Just Like Christmas Morning…

10 Jul

I can hear the birds chirping all around me as I inhale the cool, crisp air. The dewy grass wets my feet as I trudge through it in my flip flops. I am filled with excitement and anticipation.
Wait, that doesn’t sound anything like Christmas morning?! It’s not, it’s the Saturday morning farmer’s market in Tower Grove Park. Monday through Friday, I announce the countdown to this Saturday morning “holiday” to jwd (lucky him). On Friday night I feel the same giddiness I felt as child (or still feel…) on Christmas Eve. I lie in bed wondering what I’ll find under the tall blooming trees of the park- “Will they have asparagus? Watermelon? Will the blackberries be ripe and ready this week? What kind of greens will I find?” Ughh, the anticipation! We’ve gone to jwd’s parents’ house (out of town) for the past few weekends, so I’ve been missing my Saturday morning local food fix. We decided to stay in the city this weekend and the farmer’s market was calling my name today!

The plan was to take advantage of the free yoga they offer at the market (how great is that??), but I awoke with an itch to run. I think it’s important to be flexible with yourself when it comes to workouts, otherwise you begin to resent it. After my wonderful sweatfest and a delicious bowl of oats, I headed to Tower Grove Park.

yoga, music, local food, and a bunch of happy people– what more do you need??

Why Buy Local?

  • Support your community. When you buy local, you keep your money circulating within your own community. You are supporting the livelihoods of your neighbors and in turn boosting your local economy.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint. “Food Miles” refers to the distance your food travels from farm to plate. More food miles usually = more carbon dioxide emissions and more wasteful packaging. Local food doesn’t have to travel very far and the packaging is usually non-existent or minimal. I actually return all of my berry and egg cartons to the farmers for reuse.
  • Get personal. Local business owners are experts on their products. The farmers at my market can answer any questions I have about their produce– how to choose it or how to cook it for example. They also welcome you to taste produce before you buy to ensure its quality. I got to taste a slice of watermelon before I bought mine today! Also, in a world that is becoming more and more impersonal everyday, it’s so nice to walk into a store or up to a stand and be greeted like a long lost friend. Local businesses make an effort to get to know their customers and do anything they can to keep you coming back. One of the farmers knows me so well now that he throws in some free-bees now and then. Today I got a few extra peaches 🙂
  • Conserve your community’s quirks. Every community has unique locally-owned restaurants and shops. If you only eat at Apple Bee’s and only buy your groceries from Wal-Mart (places where the food/merchandise is standardized across the country), community diversity will disappear and the local businesses will fail. So support the chefs, farmers, and craftspeople in your community!
  • Get more bang flavor for your buck. In my opinion, local food simply tastes better! Those hard, bland superstore tomatoes don’t stand a chance against a juicy local heirloom. Chances are the produce was picked within the last few days (or even the same day you buy it!) As soon as produce is picked, it begins to lose nutrients. Most grocery store produce is grown in other countries and ripened on a truck. Yuck. Local eggs also far surpass their store-bought counterpart. The shape and color of the shells are varied and the yolks are the most vibrant shade of orangey-yellow.

Here are some of today’s goods:

blackberries, red leaf lettuce, zucchini, yellow squash, sweet corn, heirloom tomatoes, peaches, and a watermelon. As I lugged the melon to the car, I remembered that jwd is not a melon guy. I’ll be taking that baby down all on my own 🙂 no problem

A closer look…

I got a bargain on the peaches! They were marked down because of hail damage, but only a couple of mine are blemished 😀 I always keep my eyes peeled for deals.

After the farmer’s market, I went to Whole Foods to pick up a few essentials. I got a lot of deals there too. Whenever any of my staple items are on sale I stock up! (if it won’t perish). If you know you’re going to buy it next week anyway, you might as well get it when it’s cheap. When I finished stocking the kitchen, it was time to pause for lunch. With no leftovers in sight (except for the leftovers I mention below), I turned to a regular: Greek salad.

