Just a quiet sort of weekend, which is a nice thing. It looks like spring out there, but it’s still very much winter in reality, and picnicking inclinations tend to be frozen by the reality of 7°C at lunchtime…
Today, I’ve been to the library, made another attempt at vegan marshmallows (outcome to be determined, but definitely better than last time), and visited a Farmers’ Market in Preston. It’s not our usual market, as it only comes to Preston once a month, and I always forget which weekend it’s on, and this week is my off-week, pay-wise (we couldn’t market last weekend, as I had Too Much Singing both mornings), so I kept to a more modest budget than usual, but it definitely has potential. The next Preston Market will be on a pay-week, however, and I’m already looking forward to it!
Where the showgrounds is mostly primary produce, the Preston Farmers’ market only had one general vegetable stall (and the chap there was confused to see me at a different market – he goes to the Showground on Sundays), one potato stall, one fruit stall, one egg stall, one mushroom stall, one honey stall, and two meat stalls – one of which was Koallah Farm, my new favourite source of lamb and beef. I currently fail at being vegetarian full time, so I’m very glad to have found people who farm in an ethical fashion and whose meat and eggs come from animals who have been treated humanely. It’s much easier to practice a policy of ‘meat only from reputable farmers’ when you have actually found reputable farmers.
In addition to the primary produce stalls, however there were two sourdough bakers, a tart stall, a cake stall, a fundraising stall for the local primary school (you can buy playdough!! as well as jams and cakes), a delicious-smelling sausage stall, a pasta and pesto stall, and a barbecue place. There was a petting zoo, and a facepainting stand. There was an olive oil stall, a soap stall, and a lady selling the most gorgeous range of middle-eastern sweets – not just the traditional baklava and semolina halva, but pastries filled with walnuts or pistachios or dates, and sesame biscuits and strange little yellow cakes called sfoofs, made of semolina flavoured with turmeric and aniseed (I bought one to take home – I wanted to buy more, but by that stage I had reached the end of my budget). Lots of fun!
My haul, in the end, was a bag of mushrooms from the mushroom stall, some sausages and lamb mince from Koallah Farm (because this is not a week when I want to have to think too hard about cooking), fresh fettucine and a container of peperonata pesto from the pasta stall and fig and fennel bread from the bakery. I bought a big bag of blood oranges from the citrus stall – I love it when blood oranges are in season! – and told the man and a random customer all about my blood orange pectin jellies. He was definitely interested, and I’m going to bring him some next month… maybe I can barter them for my next batch of blood oranges! From the veggie stall, I bought bright pink chard and dark green kale, as well as a quarter pumpkin. And then there was the sfoof, of course.
I’m already planning my meals for the week around this bounty… tonight, there will be spiced lamb meatballs with tomato sauce and fresh pasta; tomorrow, we’ll have kale and potato enchiladas with green chilli sauce and roasted pumpkins with ginger and star anise and chickpeas and tomatoes, which will keep us in lunches for a few days. Breakfasts, of course, will be that lovely fig and fennel bread, with maybe a little butter, but really good bread deserves to be eaten plain, in my view. We’re eating at G’s on Monday, but on Tuesday I’ll make pasta or polenta with sausage and chard and garlic and chilli and onions, and Wednesday will be a night for cashew and mushroom burgers with the works. Thursday is choir night, so we’ll have some of that lovely pesto stirred through the rest of the fresh pasta, with just a few freshly sautéed vegetables to make it healthy. Friday is my day off, and I’m going up to Sassafras – if I can’t find something inspiring for dinner there, I’m just not trying.
I feel happy just thinking about all those lovely meals. Even if there is, on reflection, a lot of pasta. But then, we hardly had any pasta last week or the week before, so I think I can have a lazy pasta week and be virtuous another time. Or if it all gets too hard, we can even have some of the chilli I froze last week.
But now, I suppose, I should go and virtuously make meatballs, and maybe see if I can make those rather sad-looking pears from last week into a fruit crumble for dessert. And I need to make blood orange jellies, of course. And part of me still wants to picnic tomorrow, which means both baking and organising, so then again, maybe not. Either way, the odds of choc-chip and oatmeal cookies are pretty high.
Are you hungry yet?