Summer is my favorite time of year to shop for food, because the farmers markets are plentiful. I love going to the big farmers market about 15 minutes from my house, but even more, I love going to the littler ones...the roadside stands, and especially the newest one in town, which has popped up in a nearby church parking lot on recent Saturday mornings. People show up on the church lawn, pop up their tailgating tents, and sell their wares.
There are two tents with "flower ladies" -- one sells plant seedlings and the other sells fresh picked flowers from her garden that she arranges into beautiful bouquets (for $3 each!). This week she had gorgeous blue mop head hydrangeas, spunky daisies, and elegant calla lilies. Into my bag went a hydrangea bouquet.
There's the jelly lady -- she doesn't own a tent, so she gets there early and sets up her table in the prime location, under the shade of the tall pine trees. She sells at least 15 varieties of jams, jellies, and pickled vegetables, and they're beautiful. I had trouble deciding, but this week went with a quart jar of her "garden salad" -- pickled cucumbers, onions, carrots, and peppers. Yum.
My husband's favorite is the "Mr. Salsa Man" tent. He sells homemade hot salsa that will blow your head off if you're not prepared for it. I grabbed a container for Chris and added it to my bag.
My next stop was the local organic farmer's tent, where I picked up tomatoes and cucumbers.
Finally, I made my way over to the last tent and grabbed half a peck of Georgia peaches. Georgia's known as the peach state, but I think that South Carolina's are far superior (I'm possibly biased, though, considering I'm a Carolina girl). But these looked good, so I decided to give them a shot. The peach farmer was giving away free herbs with any purchase, so he dropped a thyme plant and a bunch of rosemary into my bag with the peaches. I love freebies.
I decided to forgo the bakery tent this time around (although their brownies, croissants, and danish were very tempting). I also skipped out on the homemade organic dog treats (no dog). I acknowledged the employees of my favorite local coffee shop, who had stopped over to sell coffee by the cup as well as by the pound, and I begged them to please have iced coffee next weekend. It was 9:15 am and already approaching 90 degrees.
The flowers make a lovely table decoration. The pickled salad is already half eaten, just a bite here and there. I used some of the tomatoes to make Caprese sandwiches for lunch (grilled cheese (mozzarella) sandwiches with tomato and basil -- you haven't had grilled cheese until you've tried this variety.) The cucumbers will go in salads and sandwiches throughout the week. The peaches, though...what to do with the peaches???? Some will be eaten out of hand, of course, and my husband has hinted that a cobbler might be nice with some. Tonight, though, we used the first few for a peach salsa to accompany blackened chicken tacos. Ole!
A Peach of a Salsa
3-4 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and chopped
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
3-4 green onions, white and light green parts sliced
1/2 cup cooked black beans
1 jalapeno pepper, minced (more or less, to taste)
juice of 1/2 lime
pinch of salt
chopped cilantro to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, seasoning with salt to taste. Flavor is best if ingredients are left to mingle for a few hours in the fridge before serving. Great on grilled fish or chicken, added as a garnish for tacos, or scooped up with chips.
All photos and text (C) Lisa Kuebler, 2010