the bento packing, lunch cooking, photo taking, dog loving blog

This Week’s Market Finds

Yesterday, I posted about plans to go to the Baton Rouge’s Red Stick Farmer’s Market this weekend. This morning, I woke bright and early and got myself to the market right before the bell rang. One vendor is picked each week to ring a hand bell that signals the start of the market. It doesn’t matter how late or how early you go to this market; it is always packed with people. As the weather in Louisiana has been in the high 90′s and kissing the 100 mark, early morning is best to beat the heat.

Whenever I go to market, I bring $20. That’s it. That’s my budget. I can’t quite afford the prices of free-range chickens and farm fresh eggs at this time. But I try to get a portion of my produce there when I can. Today as I looked through the booths, I was determined not to leave without something that would qualify as “new-to-me.” Before I started my search, I stopped at one of my favorite vendors and purchased her cheese & garlic biscuits (2/$1.50). They are meltingly delicious.

My next stop was to spend $3 with the same vendor that I purchased the Italian snap beans from last week. I’ve only seen these at this particular market. Never in a store. Seems I recall finding canned ones somewhere, but I can’t remember where. I purchase these whenever they are in season. Just a booth or two down, there were two ladies selling regular green snap beans as well as these snap beans they called “wax beans.” I picked up a basket of yellow and purple beans to mix with the green snap beans for $4. My plan is to try some sort of bean salad, maybe with some cooked kidney beans in the mix. I’m just not quite sure how to go about it yet. A look into a cookbook is a definite must.

A tip I picked up last week from a Cooking Light cookbook was to wrap your snap beans tightly in saran wrap and they will keep for 10 days. I tried that with the Italian snap I purchased last week and it definitely worked. No wilting green beans in my fridge for once! It made me brave to buy all the snap beans I did this week. Fingers crossed!

Bicolored Corn

Last week’s bentos also featured alot of corn on the cob. Corn is in season at our farmer’s market, and one particular vendor has them for $4 for a bag of 8 already shucked and ready to cook. The other vendors have bags of a dozen you have to shuck yourself. I pay the wee bit more per ear of corn for the convenience. Plus, 8 ears of corn are almost too much for me to eat in a week. I love this vendor. If I get the chance to go to the Farmer’s Market again next week, I’m going to need to speak up and express my gratitude that he offers these pre-shucked.

Strawberries June 2011 (#2)

The same vendor that had the corn had these strawberries. It is at the very end of the strawberry season in Louisiana and find good, fresh local strawberries is getting tough. Last week’s berries were nice but I ended up macerating them for strawberry shortcake. When I bought the corn, I saw these gorgeous strawberries dubbed “premium strawberries.” And premium they are. Gorgeously bright red and looking just perfect. I passed them up since they were 3 pints for $5. I didn’t need that many strawberries. I just don’t use that many. Plus knowing what else I wanted to get, I wanted to stay within budget. But I ended up going back to the booth and asking if they would sell me just 1 pint. “Sure!” $1.50 later the pint was in my hands and these gorgeous strawberries are now at my house.

Nectarines

When I first arrived at the market, there was already a line at one particular booth, curving around and about 3-4 booths long. I had to cut through it to get to the other side and to the rest of the market. The line was for the peach man. This vendor comes from somewhere a bit north of my parish and brings a truckload of freshly picked peaches. They are delicious, but I don’t buy them. I’ve grown less and less fond of peaches as I get older as I don’t care for the fuzz. I’ve switched my allegiance to nectarines instead.

As I walked up from purchasing my last market item, the peach man’s booth had cleared and what did I see but NECTARINES! Oh geez. I purchased a small box of them for $4. They are so juicy you need a bib. This is no lie, I promise you. I sat and ate one when I got home with a napkin poised under my chin to catch all the leaking juices. I love these things. They are SO worth the money I paid for them.

Leeks

Leeks are what I’ve saved for the final photo (though not a great photo) for today’s little tale about my farmer’s market jaunt. This bunch cost $1.50. When I saw them I immediately thought of smittenkitchen.com – my guilty photography pleasure. Smitten Kitchen always seems to have some recipe or another featuring leeks. She uses two ingredients I’ve never used but have been on my radar for quite some time: leeks and fennel. When I saw these leeks, I took a deep breath and purchased them. I have NO idea what I’m going to do with them yet. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. But I have two books here that I hope will help me with that. If not, I’m in leek trouble.

My total farmer’s market bill came to $19.50, leaving me $1.50 in change. Just enough to buy a bit of milk and enjoy those garlic and cheese biscuits.

I hope everyone is having a fabu weekend. Enjoy yourselves!

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