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Mom and I met our friend Ardis by arrangement at the Colokial last-Friday-of-the-month party. Colokial is this way cool shop in Corydon that specializes in art and gifts from Latin America. OH, such beautiful things! They have pashminas–rectangular scarves–and square silk scarves and silver jewelry and rosaries so beautiful it makes me want to go back to Catholicism. I do miss that, by the way, and, even though I was born a Baptist and raised a Lutheran and am now Disciples of Christ, I’m starting to wonder if it might not be true that “once a Catholic, always a Catholic”….
Anyway, Colokial had this party. This month, the country featured was Panama. We had empanadas (fried meat pies), chicken and yellow rice (saffron? turmeric?) and sweet plantains. All good, but the plantains were particularly intriguing. Sort of banana, but firm. I’m going to get some sometime and try my hand at them.
This young man is one of two brothers who go to the church where my precious late grandfather used to go. Because he and Mom and I went to three different churches (Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic and then DofC) and because of service schedules, after he gave up his driver’s license I would take him to church, go to mine, and pick him up after his. These young men would watch for him and hold the door for him, always with a smile and a “Good morning, Brother George.” If I have my town genealogy straight, these young men are the stepsons of the Colokial owner.
Today, I got up and went to my beloved Saturday farmers’ market. Got there a bit after 8 am and it looked like ants at a picnic. I got mom some ripe tomatoes and a green tomato. I had serious doubts about the red ones. Nobody’s tomatoes are ripening on the vine this year. The coolish, wet weather is great for a lot of things, but tomatoes are not among them. Lots of tomatoes, but they aren’t ripening. Got some broccoli, some corn and OF COURSE some peaches. Hale Havens, this time, since the July Albertas are over, alas.
One kind gentleman let me taste a tomatillo, also known as husk tomatoes. He peeled back the split husk and told me to just take a bite. It was kind of sticky, a residue of the husk. He said it wouldn’t hurt me, to just go on and bit it. I did. It was much firmer than a tomato. Had a slightly tomato taste, but also a little sweet. I decided to get some and a little box of his cherry tomatoes. He had other customers to take care of and, by the time he got to me, the aftertaste had begun to set in. I say “had begun” advisedly: One of the Southern Indiana Writers hates it when you say somebody began to do something or something started when what you mean is that somebody or something DID something. But this aftertaste wasn’t just something that happened, it’s an ongoing thing. This aftertaste has taken on a life of its own. This aftertaste is like having schizophrenia of the tastebuds. A little like cilantro, just a touch of heat. I can imagine people really liking it, because it’s strong and distinctive. I’m not altogether sure I don’t like it, but it sure is a presence in my life.
I ended by not buying the tomatillos or the cherry tomatoes, but I might actually get some next week and some sweet onions and make some salsa fresca. Won’t get any hot peppers or cilantro, because the tomatillos supply all of those notes I care to have, thanks all the same.
So, all in all, it’s already been an adventurous weekend, and it’s not even noon on Saturday.
writing prompt: Have two characters try a new food. Have one love it and one hate it. Describe their reactions to the food, detailing how the food impacts all their senses, including their memories.
I came, I saw, I bought. Produce, that is. Yes, I have been to the farmers’ market and have carried off the spoils.
Man–next week, I’m wearing body armor. It poured down rain all night and was still spitting a little this morning, so I wasn’t sure I would go, but then Charlie invited me to join him with a couple of our friends for breakfast out, and I figured I might as well swing by, just in case they were set up in spite of the weather.
They were. A few more pavilions than last week and, at 8:15 (they open at 8:00), the place was crawling. We were all eying one another, sending daggers of thought: “If you get to that booth before I do, don’t you DARE buy up all the green tomatoes!” and “I’m putting up tomato relish, so don’t even THINK of stopping me from buying that whole basket!” That was not a pretty site. On the other hand, it was very nice running into lots of friends there. We all had our reusable market bags and caught up each other’s doings and children’s doings. Felt very European.
I came home and told Mom (she didn’t want to get up early enough to fight in the war, and if you go after 9 all the best things are gone) that it was all very Miss Mapp.
