Day 222–What’s Fresh at the Market

Even though this is the gap (or shoulder) season, we still have plenty of options at our local markets this week. While we get a box from The Produce Box each week, I still make it out to the farmer’s markets to supplement our box and see what else is available. Here in the Raleigh area of NC, peaches, blueberries, and blackberries are on their way out, but figs, field peas and beans are on their way in. And for the first time since January, I’m seeing apples at the market! Fall is surely on the way! Here is what you can expect to find in central NC this week:

  • Apples
  • Peaches (get ’em now!)
  • Blueberries (see Peaches)
  • Figs
  • Melons–watermelon, cantaloupe, sprite
  • Tomatoes
  • Green and red sweet peppers
  • Hot peppers of all kinds!
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Sweet onions
  • Corn
  • Peas and beans–butter beans, field peas, crowder peas
  • Okra
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant–all kinds
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Basil, oregano, rosemary, mint

Happy market shopping, wherever you are!



Day 194–Win/Win at the Farmer’s Market


Those of you who know me are aware that I have very little “gambler’s luck”. I am lucky in many things–lucky in love, lucky to live in a wonderful town, lucky to have a solid home and a great job. But take me to Vegas, baby, and it’s all over. I’m not sure why I don’t have that kind of random luck that results in people winning bingo, slots, the lottery or the free week of groceries from Trader Joes. My mom has it…my brother has it…but me? Not so much.

Still, every once and a while, Lady Luck smiles on me. Today, she smiled at the Western Wake Farmer’s Market. I was hoping to buy some blackberries because the blackberry jam I made earlier this summer is about out and we really do need more. Really. Blackberries here are about $4 a pint at the farmer’s markets. I figured I had enough to buy 4 pints and make one batch of jam (about 3 or 4 half pints). Not too bad, but kinda pricey. Still, I love blackberries, so it’s worth it.

Enter Lady Luck. While I was talking to the very nice (and VERY funny) guys at the Godwin Farm stand, Mr. Godwin (I’m guessing) pointed to the bed of his truck and said “See that bag of blackberries? We picked them for today and then someone dropped the bag, mushing some of the berries.” They had been carefully going through the large plastic grocery bag, trying to pick out the prettiest berries to package and sell. Hmmmmm… “How much for the whole bag?” I asked. “I’m making jam–I don’t care how pretty they are. They’re just going in a pot anyway.” I didn’t think I could afford the bag, but it never hurts to ask, right?

“How about $8?” Mr. Godwin said. He looked genuinely happy not to pick through any more berries (and I’m sure happy not to take home spoiled berries in berry juice). SOLD! Before he handed over the now triple bagged berries, he said, “Let’s just weigh them for fun!” Nine pounds of blackberries. HOLY MOLY. That is a king’s ransom in blackberries. His grandson looked less amused with the transaction, but I promised to be back next week for the wonderful figs they will have.

So here we have a win/win–the farmer gets rid of blackberries that wouldn’t last the day, I get to make a TON of blackberry jelly and some very lucky people will get blackberry jelly for Christmas! Mr. Godwin will get some jelly next Saturday 🙂

So what does 9 lbs. of blackberries look like? Well, it’s 23 cups of blackberries, which made 12 half pints of jelly and an additional 10 4 oz. gift jars. That is a LOT of jelly!

The jelly I made is really kind of a cruder cousin of the lovely, clear, sparkling jellies out there. I don’t use cheesecloth, I used my food mill to extract the juice and the seeds, so it’s cloudier than store bought jelly, but man is it good!!

Here’s hoping Lady Luck will smile on you and your local farmers this week!

Day 178–Peevish at the Market

I headed out today to the new-ish Downtown Cary Farmers Market, excited that I have a market I can ride my bike to. How cool is that??? Well, not so cool as it turns out. The market does have one meat/egg vendor, a honey producer and mushrooms–that is great, especially the mushrooms.

Otherwise, the vendor section is pretty limited compared to other farmers markets (about 12 vendors with roughly 1/2 farmers and 1/2 crafts). Still, it’s new so that’s ok! What is absolutely NOT Ok are all the dogs. I love dogs and have one in my family, but I know better than to take her to an open market. Even one of the farmers has a large doberman at his stall. This is not only against best practice for markets, it was also a bit intimidating to a couple of older ladies shopping.

So what’s the problem with dogs at the market?