Chopped fresh spinach (on sale!), local cucumbers, local heirloom tomatoes, chopped green olives, chopped fresh garlic, a sprinkle of local goat cheese, and a few dribbles of Annie’s Organic Goddess Dressing (also on sale!). Post-salad, I meandered over to the pool on campus to study a little and read the new Sauce Magazine. I have a little blog/challenge project in the works relating to the latest Sauce so stay tuned for that! Then I tended to my second child- my little garden plot. (Kitty is my first child). I won’t say too much about the garden here because I think it deserves its own post.

Here’s the harvest for today:

A cucumber, a Beefsteak tomato, a Roma tomato, three serrano peppers, and a banana pepper.

With such a bountiful selection of local veggies, it was only natural to have a farmer’s market dinner:

gluten-free pasta with a homemade spicy sauce full of local produce and leftover lentils

  • First I chopped the produce: 1/2 a zuc, 1/2 a squash, 2 serranos, 1/2 heirloom tomato, a Roma, and a Beefsteak.
  • I sauteed all but the tomatoes with garlic and olive oil
  • Then I added the tomatoes, some fresh parsley, dried basil, salt and pepper (and maybe a few jigs of Cholula hot sauce)
  • While that simmered on med/low, I boiled the pasta

I LOVE this pasta! Too much wheat doesn’t agree with my tummy, so this is a great alternative to wheat pasta. It’s made out of organic quinoa and and corn. The texture is great (unlike most gluten-free pasta). Quinoa is an ancient grain. It is the most complete non-meat protein source. A complete protein source is a food that supplies all of the essential amino acids in adequate amounts. The essential amino acids are ones that cannot be synthesized by the body and must be provided by the diet. It is rare to find complete protein sources amongst plant foods, so quinoa is a wonderful grain to add to your diet!

  • While the pasta cooked, I added about 1 cup of leftover cooked lentils (used early in the week in a lentil veggie stew) and some chopped fresh spinach
  • Next I drained the pasta and added it to the sauce along with some goat cheese

It was fabulous!

The plan for the rest of the night: spend some quality time with my yoga mat and a few candles, watch the “You’ve Got Mail” marathon on TV work on a paper, then dig in to that big green H2Omelon!

I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend! I encourage everyone to rush to their nearest farmer’s market and take advantage of the fresh local food. Find local markets, farms, and restaurants here. And I always welcome company on my farmer’s market trips 🙂

Anyone have recommendations for “must-see” farmer’s markets or local businesses?

Happy weekend! And thanks for reading 🙂

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8 Responses to “Just Like Christmas Morning…”

  1. Dolores July 10, 2010 at 10:23 pm #

    The Ferguson Farmer’s Market in north STL co. is good too! Often has entertainment and instead of yoga, a hulahoop lady that will give you lessons. Sat. AMs only, May-Sept. on Florissant Rd. north of Aldi’s.

    Thanks for the quinoa pasta recommendation!

  2. Debbie C. July 10, 2010 at 11:21 pm #

    Hey Kayli!
    Just read the latest blog to Grandma and Alexander and we all loved it!
    The pasta looked very yuummmy, wish we were there to enjoy it with you!!!
    Happy weekend!
    Love from all!!

  3. Dad July 11, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

    The produce from your garden looks great. The move and transplanting was successful after all! looks like you and James have become real urban farmers for sure. Keep up the good work.

    Love you,
    Dad

  4. Emily July 12, 2010 at 9:36 pm #

    LOVE TG Farmers’ Market. I used to do yoga there all the time, too with {crazy} Keith. 🙂 I will definitely miss TG (moving out of the StL next week).
    I’ve never tried quinoa pasta before, but I eat quinoa in grain form quite frequently. I’ll have to look for it at WF. 🙂

  5. Orion Grove August 16, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    That pasta is so good

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