On a recent vacation in San Francisco, my husband and I left our teenage daughters sleeping on a Saturday morning and took a street car to the farmers market at the Ferry Building, located right on the bay.
This was a farmers market the likes of which I have never seen. Dozens and dozens of vendors were set up, their stands filled with California produce: ripe peaches and plums, bright red strawberries, huge artichokes, heirloom tomatoes, fennel, broccoli, fava beans and greens of all kinds.
There was one booth that just had mushrooms: shitakes and oyster fungi, rare morels and common button mushrooms. I bought unfiltered olive oil that had just been pressed in a northern California olive grove. We bought fresh French pastries for our daughters for breakfast. There were food booths of all kinds, selling homemade salamis, bacon and cured proscuitto, using farm-fresh eggs and fresh-picked California produce. There were others that sold only cheese made from the milk of cows, sheep and goats.
As wonderful as it was spending more than an hour perusing the enormous market, for me it was a little like being a diabetic in a candy store. I had all this incredible bounty in front of me, and no place to cook anything. I had to settle for a few fresh peaches and my small bottle of olive oil.
Luckily, when we arrived home a few days later, our garden at home and at our community plot were overflowing. I picked several bags of cucumbers, patty pan squash, yellow summer squash, Japanese eggplant, bell peppers, jalapenos, hot Hungarian yellow peppers, tomatoes, Swiss chard, golden and red beets and lettuces. I filled my sink several times, washing the produce and trying to find room in the refrigerator.
Julia Child, who would have celebrated her 100th birthday Wednesday, once said, “Learn how to cook — try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun.”
I looked at the massive mound of produce drying on my kitchen cupboard. Around Weld County, home gardeners are looking at similar mounds of produce wondering what to do with this incredible bounty. If you don’t have a garden, head down to your local farmers market. It’s there.
I repeated Julia’s words in my head and jumped in developing some new recipes to use this incredible bounty my husband and I had grown. Here are a few worth sharing.