Yay for farmers' markets!
As a break from the monotony, Grandma and I ventured out to the Flint Farmers' Market today. I must say it... I'm in love! It seems like I only find the good places in a town once I'm ready to move out... Perhaps I need to extend the duration of my stays... Anyway, back to the farmers' market. Incredible. Between the two of us, we picked up fresh vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, green pepper), fruit (watermelon and the first crop of cherries!), herbs (peppermint and basil), cheese (Fontina!), liver (not my favorite I've found out, but it's cheap), a baguette, and even an ice cream cone. This is better than the fair, this is better than the amusement parks. I could spend the whole day just sitting and watching people go by or perusing market stands.
The true beauty of the farmers' market (or at least this one as I don't know how others work) is that you know it's local and you know it's in season. It's kind of disturbing to me to think that I can walk into a grocery store in the middle of December and find tomatoes... Yes, I do like my produce during the winter, too, but it's just a wee bit unnatural.
Another nice thing is the prices. I know that sometimes it's pricy. The cherries, for instance, were $5.00 a pound. On the other hand, we have the vendor who sold us six gorgeous tomatoes for only $2.00. and the bag of basil that only cost $2.00. Even with the slightly higher prices, though I am getting a deal because it's better quality food (whereas at the grocery store, I usually come out with something overprocessed). And I end up paying less because the temptation of processed, frozen, pre-packaged food is non-existent at the farmers' market. :)
So on to a similar subject: gardening. My tomato plants seem to be doing well. I'm pretty sure they can't wait for June (and neither can I), because I will finally be able to transplant two of the four out of pots and into the ground once the fear of frost has passed. Cannot wait for yummy tomatoes in the summer. Actually, right now I am really missing having a yard for gardening. No such luck here and that's fine. However, I can't help but look longingly at the flats of vegetable seedlings and wish I had the space. I'm already pushing my luck with a few tomato plants, so I think I'll leave it be.
Back to the farmers' market (kind of): With out lovely produce we got today, I got to make a few things for dinner which just might make it on to my favorites list.
1) Mediterranean Tomato Salad (or at least, that's what I'm calling it) -- two medium tomatoes, a quarter of a green pepper, and a half a cucumber all chopped into bite sized pieces. Add a pinch of basil and a few pinches of peppermint. Drizzle with olive oil and just a tad of vinegar (I used apple cider, but I think red wine would be better). Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy. If you all know Woody's Mediterranean Deli in Lansing/East Lansing/Okemos, this is very similar to their greek salad, however they have the advantage of using fresh mint. I have to resort to dried.
2) Cherry Clafoutis (It's said cla-foo-TEE, apparently) -- Okay, this is a little on the humble side. It is incredibly simple and almost unassuming as desserts and tarts go. I can say that Grandma definitely wasn't impressed at all. Her comment? She 'didn't dislike it'... Okay, so Grandma's comments aside, give this recipe a try. I used a recipe from foodnetwork.com and it seemed to work really well (I used a heavy casserole dish instead of a dutch oven). So, basically this is an eggy sort of cherry tart. Can also be made with pears or other fruit, but cherry is most common. It is not very sweet (only a 1/4 cup in what will become about eight portions). It is (I believe) traditionally a Frech breakfast food. And, hey, I'm hooked. If I could have this every morning, I might actually eat breakfast.
So, sorry for the disorganized post (looking back through I can see that it's dotted liberally with parantheses...). Enjoy your Saturday, and here are some pictures for you as you go.