Saturday, July 30, 2011
Take this tomato and eat it
Today Denis and I made our usual Saturday morning trip to Farmer’s Market. It never gets old – the anticipation, the festive atmosphere, this season of knowing that for the rest of the week I’ll have a fresh supply of choice vegetables and herbs for our meals. Winter will be here soon enough when there’ll be no such thing as a fresh golden tomato. Or the blinding heat of the sun bouncing off the tops of awnings. Baskets, shelves, buckets groaning with mounds of vegetables, herbs, flowers. Vendors selling chicken, pork, beef, elk, buffalo most of it happy-meat. Hidden Stream Farm. Hillside Farm. Veerman’s Ranch. Many Hands Garden. Friendly Acres. The earthy, basil-ly scent in the air is killing, making me decide pesto pasta and fresh tomatoes will be on our menu this week. We pass a stand where they are grilling steak from grass-fed beef and handing out free samples. People of all ages and colors push past arms loaded with produce and bouquets of zinnias.
Denis and I head straight for Heartbeet Farm and Easy Yoke Farm stands. The owners are friends - two young couples – their land and lives connected by the same calling in life – to grow vegetables that are chemical-free and incomparable to anything I could buy at Hyvee. Recently we brought an evening meal out to the farm, and as the sun went down, sending dappled shadows across the yard, - those soft and tender rays that cool the last of the day - Daniel wanted to take us through the lanes to look at the fields and the land where he and Hannah hope to build their home. (Joe and Becca have been at it a little longer and are more established.) Over near that big tree in the pic below.
He showed us the onion field – 10,000 plants. Today I bought three.
I felt rich, rich as I unloaded all the vegetables to my kitchen counter. The tomatoes – purple heirlooms that Joe says have a slightly smoky flavor, and he’s right! The cherry golds so sweet it’d be easy to think of them as desert. We had eggs, scallions, Hungarian peppers, red pepper, green bell pepper, summer spinach (a broader leaf, tender and mild), celery (intense flavor), a bouquet of basil, two kinds of cucumber – small pickling cucumbers good for slicing with onion vinegar and oil in a simple salad and the long English cucumber for spear eating – and potatoes. Daniel was inspired to plant a few in the forest near the river bottom in the rich sandy soil, so of course: Forest Potatoes and he insists I tell the story of them. They taste real, honest, crisp. Quite amazing.
For lunch we ate a piece of wheat bread layered with Boursin cheese, thick-sliced tomato and basil leaves. I’m thinking of the same thing for supper.