Cream Of The Crop: Essential Farmers’ Market Eats

Farmer’s markets are cropping up all over the country, as people become more and more interested in getting food from local sources. Producers are bringing fresh food at great prices. Here are five foods you should certainly try from the farmer’s market next time you go:

Eggs are one of the best things to get fresh. The difference in consistency and flavor between a store-bought egg and one fresh from the hen is jarring. The yolk is brighter, firmer, and much tastier. If your farmer offers duck eggs, try those too – they fluff up amazingly and are great for baking.

Potatoes might seem like a funny thing to buy from a farmer’s market, but they are amazing. Usually much smaller than store-bought spuds, fresh potatoes are deeply flavorful and complex. Slice them thinly and roast them with onions.

Seasonal tomatoes are some of the best things to buy at the farmer’s market. In the late summer and early fall, when they’re coming fresh off the vine, you can get enormous heirloom tomatoes that are great for sandwiches or just eating with a little salt and pepper.

One of the best things to do with farmer’s market produce is teach yourself about pickling and canning. If you’ve never made pickled beets, they’re a delicious treat – sweet, tangy, salty, and savory all at once.

Local cheeses can be delectable as well. Many dairies produce artisanal cheeses that are robust with flavor. They also often provide samples to try before you buy.

Slow And Green: Vegetarian Cooking In The Crockpot

We all know how good slow cookers and crockpots are great for dealing with tough cuts of meat, but did you know that there are also tons of amazing recipes that use the device for vegetarian ends? If you’re looking for some fun new meal ideas, here are five to get you started.

Chili is one of the best things to make in a slow cooker, and it’s easy to do a vegetarian version. Use several different kinds of beans for hearty flavor and mix in a variety of chopped vegetables, including bell peppers, celery and kernels of corn. Flavor with paprika, parsley, oregano and basil and add chili powder to your desired level of heat.

If you’ve got summer squash, it’s easy to make a delicious, cheesy dish in the slow cooker with it and some cheese. Simmer the squash and onions in a pot until softened, then mix in the slow cooker with a bit of soft, flavorful cheese such as Gouda. This is an awesome side dish.

Some grains do really well in the slow cooker. One favorite recipe is mushroom, lentil and barley stew. This dish harnesses the deep and complex flavors of mushrooms to add interest to the lentils and barley. It’s a robust and earthy dish that is filling on a cold winter’s afternoon.

Slow cookers are exceptional for making applesauce, as they keep the fruit at a stable temperature and allow it to break down evenly without lumps. To make your applesauce a little more flavorful, try adding allspice or pumpkin pie spice.

A traditional French cassoulet requires a lot of meat to prepare properly, but you can make an excellent vegetarian version in your slow cooker. Soften onions and carrots in a skillet and add mushroom broth, bouillon and bay leaves as well as white beans. Stir occasionally as they cook.