A Chilly Farmer’s Market

Farmer’s market had a decidely different feel this morning– with temperatures hovering in the upper thirties, everybody was bundled up in hats and scarves and stating the obvious– “Good morning! It’s a cold one!” So early in the season, the cold is still somewhat of a novelty. The sun shades and canopies are also gone, so the fall sunlight highlights the oranges and burgundies and muted greens of the pumpkins, apples and kales piled in abundance in the open air. The aromas are overwhelming– the powerful scent of leeks and cider mingling on the breeze. Only the hardy– both produce and people– are in attendance today. No more heat-loving cherry tomatoes or delicate lettuce mixes or tourists. It’s the season for pumpkins and nuts, apples, pears, winter squash, kales, leeks and garlic. And the regulars who have been to every market, rain or shine, are not scared off by the cold. In fact, the cold instills in the farmer’s market shopper a need– a need to buy a little more, put up another batch of jam, get some of the last of whatever to put in the freezer. We know we will miss it dearly in January. This first hint of cold in our noses instills a desire to squirrel away a little extra for the winter, which is not that far off.

Naturally, I made off like a bandit at this farmer’s market. This may be the last one this season that I get to go to, so I made the most of it just in case. I picked up some “Fire Stix” which are fantastically spicy pickled asparagus spears (which will give a delightfully warming kick to cocktails this winter), Red Cherry Jam, Red Raspberry Jam, and Raw Blossom Honey from Stovers Farm (www.stoversupic.com — yes you can order online!). I also got 2 pie pumpkins, leeks, heirloom red onions, black kale (I love it sauteed with shallots and bacon), a hardy heirloom red lettuce, a dozen sweet corn for $3 (for the freezer), chestnuts, giant red sweet peppers (to serve roasted with bratwurst), a bunch of enormous carrots, a gallon of cider, and a pint of cider (to take to work and I’m not sharing!).

What will I do with all this bounty? Well, the corn will be blanched and frozen. I’m going to use the pumpkins to make pumpkin pie filling. We’ll likely save the chestnuts for stuffing at Thanksgiving. Some of the cider will go into a batch of apple cider doughnuts. The rest of the goods will be for fresh eating. We also still have a bunch of apples from last farmer’s market, so today I’m making some apple butter and an apple galette. So lots of baking today, but that will help take the chill off this afternoon.