Well, it’s thundering, so I must away. Au reservoir, as Mapp would say!
writing prompt: Make two characters squabble over a piece of produce.
That would be kale. Mom and I hit the Tuesday farmers’ market today and each got a mess of kale. I was channeling my inner Samurai when I got home, so I just CHOPPED IT ALL UP instead of pulling the leaf part off the stem part. Charlie likes the stems, too, so he’s a-gonna get ’em. I put it all in a pressure cooker with an onion, some salt and some garlic olive oil.
Didn’t put in enough water, alas, so it didn’t steam. I caught it before it scorched, added water, and put it on the heat again. Brought it up to where the pressure is jiggling the stopcock, then turned off the electric burner and let it cool down and depressurize by itself. Tasted some. It doesn’t taste SCORCHED, exactly, but it definitely has a little extra je-ne-sais-quoi to it. The guy who sold it to me said he fries it in a pan, and that’s what it tastes like–like it’s been pan-fried a little bit. So I’m going to pretend that’s what I MEANT for it to taste like.
Now here’s a little song for kale:
Kale! Kale! How I love kale!
Nothing is better except a big sale.
All other greens are too strong or too pale–
It’s perfect, most perfect, pluperfect! It’s KALE!
Okay, that’s enough of that.
I posted this morning on Fatal Foodies on the subject of Who Killed Flapjack? It’s a mystery with no solution.
writing prompt: Oh, by the way, do you like my new blahg design? Okay, writing prompt: Write a romantic meeting at a farmer’s market stall.
Mom and I went to the farmers’ market today. Got there at 8:30 and, sure enough, some clever little pig had been there at 8:00 and bought up a bunch of the stuff.
There were only three canopies there, and not a lot of produce, but we did okay. Got three green tomatoes, one for Mom and one for Charlie and one for me. We will have fried green tomatoes tomorrow. I got a couple of little turnips, and these were the largest left. Got this HUGE mess of Swiss chard for 25 cents! I’ve never had this before, but I have plans for it. It was only the greens, alas, though the stems are supposed to be good. Don’t know what that’s about, unless the farmer likes the stems and not the greens and kept the stems for him/herself.
One of the pavilions was meat only–organically raised beef and pork. Charlie doesn’t eat red meat, and the only pork they offered was sausages. Another one, people Mom and I know, also had beef and pork on offer, but they had everything from brats to roast. I got a package of brats and an order form. Charlie and I don’t eat a lot of meat, and are eating less and less as we read more about the obscene ways food animals are treated and fed. This fresh and organic meat is so strong, so flavorful, I don’t WANT much of it and don’t NEED much of it for the taste to season anything it’s in. So we decided we would see if we could pick up some chicken and pork and not have it often. The expense would be less than cheap and toxic meat.
There’s still a long way to go to the greening of America–although everybody had Farmers’ Market reusable bags for sale, and although I brought my own reusable bags, I could not persuade the vendors to just pop that produce down in my bag. They all wanted to put stuff in plastic and THEN put it in the reusable sacks. Of course, I reuse or recycle the plastic, but still. I’m just sayin’. I told one guy, “If the dirt on your vegetables is so bad I don’t want it in my bag, I don’t want it on my food.” He laughed, but he just couldn’t bring himself to get my nice bag all dirty. Next week, I’ll line my bag with plastic, and maybe we’ll all be happy.
writing prompt: Have a character try to convince a salesperson to do something he/she hasn’t been trained to do.
Stewed tomatoes. Time was, I thought stewed tomatoes must be what people had to eat if they were wicked and went to hell. I thought they were slimy. To be fair, this was before I cooked, and maybe the stewed tomatoes I was given to eat WERE slimy.
At any rate, I’ve come to love stewed tomatoes, even though I cheat when I make them. I buy a can of Original Recipe Del Monte stewed tomatoes, with the green peppers and onions already in. Just dump it in a pan and add a couple of pinches of sugar. Toast two pieces of English Toasting Bread (regular is okay, too, but English Toasting Bread is better–I get it at the Jay C bakery counter) until it’s really dry and crunchy all the way through. Break the bread into small chunks and stir in until most of the liquid is absorbed. If the toast is really dry all through, it absorbs the juice and flavor and doesn’t get gummy and slimy.
