Friday, March 26th.
You guys... last weekend (well actually two weekends ago, now) I went to a farmers market. FOR. THE. FIRST. TIME.
I've been longing to go to one for the longest time, and then I decided to stop waiting. Now was the time. So I blazed the torch of my soul's fire at my fear, and resistance; got down to searching up farmers markets in my area; FOUND A TON! and one really good, big one at a community college in the next town over; asked my mom; and convinced her to take me!
This particular farmers market is but 15 minutes away, and open year-round on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. And it and all the other farmers markets I've found have still been open in COVID (of course with new safety and health measure in place).
Honestly, I wasn't sure what to expect even. I had no idea what a farmers market was even like! What it looked like, how it worked, what was sold (of course I knew generally, fresh from the farm produce). I had looked at some possible recipes I could make and what vegetables were needed, but I hadn't made any type of list to bring with me. I have a serious obsession with lists, and I have come to realize that sometimes lists can be a hindrance. I thought it would be better if I went to the market with an open mind, and allow my curiosity to lead the way in deciding what I would buy.
We left at around 10:30. The parking lot was really busy when we got there. We had to walk down a hill to get to the big open space that was the farmers market.
It was incredible! We started at one end and spent over 10 minutes just walking along the rows of stands, just looking to see what was there. What beautiful abundance of fresh produce! There were so many different farm stands, most with certified organic signs, and other certifications. There were specialty stands selling chocolate, nuts, seeds and butters, baked goods... there were others I am forgetting. I was surprised to see stands selling fish and meat as well. There were food stands as well, and food trucks parked.
It was crowded, but there was ample space to move around and space out without restriction, and everyone was masked. If all the fruits and vegetables weren't enough to delight my senses, the scenery was gorgeous as well. I was a little overwhelmed, but also incredibly energized and excited to be experiencing this.
Ordering groceries on Amazon—what I've been doing so far during this challenge to get the ingredients I need—has always been draining, time consuming, and certainly not fun. I also don't feel good about supporting this online giant, I would much rather support small businesses and family farms. Another big reason I have wanted to go to a farmers market is because of my growing environmental consciousness and knowledge. Supporting these markets is a great way to put my money where my ideals are and fight against factory farming, land degradation and unsustainable practices, and so much more. Farmers markets are also amazing for health and budget reasons.
Saturday, I went to two farm stands. I was really nervous waiting in line, because I had no idea what to get! There was so much.
Also, I haven't been able to handle and pick my own produce since a trip to Whole Foods, before the pandemic hit—so over a year and ago! There is a serious advantage to being able to pick the produce yourself, and normally, you would have been able to do this, but because of circumstances the farm stand workers picked them out—though I could see them!
In my head I practiced asking some questions I'd prepared, "What is the best produce in season right now? What is your favorite?" I thought getting some suggestions and recommendations from someone more experienced than I would help my indecision. It turned out to be a breeze.
I ended up buying a head of butter lettuce, a bunch of lacinato kale, a bunch of rainbow chard, a head of green cabbage, a bunch of red beets, and a big bag of arugula. It was 13 dollars total!
Oh and there was also a stand selling medjool dates and we got some of those as well. I love medjool dates, though they are on the pricier side, but are a delicious, natural sweetener that are incredibly versatile.
That was it for this outing, though I was eyeing some strawberries, one of the only fruits other than citrus that was being sold and in-season, but I was quite content with my purchase.
Half way through the outing I starting feeling the need to pee, and by the end it was highly uncomfortable, and then to make matters worse we had to walk all the way up the hill to the car. But holding it was more than worth it (there were porta potties there, but my mom would NEVER have let me use them). That was my first order of business when we got home, at around 12:30! The time flew, it was so enjoyable!
Now we will be going every Saturday, or every other (we didn't go this past weekend), and I will be sure to bring some of our big whole foods bags (now in hibernation)—that is a whole nother story.
With the gorgeous chard I'd gotten at the farmers market, on Friday I made the Farro and Pine Nut Chard Rolls from The First Mess!
It turned out to be one long afternoon in the kitchen, though an enjoyable one.
Before making these I had facetimed with a good friend for over an hour to catch up and bake together. I made zucchini muffins from an amazing book/cookbook my aunt got me called Whole Girl. More on this inspiring book—written by a teenager! named Sadie—later. I encourage you to check it out, and she also has a blog at wholegirl.com.
I then went right on to making these rolls—a good call. Though simple in process, it was longer in execution.
While the farro cooked, I washed, stemmed, blanched (which entailed submerging the chard leaves in boiling water for 5 minutes), and dried the chard.
Then I drained the farro, returned it to the pot, and added the toasted pine nuts, lemon zest and juice, nutritional yeast, olive oil, and of course, salt and pepper, to taste. I've become a pro on "to taste" at this point! And I'm much more thoughtful and intentional about it now haha :), I'm just less rushed and stressed overall.
Then was the hardest step, which turned out to be a lot of fun: filling and rolling the chard leaves—16 total.
I've learned that everything goes smoothly when you have a lot of space to work on, and I used the cutting board for this. The leaves weren't very wide after stemming them, and the farro filling kept falling out at the edges as I rolled them up (see picture above for what I mean)! But I just accepted the imperfect messiness as part of the process. All the more fun. I scooped up the discarded farro and sprinkled it on top of the rolls after placing them in the baking dish.
Whew! When I had rolled the last one, all that was left to do was pour on some store-bought tomato sauce (I was sure glad I hadn't put myself up to making homemade tomato sauce at that point, which I had entertained the notion of), and some water, cover with foil, and place in the oven!
While it cooked I went on a walk around my neighborhood in the warm night air—pure luxury. Well, I had to clean up and wash everything first.
It turned out delicious, warm, nutty, chewy, and savory. Three rolls were quite filling, and despite saying the recipe serves 4, it serves more like 5-6 people. Depending upon whether my family will be eating it, I will consider halving the recipe the next time I make it. Tomato sauce has never been my favorite sauce, and I would consider using less of it, or trying another sauce. A+ for the chard!
The Veg Out Gal
#61 recipes down (actually a lot more... I just haven't written posts yet)
Comment whether you've been to a local farmers market, your experience, or what you've bought/would recommend buying. Or what you use chard for!