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A few scenes (and a meal) from the Farmer's Market

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The first day of autumn - I can't believe it! It sure doesn't feel like fall here in NC today - it's warm and muggy. While I love fall and its colors and the cooler temperatures, I sure am going to miss the tomatoes. They're not completely gone yet though - my tomato plants have slowed down but I'm still getting a few cherry tomatoes, and there are plenty of tomatoes at the market. I'm trying to eat as many as I can before the first frost. Love the colors in the photo above.

One good thing about buying from the people who actually grow your food is that they can tell you how to cook things you've never tried before. Here's a meal I made a couple of weekends ago using two brand-new (to me) ingredients.

First are padron peppers. When I saw the sign that said "Spanish tapas peppers," I knew I had to try them. The farmer told me to saute them over medium high heat for about 10 minutes and then put some coarse salt on them. He also told me that these are sometimes called roulette peppers since every once in a while, you get one that's really spicy! These are so tender that you don't have to remove the seeds and stems, you can just cook and eat them whole. Delicious (and I didn't get a super hot one this time).

padron peppers

Here's a case where you can't judge a bean by its cover (or shell). I was familiar with Christmas lima beans because they are pictured on the cover of "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver (a great book!) and I was excited to find them for sale at the market. The farmer told me to shell them and then simmer for 10-15 minutes until tender. They are easy to shell because the beans are so big and as you can see, the beans inside are absolutely beautiful.

Christmas lima beans

Christmas Lima beans

I made a quick salsa using cherry tomatoes and herbs from my garden, and onions and garlic from the market.

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Here's the final product. I put some salsa and pecorino on the Christmas lima beans. The beans turn brown when you cook them, and they are so delicious - great flavor and texture. And the peppers were wonderful too. Everything in this meal was locally grown except for the olive oil, pecorino, and the salt.

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Some cool stats about the impact of eating locally from "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle":

"If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. That’s not gallons, but barrels. Small changes in buying habits can make big differences. Becoming a less energy-dependent nation may just need to start with a good breakfast."

There's so much great info out there about the many advantages of eating locally and the alternatives to the crappy American corporate food production monolith...."The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan are both great reads, but I really love "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" because it's the story of one family putting it all into practice...one year of eating locally and sustainably. Beautifully written and has recipes too. Plus a chapter about their trip to Italy!

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And speaking of food, farming, and all the positive changes happening across the country....I highly recommend this documentary that I rented from netflix. Farmer John is a third-generation farmer and an artist who almost lost his farm and went through some incredible trials but today has this amazing organic farm that supplies thousands of people in nearby Chicago with beautiful food. Very inspiring story and Farmer John is such a cool guy. It's a great movie!

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Comments (18)

sandrac:

Great post, Annie! Your vegetables all look so beautiful (and the Christmas lima beans are gorgeous!)

I also enjoyed The Omnivore's Dilemma and I'll have to look for Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I'm a fan of Barbara Kingsolver's fiction, and this also looks good.

I buy locally when I can, although it's hard in winter with our harsh climate. But the politics of food and food production is a huge issue, given how crucial food is and its impact on our culture. The staggering amount of global farm subsidies, the way these have distorted markets, the dominance of enormous agribusinesses, the prevalance of chemicals in production are all horrifying.

You found padron peppers in your local farmer's market!? I can't believe it! I've been trying to find them in every food store and farmer's market I visit, here and in ATL and haven't seen one. I have yet to eat one but have heard of them so much, especially how Shannon raves about these peppers.

The tomatoes are gorgeous and your salsa looks so fresh and yummy. I used to have a big veggie garden in my other house and know how satisfying it is to eat homegrown produce.

The Christmas lima beans are a beauty. I'm curious to know if they taste like regular lima beans. I’m not too crazy about lima beans but adore fava beans. I could eat them everyday!

Eating local and supporting local growers and business is the way to go. Our summer farmer’s market is kind of smallish because the growing season in PHX is not summer, rather fall and spring. We can’t grow too many veggies in 110 plus temps and 8% humidity.

Your meal looks like a great end-of-summer meal.

Haven’t seen the movie on Farmer John but will put it on my Netflix queue.

Did you let Maria and LuLu chase after a lima bean pod? ;)

Barb Cabot:

That was so interesting about the xmas lima beans. Everything looks so wonderful and colorful. Happy first day of Fall!

Sandra, we're lucky because NC has such a long growing season, and my farmer's market stays open all year long. But there does come a point in mid-winter when there's not much there and I have to break down and go to the grocery store.

