Curt at the Outdoor Cooking Guild has started up a new monthly “challenge” centered around a different theme each month. The idea is to cook something around the theme, and bragging rights will go to those that submit the entries judged to have the best use of the theme, the best photo of the theme, and the most imaginative use of the theme.
This month’s theme is Farmers’ Markets. The rules as stated in the announcement are:
Farmers markets and farm markets are different things, so keep that in mind… A farm market is a market at a farm, with one cash register, etc. A farmers market is where several farmers set up booths, usually in a community based market and usually 1-3 days a week to sell the stuff they produce. So the challenge is to get stuff at a farmers market and cook with it outside!
Between previous commitments and limited hours of local Farmers’ Market, I found myself up against the deadline today and figured I better get off my butts and get going. Actually, the deadline for submission was today, I was actually supposed to do this before last Monday; my hope is that Curt will forgive me and take the submission even though it’s a bit late. After all, he didn’t send out the challenge until July 11th…
So off I went to the Vancouver Farmers’ Market, the closest one to home that was open today.
There were a lot of people at the market right around noon when I arrived. I’m guessing most wanted to get there early before the temperature got up in the 90’s. For a Farmers’ Market, there were a lot of booths that screamed “carnival” or “county fair” rather than “farmer”. I didn’t take pictures of these as nothing set them apart from any other county fair, and as usual, the few booths that had the nerve to put the word “BBQ” on their signs were either Asian-style grilled meat on sticks or completely devoid of anything resembling a smoker or grill. I didn’t bother taking pictures of these, and won’t name any names as I wouldn’t want to embarrass anyone. But don’t go there looking for BBQ.
There were some booths with local produce. I picked up some tasty onions and scallions from this place.
Then I found a really great booth stuffed way in the back of the market. They had great swiss chard (both red and white), fresh corn (3 ears for a buck, best price I’ve seen anywhere this summer up here), and large bunches of fresh cilantro. Oh, and blueberries too.
The one thing that was missing the most was any sort of fresh meat. The only decent thing I could find was some fresh albacore a couple of booths over from the swiss chard place. Seems all the best stuff was stuck way in the back…
So the menu was set. For starters, I mixed up a batch of blueberry salsa to go over the fish and stuck it in the refrigerator to chill. For those of you that simply must have the recipe, it’s below the picture.
- 3 cups fresh blueberries
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Juice of 1 lime
- 4 tablespoons diced fresh cilantro
- 2 jalapeno peppers, diced
- 1/2 cup bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- Dash of sea salt
Coarsely chop 2 cups of the fresh blueberries (a couple of seconds in the food processor works best and preserves the juice) and mix with all other ingredients. Stir well, cover, and chill until ready to serve.
Once the salsa was in the refrigerator chilling, Bubba Ho-Keg was fired up and on went an ear of corn. My favorite way of cooking this is to soak the corn (while still in the husk) in cold water while the grill is coming up to temperature, then put it on the grill away from the direct flames for about 25-30 minutes, turning at least twice during the cooking process. Tonight I went one step further and sliced the cob into 1/2 inch sections that went back on the grill with the fish, onions, and chard.
The chard was grilled for about a minute per side; by the time I got 5 leaves done the rest of the food was ready to come off the grill.
The fish was joined on the plate by the blueberry salsa, and the chard was chopped and sprinkled with balsamic vinegar. It made for a tasty meal.
So there you have it, a visit to the Farmers’ Market followed by some time outdoors with Bubba Ho-Keg and a bounty of fresh food. Now if I can just convince Curt that I wasn’t too late for consideration…