“Playing With Your Food” is a weekly post highlighting a few of the many great uses for the wide range of produce and artisan food at the Salem Farmers’ Market, a Salem Main Streets project. While we can never predict exactly what our farms will be able to bring each week, we do our best to reflect some of the fun items we’ve found recently and what’s likely to be available for the upcoming week. Hopefully this will give you a few new ideas to play with, and inspire you to try some new things at the market.
I try to be practical at the Farmers’ Market. I look for ingredients that will help me cover the basics, or that I can use in a few different meals, or that are specific to the season. But summer is also a time for parties and get-togethers, and sometimes you need something a little more special to spice things up (or to cover up the fact that it is WAY too hot to spend more than 5 minutes in the kitchen). Thankfully, the market has a lot of options that will cover you for special occasions, or regular days that just need to feel special. Here are a just a few things we’ve been playing with recently:
Did you ever notice those beautiful little plastic boxes full of flowers at the Maitland Mountain Farm stand? Did you realize they were full of EDIBLE FLOWERS? Well, they are, and the folks at Maitland can tell you all about the different types. You can sprinkle them on top of pretty much anything – pasta, soup, salad, or bruschetta. Almost too pretty to eat! Almost.
In addition to the delicious artisan cheeses of Wolf Meadow Farm, everyone’s favorite green grocer Milk and Honey always has an array of interesting cheeses at their market stand. I always love to see what new products they’ve brought! This week, we tried this amazing honey lavender fromage blanc made with unsalted goat’s milk cheese. It was absolutely delicious and surprisingly light, perfect for a summer snack on crackers or toast, or used to substitute ricotta in one of our favorite summer appetizers. Why don’t you sprinkle a few edible flowers on there while you’re at it?
Seriously, a farmers’ market that has marshmallows? If you’ve ever had a marshmallow from Sweet Lydia’s, you wouldn’t question it. They are absolutely out-of-this-world and they CAN be roasted – though they melt a little faster than store-bought marshmallows, so keep your eye on them. Roasting them under a broiler actually does very nicely, especially if you live in Salem and don’t have access to a fire pit. Our household was split between whether the raspberry or the coconut was better roasted (psst, it was the raspberry).
This is only a small sliver of what’s available – we didn’t even touch on the chocolate bread at When Pigs Fly Bread, or Jodi Bee Bakes’ ridiculously good gluten-free and vegan cupcakes, or the infamous “turducken cookie” at The Cookie Monstah! What are your favorite “special occasion” treats from the Farmers’ Market?