Farmers Markets ROCK!

brussels before

OK.  So here’s where the “Minnesota” in me really comes out.  Do native Californians really understand how absolutely ridiculously over-the-top lucky they are when it comes to produce?  I think, perhaps, not.

Consider this, when I lived in Minneapolis years ago, I–along with thousands of other Twin-City’ers–used to count down the months (yes; months) till the farmer’s markets would open.  And then we’d scramble over to them every chance we got before the harvest season ended–usually 10 weeks or so–when the stands got packed up again till the next year.

Here in California, there is no such scrambling required!  We are soooo fortunate for the year-round-multiple-locations farmer’s markets in this state.  To find information about a California certified farmer’s market near you, click here.

So what’s so great about a farmer’s market?  Girlfriend, I could go on… Whereas produce at a big super market (Von’s, Ralph’s, etc…) is typically grown for uniform size, shape and color, farmer’s market produce is grown for a little something I like to call, uh, taste.

Not all farmer’s market produce is certified organic, but because it’s locally grown, it doesn’t need to be treated with all the junk that gets sprayed on produce at big markets to make it last on the shelf and look pretty.   Also, because the produce is grown locally, purchasing it means you get to do a little something I like to call “supporting the local economy” which is a darn nice thing to do.

Shopping at a farmer’s market it pleasant, friendly and inspiring.  Pretty much every smiling vendor has samples awaiting and will help in choosing a melon for today or for later in the week.

Farmer’s markets help me feel connected to the seasons too.  Why should I purchase a plum from Chile when right now is citrus season in So-Cal?  Apples are uh-mazing right now too at the local farmer’s markets and don’t even get me started on the winter vegetables…

Too late.  I’m started.  Brussel sprouts have become a favorite (yes, you read that right: favorite) at my house.  My three kids and husband inhale these little green “fairy cabbages” so quickly that I typically purchase at least three pounds a week.

Here is a photo of what these balls of yum look like after Michelle has waved her wand over them.

brussles after

I’ll put the “Calva-Despard Favorite Vegetable of all Time = Brussel Sprouts” recipe here for your convenience, and will also place it in the vegetable section of my recipe page for future reference.  I know.  I’m a giver.

Ingredients:  Brussel sprouts (you don’t have to go for three pounds…) olive oil, fresh garlic and salt.

Directions:  Set oven for 400 degrees.  Rinse Brussel sprouts.  Cut off think stem at the bottom of each sprout.  You can leave the sprouts whole or cut in half, depending on the size.  Most important is that all the pieces be pretty equal in size so they’ll be fully baked at the same time.  If you notice mine, some of the larger ones have been halved, but the smaller ones are whole.

Place sprouts on a cookie sheet with a rim.  Cut and quarter one fresh garlic clove per pound of sprouts and place the pieces in different places on the tray, amongst the sprouts.  Drizzle with olive oil and give a few shakes of salt.  Bake for 2o minutes.  Remove from oven and mix up the sprouts with a spatula to turn the browned sides over.  Test with a fork for tenderness.  Put back in oven for 5 -15 more minutes depending on the size of your sprouts.  They really do vary so it’s hard to say exactly.  Check after five minutes if you’re unsure.

The garlic serves to sort of infuse the sprouts with an aromatic presences of garlic.  I do eat the cloves too, but my kids say they’re too strong.

Enjoy!