We were happy to see some new faces last week, and we hope that you are hearty enough to return this week or to visit for the first time. It will be cold but manageable, and we will have that wonderful Angelic Beef, fresh chicken and lots of country eggs from B&D Poultry, and a nice variety of local apples and winter veggies at Tyson Farms’s stand.
Shelby will be there with goodies galore and hot chocolate, and you can pick up lunch at our Taste of Local food truck from their menu of great burgers and soups.
We look forward to warmer days, lots more vendors, and to seeing more of you again on Sundays. We will be out there unless it’s just too miserable for us to stay healthy for three hours; Sheleta, Carol, and our vendors missed no Sundays last year all winter. But remember to check our Facebook page and the website if you want to make sure we’ve all made it in from a variety of far-flung counties.
See you at the market!
From the Market Master
I often write about the kind of pantry you need in the summer to take advantage of the first asparagus of the spring or the arrival of heirloom tomatoes. But the January issue of Southern Living magazine reminded me that I have not addressed the winter pantry, which may be even more important at this time of year. Those special finds at the farmers’ market are fewer and farther between, and once you get them home the weather may hamper a return outing to the grocery store for additional ingredients just when you have been inspired to hit the kitchen.
Southern Living has some suggestions for the Southern cook, which to some extent all of you are since you are living in Virginia, and it focuses on healthy staples to “Build a Better Pantry.” Here are some of their suggestions and some of mine, several of which overlap.
Good canned tomatoes should always be on your shelf along with garlic, onions, fennel, and carrots in your larder. A quick, tasty, and healthy tomato sauce is only 30 minutes away if you have those ingredients on hand. Beans are another item I always have on hand in the winter, and except for emergency situations, they should be dried. Almost all canned beans contain sugar or a preservative that we do not need to be eating. Grits or hominy are also part of my winter pantry; stone-ground grits and hominy have many nutrients that prevent stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. As a side to soak up gravy or sauce, they are more filling and better for you than pasta.
Sweet potatoes and winter squash can be considered pantry items because they store well in a cool, dark place and can be bought and kept on hand for everything from appetizers to desserts. Southern Living also suggests buttermilk, which lasts in the refrigerator lots longer than regular milk and adds fewer calories and great flavor to baked goods that often come out of the winter kitchen. Biscuits, cornbread, and pancakes come to mind.
Nuts such as pecans, almonds, and walnuts are great for smart snacking and to add good Vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids to winter salads and dredges and your own granola.
Just as in summer, even without the fresh tomatoes and summer salad greens, good olive oil and red wine vinegar are a must. I have been moving toward using a good pure olive oil (my favorite is Berio) all the time for sautéing, a medium-priced extra-virgin oil for many dishes that benefit from the flavor boost, and a really good extra-virgin oil for that last-minute drizzle. Red wine vinegar shows up in lots of winter stew and winter greens recipes.
Maybe because I know I will have more reasons and opportunities to use meat and vegetable stocks in the winter, it seems easier to get around to making large batches and freezing those lovely aromatic stocks in 2-cup containers. These are like gold in the pantry; their intrinsic properties are worth so much more than their going rate. They can make everything you make so much better and better for you. Just look at the ingredients on the cans or boxes of even the high-end broths and stocks. Save meat from soup bones and chicken parts and freeze what you do not use right away to add to the chicken pie or vegetable-beef soup that you create to get family and friends through a cold snowy weekend.
I am sure I have forgotten some things, but with these few items there are endless possibilities for cooking up a storm or cooking though one, if necessary, without having to step outside into one.