A December Market Menu!

It’s time for the December Indoor Market, and a special edition of the Market Menu!

The indoor market is held at the Grossinger Arena in downtown Bloomington. Use the Front St. entrance for the December market; the vendors will be in the space just inside those doors, by the concessions. Free parking is available around the corner by the Pepsi ice center, or across the street.

The following vendors are expected to attend:

Above Normal Eggs – organically fed, free range, on pasture chicken AND duck eggs
Ackerman Certified Organic Farm & More – greens, herbs, and Brussel sprouts
Bauer Crops & Cattle – beef
Browns Fresh Produce – produce and popcorn
C & B Apiaries
Central Illinois Bakehouse – breads and pastries, including German stollen
Cracked Up Pottery
Dearing Country Farms – eggs
Destiny Meats – pork
Grani’s Acres, LLC
Grandpa Bill’s Gluten Free Bread – gluten-free gingerbread and cookies!
Herbonita Soap Company, Inc.
Huelskoetter Pork – pork sausage, pork burgers, and more
Ludwig Farmstead Creamery
Pollen and Pastry – cookies, candy, and pastries
PrairiErth Farm – root vegetables, cabbages, fennel, leeks, wellness products
Smoothis Natural Skincare
Trimble’s Produce Farm
Umland’s Pure Dry Cheese

The variety of meat, dairy, and produce available through the winter is pretty amazing right now! Here are just a few recipes that feature some of the items available at the December market:

 

Breakfast wheat berry bowl – if you want to save some time, I bet these would cook up superquick in the Instant Pot! (also: wondering about wheat berries? Check out this post on The Spruce).

Roasted root vegetables with rosemary

Perfect one-pan mashed potatoes (made even more delicious with the use of chicken or duck fat!)

Charred chicken with sweet potatoes and oranges

Colcannon – a sort of potato / leek / cabbage mash (with cream and butter)

Sweet potato rolls – gorgeous little puffs made with sweet potato in addition to flour

Sweet potato pancakes (latkes)

Beet and feta burgers – this recipe uses grated beets, so any size will do

Winter eggs – cooked in a ramekin with bread cubes, walnuts and sage

 

Market Menu: October 7

It’s time for another Market Menu!

While fall brings some cooler-weather items back to the market, the list of offerings is HUUUUGE compared to spring! I don’t ever get tired of roasting root vegetables, and I could probably eat them every day, but I might not say that in a couple more weeks. So I definitely want to put some casseroles or soup into the freezer for busy weekdays later on. The roots don’t freeze so well, but most everything else does!

I’d love to get another batch of red pepper soup together, and maybe some chicken and vegetable. Neither are very labor-intensive, and they’re super tasty in the middle of winter. I’ll post recipes on our facebook page, such as they are.

So, what else is on the menu for the week?

Breakfasts:

Fall marks the return of some hot cereal options in my house:

whole wheat berries with fuit and honey and a splash of cream or yogurt. Once cooked (and they take quite a while to cook!), these keep well in the fridge for a second day, so I like to make a batch on the weekend. They’re even tasty cold, in a pinch.

For something hot and hearty, a big pan of frambled eggs with kale, magic sauce and some local sausage will do the trick. They actually aren’t bad pre-made and portioned into cups for enjoying later in the week. I like to chop the kale and sausage and mix them in with the eggs before putting into individual portion-sized containers. Add magic sauce when you reheat during the week (before putting in the microwave).

For a treat, how about some french toast (Pekara’s Paesano bread is AMAZING for this) with bacon and maple sirup? (if you still have some left!)

Lunches:

Leftovers are a life-saver for a busy October; I’m planning on making more stuffed peppers (before this amazing crop stops producing!), some casseroles and soups to enjoy for easy lunches. But I’ve also been playing with big mash-up bowls of goodies:

hummus, roasted sweet potato, lettuce, pickled beets, watermelon radishes, shaved carrots, quinoa and a little cheese, with some lemon-tahini dressing on top.

roasted carrots and parsnips, toasted bread, hard-boiled eggs, garbanzo beans, and feta or chevre.

