Tag Archives: farmer’s market

Farmer’s market the community hub

It was a pretty typical August Saturday morning in Bluffton, Ohio. The sun was shining and by 9:30 a.m., the local farmer’s market was bustling. As I waited for a vendor to wrap my sunflowers ($3 for 15 stems) in newspaper and twine, the woman next to me asked if the market was always this full of vendors and buyers.  She’d come to town to visit the local quilt store and just happened to see the market.

photo (10)How can you not love a good farmer’s market? It’s not just the food — which is the best around — but the camaraderie, seeing lots of friends, sharing ideas of what to do with unusual produce like the lemon cucumber I picked up today.

It’ll be a week of veggies again — and trying out some new recipes. And while the sunflowers make me smile every time I look at them, my best purchase of the day was an eggplant. Not just any eggplant — this one was just begging for a face. Not sure what this one will become but for now, it’s also making us laugh.

photo (12)So here’s what I picked up today. Brown eggs, cucumbers, squash, cabbage, swiss chard, lettuce, white carrots, red and green sweet peppers, muskmelon, and a loaf of the best hearty, whole wheat bread (saves me from having to bake immediately).

Any suggestions for what we should be cooking?photo (11)

Send me some recipes! I love trying new things.






Farm to table: Cucumber yogurt salad on ours

Farm to table” is one of those buzzwords that is a bit irritating in that those who live in farming communities or small towns where large gardens are the norm, have been eating “farm to table” or garden to table for generations past. But in the sense that it has suggests a growing movement that promotes sustainability even in urban areas, it’s a good thing.

My brothers and I grew up in the same small town where I live today. Our parents had a huge garden which helped to feed the seven of us year round. Our basement (dusty cellar is a better description) had shelves lined with canned vegetables and fruit, jellies, ketchup (the real stuff), and later, a large chest freezer filled with more vegetables and fruits.

When we weren’t swimming or playing, we were snapping beans, shelling peas, husking corn, and peeling apples. This was not always done with a smile, but some resignation. Looking back, those chores taught us to be hard workers. Today all five — even the two in Tucson — have some sort of garden.

Because of time constraints, my edible garden consists mostly of lettuce, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes and herbs. Instead, I lean heavily on the local farmer’s market, as well as several farm stands, to eat “farm to table.”  Yesterday’s stop at the farmer’s market produced this take:

IMG_0136[1]Sweet corn, yellow and green sweet peppers, seedless cucumbers, zucchini and yellow squash of several varieties, white carrots, tiny red potatoes, green beans and brown eggs.

This will hold us for at least a few days until my own cukes and tomatoes are ready or I have to hit up the farm stand.

Yesterday, while figuring out what I wanted for lunch, the cucumbers produced a memory of a favorite salad. In the 70s, my mom began making her own yogurt, which became the basis of a dressing for cucumber salad. IMG_0146[1]

It’s still a favorite, and the fresh dill in my herb garden adds the perfect touch. I vary this, depending on what kind of vinegar is handy. Yesterday it was rice vinegar. Slice the cukes very thin — best done with a Bluffton (Ohio) Slaw Cutter, but a knife or food processor also works. This is a small recipe — perfect for one or two, but you can double or triple as necessary.

Cucumber Salad
1 long seedless cucumber, sliced thin
1/3 c. plain yogurt
1 tbsp. (or more) rice vinegar
1/3 tsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh dill to taste

Whisk together the yogurt, vinegar, and dill and pour over the sliced cucumbers. Mix, then add salt and pepper to taste. If you can wait, refrigerate for an hour. It’s also really good a day later — if there is any left over.

Variations: Add chopped sweet peppers (any color) or onions.

Fall festival spices up a small town Saturday

Saturdays in a small town can be pretty routine — an early morning run, farmer’s market, house maintenance, grocery shopping, dinner out. But once in awhile a weekend is so full of activities, you barely stop moving.

Last Saturday, Bluffton’s annual fall festival offered activities that appealed not only to locals of all ages, but plenty of out-of-towners. Kids’ activities downtown, a quilt show, antique tractor show, car raffle, movie premier, silent auction, public library anniversary celebration, health fair, corn maze and hayrides at Suter’s.

We made the rounds, but my favorite stop is the Swiss Homestead, partly because my great-great-grandfather was one of 163 grandchildren of Peter and Elizabeth Schumacher, who lived on the farm with their 16 children. But mostly, I just love being out in the country.

To give you an idea of what we saw during our various stops, here are some photos:

This tractor reminds me of my Grandpa Suter’s tractor. I remember it being gray, but since that was a LONG time ago, I’m probably wrong.

Two of my cousins playing with the baby ducks.