I found a vendor with heirloom tomatoes and waited my turn behind a woman with a large dog. The dog proceeded to sniff and lick potatoes and tomatoes. Gross. Not only did the dog lady not curb her dog, she spoke to it in baby talk, “Does that smell goooood?” I moved on, picked up a few tomatoes at another stall and left. I’ll be sending a letter this week, since I couldn’t find a market manager.

Most farmers markets in our area ban dogs from the tented vendor areas where food is on display and sold. I thought this was a Health Dept issue, but maybe that is not correct. With food safety such an issue, what’s up with the Downtown Cary Farmers Market??? I’m glad I tried it, but I’ll stick to the markets who use healthier food protocol. Still skeeved out.

Day 177–Mae Farm Bacon-Onion Marmalade

English: onion

Bacon.Onion.Marmalade. You’re welcome.

I first had bacon onion marmalade during my locavore’s lunch at Chuck’s. It was incredible. The idea of making it myself intrigued me–how hard could it really be? Turns out, not hard at all, although it is time-consuming. Although it’s not recommended to can this lovely concoction, you can refrigerate it for a couple of weeks and use it on LOTS of different dishes. Or share some with friends. You’ll have to work out for yourself who is “marmalade worthy” 🙂

We made this with locally produced onions and locally and humanely produced bacon from Mae Farm. I cannot possibly say enough good things about the pork we have purchased from Mae Farm. It is always incredible. Yes, bacon is not health food, I do realize that. But what you end up using is in such small quantities (unless you are Ellie who wanted to eat a bowl full) that any health effects of the bacon fat are negligible, especially if you know where your ingredients come from.

I have to say that this is really awesome deliciousness and, if you like bacon and carmelized onions, you will love this. We served it on pan seared, line-caught swordfish steaks and it was very, very good. I think it would also be pretty fabulous on burgers, grilled vegetable panninis or crostini with goat cheese. Or on a pizza. Or… Well, you get the point.

Bacon-Onion Marmalade

  • 4 strips thick cut bacon
  • 4 lbs. yellow onions, peeled and sliced
  • 2 c. apple cider
  • 1/4 c. white or wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (less if you don’t like spicy heat)
  1. In a saute pan, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon and reserve, but keep the bacon drippings.
  2. Add sliced onions to the bacon drippings and cook on medium-high for about 10 minutes, until all onions are soft and translucent.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and add all remaining ingredients to the pan. Stir to combine. Simmer until mixture is almost out of fluids and is thick and jammy–about an hour.
  4. Reduce heat to low and cook another 10 minutes until mixture is very brown and sticky. You may need to add a bit of water if the mixture is too dry.
  5. Serve what you need and refrigerate the rest in a covered container for up to 2 weeks.

Day 176–Starting Week 27–Budget and Menu

Summer is most definitely here. This next week is expected to be very hot and humid, with temperatures over 100 just about every day. That is officially hot. I don’t know about you, when I hear about temperatures over 100, I think 2 things:

  1. Mama’s not cooking
  2. Find me at the pool

One of my favorite summer dinners is tomato sandwiches. Or ‘mater sandwiches. However you say it, I think they are summer perfection. I do make a tarted up version of the ‘mater sandwich, which is supposed to consist of soft white bread, tomato slices, mayonnaise and salt/pepper. We don’t eat white bread and I can’t handle the thought of a tomato sandwich on wheat (that is just wrong, people), so my compromise is fresh sourdough, regular (not low-fat) mayo, fresh, heirloom tomatoes, salt and pepper, some chopped rosemary from the garden and a slice of provolone cheese. I could eat these sandwiches every day. I LOVE them and consider them a staple of summer. As a matter of fact, I ate tomato sandwiches (yes, plural) just before going into labor with Ellie, so maybe they have a special place in my heart.

Heather at Sugar Dish Me did remind me that some people actually like their tomatoes as part of a “real sandwich”. Those people include the two other people in our  house. Tom and Ellie agree that tomatoes are a “food accessory” not the main event. Maybe Ellie came racing into the world to get AWAY from tomato sandwich because she clearly doesn’t share my passion for them. So, we’ll be having BLTs instead. I think my family will be happier with that change, and Heather thank you for sparing me from rolled eyes and “This is IT??” I owe you some peach salsa 🙂

