14 September 2010

Dinner from the Farmer's Market

When I think about my journey as a foodie and a food blogger, my love of writing about and taking pictures of food really started when I discovered how wonderful eating seasonally could be after reading French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano.  It was while reading that book that I discovered my joie de vivre concerning food.  The simple, unbridled joy I receive while eating a fresh peach whose juices run down my arm, or an end of summer tomato seasoned with nothing more than salt (or maybe some basil) are what I try to convey to my readers and my family.  What I hope that you, as my reader, take away from my blog, is a sense of that joy, and the motivation to create joy for your family in your kitchen through my recipes and experiences.  Bon appétit!

When my husband and I moved to Eastern Washington from Sacramento seven years ago, the things we most mourned were fresh vegetables.  We lived in a very progressive community near Sacramento and were part of a CSA before it was "trendy".  We loved browsing the farmer's market which was a huge community event twice weekly.  When we first moved here, we were unfamiliar with the area and thus did our grocery shopping solely at our local supermarket and missed California with each bite of tasteless tomato.

After living here a few months, I was lamenting the loss of fresh vegetables to someone when they mentioned the local farmer's market.  I cannot express the relief I felt when I first visited the farmer's market in town seven years ago.  It was as if finally, after months of feeling like we had moved to a wasteland, we could make this place our home.  Alas, the farmer's markets here only last from May until October (unlike the year round farmer's markets in California) so while they are here, I try to take full advantage.

This past week,  with $38 in my pocket, I took my youngest son to the farmer's market.   We noticed some fall squash, the very beginning of the season.

I just loved how they displayed them on the road.  With a little gathering of leaves, it definitely looked like fall!  I am not quite ready to fully embrace fall and while they are still with us, I stocked up on summer tomatoes and peaches.

For $35, we came home with quite a haul, heirloom tomatoes, a bag of Walla Walla onions, three cherry peppers, eggplants, okra, fingerling potatoes, a pint of strawberries and raspberries, peaches and nectarines, as well as an Armenian cucumber and grapes.

I just couldn't pass up these eggplants.  The colors were so deep and the flesh so shiny they begged me to pick them up!  Unfortunately, eggplant isn't a big winner with my family so I had to find a way to disguise it by turning it into baba ganoush.  Baba ganoush is a garlicky eggplant spread that is wonderful served with pita chips.  I can't say my children LOVED it, but they tolerated it which for a 5 and 7 year is pretty good!  

Joie's Baba Ganoush by Joie de vivre


2 eggplants,
2 Tbls. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 garlic clove, mashed through a garlic press

1.  Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Cut several slits in each eggplant so they do not explode when you cook them and place them in a pan.  
2.  Place the eggplant in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.
3.  Remove the eggplant skin and chop the flesh very finely.  Add the garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with pita chips.

Here's what I came up with to use the Armenian cucumber.  It is a cold, rice salad that hit the spot on a warm summer evening.

Cool Rice and Cucumber Salad by Joie de vivre


1 1/2 c. jasmine rice, cooked and cooled to room temp.
1 armenian cucumber, peeled and seeded, (or 2-3 regular cucumbers)
1 tsp. dill seed
3 Tbls. chopped fresh mint
1/3 c. minced chives
1/4 c. white wine vinegar
3 Tbls. olive oil


1.  In a large bowl, mix the cucumber, rice, dill seed, mint and chives.  
2.  In the blender, or in a wide mouth jar with a lid, combine the white wine vinegar and olive oil.  Cover and shake the jar until mixed or blend mixture in the blender to make a dressing.
3.  Pour the dressing over the rice salad and mix.  
4.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

Because I had bought the peaches and nectarines, I had some fresh plums from the week prior to use up and ended up making this DELICIOUS pie.   Sadly, I didn't take notes so I can't recreate it for you but I did take my inspiration from the book Pie by Ken Haedrich.

I'll be sharing other recipes from this trip to the farmer's market this week.  Come visit again to see what else I made.  Our farmer's market only lasts another six weeks before the cold weather sets in, you can bet that I'll be there, soaking up all of the fresh, local produce while I can!

Here are some books you may find useful in finding inspiration on what to do with your own Farmer's Market haul.


Debbie said...

I'm laughing at your "virtual wasteland" because..that's where I grew up. LOL
It's always hard to move...I've done it often, but I've always come to love everywhere I've lived, WA, CA and the REAL wasteland, NV.
I love Farmer's Markets so much!! And sweets....so your pie really caught my eye.

Jeannie said...

Lovely narration on your visit to your farmers market.. I especially love the look of the eggplants too, looks so succulent! :)

Sippity Sup said...

You'll get my vote! GREG

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous produce at the Farmers' market especially those fall squashes! And a terrific meal!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Congratulations on developing a good food palate for your kids and an interest in food early in life. They will definitely thank you later.

Great farmers market with all of the fall squash. I'm with you - stock up on all of summer before it's gone.

Rita said...

I so enjoy coming to read you; alwasy an interesting and a learning experience.
Gotta go to our little market this weekend; it is only open Saturday and Sunday July-Aug. Sept and we do not have many vendors. I have to say I envy all my blogger friends showing off their market. Happy that you shared all these great pictures with us.

Mary Bergfeld said...

I enjoyed walking with you through the farmers market today. While that was quite a haul for that amount of money, my brain buzzes with thoughts of the good things you will make and share with us. Today, I came here from the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog competition. I am looking forward to seeing your entry in the next leg of the competition. I wish you tons of luck. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

Reeni said...

I'm so glad you're back to blogging! I missed you. Thanks for the sweet comment the other day. It looks like a lovely haul from the farmer's market! Everything you made looks delicious! Can you believe I've never had baba ganoush?

Sophie said...

The veggies & the produce in that lovely Farmer's market just looks amazing & what a choice!

Your baba ganoush looks great & that rice dish too!

MMMMMMM,...lovely food!

Christo Gonzales said...

you sure did score some bounty - looks good and good luck!

Tina said...

Great photo trip you provided for us. I love the farmers markets!

Kimmy Bingham said...

I also focus on fresh, amazing local food. I always think it's a great topic for a blog because there's a thousand ways you can use all the goodies! You have my vote! I hope if you have time you can check out my blog too :-)

Tangled Noodle said...

There's nothing else to make a place feel like home than access to some good food! Your recipe for baba ganoush sounds wonderful, as does the cool cuke and rice salad. I just voted!

whatsfordinneracrossstatelines said...

Glad I read your entry, I'm following and voting for you! I love your pics. I'm a huge fan of fresh veggies like that! Good Luck!

Unknown said...

You got my vote! Good luck in the competition.

Daily Spud said...

Hey there! I'm thinking that perhaps you could change your blog name to Joie de Vegetables after that post :D Good luck in PFB, you'll have my vote.

Jen Cheung said...

hey ya! you have a lovely blog here. Stumble upon your blog through foodbuzz. :) I voted for your blog. hope that helps. Good Lucky !!!! feel free to drop by!!

have a lovely weekend
jen @ www.passion4food.ca