Whenever I go to Farmers Markets I feel like I'm channeling Barbara Kingsolver. Her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle made for some of the most deliciously contemplative reading I've ever done. In the book, she and her family take a one year challenge to eat only locally produced foods. And by foods, I don't just mean your standard veggies and fruit; I mean all the grains, sugar, oils, spices and goodies that you go through in order to eat well. I'll cut to the end of my Reading Rainbow book review; if you haven't read it, you must run to your local library's website and reserve it today! I give it two very enthusiastic thumbs up.
Saturday was Farmers Market day in lazy Fernandina Beach; a beach town about 45 minutes away from Jacksonville. I scored some Zesty sprouts from a cheeky husband and wife team, a basket of the largest tomatoes you'll ever see in your life, 4 humongoid squash, 2 baskets of plump okra at $1 a basket, and a basket of peaches for good measure. Oh! And dare I not forget a basket of zipper creams from a farmer who had pink-eye. My choices from him were Zipper Creams and Pink Eye peas. I swear to God I'm not making this up. I chose the Zipper Creams. It just seemed...wrong to buy the pink eye peas. I also scored some hot boiled peanuts and a Cheerwine, but that's another story.
My bag o' farmers market loot stayed in the fridge (except for the tomatoes, of course) til last night. Fresh from tubing down Itchetuknee Springs, we were blissed out on nature, and hungry from spending a day in the 87 degree heat!
The master plan? Squash and tomato casserole, fried okra, white rice, field greens with vegan ranch dressing and zipper creams boiled up with some onions and a couple splashes of umeboshi vinegar (supposedly a fine substitute for hog jowl.
Verdict? The squash casserole; layers of sliced yellow squash, onion and tomatoes, and topped with bread crumbs with dots of Earth Balance scattered throughout, just really didn't do it for me. It was pretty, but the squash dried out and after I baked the hell out of it for an hour and a half, it still wasn't ready. Next time, I'll cover it with tin foil. That oughta show it.
The fried okra is always a hit, but that's a no-brainer. You can't have the word "fried" in a recipe, without it being good. Duh. That's just an oxymoron. Fried okra to me is just little green speckled nuggets of heaven. I sprinkle it with hot pepper vinegar and oh lawd, serve me up two pounds. I did all the work and sliced up all those buggers, anyway.
The zipper creams were buttery and sweet. Although I didn't do a good job of creating any pot liqueur; that glorious sauce left in the bowl when your peas are gone. Next time I'll have to bust open a traditional southern cookbook and follow the recipe to a t.
I'm off to read Barbara Kingsolver...er to get ready for work.
2 days ago