I came in a little under budget this week at $96.42. I have to say honestly, we could probably eat for much less than that, but I cannot control myself when I see all the good stuff at the farmer’s market. I want to eat it all, which is impossible, especially if it’s too hot to cook. This week I’m making a new refrigerated savory jam called Bacon Onion Marmalade. Sounds amazing, no? I’ll be posting the recipe at some point this week. I’m also making some spicy peach salsa and canning that so we can enjoy our peaches later. So, here is how we spent $96:


  • Trader Joes (soy milk, oatmeal, frozen fruit, Ezekiel bread, sandwich bread, lemonade): $21.92
  • Produce Box (watermelon, peaches, grape tomatoes, pepper mix, sweet corn, raspberries, cucumbers, garlic, plums): $23.00
  • Locals Seafood (fresh swordfish steaks): $28.00
  • Mae Farm (bacon, pork tenderloin): $13.00
  • Melina’s Pasta (black pepper fettucine): $6.00
  • Other market vendors (green beans, onions, heirloom tomatoes): $4.50

What are we eating for that amount? Well, in typical fashion, we are NOT starving. Not by a long shot! Here’s the menu:


  • Wednesday–Melina’s peppercorn fettucine with checca sauce (not so much basil this time!)
  • Thursday–Grilled swordfish steaks with bacon-onion jam, roasted okra, cucumber salad
  • Friday–Egg salad sandwiches, homemade pickles
  • Saturday–Ellie cooks; BLT sandwiches with leftover bacon-onion jam, homemade pickles, roasted beets (cold)
  • Sunday–Grilled pork tenderloin with spicy peach chutney, green beans, corn on the cob
  • Monday–Flounder, buttermilk cornbread, leftover vegetables
  • Tuesday–Leftover buffet

Have a healthy and happy week!

Day 175–What’s Fresh at the Market


My favorite tomato–German Johnson!

We are at zero hour here in NC. Two days of blissfully wonderful, spring-like weather and starting tomorrow temperatures are predicted to be over 100 degrees for the remainder of the week and weekend. If you have lived in the South, you know what that means–you can’t walk, talk or move without coating yourself in a sheen of humidity and sweat. Makeup? No way, Jose. Those cute little “summer sweaters”? Put ’em up or pack them in a suitcase and head to Maine. Like manic people before a snowstorm, everyone is scrambling around to get their “outdoor errands” done before tomorrow.

And for me, that means grocery shopping. Taking advantage of the lovely weather, I headed out to the Downtown Raleigh Farmer’s Market to finish my shopping for the week. I managed to get everything done on my lunch hour while the temperature was still in the low 80s. I’m planning to make some peach chutney, so I was especially interested in peaches and some jalapeno peppers (since the voles so kindly ate the roots of my plants). I also stocked up on raspberries because their season is just about over. Will make more jam tonight!

What’s fresh in central NC? Here’s a list of what I found!

  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries (stock up–season is almost over!)
  • Peaches
  • Summer squash
  • Patty pan squash
  • Zucchini
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Lettuce
  • Beets
  • Okra
  • Tomatoes (heirloom tomatoes are ready!!!)
  • Cucumbers (all kinds)
  • Green beans
  • Wax beans
  • Butter beans
  • Purple hull beans
  • Black eyed peas
  • Eggplant
  • Herbs (all kinds–can’t keep up)
  • Potatoes (red, white and blue!)
  • Celery
  • Green peppers

Day 168 B–What’s Fresh at the Market

This may be the first day of summer, but from the looks of our farmers markets, summer is already in high gear! This is what my brain sounds like while I’m walking through the market:

Ohhh, look at those tomatoes…tomatoes are on my list and…

Wait! Eggplant! Not on my list, but it looks so…

Blackberries! Gotta have some! Would make really good jam and…

Is that OKRA??? Hmmm, would be great with tomatoes…

Wait–where are the tomatoes again???

Yeah, it takes me a looooong time to get through the market. I’ve been to the State Farmer’s Market and the Downtown Raleigh Farmer’s Market this week and here is what I’ve found:

  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Peaches
  • Summer squash
  • Patty pan squash
  • Zucchini
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Lettuce
  • Beets
  • Okra
  • Tomatoes (heirloom tomatoes are ready!!!)
  • Cucumbers (all kinds)
  • Green beans
  • Wax beans
  • Butter beans
  • Eggplant
  • Herbs (all kinds–can’t keep up)
  • Potatoes (red, white and blue!)
  • Celery
  • Green peppers

I’m sure there is more that I’m forgetting! This time of year, it is hard for me to stick within my budget because everything is sooooo tempting! And distracting. And lovely. Happy shopping!

