Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Copper Ran Away with the Spoon

Today was the opening day of the Tuesday edition of the Winecoff School Rd farmer’s market. It was a cool day, so LA and I decided to walk from his apartment. We went through mud and knee-high weeds, got barked at by several large dogs, crossed over the interstate, and stepped over a few dead snakes and squirrels. The market itself was not nearly so adventurous. Only 10 or so vendors had come, and they still greatly outnumbered the customers. I would like to believe that it was due to the earliness of the hour, as we were there around 4:30, when many people are still at work. Unless you are unemployed like we are and can be there when the gates open. Deb from Deborah’s Kitchen Kreations was there, and this time I did cheat and buy some of her olive tapenade. I also bought some delightful strawberries. I love the concept of strawberries, but I usually find them to be sour. Ever the optimist, I continue buying them in the hopes that I will find good ones. The local, homegrown ones I got today are small, sweet and very juicy. I told the grower that I was going to make sorbet with them, and she asked me what that was. While I was still formulating an answer, she asked if it’s like sherbet. Yes, yes it is.

One vendor there isn’t a grower, a farmer, or a cook, but I like to think his items are still food-related. His name is Darryl Mall, and he makes cool jewelry and household items from spare copper and old silverware. Darryl worked in the construction business for many years and saw all of the scrap copper that was being thrown away. He decided to salvage this and began making pot racks and pot hooks out of this copper. One day, his wife, who is an avid garage-saler, brought home some old silverware. New products were born. Initially Darryl was making jewelry with the silverware, using only the handles, for watches and bracelets. This left him with tops from the many forks and spoons that he’d used. With these, he began making necklaces, napkin rings, and garden sculptures. Darryl’s items are definitely unique. He brings many of his smaller items, such as jewelry, pot hooks, and winestoppers, to the farmer’s market, as well as some of the smaller sculptures. Scrap copper is no longer discarded in the way that it was when Darryl first began 30 years ago, but he uses his contacts from the construction industry to buy copper bits at the same price that the recycling companies pay.

Many people are concerned these days about their carbon footprint, the use of fossil fuels, and recycling. When copper is recycled in a facility, a considerable amount of energy is used. Darryl is recycling the same copper, but in a much more eco-friendly way. His sculptures are far more interesting and aesthetically-pleasing than your typical piece of copper pipe. We saw flowers that included door knobs found at garage sales. Darryl’s items are made using predominately reclaimed or recycled products, which appeals to many people, including me. While you can buy larger pieces on Darryl’s website or through his ebay store, many of the smaller items are only available in his booth at one of the many markets he attends. His items are reasonably priced and impressive in their uniqueness. If you are looking for an unusual gift for a foodie, or someone who seems to have everything, I recommend a visit with Darryl. While you might go for the items, take a moment to talk to Darryl about his hobby. It’s worth it.

Darryl attends the Winecoff School Rd market on Saturdays and Tuesdays, the Harrisburg market on Mondays, and the NC Research Campus market on Thursdays. Plus you can view his wine racks, pot racks, and other large items on his website or his ebay store. With that availability, there’s no reason for you not to give it a look.

With the limited number of vendors and customers, we had an easier time seeing everything that was available and talking to sellers. One vendor had small jars of a large variety of jellies. Some of the jellies were pretty standard, such as mint and apricot. Others, such as dill and lavender, were not. LA bought rose jelly, of which I am quite fond, and apple butter, of which I am not. Being the more adventurous of the two, I bought apricot mango pepper jelly. For the sake of impartiality, I did taste the apple butter. While I don’t care for apple butter, I am quite familiar with it, as my mother is a fan and always had a jar in the house. To me, this apple butter tasted the same as all of the other apple butters that I have ever had. No better, no worse. The rose jelly was a bit tasteless, but it may be different eaten on something other than the end of a spoon. Vince had brought back rose petal jelly from France and given the nearly-full jar to me when he moved from Colorado to Florida. I doubt if any rose jelly will ever surpass that one in my mind, so I may be judging LA’s newly-purchased rose jelly unfairly. We also tasted my apricot mango pepper jelly, making sure that we didn’t get any of the red pepper flakes floating on top in our spoonful. The apricot was the dominant flavor, but the mango was detectable. The pepper flakes didn’t impart any flavor, but they did give the jelly a heat that toned down any sweetness. I was quite pleased with my purchase. The jelly-maker (jellier?) will also be featured in an upcoming post. Until that time, if you have a desire for some uncommon jellies, you will have to go to the farmer’s market and find them.

Maybe I am a food nerd, but I find having the ability to meet with the people growing or making my food to be much more satisfying than a trip to the nameless, faceless supermarket. At the farmer’s market, I have met Deb, Todd, and Darryl, and I will be meeting many more throughout the summer. I recommend going to your nearest market and taking the time to speak to some of the people. They have a lot of interesting stories to tell, and the food’s not bad either.

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