Hooray! The new year has started and it’s back to the farmers’ markets for us, just in time for all those lovely tomatoes and long peppers and the last of the season’s apricots (already? How did this happen?).
Saturday was too hot for anything, and I wasn’t able to figure out whether any farmers’ markets were even on (not all of them start directly after New Years), but Flemington sent me an email promising berries and stone fruit, and that was good enough for me.
Our first stop was Wild Dog Natural Produce, to buy their superlative strawberries and garlic and catch up with Allie. Fortunately, they weren’t affected by the fires this time around (apparently, they got their dose of bad luck on Black Saturday), but Allie painted a vivid picture of John spending the entire day watering plants in the blistering weather – every time he got to the end of it, he had to start again.
Have I mentioned how grateful I am that we have farmers in this country and how glad I am that I am not one? It sounds utterly hellish at this time of year. Have I also mentioned that Wild Dog has the most amazing strawberries I’ve tasted? (Also, I made my first ever batch of strawberry jam yesterday! And this is a quick plug for CSR’s jam sugar, because I followed their recipe for strawberry jam, and it was *amazing* and also amazingly fast to make. I suspect the amazing flavour is down to John and Allie, but the efficiency I owe to CSR.)
We began our little circuit of the market, and soon stopped at the apricot stall. They had the very last apricots of the season, and I cannot tell you how good they were. The last apricots we bought were kind of crunchy and sour – these were mellow and sweet and juicy and packed with flavour. We bought 2 kilos and my only regret is that I didn’t buy more.
Our next stop was Jindivick Tomatoes, which had so many gorgeous red tomatoes – we b0ught bags of little tomatoes and big tomatoes. I’ve already used all of them – the little tomatoes slow-roasted and served with pasta and broccoli pesto, and the big ones appearing in peperonata and chilli and salads.
The next stall along had marrows.
Oh yes. Apparently, the farmer went away to visit family for a couple of days, and when he got back, all his zucchinis looked like this.
Oops. So he piled them into a big pyramid of giant marrowy goodness, priced them at $3 each, and was very patient with my hysterical laughter. Naturally, I had to buy one. It weighed 2.5 kilos.
His mother, I think, felt that I wasn’t taking the marrows very seriously, and told me that there were lots of good ways to cook them – she even suggested a savoury cake with eggs and feta and herbs.
I was more inclined to cut it into huge rings and stuff it.
In the end, I made a three-course marrow meal – marrow fritters with haloumi and eggs and basil and mint, stuffed marrow rings, and zucchini cupcakes with the aforementioned amazing strawberry jam inside and a strawberry on top for dessert.
It was delicious. Though the skin was a little tough – something to remember for next time. At any rate, I well and truly got my $3 worth!
I also couldn’t resist the beautiful little pattypan squash, and the containers of green beans. I don’t yet have a master plan for these, but no doubt one will come to me…
Oh, and they had basil, too! Perfect to go with all those tomatoes…
We moseyed around and I bought some eggs – summer is egg weather for me, and an egg makes a good lunch on a fast day.
Another stall had Easter Egg radishes, which I can now actually buy knowing I will use them, hooray! In fact, I was terribly conscientiously farmers’ marketish, and managed to use the radishes as part of an entrée that evening, and the radish greens in a pasta sauce for dinner.
Very Posh Nosh, really.
I bought tiny carrots and equally tiny broccoli, and moved on.
We’re apparently still a bit early for eggplants, but one stall was selling those lovely long yellow peppers, which are so good for peperonata and – well, basically everything. I love long peppers.
They were also selling blood plums, which, as I’ve mentioned before, are pretty much the symbol of my childhood. They went straight into the pot when I got home.
To my nosy fascination, the couple in front of me immediately started bargaining for the last three full boxes of plums. Apparently, they had a free afternoon and recipes to try. I strongly suspect them of being food bloggers, but did not recognise them. And I was too shy to ask.
And that was the end of our trip! We stopped by one of the beef stalls to pick up some sausages and slow-cooker beef for the week, and then headed home…
… where I spent well over an hour making vegetable mandalas before actually putting anything away.
But you may have gathered that already.
I promised you a present, so here it is! I thought it might be fun to start creating the odd desktop wallpaper from my vegetable mandalas… so here is a calendar for January, sized to fit a 1920 x 1080 pixel screen. If you double click on the image below, you should be able to download it at its full size (hopefully – I’ve never tried creating something specifically to download, so fingers crossed that it will work) and make it into your desktop background for the month. I have no idea if this will appeal to anyone who isn’t me, so please comment and let me know if you’d like me to make this a monthly habit!