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Posts Tagged ‘farmer’s market’

strawberry-science-plaza

The hardest part of quarantine, for me, has been the constant isolation. I live alone, have been working remotely since mid-March (until I was furloughed last month), and have been seeing very few people in person. (I do still get to hug my guy, and walk with a girlfriend or two once in a while. Thank goodness.)

I miss my friends the most, but I’ve also been feeling the loss of what sociologists call “weak ties”: those casual, in-person relationships with people like your barista or librarian or yoga instructor. And I’ve been missing the “third places” where those relationships often take place: communal spaces outside of home and work where people interact and enjoy each other’s company.

All that to say: the Harvard farmers’ market is back, and I am loving it.

radishes-strawberries

The past few Tuesdays, my guy and I have biked across the river to Cambridge, to visit the half-dozen vendors set up on the Harvard Science Plaza. It’s a smaller group than usual, but they are cheery behind their masks, and the offerings are limited but delicious. We sanitize and keep our distance and browse the stalls with our eyes, and choose a few treats to eat on the spot or take home.

I showed up at this market all the time when I worked at Harvard, and that’s where I met Amanda, who makes fantastic tamales, salsas and chili beans. (She’s from Corpus Christi and she knows how tough it can be to find decent Mexican food in New England – plus she’s warm and friendly.) I am downright thrilled to be eating her products again, and I’ve loved seeing her in person, too.

It’s strawberry season in New England, and G and I have bought pints of them recently, plus crisp Boston lettuce and peppery Easter egg radishes. (Aren’t those colors gorgeous?) The latter, it turns out, are delicious with hummus, and I even made pesto with the greens last week. Weather permitting, we’ve sat on the benches or lawn nearby, eating strawberries till our fingers are stained red with the juice. I toss the tamales back in the freezer when I get home, but they never last long – and the strawberries and salsa both tend to disappear within 24 hours.

So many things are still strange and hard, but I am looking for joy where I can find it, these days. And fresh fruit + sunshine + time with my favorite person in a place I love = serious joy, pandemic or no pandemic.

Are you shopping farmers’ markets this summer?

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When I worked in central Boston, you could find me at the Copley Square farmers’ market during my lunch break on any given Tuesday during the summer, and many Fridays. I’d browse the stalls, fill a tote bag with produce, then buy a tomato-mozzarella sandwich and perch on a bench with my book to eat it and people-watch.

book sandwich raspberries farmers market

I miss those sandwiches now that I work in Harvard Square. But the Harvard farmers’ market, under a big white tent at the Science Plaza (just north of Harvard Yard), has its own delights.

berries red farmers market

There are stands overflowing with fresh produce, which at the moment includes all my favorites – berries, peaches, peppers and tomatoes:

tomatoes corn farmer's market

Some stands also sell chocolate, pastries, pretzels and fresh fish (though I’ve never bought the latter, as I’d have to lug it home on the subway).

I’m still exploring all the options (and figuring out how much produce I can reasonably carry home). But I’m so glad to have this bounty of fresh, colorful, local offerings so close to my office.

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berries red farmers market

All sorts of red goodness at the Harvard farmers’ market.

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tomatoes corn farmer's market

I want to eat ALL the tomatoes at this time of year.

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Confession: I harbor a deep ambivalence about farmer’s markets.

In theory, I’m all for them – a chance for farmers to sell their lovely, fresh produce at a fair price; a chance for customers to rub shoulders with the folks who grow their fruit, vegetables and other products; a fun place to browse on your lunch break or on a summer afternoon. And I firmly believe fresh tomatoes (and other produce) that haven’t traveled hundreds of miles do taste better.

Farmers' tents in Copley Square

But when it comes down to spending my money there, I’m often overwhelmed by the choices – should I buy from this farmer’s stand or that one? Buy heirloom tomatoes or regular ones? Splurge on local honey or spend my money on fruits and veggies, where it will go farther? How much of this produce is organic? Does it matter, as long as it’s all local? Will I end up buying more than I can use? The questions buzz around like the bees flitting around the bunches of sunflowers, and the crowds jostle me, till I’m worn out and frazzled and feeling vaguely guilty. (Not least because the answer to the last question is usually “Yes.”)

However, when I can put all that aside for a few minutes, and just pick up a bit of fruit, a couple pounds of tomatoes and maybe fresh flowers, I do enjoy shopping at the farmer’s market in Copley Square (on Tuesdays and Fridays, and easy to get to on my lunch break). There’s always people-watching to be done (even if the kids do love to scream and chase the pigeons), and some of the stands offer sandwiches in case I didn’t bring my lunch. And the stately buildings nearby – the Boston Public Library, Trinity Church, the Old South Church – provide a lovely backdrop for the crisp white tents and colorful produce.

Do you shop at farmer’s markets? What’s your take on the whole “eat local” thing?

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I am a longtime lover of anything raspberry – ever since I used to stain my fingers and collect lots of chigger bites picking berries from the bushes in my grandparents’ front yard. I am also a lover of scones – so when I saw this recipe on Sarah’s delightful site that combined the two, I had to make it. (Especially since we are at the end of raspberry season.) And I’ve made it three or four times since.

My scones are not pretty, like the photo on Sarah’s site; they are not neat or tidy or wedge-shaped, as we Americans seem to think scones should be. (Scones in the UK tend to be round, whether tidily cut out or rather heaped up.) These scones are messy and fruity, piled-up dough stained crimson with blotches of my favorite fruit. And they are completely delicious.

The dough is a pretty basic one, I think, but then you get to heap luscious red raspberries on top of it:

You knead it a few times to fold the berries in, and then they come out like this:

I’m no great food photographer, but I assure you, these scones are delectable.

Fast Raspberry Scones
from Everyday Food

Makes 20

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk [I used nearly 3/4 cup milk with 2 tsp lemon juice]
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries (6 ounces)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor, pulse together flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. [I just stirred it together in a regular mixing bowl.] Add butter and pulse until pea-size pieces form. [I stirred the butter in, then rubbed it in with my fingers till the pieces were small enough.] In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg yolk. Slowly pour buttermilk mixture through feed tube into processor [or bowl, in my case], pulsing until dough just comes together.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle raspberries on top. Knead three times to fold in raspberries (there may be loose pieces of dough and a stray berry or two). Gather and pat dough into a 1-inch-thick square and cut or pull apart into 2-inch pieces. Place pieces, about 2 inches apart, on two parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets and sprinkle tops with 1 tablespoon sugar.
Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let scones cool slightly on sheets on wire racks. Serve warm or at room temperature. [They’re good with butter.] Store in an airtight container, up to a few days.

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