Day 160–Berry Crisp

Several types of common "berries" ar...

Inspired by a recent post by Real Local Cooking, I decided to use my stash of blackberries and strawberries to make a fruit crisp. I had a good amount of strawberries that needed to be eaten immediately or composted. We love cobblers, but I like the idea of having oatmeal with my fruit–specially crispy oats. I found a recipe that called for way too much sugar and adapted it a bit. We had it for dessert last night and it was wonderful! The topping was very crispy and almost like granola. I used 6 cups of fruit–you can use any variety you want, I think, and adapt it based on what you have that is fresh and handy. The original recipe is Triple Berry Crisp from, but here is my adapted version:

Berry Crisp

  • 1 quart ripe strawberries (about 4 c.)
  • 1 full pint of blackberries (about 2 c.)
  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2 c. rolled oats
  • 1 1/4 c. organic, dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 c. organic butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash fruit, drain and cut large fruit (strawberries) in half. Set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, combine wheat flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  4. Put butter in a bowl and microwave to melt.
  5. Pour butter over flour mixture and combine until crumbly. Press half of crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13″ pan (I actually used a ceramic, deep dish pie pan).
  6. Cover with berries.
  7. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over the berries.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until fruit is bubbly and top is golden brown and crispy.

Enjoy those summer berries!

Day 157–Pesto Pasta e Fagioli e Patatina

One of the most memorable meals I have ever had was in Corniglia, Italy, while Tom and I were hiking the Cinque Terre (if you haven’t done this, consider putting it on your bucket list). We had a simple lunch at a small restaurant operated by a woman in her 70s. She made everything herself and grew the vegetables in her garden. There was no menu, just a few daily specials that took advantage of what was in season.

A huge part of what made the experience so wonderful is that we ate on a patio outside looking out at the Mediterranean Sea. Far from the Olive Garden, billion calorie, sauce laden pastas in America, the pasta we had was typical of the region–homemade pasta tossed with a light basil pesto and bits of potato and green beans. Delicious, satisfying and fresh. After hiking an hour and climbing almost 400 stairs to get to Corniglia, we were famished and ready to tuck in. When we finished our wonderful meal, we continued on our hike with renewed physical and emotional energy.

This recipe calls for all that is wonderful about summer–fresh potatoes, green beans, basil and (I veered from the traditional recipe) tomatoes. Yum!

Pesto Pasta e Fagioli e Patatina

  • 1 lb. fresh or dried capallini or fettucine pasta
  • 2 c. basil pesto (see below)
  • 1 potato or about 8 small red potatoes
  • 1 c. green beans, topped and tailed and cut in 1/2
  • 1 large, fresh tomato
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil
  1. Put a stock pot of water on the stove to boil.
  2. While water is heating, cut your potatoes into bite size pieces.
  3. When water comes to a boil, add a handful of kosher salt and the potatoes. Boil potatoes for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the green beans to the pot and continue to boil for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the pasta to the pot and cook according to directions.
  6. Cut up tomato into bite sized pieces. Set aside.
  7. Reserve 1 c. of the pasta water and drain the pasta and vegetables.
  8. Put pasta and vegetable mixture into a large bowl. Add pesto, parmesan cheese and tomato. Mix to combine, adding pasta water if needed to thicken the sauce.

Basil Pesto

  • 3 c. fresh basil
  • 1 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c. pine nuts
  • 2/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 Tsp. lemon juice
  1. Put basil and about 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a blender or food processor. Blend into a paste.
  2. Add pine nuts, cheese, garlic and remaining oil. Blend until smooth.

Basil pesto should be made fresh and used the same day. Or, you can freeze pesto (this works very well if you buy a plastic ice cube tray and freeze the pesto in the trays–just pop out a cube and use in a sauce!).

Day 156–What’s Fresh at the Market

Raspberries05 edit

Our list of market vegetables and produce is getting so long now! I can’t wait to get canning this weekend–hmmm, peach butter or cucumber pickles??? Can’t decide. Here’s a list of what is available this week in central North Carolina. Happy market shopping this weekend!

  • Strawberries (can’t believe they are still around!)
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Peaches (white and yellow)
  • Red, new potatoes
  • Corn
  • Butter beans
  • Onions
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Swiss chard
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Basil
  • Hot peppers

And there’s more! If you live in our area and have a sweet tooth, you’re in luck–we are full up on fruits!