Not that we are having the fearsome weather quite yet, but I’m feeling quite trepidatious when I consider the week ahead. Do we really need four days in a row around 40°C, Melbourne? Really? And 28°C overnight on Friday is particularly cruel, if you ask me. At least next weekend looks to be a bit kinder. I have accordingly spent most of today feverishly planning and preparing meals and ingredients for the week, the better to keep the oven and stove switched off as much as possible.
But I digress! Between Christmas closures, decadent chocolate biscuit making classes at Savour (which I have not reviewed but *utterly* recommend), weddings, and the general vicissitudes of December, I haven’t been to a farmers’ market for about a month, and I have really missed it. It seems wrong to go and buy vegetables at the supermarket, and even going to the greengrocers isn’t quite the same. One definitely doesn’t get the same sense of seasonality at the local shops…
Today was fun, because it was a return to the Flemington Farmers’ Market, which we tend to visit much less often now that Coburg is so conveniently close. This meant that we got to catch up with John from Wild Dog Natural Produce, who we haven’t seen in a while, and who is looking forward to the next week even less than I am. At least I get to work in the air conditioning…
John had the tiniest potatoes I have ever seen, making them an instant requirement for me, as well as his beautiful garlic and strawberries. I already have garlic roasted and ready to go for a pasta dish later in the week.
Our next stop was Robyn of Misty Springs Berries, who sadly has abandoned the Coburg Farmers’ Market because too many people around here grow their own lemons and make their own jam! So it’s not terrible profitable for her. We had a nice catch-up and bought blueberries for breakfast smoothies.
We then went on a wander around the market. One stallholder had these amazing piebald patty pan squashes. I asked if this was a particular variety, and she said, no, she had yellow squashes, and she had dark green zucchini, and then the bees decided to do a bit of hybridisation…
Even with yellow zucchini ripening in my own garden, piebald zucchini were not to be missed. I also invested in Fat Hen (a kind of wild green that isn’t too bitter), rhubarb, baby leeks, and gloriously deep pink carrots. And yes, of course I had to get the mis-shapen one…
And I wasn’t going to buy zucchini, but my lovely yellow ones aren’t going to be nearly so useful for zucchini noodles as these stripey beauties.
I’m definitely in the market for minimally house-heating meals this week, and the next stallholder had clearly come with this in mind. He comes in from King Island with his lamb and wallaby, and had done cunning things like butterflying all his lamb legs ready for the barbecue, or slow cooking and vaccuum packing lamb ribs for easy reheating. I, however, was primarily excited by the wallaby sausages, which I’ve never tried before. I also picked up some lamb sausages for another easy meal.
My tomatoes are coming along nicely – in fact, they are getting enormous – but they aren’t actually producing ripe tomatoes yet, so I was very happy to see several stalls selling really good tomatoes.
I especially love the little sweet tomatoes from Jindivick, which I promptly set to slow-roasting for later in the week.
Jindivick also had capsicum, which is definitely a win!
I’ve been eyeing off a recipe for green bean and red rice salad with almonds, so when I saw lovely crisp beans at a stall I haven’t visited in a while (I do miss my Flemington stallholders!), I was right there! I also picked up some baby spinach and broccoli in passing. I suspect the spinach will find its way into a smoothie, and broccoli *always* has a use.
I’ve been out of eggs for a while now, and while this week is not optimal for baking, I do want to make mayonnaise for the cold chicken dinner I’m planning on Wednesday (chicken also courtesy of this market, but since it is rather un-picturesque, you will simply have to imagine it). Also, I like omelettes. I decided to get the low-down from the egg man (not to be confused with the walrus, goo goo ga joo) on what free-range actually means, since I’ve heard rumours about the laws changing. Apparently, supermarket free-range can mean 8,000 to 10,000 hens per hectare, and many of these chooks never see the light of day. His chooks are about 300 per hectare, which is better for both the chooks and the land underneath them. I must admit, ever since I first noticed the different yolk colours one got from farmers’ market eggs, I’ve been highly suspicious of supermarket free-range and have tried to avoid buying them. I think from here on in, it’s going to be like meat for me – market eggs or no eggs at all.
Rhubarb is always irresistible to me (and yes, I’ve been roasting that, too – my oven has been very busy this afternoon!), and, while Andrew isn’t partial to plums, they always make me think of my childhood.
And stewed plums will make a lovely breakfast later in the week…
On that gleeful and plum-filled note, we headed home to plan menus, do a bit of gardening, and (in my case) gird my loins in preparation for work this week. I must admit, while I’m feeling appalled by the weather and ambivalent about work (I love my colleagues, but last time I checked, they were putting in something like 60 grants between now and the end of April), I’m feeling quite excited about all the delicious things we will be eating this week.
In fact, I feel so excited about this, that I am going to publicly gloat over my week’s menu!
Sunday – vegan sausage rolls from the bakery, roasted root vegetables with gribiche, green salad, and balsamic strawberries for dessert
Monday – blueberry, banana and (probably) spinach smoothie with almond milk for breakfast; red rice and green bean salad for lunch; tomatoes and squash stuffed with amaranth, pistachios and haloumi for dinner, with possible Foolish Mess for dessert. Also, I get to go swimming after work!
Tuesday – another smoothie, leftovers for lunch, and dinner to be raw zucchini spaghetti with nut-meat balls (recipe pending)
Wednesday – stewed plums, yoghurt and granola for breakfast, leftovers for lunch, slow-cooked chicken for dinner with friends, accompanied by aioli, ratatouille and bread, with vegan rhubarb crumble ice-cream for dessert (recipe also pending)
Thursday – another plummy breakfast, chicken sandwiches for lunch, and pasta with roast garlic, roast tomatoes, fat hen and perhaps white beans for dinner
Friday – bread with chocolate tahini for breakfast because I deserve this, leftovers for lunch, and sausages in bread for dinner
Don’t you wish you were staying at our place? Well, maybe not, because we don’t really have air conditioning…