Category: Seasonality

Staying creative with seasonal veggies

As I spritz the last slice of lime into my steaming curry sauce, I smile with relief that I’ve made it out of a cooking rut. I tend to ebb and flow in the kitchen with creativity; it’s easy for me to fall back into a world of stir-fry this and stir-fry that. As a mostly seasonal vegetable eater, sometimes it is challenging to be innovative when my winter market bounty looks similar week after week. I knew something had to change when I stopped eating my leftovers. I emerged from stove top monotony by turning on my oven, this is where my recent culinary excursion began.

Roasted vegetables returned to my menu when I had an abundance of carrots, potatoes, broccoli, and cabbage. Within fifteen minutes I tossed them into a baking pan with butter, coriander, ginger, salt, and pepper. I baked everything until the broccoli started to brown and was more than happy to eat this combination with rice all week. I thought my problems were solved. The following week, I found my second batch of roasted vegetables neglected by Wednesday and reluctantly admitted that I needed to branch out once again. I returned to the stove top but grabbed a pot instead of a frying pan.

I picked up cilantro, lemongrass, coconut milk, limes, and fish sauce, essentials for a Thai red curry. The usual suspects came from the market; green onion, garlic, red potatoes, and the most beautiful cabbage I’ve ever seen. After cooking the potatoes and onions down with garlic and oil, cabbage was added along with water. Then coconut milk, herbs, and spices brought this dish to life. A little sugar and fish sauce creates a delectable salty and sweet flavor, while a bit of lime ties it all together. A scoop of this over jasmine rice was a party for my taste buds, I could feel them celebrate the accomplishment of both a home cooked meal and delicious, unique flavors. Typically, I am tempted to eat at a restaurant when I want to taste something different than what I am cooking at home. The health and cost benefits of cooking my own meals are so great that I try not to go this route too often. Instead, I will continue to find alternative ways to cook my beloved winter staples. Next up, stuffed cabbage and mashed potatoes. Visit us at the market and tell us what you’re whipping up with your seasonal vegetables.

Nourish your body & support your community with your new year’s resolution

This is a time when many of us plan for the year ahead. This year, do you want a new year’s resolution that improves both your health and supports the community? Then try adding one salad per day to your diet with ingredients purchased at the farmers’ market. This salad can be anything from the traditional green salad topped with veggies to a cold quinoa and veggie salad mixture. Want to try something fancier? Pick up beets and other root vegetables, roast them, and top with balsamic dressing over a bed of greens. The possibilities are endless and you will be surprised with the variety of offerings for your salad at the farmers’ market in the winter.

Our daily actions have ripple effects far beyond what we see in our lives. By resolving to improve your health this year by eating one salad per day, your actions will have a positive impact on our Durham community. The Farmers Market Coalition highlights the many benefits of shopping at your local market, including:

1.) Stimulating the local economy
2.) Preserving farmland and rural livelihoods
3.) Increasing access to fresh food for all community members
4.) Supporting healthy communities

It is estimated that every dollar spent at a farmers’ market generates approximately $1.60 of local economic activity. Therefore, if you spend $20 on salad ingredients at the farmers’ market, you are generating $32 of economic activity in our local Durham community. In addition, your purchase ensures Durham and our surrounding counties maintain beautiful green spaces and farmland. Also, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut with cooking, which is why picking up your salad ingredients directly from the farmer is perfect because vendors and other market shoppers enjoy sharing tips for meal prep. Finally, shopping at the farmers’ market ensures that your food travels no more than 70 miles to reach your table. This yields many benefits, including reducing carbon dioxide emissions since your food does not have to travel across or from outside of the country to reach your plate. Also, our vendors often harvest produce for the market the day before, which benefits you because freshly picked produce has a higher nutrient density since key vitamins and minerals often diminish each day after the food is harvested.

Who thought that a simple new year’s resolution to eat healthier could have so many ripple effects in the community? Whether it’s choosing to eat one salad per day or many other healthy options, your resolution can positively impact our Durham community in more ways than one. Let farmers’ markets play a role in helping you achieve your goals this year. From all of us at the Durham Farmers’ Market, we wish you and your family a very happy and healthy new year.

Reduce waste in the kitchen this holiday season with soups and stock

With one major holiday behind us and several more coming up this month, healthy eating can be a challenge due to the hustle and bustle of the season. One of the easiest ways to get ahead this month is preparing holiday meals in advance and freezing them. With the variety of flavors available at the Durham Farmers’ Market, you can easily whip up a tasty batch of soup that will warm your guests in late December.

If you want to get your kids involved in the cooking process, try making pumpkin soup directly in the pumpkin. First, cut the top off the pumpkin to make a lid while cooking and then scoop out the guts, saving the seeds to roast. In the center of the pumpkin, place your favorite soup stock and any seasoning, such as onion, garlic, nutmeg, cinnamon, and butter. Place the lid on the pumpkin and bake at 375 degrees for 1.5-2 hours. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and gently scrape the pumpkin’s flesh into the soup mixture. Use an immersion blender to reach the desired consistency and enjoy. Try an heirloom variety of pumpkin at the farmers’ market and savor the unique flavors of late fall.

Once the holidays have come and gone, we challenge you to reduce waste and save what remains of your meat dishes by making soup stock. What exactly is stock? This refers to the liquid that is made by simmering bones for an extended period of time, whereas soup broth is made by cooking meat for a shorter period of time. Typically stock is made from an animal’s carcass, giving you the added health benefits of the gelatin and minerals found in the animal’s bones. These minerals assist with digestion, can help reduce joint inflammation, improve bone health, and defend against free radicals that can cause you to get sick during the winter months.

Even though leftover bones from a holiday meal have been cooked once, roast the bones in the oven until they are brown, but not too dark. Doing this adds flavor to the stock as it cooks. When the bones are done roasting, add vegetables into the same pan and let those roast until they get a little color. At this point, you can mix everything in a big pot and cover with cool water to cook. Enjoy the stock immediately or freeze for use at a later time.

There are endless ways you can use your stock. For example, you can braise seasonal favorites such as kale, radicchio, and cabbage in stock. You can also cook your grits, rice, or quinoa in stock to give the dish a savory taste.

Ease your holiday stress this year by preparing soup in advance and reduce waste by making stock with your leftovers. Happy cooking!