Today being a Saturday, LA and I were off to the Winecoff farmer’s market. We were on a quest for something a little different than the standard produce. LA found out that he would be the owner of a new puppy by the end of the day. To create a welcoming environment for Mr. Piddlesworth (you don’t want to know his full name), LA wanted to buy some dog treats. I wanted feta cheese. That’s the beauty of the farmer’s market—you can find just about everything there.
Away from the main building, Deborah’s Kitchen Krafts was set up under a canopy. Not only does Deb make some great mustard and tapenade, she has expanded into the world of dog biscuits. These are available in cheese, applesauce, and carrot flavors. Deb recommended the applesauce variety, but LA ignored her and went for carrot. A carrot dog biscuit? As Deb pointed out, she had samples. I tried the carrot one. I could see the carrot but not taste it. LA was a bit appalled, but it was basically a thick, very dry cracker. I made him try it too. Homemade dog biscuits have very few ingredients and all of them are found in typical human food. The dryness was the most unpleasant aspect. So yes, today I ate a dog biscuit. A gourmet dog biscuit.
We took our dog biscuits and headed up to the main building. The heat was overwhelming but worsened as we got inside. Today was the busiest that I’ve seen the market so far this season. People were out in force, many with their kids in tow. We stopped and got peaches for later. We headed to the Cackleberry Farms booth (next to Darryl’s Copper Workshop) for feta and some hard Cheddar-like cheese. All I’ve heard it called is “hard cheese”. We’d tasted it before but never bought any. I’m looking forward to some grilled cheese sandwiches.
As we swam through the crowd into the heart of the market, just past the many bins of different soaps, a man collecting food donations stopped us. Not to ask for a donation, but to ask LA how often he changes his hair color. He’d seen him “around the village” and knew it hadn’t been red before. Then he gave me a high-five for my willingness to walk next to LA in public. But he did call me “striking”, so that was a plus.
We stopped by Ohana Favorites and tried some of Joanie’s Hawaiian pepper jelly. It started out sweet, with a taste of tropical fruit, then turned spicy. An added bonus was that it covered the dog biscuit taste in my mouth. We didn’t get a chance to talk to Joanie, as she had several paying customers in her booth. Along with the jellies and cereals, she also has started selling boiled peanuts. I’ll have to give those a try in the near future.
The booth in the back is occupied by Miller Produce. I wanted to get some honey, so that’s where I headed. LA is a bit of a honey-snob and wanted to know what type of flower their honey comes from. Laura Miller explained that they grow beans, potatoes, okra, zucchini, tomatoes and all kinds of other things, so the honey has a little bit of everything in it. She offered us a sample, but we both turned her down. I tasted it once I got home and found it to be very mild, much more so than wildflower honey. And lighter in color.
As we were leaving, I wanted to stop by Harvest Catering’s booth. On Wednesday nights, Harvest Catering offers takeout meals, including a meat, two sides and a dinner roll for $6. This past Wednesday, I had the pot roast with mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese (this coming Wednesday's option is baked ham). I was told that the pot roast was fantastic and wanted to find out for myself. I had to give Sandra my opinion. The pot roast was fantastic. Also, the mashed potatoes included chunks of red skin potatoes and a hint of garlic. Delicious! I didn't initially think I cared for the mac & cheese, but then realized I was inhaling it. Although it was baked, it was cheesy and not eggy; just the way I like it. While I was picking up my dinner, I had been talked into some chocolate banana pudding too. Talking me into it didn’t involve much arm-twisting. It was definitely worth the $1.50. During the winter tailgate market, I’d gotten some Candy Apple Jelly from Harvest Catering. I don’t care for cinnamon, and the smell of it was the first thing that hit me when I opened the jar. I forged ahead and discovered some truly yummy jelly. I may be a cinnamon convert. Today I also bought some sweet spicy pecans from Harvest Catering to add to my beet and feta salad. I tried one when I got home. I popped it into my mouth, chewed a little, and thought, “This isn’t spicy at all.” Then it hit me. I take back what I said. They are sweet and spicy and will be an excellent addition to my salad.
With our bag filled with goodies and our constitutions weakened by the heat, we left the market. I was so thrilled to see all the people that turned out today, despite the temperature and humidity. Maybe they had all heard the same piece of trivia that I had: according to the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, most fruits and vegetables sold at U.S. supermarkets travel an average of 1,500 miles from their source, whereas farmers’ market produce is usually sold less than 50 miles from where it’s grown. I know how wilted I am after a long trip, and I’m sturdier than an ear of corn or a tomato. I was a fan of the farmers’ market before reading that, and I’m even more devoted now. I’ll be heading over to Harrisburg on Monday, and I hope to see some of you there!