A trip to the Chestertown Farmers’ Market last week was an exercise in denial for Kevin. There is just such an enormous selection of produce in prime condition and freshness and variety, it is impossible to draw the line. He just wants to get everything! This is where we shop for the K-B Market on a weekly basis, for both the Market Menu and for Dining Events, where we can get all the produce we need, from the mundane (never!) onion to the exotic Chinese long beans. It is a wonderful resource. It is just that sometimes it is hard to say “no, we don’t need that this week”, when you know so much is so very fleeting.
Typically we start at Redman’s Stand.
We always stop at Colchester, if only to say hey to Theresa, although generally Kevin is going get something from her beautiful vegetables. Here’s how things were looking in late July:
Arnold is right up there in our top five vendors, especially for their tomatoes and corn and peppers and…just about everything! I always want a bunch of sunflowers too.
Mr Jim at Anchor has the fortune – or misfortune as it may be – to be in the stall next to Carl’s Bakehouse. Often the line for bread obscures Anchor’s offerings, but last week the customers did the right thing and lined up perpendicular rather than horizontal, and saved Anchor’s view for those interested. So what was on the table?
Unity is a relative newcomer to the Farmers Market stage, and Kevin has been very pleased with their organic offerings, particularly their colorful selection of tomatoes, which have been very nicely paired with crab recently.
Our Kennedyville neighbors – the ones with those wonderful eggs – are also new to the C’town Market. They sell their famous BackYard Eggs there, plus a wide variety of certified naturally grown produce. Kevin particularly likes their cherry tomatoes, little flavor bombs that they are.
Of course you know it’s July when Mr. Harlan’s peaches come to town. White March Orchards, near Centreville, is always worth a visit for pick-your-own, if you miss him at the market:
And this is just the tip of the VegiBurg, there’s much more – you can find wine and beer, aronia berries and honey, Lapp pies and Carl’s bread, White House Farm figs and Chesapeake Greenhouse lettuce, soap and dog treats. It’s all there on Saturday in the Park. It’s only a matter of how much you can eat. Or put up! Sometimes painful decisions must be made…
And then there are all the other FarmStands around, if you can’t make the Market on Saturday. Right about now, things do not get a whole lot better in the Farm-to-Table world of local produce. It is peak. And it is impossible to decide what to get, what to eat. Yesterday we stopped at Redman’s FarmStand/Wagon and got some of the freshest, youngest, tastiest corn we have had this summer. Tomatoes from Arnold Farm stand in Kingstown – their heirlooms in particular – cannot be eaten fast enough. Peppers of all colors and levels of heat, new potatoes, summer squash in a myriad of shapes and hues, melons and cucumbers, onions and blackberries. It’s all here now. And it begs the question – what do we do with all of this bounty?
Here are two ideas:
For the zucchini boat on the left – take one of those super huge zucchinis that have gotten out of control in your garden. Or one of the ones your neighbor will leave on your porch later this month. Scoop out the inside, leaving a strong shell, which should be baked in a hot oven until it has softened. Kevin seasoned the shell with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Meanwhile, saute some diced eggplant, then add a little onion and celery. Dice up the zucchini you’ve reserved and add that, with seasoning of your choice. Cook it all together, then add a little breadcrumb to absorb any excess liquid. Take it off the heat and add some freshly chopped tomato and grated cheese of your choice. When this mixture is cooled, pack it into the cooled shell. At this point you can simply top it with a cheese/breadcrumb mixture and bake in the oven until nice and hot – at 400 degrees this will take about 15 minutes, depending on the size of your squash. To fancy it up a bit, do what Kevin did in the picture: top it with sliced scallops and a sauce of mayonnaise, sour cream and something zippy to spice it, and bake the same way. Put it on the center of the table and have at it!
For the tomato/crab, even easier! Take a crabcake – you can make your own, of course, or purchase a couple from your friendly neighborhood market – and slice a tomato into fat slices. Take a slice of tomato, season it with salt, pepper and maybe a little bit of balsamic vinegar. Put the crabcake on top and bake it in the oven for 15 or 20 minutes, until the crabcake is done and hot. Meanwhile, put an equal number of slices onto a baking sheet, top them with some seasoned breadcrumbs (or not) and bake them for 5 or 10 minutes or so. Pull everything out of the oven, carefully lift the bottom with the crabcake onto your serving plate, top with the other slice of tomato and serve with tartar sauce, or, if you are very lucky, some lemon butter sauce. This is quintessentially summer.
And of course, for the rest of this short but sweet season, you can always have an ear of Mexican inspired corn, tomatoes sliced with basil and fresh mozzarella, pickled beets, fire roasted onions and carrots, poblano peppers stuffed with cheese, sauteed patty-pan squash, a wedge of watermelon with a squeeze of lime, some steamed green beans drizzled with sesame oil, a bowl of succotash – there were limas at Redman’s Wagon yesterday! – and a few peaches, blackberries and slices of cantaloupe for good measure. Meat is optional this time of year!
Crabs are not:
Thank goodness summer is only half over…
See you at the Market!