Hooray, our local farmers’ market is back! It was quite a small market this weekend, but that was probably actually a good thing, given how crazy I went on vegetables last week. The really important thing to note was that I finally – finally! – managed to get my hands on some raspberries!
Also, some blueberries, some strawberries, some peaches, some lemons and some apples. I like fruit. (La frutta mi piace! I really should be doing my language practice right now…)
It was a smaller market than usual at Coburg this week, with many stallholders still away on holidays. But there was still a pretty wide range of produce available. After getting sidetracked by raspberries, strawberries and blueberries on my first circuit of the market, I made my way more slowly around a second lap, to see what I really needed.
With the heat-wave and increasing proximity to Grants Madness at work in mind, I decided it might be prudent to stock up on some things that could be made into a dinner without much cooking on my part. I therefore allowed myself to be seduced by Shouki and Louise’s dips – in particular, their hummus and their fresh-tasting, herb-packed green tahini. Gorgeous.
Not far from Shouki and Louise, Milawa cheese was having a special – three cheeses for $20. This was clearly a sign from the heavens, and I picked up a cheddar, a white cheese and a gorgonzola-like blue. (Are these exotic cheeses? No. Are they good, tasty cheeses that will actually get eaten in our household? Yes…)
With all this, we needed bread. This required a lot of dithering on my part. You see, I’m currently nursing along a sourdough culture and trying to make bread with it. So far, I’ve had one spectacular success, one mild success, and a dire failure. So should I buy bread and be sure of a good product, but potentially wind up with way too much if my own efforts worked, or should I take the risk?
A long chat with David from Flinders Sourdough yielded good advice about letting my sourdough culture have some quality time at room temperature for a few days this week before using it on the weekend. Which meant I was at liberty to buy a sourdough loaf and some of their lovely, fruity beach buns. Everyone was happy…
This is good weather for dishes like Nacho Salad, so I was pleased to see a stall selling avocados and lemons – two of the vital ingredients for this meal. I started my vegetable round on the spot, also picking up some lovely, shiny, red onions.
The beautiful apple stall was back, and even though I already had berries and lemons (and rhubarb and apricots at home), I was seduced by their decor into buying apples, too. Granny Smiths, this time. I have no idea what I am going to do with them, but I just can’t resist the prettiness of that stall.
I thought I’d better get some more sensible vegetables, so I visited one of the general vegetable stalls who must be somewhere up near Ballarat, because he manages to have broccoli and kale and the like even at this time of year. He greeted me with a question about my singing, which took me aback, because I had no idea that people might remember things that I was babbling at them back in early December…
In addition to the aforementioned broccoli, I bought beans and peas and carrots and coriander, and then had a long chat about why my beans aren’t growing, despite the fact that beans allegedly love growing near corn. (Answer: beans do, indeed, love growing near corn, but they are not too keen on being rolled all over by cats. Which I had sort of guessed myself, but it was nice to have the companion planting part confirmed.)
Interestingly, the stallholder told us that he does use companion planting in this way, and that the rows of corn closest to the beans are always the best. Apparently, the variety of bean also makes a difference, but basically, the cats probably make the biggest difference in our case. Sigh. I moved on to solace my bean-related grief by buying the biggest mushrooms I could find. They were quite big.
Of course, buying mushrooms made me think of that gorgeous mushroom burger by the Green Kitchen, with the roasted peaches and guacamole. I already had my avocado for the guacamole, but clearly peaches needed to be part of my haul.
As did giant tomatoes, for stuffing, and little, sweet zucchini, to mingle with my tiny yellow specimens at home. I’m going to sauté them and layer them with ricotta, lemon juice and herbs.
My last stop was eggs, which I wound up buying in much larger quantities than I had intended (triggering a pavlovapocalypse followed by manic baking and lemon curd making to use up all the yolks). After this, I had a choice. I could go home with all the produce I needed and $20 in my pocket (which is an un-heard of thing for markets), or I could go and indulge myself at the seed shop or the chocolate shop or BOTH.
I chose option B. Was there ever a doubt in your mind that I would not?
The seed and seedling shop had all sorts of interesting goodies for sale. I eyed the seedlings hopefully, but realised that my garden is actually fairly full right now. Instead, I picked up a mixed packet of seeds, containing cucumbers, zucchini, a cut-and-come-again lettuce collection, yellow and green bush beans, and mixed herbs – dill, coriander, parsley and rocket. All good things that can be sown direct, grow fairly easily, and are reasonably compact. I’m really pleased with this collection – a few tomato seedlings and I’ll be set for next summer.
This left me with $8 left, precisely the price of a packet of chocolate from Cocoa Rhapsody. Normally, I would be going with the darkest chocolate I can find (and their dark chocolate varieties are just lovely), but right now, I’m kind of crampy and inclined to make, though not necessarily eat, lots of very sweet things – in fact, my brain is obsessing about trying to cross brownies with Rocky Roads, and only the fact that I made pavlova, choc chip cookies, brownies (from an Adriano Zumbo box, oh dear), lemon curd, and four kinds of jam thumbprints this weekend is preventing me from performing the experiment now – so I chose the white chocolate, because, unlike most white chocolates, it actually tastes chocolatey.
I haven’t quite decided on its ultimate destination – I’m contemplating a white chocolate and raspberry ripple ice-cream just now, but really, my house is full of sweet stuff and I have to stop – but I know it will be a good one.
Also, I really, really want to start creating my own packet mixes to have in the pantry for when the urge to bake hits, but I’m feeling too lousy to do much about it, since these two moods tend to coincide pretty regularly. I’m positive I could invent some excellent brownie mixes for myself, frankly. Especially with all that freeze-dried fruit I keep hoarding…
No menu plan this week, because I’m really under the weather and can’t think logically about anything that isn’t sweets. But I’m fairly sure the roast mushroom and peach burger, nacho salad, stuffed tomatoes, and the zucchini and ricotta layers with bread will all be on the menu. Just not tonight, because very fortunately, I’m going to visit friends and they will cook for me…