From the Market: Swiss Chard

Checking out all the new spring vegetables at the local farmers’ market has been such fun the past few weeks. While I normally cook with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, that produce hasn’t been this fresh. Much of what I’ve been eating the past few weeks has come from local farms, picked hours before being sold. You really can taste the difference—once you wash off the dirt.

That’s right: dirt. One thing about fresh produce from the farm is that it literally comes from the ground. That means it hasn’t been cleaned in chemicals and there more than likely will be grit on the leaves and stems. It’s not difficult to clean, but it does take a few steps.

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From the Market: Asparagus

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I tried to convince my parents to start an asparagus bed in their backyard garden. No luck. They have quite a bit going on in their lives, without having to worry about a new project. And of course, we don’t really have too much space besides the small plots my dad has worked in all corners of the yard, leaving the monstrous azalea bushes to fill much of the rest of the space.

Ever since reading Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” several years ago, I’ve been enamored with asparagus. It’s a delicious, early spring vegetable, with a flavor that’s hard to describe. I just finished reading the book again this year as part of the library system’s “Big Read” focused on connecting us with where our food comes from. (If you haven’t read it, you should!)

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A spring farmers’ market dinner

Finally, it’s spring. Summer was trying to sneak in for a few days, and my baby lettuce plants didn’t like it. My basil didn’t fare well with the cold snaps either. I’m hoping that my container garden will survive my not-quite-green thumb over the next few months, but if my plants don’t make it, at least the Fredericksburg farmers’ market is a 10-minute walk away.

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