My Asian Pear Dealer

I’ve written before about the amazing farmer’s market we have in my current city of residence. I’ve gotten into a routine where I go there every week as close to opening as I can, buy whatever fruit is in season (peaches in the Summer, apples in the fall) some salad things, eggs if I’m going to be baking, and then I get out of there before I get persuaded to buy things I really don’t need but which are delicious.

But there’s a problem with this. The Asian pear dealer.

One week in October, I’m walking through (our city has also stupidly inserted parking meters all around the market, so I try to get in and out as fast as I can) and there’s hardly anyone there yet. I had already bought a box of honeycrisp apples and was looking to see who had the best price on turnips when an older Asian gentleman steps into my path holding a pear. “Would you like to try an Asian pear, miss?” he asks. A whole pear. I mean, I’ve been offered slices of fruit before, but never a whole damn pear. I go to the market before breakfast, so I was in no position to say no. I thanked him and took the pear as he explained to me that all his produce is completely organic and that the fruit will say fresh in my refrigerator for a long time.

The pear was delicious, of course, and the man had given me a whole pear for free, so I felt obligated. Plus, there were no other customers around, so it wasn’t like I could just sneak away while he was distracted by someone else. Fine. I spent $4.50 I really shouldn’t have on a box of Asian pears.

Which were delicious. Seriously, I can’t tell you how amazing these freaking pears are. I’m not even crazy about pears, but these things were life changing.

So the next week I go back determined I’m just there for apples and some smoked cheddar if the Amish cheese people are up and running (they weren’t) and maybe a black bean and goat cheese tamale if the tamale vendor* is open (he wasn’t). And as I’m walking through I see the pear dealer. And I remember how wonderful those pears are. And even though I still had a few left, the market will soon be closed for the season and I won’t be able to buy any for months. And he says they keep in the refrigerator for a long time…

So I bought another box of pears.

That was the trend for the rest of the run of the market. Every week, I bought a box of pears from that man. Sometimes he threw in a couple extras from his secret box of not-pretty-but-still-delicious pears.

And then it occurs to me that this man stole his technique from drug dealers. Sure, the first pear is free—that’s how they get you hooked. Now I’m addicted. Problem is, the market is closed for the season and I just ate my last pear. Oh sure, they sell them at Kroger, but are they going to be as good? Of course not. What am I going to do?

Give me a month and I’m gonna be lurking in dark alleys buying contraband pears off some guy in a trenchcoat. Dammit.

*They aren’t real tamales. They’re what Midwestern gourmet snobs think tamales are. But they’re still good.

Summer Farmer’s Market Recipe

Today’s recipe comes from friend-of-the-blog Teapot.  Sorta.  Teapot didn’t give me the recipe (not that I asked for it) and I didn’t actually see her make it.  So this was all sort of reverse engineered by me.  The reason I decided to attempt it is that I feel I’m not taking full advantage of my farmer’s market.  I have a great farmer’s market available to me, and yet I tend to buy nothing but cucumbers, chili peppers and seasonal fruit (peaches or apples).  Oh, and kale.  I’m kind of obsessed with kale from this crazy pagan lettuce lady (crazy awesome!).

Anyway, this recipe was a good excuse to make me branch out and try some different veggies.  It’s also simple and delicious and pretty good for you.

  1. Mince vegetables.  I imagine you can use whatever.  I was using some patty pan squash Cammy left here, cucumbers, wax beans, carrots and broccoli.  You want them cut up fairly small.
  2. Make a vinaigrette.  You could probably just use a store bought one too, but they’re super easy to make.  I mixed minced garlic, red wine vinegar, coarse ground mustard and olive oil (pour the oil into the vinegar slowly while whisking to get a good emulsion).  Then I threw in some of the fresh dill and tarragon Cammy brought me.  (If Cammy hasn’t brought you any herbs you can use whatever.  Or leave them out).  Toss the vinaigrette on the veggies.  You just want enough that it gives them a light coating.
  3. Toss with brown rice and a little bit of goat cheese.  When I had this made by Teapot it was all chilled which was fine (it was a hot day, it was pretty great).  But I like the rice to be just a little warm because then it makes the cheese melt a little, but not totally.

I don’t like to mix the three together until right when I’m about to eat them, but you can combine them for starters.  It will keep for about a week, but is best a day or two after you make it.

I can also verify that this works great with jasmine rice and/or couscous.

MTV, MPB Gets Virtuous

In an episode of Bones Angela commented that she always feels virtuous after shopping at a certain organic grocery.  I’ve honestly never felt morally just about shopping at any grocery store.  But where I do feel virtuous is shopping at my local farmer’s market.  Being organic and environmentally friendly is swell and all, but combine that with supporting local farmers and helping the little guy economically and I’m just a sucker.  Also, our farmer’s market has buskers, and you know from previous posts that I love supporting buskers.  So every Saturday morning I drag my college student ass out of bed at 8:00, even though the movies say I should be sleeping till 2pm, and head down to the farmer’s market.  I come home feeling like a saint!

The farmer’s market in my current city of residence is good sized, but not as diverse as the ones some of my friends frequent.  About 1/3 of the vendors at my market are Amish, so they may be less than adventurous.  Honestly, due to my budget I don’t buy much.  Usually just whatever fruit is in season, cucumbers, and maybe a few special things for the week.  I ate a hell of a lot of eggplant this summer before decided we needed to see other people.  I also had some great blackberries.  When colcannon season starts up again I’ll be buying potatoes.  If I buy eggs, which I rarely do, I buy them there.  The last couple weeks I’ve bought beautiful heirloom tomatoes, jalapeños, and tomatillos because I’ve been making salsa (recipe forthcoming).

This prompted my favorite farmer’s market moment so far.  You know you’re in the Midwest when you have this conversation:

Random woman sampling purple cherry tomatoes: (pointing to the tomatillos I’m buying) What are those?

Me:  Tomatillos.

RWSPCT:  What do you do with them?  Do you peel them?

Me:  Yeah.  You peel off the dry part and then wash them well because they’re usually sticky-

RWSPCT:  Do you fry them?

Me:  Uh… you could, I guess.

RWSPCT:  That’s what I’d do with them.  I’d probably fry them.

Me:  Yeah… I’m making salsa.

I like that without even tasting them she decided the best course of action was frying.  I guess John Crichton knew what he was talking about.  You really can eat anything if it’s fried.