Feeding adorable baby goats

Herb garden

Jonah Agner baking bread

Slicing ham off the spit

Who wouldn’t love playing in a giant “corn box”?

Giant corncob at Suter’s Corn Maze

Sans farmer’s market, it’s going to be a long, cold winter of Saturdays

The farmer’s market has loaded up its goods and hung it up for the year. I hate it when that time of year arrives. Saturday mornings just won’t be the same again until spring when it reopens.

It isn’t just the fresh produce that I’ll miss. Or the blue eggs. Or the bread from the French couple. Or Cindy’s flowers. Or Joanna’s cupcakes. Sure, I’ll miss that part…picking out the tiniest leaves of Swiss chard or the best cherry tomatoes. The grocery store versions just won’t quite cut it.

But let me tell you the real secret of the farmer’s market. It’s the social aspect. Sure, we go for the edibles and not-so-edibles. But we also go to see our friends. To chat. To hang out. To hear Peter Previte make one of his comments on why this is the best place to be on a Saturday morning.

It might appear that Cindy Basinger and I are consulting on whether Gerberas will bloom inside during the winter months, but really we’re just talking about how what hurts today or — if we’re lucky — what doesn’t hurt today.

And you might think Joanna might be pointing out the fact that she made miniature super duper chocolate chocolate chocolate cupcakes (which she did and which were delicious), but really we’re talking about Katherine, the light of her life. The child that I want to babysit.


Yep, it’s going to be a long, cold winter of blank Saturday mornings. Maybe we should just all meet in the middle of the parking lot and have a quick, cold chat. Then head for the warm coffee shop.

Random thoughts strike again….and again

It’s another Random Thought Day. Truth be told, every day of my life is made up of random thoughts. Oddly, it’s often one of those thoughts that prompts me to start writing. To whit:

1. This morning, Ike and I were walking over to meet Mary Ann and Sparky (AKA Arthur). Two minutes after leaving our house, Ike decides it’s time to do his thing. Yes, I had a bag with me and scooped it up. Interesting. Usually, this takes a good five or 10 minutes. So…we’re heading down the road and passing a certain superintendent’s house. Ike decides this will be a two-poop day. Ugh. No more bags. Sorry Mr. D. We’ll be over to scoop that soon!

2. Last night as we were getting into bed, Ike (who thinks he is human and therefore, can sleep in our bed), stood at the end of the bed looking at us. I don’t know what he was waiting for, but I sure as heck wasn’t going to invite him to nose in between us. The Saint glared at him and mumbled something like: Just be glad we let you in this room.”

3. Whyizzit every time I buy a pair of pants, they fit fine in the store, but when I get home, they don’t? And whyizzit, just when I pull up to said store to exchange them, the clock strikes 9, and the doors close?

4. How did all that fabric get into my sewing room and what am I supposed to do with it? I’m sure there was a reason for buying it, but that reason now escapes me.

5. Who planted all those morning glories in my garden and why do they take over everything? My poor delphinium got strangled to death.

6. Does the cat really think I want to come out to see what remains of her latest catch? Is it really that crucial to her ego that she share three feathers with us?

7. Who made the decision that if I find a penny I shouldn’t pick it up unless it’s heads up? Why can’t I have good luck either way? Don’t rain on my parade, buster.

8. Some guy at the farmer’s market gave my mom and me a lecture on the advantages of red potatoes vs. white potatoes. She wanted white and all he had was red. He gave her the antioxidant lecture and pointed to a little graph that proved his point, or so he thought. And then he handed her a pile of potato recipes. My mother drew herself up to all of her 5 feet 1 inch, and said, “My dad grew potatoes. I know potatoes.” (Insinuating, of course, that she knew potatoes far better than he.) Guess she told him.

9. Howcum I’m always the last to know everything? Believe me, this is true.

10. Like my friend, Peter, I’m always wishing tomorrow was Friday. Hey, a girl can dream, right?

11. Why is the distance between Ohio, Virgina, Kansas and Arizona so far? Could someone please just scramble the states so I can live closer to my brothers? I want to be able to walk over to their houses when I know one of them is baking or cooking so I can just eat their food. It always sounds better than mine.

12. Why do those damn walnuts keep dropping in my yard? And why do I have to worry about them smacking me on the head on the way to the ground? It’s not even my tree!

Okay, now that I’ve got all those random thoughts off my chest, it’s time to become productive. Time to sift through all that fabric and decide what to do with it. Oh yeah, and time to visit Mr. D’s house for some poop scooping.

Oh, but we can MAKE it for much less

Long ago on a shopping trip with my mom, Queen of “Oh, we can MAKE it for much less”, I spied a dress that I really wanted. All I remember is that it was brown. But for some reason, I really liked it, so she pulled out a pad of paper and began drawing as she checked out the dress front and back. I probably sighed and rolled my eyes. Did we ever make that one? Beats me.

