Thursday, July 12, 2007

Fresh Produce

In my quest to buy locally grown food, I went to the farmer's market today. Here's what my $7 got me - two huge, juicy tomatoes ripened on the vine instead of in a truck travelling across country, new potatoes dug yesterday, a sweet onion and three squash.

Lunch tomorrow is going to be quite wonderful. Early in the morning I'm going to go pick some basil and pour some olive oil over it and let it sit for a bit. Then I'll fix myself a salad of fresh mozzarella and tomatoes with that drizzled over it to start lunch off.

At our farmer's market there is one gentleman who always has truly fresh veggies that his family grows on their farm near Partridge. Partridge has a large Amish contingent, as does Yoder. We're fortunate to have people growing food who haven't forgotten how to do it.

I wish there had been some fresh green beans to go with the new potatoes, but it was not to be today. I'm not sure how I'm going to cook the potatoes yet, but I'm sure something wonderful will occur to me.

I'm so glad I can cook. I don't know how people manage that can't fend for themselves in the kitchen. One of my former boyfriends was amazed that I could take some flour, shortening, fruit and a few other things and come out with a homemade pie.

And speaking of fruit - did you like that segue? Later in the day I went to Smith's Market and bought some Rainer cherries. I am not a big fan of cherries - the flavor reminds me of the gallons of cough syrup poured down me in my childhood. But, I make an exception for Rainer cherries, which are so sweet they don't even seem like cherries to me.

Of course, these were not grown locally. I'm sure they were grown in Washington, where this cherry was developed a few decades ago, and which still produces the majority of Rainer cherries. Regardless, they were mighty tasty.

We were at Smith's at closing time and they were packing away all the soft fruit, storing it in the cooler overnight to help keep it fresh. They've also expanded the store, taking over what used to be an antique store next door. It's even cooler now, with the tin ceiling and the wood floor in that section.

They've also added bins of all sorts of things - from flax seed to rolled oats to some delicious blueberry granola I've already fallen in love with. I also bought some Crimson Jewel popcorn and some other goodies.

I have had Ropps Sandhill Plum Jelly before and it's delicious. I went and picked Sandhill Plums with Teresa once and she brought me some jelly when it was made. To tell you the truth, I still don't really know what Sandhill Plums are, but they're very good as jelly. I'm going to hazard a guess they're some sort of plum. (See, college wasn't wasted on me.) They grow in the Sandhills (not suprising), on bushes, and they're good for jelly - that's all I know. I guess after 20 years in Kansas I should try to learn something more about them, but what's more important than they make good jelly?

I should try to pick some again this year - maybe even make jelly myself. That would be major. We'll see how things develop.

I've not tried Tuckerbee's Honey before, but thought I'd try it out. I have never heard of Niotaze, Kansas, but discovered it's near the Oklahoma border, in the eastern third of Kansas. I figured it was a good chance to try something sort of local. I'm sure it's more than 100 miles the locavores encourage, but in Kansas we drive 50 miles to go to dinner sometimes, so you gotta cut us a little slack.

Well, I'm off to bed. No doubt I'll be dreaming of fresh produce all night.