We’ve had cloudy, gray, rainy weather for a few days now, with temperatures cooler than normal for this time of year. Fruits and vegetables need sunshine to ripen, so it was not a surprise that some summer produce is a bit slow arriving at the market. Fortunately, I did find lots of things I can work with, and with a quick side trip to a farmstand close to home, the Saturday provisions acquisition was a success.
As expected, strawberry season is over, but there are still plenty of blueberries and raspberries, and I am overjoyed to report, peaches! Last year, a killing frost during the blossom set wiped out the peach crop all over New England. The peaches grown here in New Hampshire are sweet, juicy, and fragrant, and I missed them terribly last year (as did the growers; that was a significant hit to their already slim profits). Tomatoes are slowly making their way, but we just haven’t had enough sun for them yet. That should change this week; it’s gotten sunny and hot several days in a row, just the way tomatoes like it.
I was also excited to see cilantro at the market. The farmer who brought it is a member of a co-op of immigrant and refugee farmers, and she’s new to the market this year. She usually has a few things on her table that the other farmers don’t have, cilantro being one of them. I wasn’t able to get granola this week, but I did get another package of goat chorizo sausage (same farmer/family), which I am looking forward to using with the cilantro, and some squash from my CSA share.
I don’t know if you can tell in the photo, but the yellow pattypan squash in the top left corner are enormous. I am going to stuff them with chorizo, onions, peppers (from the freezer-last year’s crop), corn, and the squash innards, and roast them in the oven, heat and humidity be damned. I’ll top them with cilantro and queso fresco, and warm up some tortillas to go alongside.
The rest of the CSA share is probably familiar to you, except for maybe the light green bulbous fellows at the bottom center. That’s kohlrabi, and it is fantastic simply peeled and grated as part of a slaw, I’m thinking maybe a zucchini, cucumber, kohlrabi slaw, maybe with some radishes, too.
I know I’ve said it before, but, at risk of sounding like a nag, I strongly urge you to learn how to break down a chicken. Whole chickens are cheaper than chicken parts, in the grocery store or at the Farmers’ Market, and the likelihood of finding chicken parts at the Farmers’ Market is slim, at least around here. Really, search the internet for videos on breaking down chickens, sharpen your knives, and dive in. Once you get good at it, cutting apart your own chicken takes no time at all. That one chicken I got at the market has already been broken down, one breast was enough for a stir fry, the other breast was coated with garlic herb rub and fried for a chicken salad, the dark meat and wings have been fried, and the carcass is in the freezer waiting to be used for stock. That’s four meals from one chicken, for less money than the separate parts (especially boneless, skinless breasts!). If you have one new cooking adventure this summer, this is the one I firmly encourage. Make sure you have well-sharpened knives for this.
It didn’t feel much like summer at the Farmers’ Market last weekend, but if today is any indication, I’d say summer has arrived in full force at last, and soon, summer produce will be here, too.