It’s market day—a pretty cool ride this morning on my bike. But, of course, it was worth it. The fall harvest is coming in, and new vegetables and products show up every week. Mums are blooming, squash are spilling out of their crates and the final rounds of green beans, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers have come to peak flavor.
During this week I will be posting tips on storing and freezing the last of the market’s bounty, while throwing in some recipes along the way. Today, I’m celebrating more of the beautiful people who grow and create these treasures–their love for what they do and their respect for the handcrafted, sustainable, responsibly raised products they sell to the people of my community. The market season has only one short month to go, and I’m already feeling bittersweet.
Special guest vendor Angie Carl was there this morning with her fabulous coconut butters. These are my must-have ingredients for holiday candies and desserts—not mention everyday snacking. As I’ve explained, my daughter is gluten-free, which can make holiday baking a challenge. However, with Angie’s coconut butters and wonderful recipe suggestions, I’ve created peppermint patties, gluten- and dairy-free granola and candy Easter eggs that are to die for. I will share some these recipes as the holidays approach, but you can visit My Coconut Kitchen right now and check out all the scrumptious flavors and great recipes—most of which take minutes to prepare.
I also took time to shop at Baskets By BeBe and Jen, where they have taken custom-made, handwoven baskets to a new level. BeBe Booker and Jenece Brown have been selling directly to community members in Edwardsville for years, offering baskets that are functional works of art, steeped in the ancient craft of basket weaving. Their creations are sure to be family heirlooms, handed down generation to generation. Ideal for wedding and shower gifts, or stuffed with a batch of your own Christmas cookies for someone special.
I’ve shopped off and on all summer at The Family Garden, run by Jackie Mills from New Douglas, IL. My purchases began in June when I couldn’t get enough of their glorious blueberries and then in July when I bought up dozen after dozen of the sweetest sweetcorn on the face of the Earth. Everything is grown organically, so I had no reservations about what could be considered questionably safe crops in the conventional agribusiness world.
In fact, you can continue to buy products (as available) from them directly once market season ends. Something I find consoling. Having farmed for a long time in Illinois, they were inspired by a growing trend toward sustainable agriculture and the popularity of organic produce. So they purchased a small 100-year-old farm and “dedicated it to growing fruits and vegetables….” According to their brochure, they “…grow and harvest the produce by hand, prepare it, and bring it to market. We enjoy working the land, being outside in the sun, and meeting our friends at the Markets.” (They also sell at the Carlyle Farmer’s Market on Thursday afternoons.) I guess my point here is how impressive their commitment is to farming—to way of life that is both enchanted and very hard work. It makes me appreciate each little blueberry that has burst on my tongue.
Another fact I’ve mentioned from time to time is that my husband is NOT a vegetarian—he’s all carnivore. So I couldn’t leave the market without stopping at SS Backwards Longhorns for free-range, grass-fed ground beef, brauts, a roast and… that perfect little stocking stuffer… jerky. Ya gotta love him.
Like other vendors at the market, SS Backwards takes great pride in what they do—raising healthy livestock and chickens and teaching their children the value of doing things right.
Now is the time to plan ahead, so we’ll be on to serious cooking and storing in the next post, but for now, get your gift lists together and visit the market next week. There’s so much to see and so many great people to meet. And, so little time to get it all done.