The Crown Jewels of Spring…. Strawberries, Greens and Farmers

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This morning I made my way downtown to the Red Stick Farmer’s Market. I’ve been meaning to get down there, but I’ve been busy every Saturday morning. This week, I promised myself I’d go. So I put on my favorite new Athleta dress with a light sweater and sandals in the hopes that it would warm up before I got there. The first thing I saw was a tent full of Louisiana strawberries from Ponchatoula. I made a mental note to come back and get some, and I walked through the market first to get an overall picture of what was there.

I didn’t make it too far before an elderly gentlemen held out a spoon for me and said, “Look, I made this just for you.” I was astounded. How did he know I was even coming? He gave me a spoonful of toasted pecans, and his son said he made some white chocolate pecans for me, too. It seems it was a family affair to greet me at the market, so I bought a bag of the toasted pecans for my oatmeal and salads. I’m a sucker for a great line. And I’ll put my money where my heart is.

 

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I ended up getting groceries for the week. I got:

  • Kale
  • Strawberries
  • Lettuce and cucumber
  • Beets
  • Whole milk
  • Goat Cheese
  • Shrimp
  • Eggs
  • Shitake Mushrooms
  • Trail Mix
  • Spinach

After I got my veggies, I walked through the inside market and stumbled upon a really hot guy selling pimento cheese. He had all kinds. I chatted him up about his cheese-making, tasted every one of his samples and ended up buying a white cheddar mix with almonds in it. I grabbed his card just in case I might need to look him up later. I mean... if I like the cheese, I’ll need to find him again! I passed a table that looked familiar from last year’s single visit to the market. A woman stood by the table last year, but I recognized the aluminum foil packaging on the product. The male vendor confirmed my suspicions when he said they were tea cakes… and I remembered the sweet potato tea cake I had last year that about knocked my socks off. He tried to sell me three for a better price, but a saner mind prevailed and I got one to settle in with this afternoon with a cup of chai laced with whole milk and Chutz’s Cane Syrup that I got at the syrup-making last December.

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While I was driving home, I started thinking about what I was going to do with all of this stuff. I imagined making fresh egg omelets with goat cheese, kale and mushrooms. I could have strawberry and spinach salads topped with fried goat cheese rolled in pecans and roasted beets. I can make grilled pimento cheese sandwiches with a lettuce, cucumber and strawberry side salad. Or, how about I have blackened shrimp with sauteed kale and marinated mushrooms? I couldn’t decide what would be best … first… so I made a pimento cheese and cucumber sandwich on some of the sunflower bread I bought in Bay St. Louis last weekend. It’s chilly out today, so I think this afternoon I’ll have my sweet potato tea cake and chai for an afternoon snack. Then, for dinner, I’ll blacken some of that shrimp with some roasted beets and marinated mushrooms. I’ll make a dessert of some strawberries, whole milk and goat cheese with toasted pecans drizzled with cane syrup. I can hardly wait.

 

The thing I love at the Farmer’s Market is the LACK of variety. There is plenty to choose from, but it’s the locally seasonal stuff. I hate that we’ve gotten away from seasonal eating. When I saw the strawberries, I was mentally catapulted back to my childhood and PawPaw’s strawberry garden. Strawberries were the real indicator that the growing season had begun, and we’d have strawberries any kind of way you can imagine. We’d be sick of them by the end of the season, but Momma always said we’d miss them when we didn’t have them. And, she’s right. I’ve picked strawberries at farms in every state I’ve lived in the hopes of feeling the bounty of the fruity red berry once again, but it’s a rare dietary jewel now. How I would love to eat so many in so many different ways that I’d be sick of them again. How I’d love to watch the farmer cover his berry plants with straw and get out and pick them day after day until they are exhausted. But for now, I’ll settle for talking to the farmer. I passed by the Ponchatoula Strawberry booth in favor of a booth down the way. A couple sat next to a table half full of berries. I asked her where they came from. “From my garden,” she answered. “Okay… I’ll take two,” I answered, and my money touched the very hands that propagated and picked the spring jewels.

The one thing I lacked from my journey was fresh flowers. They had a few, but I guess cut flowers are not really here yet. In Memphis, I had a favorite booth where I purchased flowers at the Farmer’s Market. Today, I couldn’t find what I wanted. So, all I need is some flowers to go with my elegant, lovely menu this week. Babycakes, if you’ll bring the flowers, I’ll make you lunch….. Just sayin’.

Talk to me, please...

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