Farmer’s markets are in full swing all over the country, and families are making it a regular activity when they appear. The variety of seasonal foods and homemade crafts all depend on where you live, of course. Baked goods, artisanal ingredients, and locally grown fruits and vegetables often reflect your region’s culture and economy. Some markets are simple and easy to shop in and get out quickly, others offer entertainment for kids, specialty foods, breads, jams, honey, things of that nature. Some offer vendors of all sorts, tag sale items, antiques, live plants and seeds, artisan breads, seafood and meat. One I attended recently even had a folk singer playing under a shade tree on the village green, a popular venue for markets.
It’s pretty easy to find green markets, which are abundant in the nice weather months, but now it is easier to find year-round indoor markets as well. The VFW in our area opened their large meeting hall, which many towns could do. One enterprising vendor had a booth with cookbooks for sale and recipe pages for the taking. If you are looking for bargains, shop close to closing time when some farmers would rather sell at a reduced price so they don’t have so many heavy boxes to haul home. You might even strike a deal with a vendor to return each week for produce for local pets or the soup kitchen.
One really abundant green vegetable is green beans, which are also quite versatile. Green beans are delicious, especially those grown locally. Here are a couple of ways to incorporate them into your family meals.
Green Beans, Polenta and Sausage
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
½ pound green beans, steamed until bright green, drain and set aside
1 pound hot Italian sausage, remove casing and break up as you saute it
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 pound tube of cooked polenta cut in ¼-inch or ½-inch slices
Layer the polenta, and sausage mixture in a baking dish with the green beans. Add a little chicken broth and sprinkle with parmesan cheese, oregano and a little basil. Bake for 20 minutes.
Fresh green beans are just one of the many fresh items you can stock up on at your local farmer's market.
Green Beans With Zing
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper
teensy pinch of cayenne, if desired
Cook the green beans in boiling water for 4 minutes, drain and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process, drain. Saute the minced garlic clove in the butter over medium heat and add beans and stir them around with cumin, salt and pepper. If you would like, squeeze a little lemon wedge over the beans before serving.
One More Quick Idea: Use cooked, cold green beans cut on an angle in a green salad, add blue cheese and crumbled bacon with your favorite dressing.
Note: Green beans are great in vegetable soups, quiche, quesadillas, or marinated. They have healthy amounts of vitamins A and C.
Dale Carson, Abenaki, is the author of three books: “New Native American Cooking,” “Native New England Cooking” and “A Dreamcatcher Book.” She has written about and demonstrated Native cooking techniques for more than 30 years. Dale has four grown children and lives with her husband in Madison, Connecticut.