Today was the day for bargains. Much of what I buy supplements my backyard garden's produce, so I watch for that weekend in the season when the prices drop and the volume goes up significantly. Green beans and corn, for instance, form a large part of the veggie stock in my freezer, and they are a very affordable option if I wait for the season's bumper crop to hit the market stands. Timing is crucial, however, because that season of cheap but plentiful supply doesn't last all that long.
Time management is also crucial when you opt for this method due to the work load involved in buying and "putting up" the goods in large quantities. A standard home kitchen only allows so much pickling and canning and blanching work to happen on any given day. And of course, there's the prep work. Also time consuming.
Youngest son, who is my corn shucker par excellence, walked in from football practice as I was trimming the green beans for blanching. He took one look at the corn pile and exclaimed, "Three dozen? Seriously?" (He's not really a farm boy.)
"And so now you understand why when someone is unhappy about something they say, 'aw, shucks'," I responded.
But a day's promise of hard labor isn't the only thing you can pick up at a farmer's market. As I've blogged before, you can also find other fare if your city market is a diverse one. I stopped at the Amish stand and got us our traditional fruit turnovers. Hubby wanted cherry, but I wanted a strawberry rhubarb. Unfortunately, the only one left was in the "damaged" pile. Cheaper, but damaged.
The young Amish boy behind the table said, "It just means it got squished a little."
"Or got dropped and kicked across the causeway," said the woman shopping next to me. (It had rained, and many puddles were strewn along either side of the market.)
"Or got licked once or twice by one of the market dogs," I joined in the joke. (Many little dogs wearing bandanas come to the market, just because they can.)
The young Amish boy looked appalled. We explained we were only teasing.
Handmade soaps, jewelry, loose teas, wooden bowls, cakes and cookies to support a local brownie troupe, farm fresh eggs--with mother-chicken caged on display, tarn necklaces (that's t-shirt yarn) and super-soft floppy hats of felted yarn: the likes of all these are available at my town's farm market. And while I don't frequent these booths regularly--I'm pretty consistent with my canning/freezing focus--I do occasionally "splurge" on something extra. For instance, today, I stopped at the wool booth. I bought some chocolate brown wool roving from this fellow's last shearing as well as some caramel-colored roving from one of his barn-mates who was an actual prize-winner. I know because I was shown the pic of him sporting his blue ribbon. As sporadic a spinner as I am, the wool should last me until the winter woolen festival next February.
Yes, shopping the produce section of a grocery store may have its perks, but nothing quite equals a morning out under the sky...carrying a cabbage and munching on squished pastry.