We had stewed tomatoes last night along with roasted vegetables: cauliflower, sweet peppers and asparagus tossed with olive oil and garlic.
Tomorrow is the first day of the Corydon farmers’ market! Yay!! It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, but I hope it doesn’t, or at least that it holds off until after the market closes. I need to get out there early, before the hoarders get there. Last year, every time I went, somebody said, “You’re too late for the [fill in the blank]. I had some great ones, but a lady came and bought all of it, about two bushel baskets.” Me, I get one potato and one turnip and make a nice little fry-up with some onion powder and bacon. Real onions are nicer, but Charlie can’t eat them, ALAS.
writing prompt: If there’s a farmers’ market near you, go to one. Observe. Talk to people. Write a paragraph about somebody who goes to a farmers’ market.
I love that stuff! It’s the end of summer here, and we had one lone tomato left, so we had bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwiches for supper. Well, soup and sandwich is good, and there was a touch of autumn in the air, and I was prime for peanut butter soup–or, if you prefer, ground nut stew.
Peanut Butter Soup
- water and bouillon or broth — I used vegetable
- chopped carrots
- diced celery
- other veggies as desired–I had some fresh green beans
- salt, pepper, marjoram
- chunky peanut butter
- ground red pepper
Cook the veggies until as tender as you like. Add a tablespoon or so of chunky peanut butter per cup of broth and stir until it’s melted. If everybody likes spice, add red pepper to taste to the soup. My husband doesn’t like spicy food, so I sprinkle some into my own bowl. GOOD soup!
My mother and I are going to hit the farmers’ market this morning. It won’t be in operation much longer this year, alas! There might not be anybody there today, as a matter of fact, depending on what the windstorm did to their crops or how much cleanup they need to do. I’m hoping for some more green beans, maybe another tomato, maybe some late corn. There’ll be fruit, but the fruit lady only brings exotic varieties and I can’t afford them–I don’t like them, either, as I happily discovered when she cut me off a sample.
After we go to the market, we’re going out for breakfast. There’s a place called Joy’Z diner that’s good home cooking. I don’t know how they can make store-bought eggs and store-bought bread taste so darned good, but they do.
Then, this evening, we’re going to the Independencia Festival put on by the local Latino/Latina community, with chicken enchiladas and a silent auction. Never a dull moment, in our little town!
writing exercise: Ask your characters what their favorite fall foods are–what do they get a taste for, when the weather and the light noticeably change.
My baby book clearly states that my first word was not Mama or Dada but MEAT. Still, the stuff at the farmers’ markets this summer have been so good and so various that we’ve been eating a lot of fruit and vegetables. I even–I blush to confess this–have TWICE made bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwiches and later found the bacon still in the microwave. I didn’t even realize I didn’t have the bacon on the sandwich. Of course, I do use a lot of crunchy lettuce, THICK slabs of tomato, slathers of mayonnaise (no salad dressing, PLEASE!) and as many dill pickles as I can pack on. Small wonder a couple little pieces of bacon get lost in that shuffle.
Today, I bought a bunch of bi-color corn and some eggplant. This guy I’ve been buying eggplant from has really spoiled me–I won’t be eating any eggplant over the winter, because they just won’t be as good from the grocery. The eggplants in the grocery are always about the size of footballs, seedy and bitter and woody and tough. Ick. This guy has pretty little eggplants, which sounds kind of dirty, if you say it just the right way. Anyway, I’ll boil all the corn, we eat till we founder, and I’ll freeze the rest.
I’ve been SO LAZY and haven’t made any pesto for the winter. Poor little grasshopper…winter will come and there will be no pesto in my freezer. I’m going out of town for a couple of days, so I’ll have to make some on Friday. Of course, I’ve already let the basil go to seed, but past-prime pesto is better than none at all.
It’s so hot today, I think I’ll bake a little bread in the toaster oven and we’ll have fresh tomatoes, bread, fresh fruit and Camembert for supper. But don’t think I’m a vegetarian, ’cause I’m not!
Writing exercise: You go to a farmers’ market and find there a vegetable you’ve never seen or heard of before. The farmer sees you eyeing it.