Saturday, to me, is the most relaxing day of the week. It's usually a busy day; lots of chores and projects that get piled up during the week around here are given Saturday delegation. When I say the day is relaxing, I mean that these chores have no deadlines...they are just weekend jobs, some new and some routine.
One of Graham's and my favorite Saturday routines is to go to visit the Farmer's Market here in Qualicum Beach. Other plans sometimes intrude, but we go as often as we can. So this morning, I grabbed a quick half cup of coffee and dressed; we were among some of the first people there.
Produce, meats and other items for sale sell out quickly, probably within the first hour or two of the market opening. The last time we went, we were unable to obtain any eggs, and there was limited vegetable availability. But this morning, we picked up not only eggs, but bakery items, fresh field tomatoes, beans, salad fixin's (arugula and basil!), carrots and beets. We also bought pork chops and steaks from Sloping Hill Farm...the home of Happy Island free-range Pigs. We were told the taste is entirely different from commercially produced pork.
I am one of those wishy-washy wannabe Vegans you run into every so often. The ones who spend the majority of their grocery dollars on fresh, local, organic/natural vegetables and dairy products rather than the meat or the cut of it. Meat, to me, is used as a side to the main vegetable dishes. But it, too, is preferably fresh, local and again, organic/natural. I am being drawn, more and more, to tiny meat portions and gigantic vegetable portions.
And Jackie, at the Vegan Diet blog, has some great vegetable recipes. I'm going to try her Vegan Pesto recipe tonight, with that fresh Basil I bought with the field grown Tomatoes and pasta...mmm. This is really what summertime is all about...the harvest and fruit of these wonderfully fertile fields in the area.
I also bought the first Transparent Apples I've seen this season...they won't last long, as their fate lies between the blankets of pastry of an apple pie. Graham has planted a MacIntosh Apple tree in the backyard and is hoarding his crop...he has twelve apples on his tree, all developing nicely. I don't think they will be around long enough to be made into a pie!
I'm looking forward, too, to the fall and the different displays at the Farmer's Market that will herald the change in seasons. This weekend, Sunflower and Dahlia and Gladiolus graced the market with their presence...it was Lavender who perfumed the air at our last visit. Apples and other tree fruits will take more of the centre stage, along with the Squashes, Tomatoes and Corn. It will be a feast for the eyes...all of nature's colour palette displayed with such pure abandon.
We came home and had some of those ultra-fresh eggs for breakfast, with scones and tomatoes.
At my old home, I had a large vegetable garden, almost taking for granted the taste of fresh, organic produce. If I wanted raspberries for breakfast, it took only a minute to find a bucket and fill it with the berries. I never ran out of onions or lettuce, fresh oregano or basil...they were all just a short walk down to the garden area. Blackberries, cherries, grapes and plums...they were all there, just waiting to be picked. I miss the easy convenience of having such bounty so close at hand.
I still have a garden; it is nowhere near the size of my former one. But it is just Graham and I that live here now...just the two of us. I saw the stands at the Market which were filled with jewel-like jams and jellies, pickles and relishes; I remembered my kitchen counters being stacked with look-alike jars of the beautiful gathered rewards of the generosity of Mother Nature.
There is so much to be gathered, from a large produce plot, the size that I once tended...time marches on in its inexorable way. The children are gone...and at the moment, we are empty-nesters. I am finding I have to remind myself, as I shop and I plant, that I am no longer feeding hordes of people. That space is limited; rows of different, jewel-toned lettuces are beautiful...but that Graham and I in a month of Sundays will never be able to eat that amount.
Now, instead of harvesting my own, I go to Farmer's Markets where I try all the stalls, until I find one I like...then I get to know the owner, who will in turn know me. If I make a good impression on him, he will keep his best produce for me, one of his best customers. It is the old way...shopping becomes personal, when you choose a person you are drawn to to grow your food. And, in some cases now, to bake it, too.
I want my sustenance to be at least as good as my own previously grown delights, when I shop. And to me, that means local, fresh and natural (organic as much as possible) produce and dairy products.
Just like the food grown for the colourful stalls at the Qualicum Beach Farmer's Market.