We’re blessed in Tucson to have a farmers market somewhere in the city almost every day of the week, because of our mild climate and long growing season. My favorite market is the Sunday Rillito Park Heirloom Market, but I also like its sister market in Oro Valley, which is somewhat farther away. Look at that view of the Santa Catalina Mountains!
I don’t need much at the regular market this week — onions for cooking are the chief thing — but I may pick up some tortillas or tamales, or local honey, or some other thing that catches my fancy and fits my budget. I love passing my money into the hands of the person who grew or prepared my food at the farmers market because not only do I get great food this way, I’m also keeping my money in the local economy.
A different kind of farmers market
Today will be a busy, food-centric day. That’s because yesterday I spent $12 at P.O.W.W.O.W, Borderlands Produce Rescue’s incredible program to rescue perfectly good fruits and vegetables from the landfill. My $12 helps Borderlands provide fresh produce to feeding centers and food banks around the city. Thus, feeding my own hungers helps feed others. That’s a win-win, for sure.
I’ll need to process what my $12 bought. I used one of the two honeydew melons to make a chilled soup, and will give the other plus one of the mini-watermelons to some neighbors. I’ll make a meaty sauce bolognese with most of the tomatoes, because it can go over zucchini “noodles” or the spaghetti squash later. Much of that sauce will end up in the freezer.
I’ll make a quart jar of Danish cucumbers (the recipe, from my second book, The Feast Nearby, is below) to stash in the fridge, and will still have enough to make a minty, garlicky tzatziki to enjoy with grilled or broiled meat or chicken. Then, I’ll put about half of the three pounds of carrots into the dehydrator, both as diced carrots and as slices, for later use. The two pounds of jalapeños are a bit of a poser; I haven’t quite figured out what to do with all of them. I may simply slice and pickle most of them.
Learning about something new
This afternoon, I’ll attend a workshop at Saguaro National Park West’s visitor center to learn more about how to cook and eat the cactus called prickly pear. I expect we’ll learn about how to use nopales, the little strips of the prickly pear pad used in a traditional Mexican salad, as well as the hot pink fruit and its juice. I’m eager to learn about these ancient foods in the Sonoran foodshed.
Such a busy day demands an easy supper. If I make the Danish cucumbers now, they’ll be just right by the time I get home.
from The Feast Nearby
These fresh pickles are meant to be consumed within three days. They usually don’t last that long, though.
- 2 cucumbers
- 1 sweet onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar, white vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Coarse salt
Peel the cucumbers if the peel is bitter or waxed. Slice them as thinly as you can while keeping them in whole slices. Place the sliced cucumbers in a quart jar and add the onion.
Combine the vinegar, water and sugar in a large glass measuring cup. Add as many grinds of fresh pepper as seems right to you; you want quite a lot, so the pepper flavors the brine. I generally end up with one to two teaspoons. Pour the mixture over the cucumbers and onion. Add a little salt, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon. Cover the jar and shake for a few moments to distribute the ingredients and brine. Refrigerate at least two hours.