Back then, I just wanted to buy it. I probably understood the value of money — I just didn’t appreciate it. Eventually, that penetrated my brain — probably when it was my own money. I no longer cringed at the term “homemade.”

So you see, if there is one thing I’ve learned from my mom it’s that homemade is often better. This applies in a number of areas: clothing, food, household items.  This is why I blame her for the fact that I can’t just make a decision to buy something; I have to look at it, think it over and then mull over the possibilities of how I could make it better. This is not a bad thing to have learned from one’s mom. Some might label us cheap. I like to think of it as a good use of one’s resources. And cheap. Very cheap.

This habit has served me well over the years. Just think of how bored I’d be if there were no projects sitting around waiting for me to get started and/or finish. There are, in my sewing room, at least 10 such projects underway. Okay, that’s a lie. There are at least 15. To my credit, I recently polished off a few of them.

For example, we have a butterfly chair that dates back to the late 60s. My parents built a study on to their house; this was my dad’s domain. It featured an orange cone-shaped wood burning stove, an ancient gigantic wooden desk that I think Dad resurrected from the old science building at the college. (The top of this is now my cutting table in my sewing room.) There was also the butterfly chair which began with a black canvas sling. Over the years, it’s been replaced in various colors, but when the previous one wore out, I decided not to buy one. Instead, I would make one using the old one as a pattern.

So I bought some lime green canvas about a year ago. Well, maybe 9 months ago. I started cutting the sling seat in May, but life and my abdomen got in the way — delaying work until last week. This is kind of like the bridge on Spring Street. It got started, delayed, started, delayed…and you get the picture.

Still, I finished my project. The bridge guys haven’t. My 40-year-old butterfly chair is back in circulation. And the cost? Oh, MUCH less than a purchased one.

Ike guarding the old cover, cut up to use as a pattern

New cover on 40-year-old frame

Which reminds me, a few years ago, daughter number 1 came home with some terrific fabric sling bags labeled “Whole Foods”. They hang over the shoulder and across the body and are terrific for the farmer’s market. Unfortunately, WF was no longer selling the bags. And I wanted one. Really wanted one. So…I took one apart, made a pattern out of old newspaper, and began making them out of random pieces of fabric. These bags have become my favorite gift and/or can be used as a gift wrap. As I was finishing up the butterfly chair, I noticed the bag pattern — it appears I have more to make.

Then…daughter number one just held out an old “Threads” magazine to me, commenting on how much she liked the shrugs made from a rectangle of fabric and two seams. Sort of. It’s a little more complicated, but basically that’s it. “Can you make me one?” Absolutely. I’m on it. That makes project number 16.

Hunting for snakes, good veggies, and a good book

Whyizzit I never have my camera with me when the good stuff happens? A few days ago, I stopped to sit on the rocks at the National (see photo). There was a snake vertical in the water…just treading away…staring up at me. Little fish were swimming around him. I figured he’d snap them right up, but he was more interested in staring at me.

This morning I trekked back down to the rocks but there was no snake. Too bad. Still, it was worth the walk because that spot is SO peaceful early in the morning. Sometimes if I shut my eyes I can pretend I’m sitting on the Back River beach on Tybee Island.

National Quarry in Bluffton, Ohio (known to some as Cobb Lake)

Today, though, when I shut my eyes, I kept thinking about the snake and suddenly had a vision of Ray Ruggley, one-time manager of the local pool. This was when the kids were little and we were still swimming in the quarry by the old swimming pool. There were often water snakes nearby. One day Ray jumped in, grabbed the snake and flung it far across the water away from the high dive. It got a lot of whoops out of the kids.

That memory stayed with me all the way home — just a bit nostalgic since I can’t wait to be able to swim again.

Since the snake hunting was unsuccessful, I figured I’d have more luck with fresh produce hunting today. Woke up the happily sleeping daughter, grabbed a bunch of bags and headed to the farmer’s market. First distraction for the daughter  — an unusual echinacea plant with orange and pink blooms. Picked up cukes, broccoli, grape tomatoes, melon, bread from the French guy, peppers, and green beans. No blue eggs — boo. Second distraction for Lindsay – a savory mint plant.

On to the library, where we have paid enough overdue fines over the years to have stocked them in toilet paper indefinitely. Picked up a chocoholic murder mystery, which will certainly require eating good dark chocolate while reading, some magazines, and an audio book (an old and familiar Janet Evanovich, but which still provides humor on a long drive.)

So…as far as hunting, I’m two for three this morning. Not bad for a Saturday morning.