Winter Market Bounty

It’s 11:45, I’ve got a nice hot cup of tea with soy milk, and I’m ready to do a little blogging.

One of the things I like to do when I write about things is include photos I’ve taken of whatever the thing is. Sometimes I’ll find a picture online, but I prefer to use my own.

Unfortunately, the battery in my little Canon Elph camera has completely lost its will to live. No amount of charging will get the battery to power up the camera. This leaves me with no working camera except for the one on my iPad. I think we all know that iPad cameras, especially those of the second generation, are not known for their quality results.

This is a sad situation, because I have vegetables from the indoor winter farmers’ market last Saturday, and I wanted to take nice pictures of them to share here. I did take photos, but they’re not up to my standards.

Winter vegetables are basically my favorite vegetables, so I get very excited about the winter markets. Some of them are in greenhouses, which are rather chilly, but the one nearest us is held inside a high school, so it’s very comfortable to meander through the crowd and ogle the goodies.

My husband, Chris, told me on Saturday that he wanted to get “twenty pounds of potatoes.” He really has developed a taste for them. He likes it when I boil whole fingerling potatoes in salty water, and then he smashes them on his plate with the back of his fork and covers them with Earth Balance buttery spread. That’s apparently his favorite way to eat potatoes.

As for myself, I like them cut into chunks and oven roasted with olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper, and rosemary. (I got the basic formula for that from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.)

Anyway, I told him it was unlikely that we’d be bringing home twenty pounds, but that if he insisted, he could be the one to carry them.

We didn’t get twenty pounds, but we got a substantial haul.

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Those are gold potatoes, which are my favorite, since they have a melt-in-your-mouth creaminess when cooked.

My selection of potatoes included these bad boys:

IMG_1872I got them for the sake of challenge, and because they amused me. I do love a large, oddly-shaped vegetable. A couple of years ago I found the largest rutabaga I’ve ever seen, before or since.

The farmer’s market netted us some mouthwateringly sour rye bread, some adorable savoy cabbages, a bag of pea shoots for Chris’s salads and wraps, and some onions, as well as assorted root veggies.

This year we tried daikon radishes for the first time. Well, I should say that he tried them. I’m not a radish-lover. I gave them a sniff, and decided they smelled too hot for me. They’re supposed to mild, I believe, but I haven’t been brave enough to try them yet.

We also picked up some more reasonably sized rutabagas, as well as some parsnips.

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That photo didn’t turn out too badly for an iPad photo. It’s all about lighting.

I don’t have photos of the savoy cabbages, but I did roast them up in wedges according to a recipe I found online. I should really have taken the extra step and made the vinaigrette to go on the cabbage quarters, but they were lovely and tender even without the dressing.

My next plan for these tubers is to make a creamy (vegan) root veggie soup with the rutabagas, parsnips, potatoes, and some carrots. I’ll be using my new copy of The Vegetarian Flavor Bible to help me decide which herbs and spices I’ll use.

Just thinking about it is making me hungry. It’s also lunchtime, so that makes sense. I think I’ll wrap things up here and go rustle up some grub.

 

 

 

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Cider

Here’s a little something lighthearted in the spirit of the season.

 

Hot apple cider,

so perfectly fall,

with a bite like a lemon

smoothed over with sweet.

Cinnamon spice

fragrance drifts to my nose,

brings heat to my mouth,

travels all the way down.

It is sharp in my throat

but soft on my tongue,

and it eases the chill

of hands wrapped ‘round the mug.

Pumpkin this, pumpkin that,

they’re all very swell,

but my heart’s in the apple;

I’m a New England gal.


vegetables and tranquility

I just got back from a trip to the farmer’s market. It’s something I think of as “me time.” I walk the mile or so through town to get there, and I go before my husband gets home, so it’s a solitary thing.

I enjoy talking with the vendors, but I also enjoy wandering solo, past and through the booths, taking my time, deliberating on whether to buy kale from Shelly or Kate, investigating who has the best price for carrots.

For a while, I did not enjoy going by myself. I was not confident enough to walk through the crowd, interact with the farmers, and make purchases without Chris’s reassuring presence by my side. I often like to let him do the talking.

I’m pushing myself lately, however. I’m trying to gently expand my comfort zone, and try things that once would have been too scary.

That includes food, by the way. It’s funny how I reward myself for going to the market alone, by buying things I like — but these are things that, several years ago, I would have considered not a reward, but rather a punishment.

Veggie glory!

Veggie glory!

Once upon a time, I would only have eaten the corn and the potatoes from that spread. I still won’t eat the tomatoes raw, but I’m thinking those orange ones on the right might be nice in some sort of pizza application. (Like this one, only with a vegan mozzarella like this one.)

My, how things change.

I prefaced my market trip by reading a book in the park while I waited for the opening bell. After I shopped, I figured I might as well continue to indulge myself, and partway home I claimed a shady bench, nicely situated along the river that goes through town.

I meant to sit and read for a while longer, but then I noticed the local heron. He was directly in front of the bench I chose, wading through the shallows, doing what herons do.

Unfortunately not my photo. Credit goes to Flickr user Dendroica Cerulea.

Unfortunately not my photo. Credit goes to Flickr user Dendroica Cerulea.

I replaced my bookmark and leaned back, just watching. I let myself focus entirely on his movements, while still appreciating the breeze on my sunburned shoulders. I relaxed completely, and I thought to myself, “this must be what meditation is.”

I took a moment to consider how peaceful I felt, and how much I was enjoying it. That made me think of a woman I know, not exactly a friend, but an acquaintance who thrives on drama. She proclaims this loudly and proudly, how she loves drama, even craves it. She is an intense person as well as being dramatic. I often find myself physically leaning backward away from her when she is speaking. We could not be more different, she and I.

What I want is more peace in my life, because I feel it has been dramatic enough so far.  In contrast, we have this other woman, shattering the quietness of a room with her exuberant voice and exaggerated motions.

I don’t mind intensity, and I don’t want to rid my life of it entirely. I do think there is a difference between that which is intense, and that which is dramatic. An experience can be intense in a quiet, unobtrusive way. It may be a distinction that I alone make, but that’s okay. I just know that I’m okay with the one, and not so desirous of the other.

Though it’s fine in moderation, I find that I generally want to dial down the intensity in my daily life. I crave peace the way some people crave drama, adrenaline-fueled adventures, and high jinks. That’s why I try to cultivate it. That’s why I sit in the shade and watch herons.

I seek out any sort of break I can find from the clamor and cacophony of human voices, car engines, sirens, and punctuations of unaccountable noises. Natural settings lend themselves to that type of relief. Today, I wasn’t far from the main road, but I was sheltered from it, and able to enjoy myself in tranquility.

My mind gradually quieted, emptying itself of chaotic tangles of thoughts. It made room.  Words came trickling into this room. I began to think of things I wanted to write. If you ask me, that’s a very good reason to seek out these peaceful moments.

I finally stood up and gathered up my bags of vegetables, feeling centered, feeling grounded. I tried to hold onto that serenity as I entered back into the thick of things, but it did slip away somewhat by the time I arrived home.

I know it’s there, however. I can still recall the taste of it, as of a favorite food. I know where to find it.