Friday, June 4, 2010

I Like Big Melons

I ventured over the China Grove farmer’s market today with every intention of buying a cantaloupe. I’d gotten a slice last week, but opted not to buy a whole melon. Then I spent the rest of the week regretting my decision. The call of the cantaloupe prompted me to leave the air-conditioned sanctity of my home.

The China Grove farmer’s market is located in the parking lot of the roller mill museum in downtown China Grove. This market isn’t as organized as the Piedmont Farmer’s Market, but it draws a number of local producers, some I know and some I don’t, and has a very informal feel. Carla and Mark Whaley from Carla Anne’s Homestyle Cookies are there, as is Miller Produce and T&D Charolais, all of whom I know from the Piedmont market. I talked to one man who had a small selection of items on a card table. He said they bring whatever they have in excess so it doesn’t go to waste. I bought beets and lettuce from him, and I was tempted to buy some eggs as well. My tote bag was getting a little heavy by that point, so I opted against it.

In the end, I had quite a bounty, while only a small dent was made in my wallet. The final tally?

2 cantaloupes (one for today and one for Sunday) - $3
Tomato – 50 cents
Onion – 35 cents
Zucchini and squash - $1.15
Beets - $1
Lettuce - $1
Oatmeal cranberry cookie - $1.50

Total - $8.50

What did I make with all of this? I grated one beet (after washing and peeling), then tossed it with the lettuce and drizzled with the Stone House mustard vinaigrette I keep in my fridge. A little ground black pepper on top made for a fantastic salad. Hopefully Cackleberry Farms will be at the market tomorrow, and I can get more of their delicious feta. I’d like to have that to add to my beet salad.

I sliced half of the onion, then sauteed that in a little olive oil until the onion was soft. I added some minced garlic that I keep in my fridge, then threw in the zucchini and yellow squash, which I’d sliced into thick half-moons. Once they began to soften, I added the entire tomato, which I had diced, as well as some chopped rosemary that I’d gotten at the market a week ago. I let it cook down until the tomato was soft and the squash was crisp-tender. A little salt and pepper, and it was done. It was just that easy. And that good. The dish tasted so fresh; I was tempted to do like a woman I spoke with at the market and eat the whole lot of it in one sitting.  It may look like a mess, but it was the best tasting dish I've had in weeks.  And that includes restaurant meals.

I didn’t forget about dessert. I had half of the oatmeal cranberry cookie. It’s a big cookie, and I don’t have much of a sweet tooth anyway. My late night snack will be a bowl of cantaloupe chunks that I cut. I’ll probably end up eating the whole cantaloupe in one sitting. After all, it’s what drew me to the market in the first place.

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