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To Market, To Market

 

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, dancing a jig;
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog;
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog;
To market, to market, to buy a plum bun,
Home again, home again, market is done.

-Mother Goose rhyme-

I may be rushing things a bit here. But after this past winter I think I can be forgiven.

It may still be cold enough to have to wear a coat, but I can feel the air has changed. Spring is almost here. And you know what that means. All across the country Farmer’s Markets will open.

Farmer’s Markets are one way to buy local fresh fruits and vegetables. The closer to picking time you get your fruits and vegetables the more nutrients you will get. So Farmer’s Markets are a good thing. Right?

For the most part, yes. But not all Farmer’s Markets are created equal. And sellers are well aware that many of us want to eat healthier and so the term Farmer’s Market is spreading like wild fire.

So here are a few tips to make sure you get the fresh local foods you want and are paying for.

First tip is to go to an established and well known market. One of the best in Columbus is the North Market. Some of the best local stores are under this umbrella. And in addition to the permanent year-round market, in the summer local farmers drive their trucks to the market and sell their goods straight off the trucks.

But there are other great Farmer’s Markets in smaller towns nearby too including Worthington, Ohio and the Clintonville Market to name just a very few. Several grocery stores in the Columbus area also sell locally grown vegetables and fruits most notably The Hills Market  [ On Twitter @hillsmarket ]  and Weilands Gourmet Store.

Columbus is really blessed with great Farmer’s Markets. Nevertheless, there are a few tips to making the best of this bounty here or where ever you live.

In no particular order here are a few tips for you to make the most of good fresh veggies and fruit and to have an enjoyable time buying them. I am all for enjoying every aspect of food.

1. Dress comfortably, especially wear good comfortable shoes. You will be walking a lot and usually in crowds of people.

2. Bring cash and bring small bills. Also bring a lot of change. The vendors will appreciate you.

3. Don’t buy the first thing you see. Walk around a bit and see the full range of food available. If you don’t, you may find something better a few stalls down.

4. Just because you are at a Farmer’s Market does not necessarily mean the quality is good. The old Caveat Emptor is still in effect.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask how the farmer grows his/her crops. Ask when the item was picked. Ask how to store what you are buying. Sometimes a farmer will even have recipes to share with you.  

If you see something like bananas that you know cannot grow locally, ask where they came from and who they deal with. Some of the best melons we get in Ohio are grown in Indiana, so I often buy them if they look good.

Part of this process is to know the Crop Calendar, or when fruits and vegetables are grown and harvested. The United States Department of Agriculture has a wonderful Crop Calendar at their web site. Just click the previous link to get it.

5. If you want the best fruits and vegetables, shop early. Best items go fast.

6. If you want a deal, or spend less for an item, shop late.

7. Bring your own bags.

These tips will get you started. In addition to getting fresher fruits and vegetables, you will be saving money too. And the way grocery prices are going up, this is a good thing.

What tips and ideas for shopping at the Farmer’s Market do you have?

Share with other MTTD readers by leaving your ideas in the Comment section below.

As spring and summer begin I of course will share lots of great summer fruit and vegetable recipes with you. I will also repeat some of the best  recipes from last summer.

I am ready for spring. Bring it on!!!! I can handle it!

Featured Recipe    Cheese Tortellini with Wine Sauce

This is one of those recipes you can throw together at the last minute. I made this one up myself, the first time  totally from left overs. The longest step in fixing this meal is waiting for that big pot of water to boil.

It is also a flexible dish. With a salad and another veggie it can be the Main Course. It can also be a side dish to accompany pork chops or chicken.

Recipe can be easily doubled. If eaten as an Entree it is another meatless meal.

This is what you need to serve 3 as a Main Course

1 – 9 ounce package prepared tortellini

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves pressed

½ cup white wine

½ cups pine nuts*

3 tablespoons parsley

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

*I was using up pine nuts from my fridge. I did not have half a cup. But that is OK. I had enough. I wanted to use them up before they became stale.

You can substitute walnuts for the pine nuts. Walnuts are less expensive too.

Here is what you do.

Bring a pot of water to boil.

Chop the parsley and run the garlic through a press.

Get the ingredients lined up to be ready to cook in a skillet.

The action does not really start until the water boils and you put the tortellini in the water. Then you will have about 6-8 minutes to make the sauce. Fortunately, that is all the time you need.

When the water boils add some salt to the water and put the tortellini in the water. 

The package said it would take 7-9 minutes for the tortellini to cook. So I set the microwave for 8 minutes. The microwave is my kitchen timer. I am weird like that.

Then I set about fixing the sauce.

Heat the skillet, and then  add the olive oil.

When the oil was hot I added the garlic and sautéed for about 45 seconds.

Then I added the nuts, parsley, and salt and pepper…………….

……………..and mixed it all together. I sautéed over low until the nuts started to brown slightly.

Then I added the wine and heated it until bubbly. I cooked about 2 minutes past that point.

When the microwave-timer went off I drained the tortellini and put it in a bowl.

Then I poured the wine mixture over the tortellini.

I added the Parmesan cheese and mixed. If the sauce is too runny add some more cheese.

Test and adjust salt and pepper as well.

Then place on a plate and serve with a salad and/or some fruit.

Bon Appetit!!!

Cost

1 – 9 ounce package tortellini          $3.94

3 tablespoons olive oil                    $0.36

2 garlic cloves pressed                   $0.10              

½ cup white wine                           $1.56

½ cups pine nuts                            $5.40

3 tablespoons parsley                     $0.09

3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese      $0.86

Salt and pepper to taste

Total cost = $12.31
Cost per person = $4.10

Quote of the Day

Those who can do. Those who can’t criticize.

 Anonymous 

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