Mum and I have been wanting to go to a Farmer’s Market for sometime now, after hearing about them on cooking shows like Jamie Oliver, in magazines, from friends and family and most recently online in other people’s blogs. Thanks to Haalo at Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once who has put together a list of Victorian Farmer’s Markets and to a flyer in my local fish and chip shop, I took my mum down to Whitehorse Farmer’s Market on Mother’s Day.
Off we went with our green bags ready to sample some fresh produce and meet some Victorian growers. The weather was beautiful and we had a lovely time, coming home with very full bags and a much emptier wallet (I think we went a little overboard!). We bought fresh vegetables (corn, baby carrots, beetroot, silverbeet, brocolli), gorgeous strawberries, homemade fruit chutney & tomato sauce, gourmet truffles, biscuits, humbugs, a massive 1.1kg loaf of bread, pastries, eggs, herbs to make a cat garden for my beautiful cat Ruby (catnip, cat thyme & cat mint), herb seedlings and even a mushroom farm. It was a great day and we are going back next month, this time with a little more restraint and our little dog Lulu.
I may be showing my ‘countryness’ as my boyfriend Chris would say (he thinks where I grew up on the mornington peninsula is country, I don’t see it like that at all), but I didn’t find this market all that different from the many local markets that mum and I went to when I was younger. I mean, there was predominantly less crafts (although there was a lady selling soap), but the other stalls were pretty standard everyday market fare, with only about 6 stalls selling raw, fresh-out-of-the-ground produce, and 3 others selling seedlings and plants. I would have expected a Farmer’s Market to have more of these kinds of stalls, but I suppose they can only showcase whoever comes forward to sell their wares. The other stalls were still of good quality though and there was a broad selection of food vendors for lunch.
After struggling to the car with our very full bags (note to self: park closer next time), we came home and realised that we had a lot more stuff than we thought. I have planted the cat seedlings into a little pot, but I am leaving it outside for now to let them grow a little stronger before Ruby attacks them (she is an indoor cat – we live on a pretty major road). I’ve also planted the herbs we bought and started off the mushroom farm, which should be producing within 3 weeks according to the lovely man we got it off. I’ll let you know how it goes.
This is Ruby, she isn’t allowed on my desk because she kicks the papers everywhere, sits on my textbooks while I am trying to read them and generally distracts me. Lately when I tell her to get down she jumps up onto my computer screen and looks at me as if to say ‘I’m not in the way up here am I?’. She flicks her tail across my screen and taps the i-dog in attempt to get my attention, and then proceeds to fall asleep when I ignore her – even standing up.
Very cute, but back to the food! We have a LOT of vegetables in our fridge now. So I decided to make a salad with some of them to go with the Lentil burgers I made for dinner last night. I used the beetroot, baby carrots and silverbeet from the Farmer’s Market to make a lovely warm, roasted beetroot salad. I must apologise for the photos, they are a bit orange as my camera decided it didn’t want to cooperate with me right when I was serving dinner and just wanted to eat.
Balsamic Beetroot & Baby Carrot Salad (Serves 4)
Preheat oven to 180C. Wash and trim stalks off 4 fresh beetroot and halve 2 brown onions, leaving skin on both. Add to a baking dish, onions cut side down, and drizzle liberally with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, peel 1/2 bunch baby carrots and trim stalks. Heat 1/2C vegetable stock, 1tsp caster sugar & 10g butter in a small saucepan, add carrots and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until tender.
Remove beetroot and onions from oven, drizzle with balsamic vinegar & 1Tbsp thyme leaves, cover with foil and return to oven for 10 minutes or until tender. Wash beetroot leaves along with 3 stalks of silverbeet and roughly chop. Wilt in carrot stock for around 1 minute. Peel roasted beetroot & onions and cut into large chunks or wedges.
To assemble, place wilted leaves on a plate and top with beetroot, onions and baby carrots. Combine 3Tbsp balsamic vinegar, beetroot juice from roasting pan & 2tsp brown sugar and pour over salad. Season with salt & pepper and serve warm.