Autumn Market Salad – Bon Appetit. With butternut squash, arugula, walnuts, oj and lemon.

Now playing at the market: Winter Squash!!! If you’re a fan of the acorn, butternut, hubbard, kabocha, delicata and other squashes, this is your time!

Dinners:

Potato-Leek Gratin – something to do with your leeks and potatoes besides soup!

Roasted Vegetable Pizza – the combo is up to you! I love little bits of things: pickled fennel, olives, dried tomatoes, sauteed onions (slow and low, to get them caramelized), chevre and pork sausage, with a little shredded mozzarella on top.

Butternut Squash, Apple and Onion Galette w/ Stilton – Food Network (but many versions of this recipe are out there, including this one without the apple, and this one with brie). A galette is a sort of pie with a freeform crust. Instead of baking in a pie plate, galettes are usually baked on a pan, with the edges folded over the ingredients (but not all the way to the center).  Don’t be intimidated by the pastry! A quick trip in the food processor will combine the ingredients, and a large ziploc bag works wonders at bringing the pastry together without making a mess. Galettes are fantastic to have in your repertoire, because you can use the pastry to wrap sweet or savory ingredients. And just like pies, you *could* freeze them for future baking.

Enjoy the last few weeks of the market! And don’t worry – – we’re not going away when the outdoor market shuts down for the season. We’ll be talking to our farmers about their winter cover crops and planning, writing about working through stored produce, and hunting for those elusive winter crops!!

Week 5 Market Menu: Summer is Coming!

This week at the Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market and Artists’ Alley:

Seasonal: Greens: Arugula, LOTS of Lettuces, Kale, Swiss Chard, Spinach and Collard Greens!  Root Veg: Beets, Carrots, Potatoes, Radishes, and Turnips.  Summer squashes, including Zucchini!!  Herbs: Cilantro, Dill, Mint.  Kohlrabi and Cabbage!  And Strawberries!!!!

All Summer: Eggs, chicken, beef, oats, wheat, cornmeal, pork, cheese, honey, baked goods, lavender, mushrooms, popcorn, and much more. See the complete list of vendors at this year’s market for more information about produce and products.

 

 

It’s a short one this week!!

Breakfast Ideas:

I’ve been starting to crave smoothies in the morning, now that it’s getting warmer. And it might be all in my head, but I do feel like greens in the morning help keep me awake and alert until lunch. A quick trip in the blender, pop it in a cup and I can hit the road with my breakfast, which is an extra plus for me. I usually wing it, as far as a recipe. I start with around 12 oz milk (almond or soy milk works, too!) and protein powder. Then, flavor!  Frozen bananas and a handful of kale is my go-to, but I also like kale with frozen peaches, or spinach and frozen mango and banana!  Citrus is a nice balance to the green. I use a regular blender, and just start with a handful of greens at first. Search “Green Smoothie” and you’ll find literally dozens of recipes/combinations. Check out this list from DailyBurn.com.

 

Lunch Ideas:

Last week, I mostly stuck to a bagel or crackers, some Little Bloom on the Prairie with a touch of honey, and a handful of greens for lunch. Add just a touch of good olive oil and a splash of your favorite flavored balsamic vinegar to the greens, and you’re good to go! Here are a few other ideas for enjoying local produce in your lunches this week:

  • Radishes with garlic scape butter – add some crackers and cheese, and you have lunch!
  • Roast chicken (whole or parts) w/ a little olive oil, cool, then break down and portion out
  • Wheat berries are delicious in salads!
  • Hard-boil some eggs over the weekend, and add them to your lunchboxes during the week

 

Dinner Ideas:

