A visit to the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market is a Saturday morning ritual for me throughout the season. The growing season is from April to October. The market opens with home grown offerings in April where nurseries provide garden plants and local farmers display their few early spring crops. After a long winter, the colors of spring wake me up! I go for the colors. The many varieties of garden plants and flowers bring me out of the black and white hibernation of winter mind. I sometimes buy fruit or flowers for the color to make still-life paintings.
My tradition is to start at the far end of the market and work my way backwards through the aisles. It’s summer and with the amount of rain we have had this year, there looks like there is a bumper crop of just about everything. I have a sense of renewal and awe when I see how much is produced locally. The richness and bounty I see gives me pause as I realize how much work goes into growing and producing all this plenty. I can buy the best of sausages, buffalo meat, cheeses, pork, lamb, and eggs along with an abundance of fresh produce and local bakery breads and treats. There is even a chocolatier this year. (I’ll have to investigate that soon as I have heard rumors that it is really good.) The heritage tomatoes are in as are the raspberries. Last week I tried a new-to-me variety of zucchini. It is a pale green Middle Eastern variety. Very tasty. The grower told me today that it is usually served hollowed out with rice and ground lamb. (Sounds good to me.) There are still some strawberries to be had, but they were at their peak two weeks ago.
To celebrate the strawberries, Anna and Howard, long time friends and fellow foodies, made strawberry shortcake. (Howard is an inventive cook and master of the one pan cooking art, but more on that at another time.) This shortcake is not from Bisquick, although I wouldn’t complain if it were. Howard made his shortcake from a recipe out of Gourmet Magazine and jazzed it up with Vietnamese cinnamon, instead of orange zest. (Now there’s a cinnamon!) This cinnamon is noteworthy.
After some debate over whether to cut the flat-ish shortcakes in two, we sliced them (Anna and I preferred them sliced in the middle. Howard was out voted, this time.) Anna used her architectural talent to build precise layers of whipped cream, berries and biscuits, “the way my Mom taught me to make them,” she said. And I watched as Anna turned out a perfectly artful looking dessert with the proper crowning on top of a large strawberry. (Hmm. My slap dash approach needs a rethink. My mother did make strawberry shortcake with Bisquick and never said a word to me about how to make it.) Anna and Howard’s strawberry shortcake was picture perfect. How would it taste?
The strawberries were small, sweet and scrumptious. The cinnamon was a taste contrast that heightened the berries’ flavor. What about the whip cream? Well, what can be said about berries and cream? Indescribable.
Today I bought spinach and flat leaf parsley. I’ll dry most of the parsley and make a salad for lunch. The weather is going to be hot and humid today!
At the end of the market, there are booths where sellers have dry goods like homemade soaps, clothing and everything in between.
Check out your local farmer’s market and eat local. You won’t regret it.
Happy Market Day!