The challenge, should I choose to accept it: Go to a Hamilton County farmer's market and create a meal from what you find. I joyfully accepted! And with my daughter in tow one recent Saturday morning, we donned comfortable shoes and headed out armed with a shopping bag and pockets bulging with singles and fives.
OK, some of you may be thinking, "Carmel Farmer's Market? That's an oxymoron." And, yes, while it's true many of the vendor's wares are not grown or produced actually in Carmel, they are still pretty darn "local." And in case you have yet to experience it, the variety rocks! As we made our way around, sampling goods and having a hand-held breakfast of pastries and coffee (and a slushy; my daughter is 6...), I started planning the evening's menu.
As a semi-vegetarian (I eat fish and an occasional over-processed chicken nugget snagged from my child's plate), I knew going in that my protein for this challenge likely would be eggs. The organic, free-range version I prefer are plentiful and reasonably priced at the market, and it's something everyone in my family likes. If you like your protein from the four-legged variety, there was plenty of that too, including dried jerky and "Beefalo." Charts and statistics touting the latter's lean healthfulness was on display at the stand where it was available.
For this challenge, we shopped early in the season, so the available produce included rhubarb, morel mushrooms and lots of asparagus. While I love rhubarb pie, I'm generally way too busy to bake one. Or anything that doesn't come from a box, for that matter, so that was out. I love morels, but at $45 a pound, I'll hold out hope that I'll find a few while hunting around my parent's property. So that leaves asparagus, which, I thought, would be delicious roasted and served tucked into an omelet drizzled with hollandaise sauce and sprinkled with chives. (Turns out, I was right!)
For a side, some locally baked sour dough bread was the perfect accompaniment. While I choose, my daughter called out, "Mommy! Goats!" Sure enough, she was oohing and ahhing over adorable photos of goats. I did the same-but over the cheese the farmers produced from these cute creatures. I opted for a tub of plain-flavored that I was originally going to slather on the bread. Then I saw a purveyor of homemade pastas-and sauce. That settled it: Marinara was purchased and goat cheese marinara with sour dough bread served as a great appetizer.
And remember how I mentioned pie, but lamented being too busy to bake? Well, a couple of stands had a variety of reasonably priced Amish-baked treats that are entirely better than any attempt I would make anyway. I purchased several: an apple pie, a couple of fried-apple pies (those smallish lunch-box type of folded-over yumminess) and some cream-filled whoopie pies.
Certainly this was just the first of many weekend farmers' market forays.