  • If you’re grilling burgers or brats, slice up some turnips (less than 1/4″ thick) and put the finished grilled meat on top of the slices. The heat (temperature) of the meat softens up the turnips and dulls the heat (bite!) of the turnip. For someone like me, who’s not accustomed to the flavor of turnips, it’s a nice way to enjoy their flavor without the spiciness.
  • Pasta salads are a lovely way to avoid having the stove on at dinnertime. You can cook the pasta the night before, and dress it with your favorites. This one with swiss chard and garlic scape pesto looks delicious. Green garlic or garlic scapes would be great, especially with a little lemon zest and radishes.
  • Did you remember to pull some meat out of the freezer for tomorrow’s dinner? I wish I could consistently remember to do that!
  • Double up on things that require the oven, like casseroles or roasted veggies or meat. Plan to have leftovers for dinner the next day! Something like this chicken and kale casserole, or this spinach and egg strata.
  • If you grill or roast veggies and have leftovers, and are wondering what to do with them, why not try a Buddha bowl? Just add some grain and your favorite things from your fridge, basically. It works. Surprisingly well.

 

 

What to Do With All Those Springtime Herbs

If I had to choose one thing that has really changed my cooking, it’s using fresh herbs. Tossing some chopped parsley, chive or cilantro on a dish is an easy, healthy and time-saving shortcut to robust flavor.

I grew up in family that is typically planning the next meal with gusto as we are eating the current one (you, too?). Since the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree (brace yourself for endless bad food puns in my posts…sorry), once I was on my own in the world I would work through ambitious food projects because, well, I wanted to eat them. Make your own chicken stock?* You bet. Find the most authentic way to make a timpano?** It’s ON. Binge-watch the Sopranos and then make Italian-American meals that you saw on Carmela’s dinner table? Maybe I did. Fuggedabboutit.

But as my life got busier and busier (sound familiar?) I had to find cooking shortcuts. It dawned on me that sometimes I just shouldn’t bother cooking things; the veggies from the market and my CSA were so flavorful that, in most cases, I loved them raw. Talk about a time-saver. Duh.

I digress (is my middle name). Fresh herbs are an immediate way to punch up the flavor of any meal and are perfect when served chopped and totally raw (especially if, like me, you sometimes forget to follow the recipe and the dish is done and all that’s left to fix things is salt, pepper, and fresh parsley. Yay for parsley!). Because they are delicate, you almost always add fresh herbs at the end of your cooking to have that burst of flavor alongside the ones that you simmered, roasted or grilled.

But sometimes herbs are actually the star of the show, and springtime brings with it an explosion of flavor in tiny little bundles.  When you’re perusing the offering at the market, it’s going to be hard to resist those adorable clusters of herb joy – so don’t do it. Buy a bunch and when you get home and panic and think, what the heck do I do with all of this? you can check the blog and we’ll help you out.  No problem.

An herb sauce that is endlessly useful on meat or on veggies is chimichurri (which is also a great way to use your green garlic). There are many variations on this Argentinian staple (feel free to make up your own) and it works on just about anything savory, though traditionally it’s used as an accompaniment to grilled beef. (Try the leftovers on eggs!) For plant-based eaters, it’s lovely on grilled portobello mushrooms. Check out other options here and here.

Another great use for herbs is tabbouleh, served on its own as a salad and frequently as an accompaniment to hummous and with other mezze. I love a variation on tabbouleh that includes wheat berries, which are grown locally at Ackerman Farms and are sold at Common Ground in Bloomington.

Are you a salmon lover? (We are utterly devoted to our Sitka Salmon CSA share – did you know you can get sustainably-fished salmon and seafood from small, operator-owned fisheries in Sitka, Alaska delivered right to your door?) This recipe also calls for scallions (spring/green onions), another item that is plentiful in the early months of the summer market.  (I also love this NYT feature on parsley. The NYT Cooking section and app is excellent and FREE.)

I don’t want to leave anyone out, so how about some love for mint, cilantro, tarragon, and dill, while we’re at it.  That last link might send you down a rabbit hole, because Smitten Kitchen is about the best food blogger out there and it’s very likely that you’ll want her to be your best friend (I do!). But don’t forget that the thesis of this post is that all you have to do to enjoy herbs is chop them up and throw them on whatever you are eating. Done.

Happy spring! — J.S.

*Surprise! That link is actually to a hands-off recipe for homemade chicken stock! Not complicated at all.

**And you know that Stanley Tucci’s Big Night is the best movie ever, right? Full disclosure: have not yet made the timpano.