I love Barbara Kingsolver's fiction too. Just recently finished "Animal Dreams" - such a great novel!

Maria, I'd never heard of padron peppers until I saw them at the market. I think I liked the aji dolce a bit better but both were really good.

Christmas limas are closer to fava beans than regular limas; they have that same great texture that favas have. I bought some favas at the market last spring -I could eat them every day too.

It's funny but the cats were not interested in those particular beans - they are picky!

Barb, thanks and happy fall equinox to you too!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie, your photos are really beautiful and your salsa and salad looks so delicious and healthy and fresh. I learned a lot from your post this morning. I have not heard of the authors you mentioned and I am thankful to you for writing about them and about the benefits of eating locally grown food. In my grocery store they do have a section for Organic products but I have never tried them. And I think there is a Farmer's market a couple of miles away from me. I will have to try visiting it soon. Your vegatables looks so fresh.

Thanks so much for writing and sharing this very informative post Annie. Have a great day today!

Thanks Kathy. Since you're out there in CA, I bet there would be some great things at your farmer's market. If you go, let me know what they have (and take some photos)! Another thing that's fun about shopping at a Farmer's Market is that the produce changes every week, and it's fun to see what is there. Here in NC, certain things like asparagus and figs sell out very quickly so I usually try to go early (right when it opens).

I was able to find a grower in California that has the padron peppers along with about 20 different types of sweet peppers, including a few Spanish varieties and the cubanelle which I love. My daughter and I are planning our annual CA trip for her b-day and we might just head over to northern CA, like we did last year. I hope the padron peppers freeze as well as the aji dulce cause I'm planning on stocking up.

Anne:

Gorgeous photos, what brilliant colours are found in our gardens! And that salsa sounds heavenly - I can almost smell it just from looking at the photo - yum!!! I've never heard of Christmas lima beans, but I love their colouring :)

Thanks for the tip on the Kingsolver book, it sounds really interesting. Coincidentally, speaking of Kingsolver and beans...I'm just about to start reading her novel The Bean Trees!

Maria, good luck with your pepper quest!

Anne, The Bean Trees is really good; so is its sequel Pigs in Heaven. So far, my favorite novel of hers is Prodigal Summer (set in Appalachia) but I haven't read them all yet. She's a wonderful writer.

Wonderful post! The food looks so good.

I loved Animal Vegetable... as well, what a great book. But I can't believe nobody has mentioned The Poisonwood Bible?? I think that is a masterpiece! Prodigal Summer is also great but y'all have to read Poisonwood Bible!!

Thanks C. Poisonwood Bible is one of her novels that I haven't read yet but it's on my list.

Anne:

I've been meaning to read the Poisonwood Bible for years, not sure why I haven't done so yet. I think I'll pop downstairs right now to the used book store in my building and see if they have a copy!

Anne, how cool to have a used book store right where you work. Hope they have the book!

sandrac:

The Poisonwood Bible WAS a fantastic read -- not at all what I expected. It was one of those novels that stays with you....

I'm glad to know I've got another great novel to look forward to.

A couple of years ago, Barbara Kingsolver gave the commencement address at Duke Univ. here in NC (her daughter goes there). It's a wonderful read too.

How to Be Hopeful

http://www.dukenews.duke.edu/2008/05/kingsolver.html

sheri:

Great post,Annie. I love to go to the Farmers Market, although it is not too convenient in the city - mostly because parking is really difficult.This year we joined a CSA.Though we enjoyed the produce, I made less of an effort to get to the Farmers Market,which I really enjoyed more.Think that I will stick with the F.M. next year. Oh, loved the phots too!

"Food, Inc." (the movie I saw in Italy) based somewhat on the book "The Omnivore's Dilemma" was a real wake up call for me. I buy only cage free chicken now and organic as much as possible. I also try to buy organic vegetables as much as possible and local when I can. The farmer's markets are usually open when I work but some of the health food stores and Whole Foods sells local produce. At least the apple bananas and much of the fish is local here :)

I have not heard of the movie "Farmer John". I will have to put it in my cue.

Krista (http://www.slowtrav.com/blog/khb/) posts some great info about local produce. She also did a post on the movie FRESH (not to be confused with Fresh which is about drug dealers. It is not at Netflix yet but may be playing in your area.

Sheri, I see people picking up their CSAs at the market here. I haven't done it yet but might give it a try next summer.

Girasoli, our market is open on Saturday mornings all year and on Wednesday afternoons during the summer. I love the Wed. market because I can go right after work.

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