It is Sunday morning. In this house that means it is farmer’s market day! Rain or shine, wind or snow, every season, every single Sunday of the year, unless it is Christmas. It will be four years this spring that we have been attending the same market.
We started eating a local, fresh, seasonal diet just by accident. We were at our local fair, and there was an unmanned booth with information about our county’s farmers. A little flyer about a CSA (community supported agriculture) program caught my eye. We could get a basket of produce each week (enough for a family of four) all summer long. As a person who likes food, likes a natural lifestyle, likes community and saving money, I wrote a check and sealed the envelope. I also sealed my fate as a woman no longer comfortable in a modern supermarket.
That first basket turned into many, and we tried different CSAs over the years. We have tried many farmers and farmers markets. Each time I learn something new. Something new about food, about tradition, about my children, my spirituality or community or health. Being directly connected to our food has become one of the cornerstones of my life.
I know for some families, the thought of buying food directly from a local grower or eating seasonally can feel a little strange or scary. Often the first time I bring a friend to market with me they wonder what they should buy. How do they know what they will need for the week, or what will be available? Often families worry that if they join a CSA, they would not know what to do with beets, rhubarb, collard greens, or kale. Many of us have not been raised to take what is fresh and available and turn it into something wonderful. Most of us do not know what to expect at market on July 25th, much less the second week in February. But that is okay. Many of us do want to be able to do these things. And if we teach ourselves how, if we feed our children in a seasonal rhythm, our children will inherently know these things when they are grown.
Those first few years I gave away pounds of beets and threw whole bunches of rhubarb in the trash. Oh how it pains me now to think of it! But over time I gained confidence, or stumbled onto recipes to save and try in their season. My children, and friends, have come to know that pumpkin whoopie pies will be made around the third week in September. Spring has officially begun when I bring rhubarb shortcakes to the park. My oldest daughter can actually tell us, on the way to market in the spring, what will be available. She knows, and I have come to trust this knowledge of hers.
I love that I can look the farmers in their eyes, that they know me and my children, and that we know them. I love the excitement that runs though the market as people realize someone has cherries, or shiitakes or the first tomatoes. I love that the market is crowded in sumer, and vacant in winter. I also love that . . .
:: My children know when food is fresh by the season, the taste and the smell.
:: I’ve learned to cook foods I thought I hated.
:: My kitchen is decorated for the season, just by going shopping.
:: I know the food philosophies of the men and women who grow our food, I know their names and about their families and vacations.
:: I can name the source of everything on our dinner table.
:: The consciousness of food production leads to consciousness in all production.
:: Shopping has ritual and tradition.
:: Eating seasonally brings spontaneity and creativity to our diet.
:: I can trust in the earth to bring nutrition to my family.
:: I find community in the farmers and other market goers.
:: I have seen dating couples turn into married couples turn into families with a babe in sling.
:: I’ve learned to preserve, giving me security and comfort in the cold of winter.
:: I recognize the power I have to shape my life.
:: My family knows I practice, and cherish, my beliefs.
To learn more about markets and CSAs near you, you can visit Local Harvest.
A wonderful blog for turning what’s coming from the ground right now into dinner tonight is Farm Girl Fare.
With rhubarb season just around the corner, I would like to share the following favorite recipe.
1 lb. rhubarb (red, green or both)
1/2 cup of brown sugar
Cinnamon and ginger to taste
2 cups flour
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
1 cup milk
To make the rhubarb filling, chop rhubarb and mix with the brown sugar and spices in a stock pot. Cook over medium heat until the rhubarb softens. You will have to taste test. It should be completely soft, no chewing required, but still firm enough to hold its shape. If it gets too soft, like apple sauce, it may be runny later on.
For the biscuits, mix flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter. Cut until the butter is cut in evenly and consistently. Making a hole in the center of the bowl, pour in the milk and whisk with a fork from the outside of the bowl in towards the milk. Once the milk is incorporated, it should resemble very thick pancake batter. Drop the biscuits with the fork onto a pizza stone or a lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees, about ten minutes or until the tops begin to brown.
In a medium bowl, pour whipping cream, 1/2 tbs of sugar, and a tsp of vanilla. Whip on high until the cream forms stiff peaks, or about two minutes.
Slice biscuits through the center, top with rhubarb and whipped cream.
Enjoy outside with friends.
Sherene Cauley lives in Maryland with her husband and their two enchanting daughters. Their home is full of family, friends, food, arts, crafts, and the mission to celebrate every day. She journals their adventures at The Nurtured Life.