any vegetable with the right seasoning.
Any suggestions? Any farmers' market favorite foods? Favorite vendors?
The challenge continues with every trip to Lowertown. I'll keep you informed.