at the market now • early fall edition
Every year as September rolls around, school starts, and summer pulls away, I feel a little buzz. Much more so than January, this is the time I naturally feel inclined to start to pull inward, assess, clean out, refresh and settle back down into structure and routine after the (beautiful) loose flow of summer. I’ve been (wishfully) pulling out my sweaters and reorganizing and culling my wardrobe, although often cooler weather doesn’t truly begin here until around November.
Because of our abundant backyard garden, I haven’t been needing to get to the farmers market every week, the routine of which has further been (happily) thwarted by out of town adventures and plans. I also completely stopped meal planning of any kind and really threw everything out the window as far as planning. However, as we settle back into school and work schedules, I find myself needing a plan. A plan and some weekend prep make my life much more enjoyable on the weekdays. Otherwise, it’s 5 pm and I haven’t even started dinner, much less planned what to make, and clinging children are pulling on my skirt asking “What’s for dinner?”
Going back to the market after time away was luxurious, especially now that the seasons transition is starting to reflect in produce. Summer food is glorious, but I’m quite ready to step off the summer food carousel and into new things. Autumn is such a rich and abundant season, everything full and ripe with a whole summer’s worth of sun locked inside. This week at the market, I saw gorgeous creamy whorls of cauliflowers with bright green leaves, emerald green tight heads of broccoli, almost rudely orange carrots, just-dug potatoes scrubbed and glistening like new babies, shallots shining like pink pearls, and the showy rich deep purples and reds of apples and grapes.
More to the point, I thought it would be fun / useful to restart a column I used to do on the blog, At the Market Now. In the weekly installments, I shared what I bought at my weekly trips to the market, and what I planned to cook with my haul. Buying local produce in season is often cheaper and fresher than out of season produce, puts you in tune with the natural seasonal rhythms of food and nature, and can be more sustainable (less food miles, support local agriculture, less packaging, builds community). What’s in season for you may be different than for me, depending on where you live, but generally it should be similar enough. Let me know if you enjoy this idea.
General Tso’s Tofu from Minimalist Baker, a crowd pleaser in our house and frequent go to. We use bulk Hodo Soy tofu and it is the bomb.
Soba Noodles with Crispy Kale from Heidi Swanson, delicious and filling, relatively quick and healthy. You could also double the sauce and save half in the fridge for drizzling on bowls/dipping veggies in.
a large pot of minestrone, I have made this soup so may hundreds of times that I don’t use a recipe, but can highly recommend Alice Water’s recipe if you need one. I shelled and used the fresh cranberry beans in this, and made a little extra to ensure leftovers for a bonus lunch (just add a green salad)
cauliflower pasta- roast cauliflower florets until caramelized, toss with cooked pasta, parsley, lots of chile flakes, lemon zest and garlic, salt. Finish with a generous dusting of toasted breadcrumbs and/or parm. Serve with a simple salad or sautéed greens.
autumnal roast dinner- sauté an onion with some olive oil until softened, about 6 minutes, then stir in a pinch of salt and 2 peeled apples, cut into rough chunks. Add to baking sheet with a few bunches of red grapes and fresh thyme sprigs. Pour over a cup of red wine and drizzle some olive oil, salt and pepper. Add 4 sausages on top (we use the beyond meat ones) on top and bake at 375F for about 45 minutes, until fruit is soft, sausages are cooked, and sauce is glossy. Serve with mashed potatoes and / or simple sautéed wedges of cabbage.
savoy cabbage salad with apples and walnuts- I recommend add a tsp or two whole grain mustard and some minced shallot to the dressing, and a shredded carrot to the salad.
peach chia breakfast shake- my kids love these, they are easy and filled with goodness, and a great way to use up ripe peaches.
I also baked banana bread with some ripe stragglers I had from last week, and baked two loaves of potato bread. I leave one loaf out for immediate use and freeze the other loaf, then re-bake in the oven later in the week straight from the freezer for fresh bread again.
I peeled and froze the last 2 lbs of the 25 lb box of O’Henry peaches we had, labeled and ready to use in an easy galette at a later date. Freeze flat on a baking sheet or plate first, then transfer to a container. I used a pyrex glass bowl with a lid (my set looks like these ones), with parchment separating into a few layers to avoid sticking. Also in the freezer, I have been adding excess Sun Gold cherry tomatoes from our garden into a mason jar to use later. You can freeze them whole, their skins will crack a bit, but no matter, and they are wonderful to have to stir into soups and such later in the fall/winter.
To have greens/salads at the ready, I washed and dried and stored 2 heads of lettuce in a Pyrex bowl with a lid, with a dry kitchen towel lining the bottom to absorb excess moisture. I washed the head of kale and placed in a damp Swag Bag in the fridge. I scrubbed the carrots and a bunch of celery (stalks separated) for easy snacking.