Saturday, July 13, 2013

Farmer's Market Days

Life around here has definitely changed over the past 2 years. For one, I'm back to cooking.  A lot of cooking. We don't go out to eat very often because so much of what's available is deep fried, fast food that neither my daughter likes nor my mother should be eating. When we do we're very selective in between days when we 'save up' the carb points. Where does that leave the rest of the meals? Cooking from scratch. And what is this area lucky to have? Lots of farmer's markets! Most of the time Mom is at her Day care program when I go pick up some of the wonderful fresh veggies that come home with me, but here she was the first day we made it over to Midland's Farmer's Market this year. We had a blast!
 When I was a kid, the local county farmer's market was fun to go with Mom to see. Truck after truck after truck was backed up under the metal roof with bushel baskets over flowing with all kinds of just picked foods. Mom didn't really can, but she would make a little bit of bread and butter pickles and some freezer strawberry jam. Neither are my choices. But I do love what you can do with the fresh veggies for dinner!
 As I've been working to keep Mom's A1C low enough to keep her away from insulin and other drugs, we've really been piling on the veggies, leannnnnnnnnnnnnnn chicken or salmon and a whole lot of fresh spinach and kale. Here was the first time she had quinoa and she liked it! We've also discovered spelt pasta as another nutritional source. I've always been one to try new cooking ideas going farrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr back into time when I was newly married moving to California. We were within walking distance of 4 grocery stores and a health food store that carried a lot of fresh foods. Life got busy, the kids grew up (who gave them permission to do that?!) and then I wasn't cooking for 6 people anymore. Being here with Mom is changing that all over again.

 Here's the 'bounty' from a couple of trips ago. Can you see the little bear down front? There is a 'honey' lady that comes to both the little farmer's market here in town and the bigger one over in Midland. She sells REAL honey! And get this, she infuses some as well! OOOOOOOOOOOH boy! Have you ever had Raspberry honey, or peach honey, or chocolate honey? Or, or, or??????? I tell ya! Did you know that nearly all of the 'honey' sold in the grocery store technically isn't honey because it doesn't have the pollen in it? Find yourself a local beekeeper honey supply source and you'll be happy. Over the winter I made a jar of lemon and ginger slices and mixed it with raw honey. One good dollup into a cup of hot water at night and neither Mom nor I  had a single cold all winter long! Why is that good? Mom has a long standing history of multiple bouts of bronchitis every winter. And! This year! 
 I've been reading a ton of new cookbooks and books on nutrition. Fresh onions and garlic and green onions are regulars in our cooking here, too.(Great immunity booster there with the onion family!) Nice, fresh, just picked from another farmer's market day here recently. And, what this township, turned city girl, turned full time family caregiver has learned, if you get your onions this fresh, I don't have much trouble cutting them up without too many tears!
Most recently another new thing I've done, is started with a lot of infused waters. With all the nutritional reading and things I've learned, I've stopped drinking diet coke. If I'm cleaning up Mom's diet, then I have to clean up my secret bad habit. And that's been a really big deal for me. My Dad would have been thrilled that I've finally done it. But, sometimes, just plain water needs a bit of flavor added to it and the possibilities are endless this way.
While I've made strawberry jam living in California next to many of the strawberry fields, that had been the scope of my 'canning' experiences until last year. The more I went past just reading labels, the more sugar I found in foods that just can't 'fly' around here anymore. Soooooooo, what's a girl to do? When your daughter introduces you to greek yogurt that is plain and non fat and then shows you that Trader Joe's makes a low sugar jam that she puts in to avoid corn syrup and high sugar/chemical additives in the pre-fruited yogurts, you start playing in the kitchen! Last year in a few short weeks I learned to water bath and pressure can and there is no turning back now! This year I've already started with the new seasons worth of yummies and won't have to try and get it all done in the last 3 weeks of the farmer's market season. (yeah say my hands!) Here's some apricot butter (like apple butter, only with apricots!)
Apricot jam....

Chicken stock! Let me tell you how easy that is ! In the crock pot over added sodium, skim the fat and you know exactly what's in your stock to start your soups! Be prepared to dream of food while you're sleeping and your crock pot is doing allllllllllllllllllllllll the work! Organic veggies, Amish grown chicken.....bring on dinner baby!
 Life has not been totally spent in the kitchen....Melissa and I took in a baseball game when the Angels came to town-her favorite team vs. my beloved Tigers. (Thanks guys for making the daughter happy when the Angles won that night....)
 And to make sure that grandbaby to be is raised correctly, we 'infused' some Detroit Tiger goodness into the Grandma blanket knitting that night!
 Note to self....when using the food processor to cut up onions, WATCH what part you're grabbing!!!!!!!!!! Hint, the blade, is NOT acceptable for your thumb to press on, hard. And when you FINALLY can start to pick up your needles again after months of horrific pain, it makes knitting very difficult again....*sigh* still learning here...I guess.
 This weekend the Tall Ships came to town. But for this afternoon, I leave you with this....
Traverse City Black Cherries! I pitted these last night. I have a new method of doing so.....pit one, eat two....;-) Like it? Yea, I had to go back to the Farmer's Market this morning to buy some more today because we ate a 'few to many' to make some jam last night. And I'm really ok with that. But for now,  I'm off to the kitchen to make some jam before we all start to pick at them again! Oh how I wish Dad were hear to be another taster of all these new things I'm learning to make. He used to loveeeeeeeeeeeeeeee cherry preserves on his toast in the morning.

Until next time!....