Farmers Markets: Not Just for Summer Anymore (w/recipe!)

Here in Montpelier, a summer Saturday isn’t complete without a visit to the farmers market. A quick trip is impossible; even if you’ve only lived in Montpelier for a month, you’re guaranteed to run into at least half the people you know as you shop for vegetables, cheese, eggs, meat, bread, plant starts for your garden, Eat More Kale t-shirts, and yummy prepared foods.

Our Vermont farmers take their job very seriously. They grow our food. They till the earth, sow the seeds, nurture the plants and accept our money with the same hands. Now, we can support them all year long. Every first and third Saturday, through April, the Vermont College of Fine Arts hosts the winter location of the Capital City Farmers Market.

In the gymnasium on College Street, farmers sell carrots, potatoes, onions, parsnips, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, pork chops, ribeye steaks, ground beef, lamb sausage, farmstead cheese, fresh bread, and much more…all at prices that are completely competitive with area co-ops. And with all proceeds going directly into the hand of that farmer who washed the carrot or turned the cheese wheel, our purchases retain wealth in our local economy.

Along with the good vibes of community and friendship, shopping at the farmers market translates into a solid livelihood for our farmers and true food security for the rest of us–no matter the season.

Not a Montpelier resident? Look for a winter farmers market, or a winter CSA, near you.

Here’s a recipe from last weekend’s visit: Farmstead Fritatta

A fritatta, imho, is notable for posessing many of the attributes of a quiche without the calories, gluten, or hassle of a crust. The meat is totally optional and can easily be replaced with any combination of vegetables–carrots, spinach and Brussels sprouts would be great, and are all available at the winter market!

In an ovenproof saute pan on low heat, saute an onion or a few shallots along with two links of (lamb) sausage (Lazy Lady Farm’s Laini Fondiller was featured in the New York Times and still hangs out at the market. How cool is that?). When the meat is browned, use a slotted spoon to remove it to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Heat the oven to 400.

Slice six small potatoes (Blackwell Roots Farm grows ONLY for the winter market. Crazy, huh?) about 1/4″ thick and cook in the same pan, using the meat fat and adding a little oil if needed. Cook on medium-high until tender but not mushy, turning frequently so they don’t burn. Return the browned meat and onions to the pan and stir to combine.

I’m on a Greek kick lately, so I sprinkled some fresh dill and 1/2 cup of Bonnieview Farms sheep cheese, cubed, over the potatoes. You could add any cheese or no cheese, any fresh herbs or dried. Thyme would be great.

In a bowl, beat 6 eggs until foamy. Return the heat to high, pour the eggs over the mixture, and swirl the pan so the eggs are evenly distributed. Cook for a few minutes on the stovetop until the edges of the pan seem set; then put the pan in the oven and cook for 10-13 minutes until the eggs completely cook through.

Let it set a few minutes before serving–it will be easier to cut.

Fritattas make a great dinner when served with a salad or, in this instance, a slaw. The broccoli comes from afar but everything else is available at the market. Enjoy!

Sending Sara with Style

Not all of us are as fortunate as Sara Grace, whose sweetie just happens to be Crystal Maderia, owner of Barre Street’s tastiest gem, Kismet. Under the guise of celebrating Sara’s 29th, Crystal plotted with Matthew Bilodeau, chef of the Black Door Bistro, to serve a wonderful family-style dinner. The food was great — oysters and garlic-soaked kale, roast beef, a parsnip and Brussels sprout salad — but the occasion was better: sending Sara off to a three-week tour of Amsterdam, her newly released single in hand. Everyone gathered round to show Sara their love and support and really, isn’t that what a special-occasion dinner is all about? The food seals the deal, but it’s not the deal itself — that was the palpable love for Sara and her incredible talent.

Rock it, Sara!