Fresh Vegetables, Herbs, and Meat

It’s Farmers Market Time!  We love the fresh vegetables, herbs and meat now available at our market and want to share with you what we planted, cooked with and how we stored the purchases we brought home this weekend.

The beginning of Spring is my favorite time of year — blooming flowers, fruit trees, new vegetables and growing herbs — especially at the farmers market!  Our trip Saturday yielded two blueberry bushes with lots of blooms, 11 herb pots and three tomato plants, all ready to be planted in Roy’s raised container herb garden. He spent the afternoon digging in the dirt, while I am sat in the sunshine writing this post!

Herbs, tomatoes, and blueberries.

Herbs, tomatoes, and blueberries.

The herbs we selected were just a few of the ones planned for the garden.  Some are for culinary uses, some are medicinal and many are for both.

Culinary:  Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Lemon Thyme, Flat Leaf Parsley, Curley Leaf Parsley, Basil

Medicinal:  Lavender, Comfrey

Both:  Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Parsley, Basil, Lavender

Next week we hope to add Oregano, Lemon Balm, Tarragon, Mint, Bay, Arugula, Calendula, Chamomile, Marigold, Echinacea, Garlic and Plantain.  We’ll let you know what we get and also how we will be using them, both for cooking and for medicine!

So what did we do with our farmers market produce and meat purchases:  we ate a bit of them and stored the rest for use later this week!

Best Salad Ever!

Best Salad Ever!

Lunch was great — the Best SALAD Ever! made with red and green leaf lettuce, carrots, spinach, hard boiled egg, avocado, left over roasted chicken and left over beef and sausage Meatloaf Italian Minis topped off with Herbal Balsamic Vinaigrette!  I love this salad because it works with whatever you have on hand.  I have used left over vegetables (sweet potato — so yummy, baked butternut squash, roasted mixed vegetables, brussels sprouts, , broccoli, tomatoes, cabbage, asparagus, roasted garlic), various kinds of fruit (kiwi, pineapple, orange, pear, apple), crunchy nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, macadamias, sunflower seeds, coconut) and any meat you can imagine (pork roast, shrimp, pot roast, short ribs, chicken, sausage, steak, bacon, deli ham, turkey or salami).  Top it off with my favorite Herb Balsamic Vinaigrette salad dressing and it is pure heaven, served in a gigantic bowl!

In addition to produce, we also bought meat — local, pasture-raised, grass and non-GMO corn fed pork sausage, chicken and BACON!  We love our supplier of pork, Po Mans Farms.  There is no recipe I have made lately that is not fabulous with pork sausage added in.  I almost aways, now, add pork to all of my ground beef recipes, including the meatballs for Italian Wedding Soup and a newly listed recipe for Meatloaf Italian Minis that we used in today’s salad.

Coming home from the farmers market with fresh vegetables is wonderful, but knowing how to store and preserve them for use later in the week is important.  The following technique works for most vegetables — except sweet potatoes, garlic and onions, which should be removed from their plastic bags and kept in a cool dark place.

Lettuce inside storage packet.

Lettuce inside storage packet before sealing outside edges.

Lettuce covered with moist paper towel on foil.

Lettuce covered with moist paper towel on foil.

    How to store fresh vegetables:
      • wipe off dirt.
      • lay out a piece of aluminum foil long enough that will wrap around the vegetable.
      • wet and wring out a connected sheet of paper towels that will wrap around the vegetable
      • lay the moist paper towels on top of the aluminum foil.
      • place vegetable in center, wrap with moist paper towels and then foil, sealing edges by folding over twice and crimping, making sure the paper towel is completely tucked inside.
      • label with vegetable name and date.
      • unwrap for use, keeping paper towel moist and then reseal again.

This technique will keep your lettuces, mushrooms, beets, carrots, celery, peppers, etc. crispy and fresh for at least a week — if you do it soon after bringing your produce home!  Don’t lay them out on the counter, get busy and then discover them hours later limp and wilted (I know from personal experience).

Enjoy your lovely Spring weather and your local farmers market — we certainly are!

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Recipe for Meatloaf Italian Minis

Meatloaf Italian Minis

Meatloaf Italian Minis

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