The growing season is winding down here in northern New England. But there were still some lovely surprises waiting at the farmers’ market and the CSA this week.
There is a new bread vendor at the farmers’ market, and that loaf of bread was as crusty and yeasty and chewy as it looks, fantastic slathered with butter or as a grilled cheese sandwich, or just by itself. I know the saying, “Man cannot live by bread alone”, refers to the need for spiritual nourishment as well as physical, but dude, this bread is spiritual nourishment.
The peaches were the last of the season from that farmer, and in The Husband’s words, “OMFG, these peaches are good!” He’s right, they were full of sunshine sweetness, and wonderfully juicy. I am going to miss peaches. I may have to go to a couple of farmstands and see if I can find some to freeze. The dipping oil was a new find, and of course fine and dandy with the bread. The vegetable that looks like orange cauliflower is, in fact, orange cauliflower. No difference in flavor, just a cool color. The rest of the day’s treasures are familiar favorites, carrots, apples, and cilantro, potatoes, granola and donuts, a spice mix, greek lamb sausage, and raspberries. Each vendor had a stack of cards promoting the winter edition of the farmers’ market, held indoors at Town Hall, twice a month from November through the beginning of April. The offerings will be different, of course, because nothing but snowbanks grows in northern New England during those months. I will have to make an extra effort to get to the market this winter, because I missed it last winter, tending toward hibernation myself.
This CSA share is all about the tomatoes-16 pounds of them, counting the cherry ones. I will be making a large batch of tomato soup for the freezer, and a large batch of salsa for the refrigerator. The salsa won’t be around long, I’m sure. We tend to eat it a quart at a time. The leeks were a glorious surprise, in number and in quality. I mentioned previously how they can be labor-intensive to get the stalks long and pale, and these are simply delightful. I can’t wait to put them to use with the potatoes, the first of the season for the CSA, in some potato leek soup. I did not grow up eating leeks, discovering them only when I began looking at seasonal foods, and now I can’t imagine cooking without them.
There are green beans and eggplant, Swiss chard and jalapeños, bell peppers and watermelon, that will need to be eaten or frozen soon, but the cabbage and spaghetti squash will keep for a long time in proper storage, which the basement provides. There are two more shares to come, plus the opportunity to glean from the open garden during the last week of the season. Gleaning is simply gathering what’s left after the harvest, and while the fields are usually pretty picked over, there are often a few small heads of cabbage, root crops, green tomatoes, and green leafy crops, left there because there wasn’t enough to go around for weekly shares, or because they simply ran out of growing time. There are always lots of hot peppers to glean, which I take advantage of, because they are so very easy to dry or freeze for later, and the three of us like some heat in our winter soups and stews.
Time to get busy on some tomatoes. Tomato soup in the freezer is a beautiful thing in February in New England. If you’re on Instagram, follow me! I’ll be sharing the tomato-y goodness there later. Come get inspired.