Visiting farmers’ markets are always on my list of things to do, especially over the summer. Toronto has several that are well known (and have even been rated the best) – St. Lawrence, Dufferin Grove, and Wychwood Barns, for example. There are several in the east end where I live: East Lynn, Withrow Park, Leslieville, Brickworks, Riverdale… there are even a few opening up this summer: Regent Park, which opened June 5th, and Fairmount Park, which opens July 17th. Most are organic markets.
I frequent the Hamilton Farmers’ Market , which is very close to where I work.
It has two levels, featuring vendors of fish, cheese, baked goods, international foods, flowers and plants, coffee, and farm fresh produce. There is also Historic Birks Clock which has jousting knights whirling around its base. One of the knights knocks another one over. It’s very cool.
For some reason there are a few vendors that sell the same kind of produce you would find at your local grocery store, sometimes but not always at a cheaper price. Maybe this is to make the market more accessible to people who can’t afford to buy from the farmers. The market is inside the mall, right in the heart of downtown. That’s the only reason I can speculate. There was a survey done in 2011 that showed some interesting feedback. Generally people enjoyed their market experience but there were several good recommendations for improvement. Great that they asked for feedback.
I bought some horseradish back in May from one of the farmers on the lower level. It was one of the things I wanted to try growing this year. I asked the lady at the cash if it would grow if I planted it. She didn’t seem to know and I couldn’t remember what the growing season was like for it. I figured if roots were being harvested now, I could plant it now and it would still grow. I chose one with a few nubs that looked like they might produce sprouts, broke off a piece to plant and ate the rest with my meals. So fiery and delicious.
Farmers’ markets encourage me to cook more and to try new recipes. For the past few weeks I’ve been buying asparagus from a vendor from Waterdown (local!), 2 for $4. I’ve been making asparagus eggs every Sunday morning using herbs from the garden. Saute asparagus, add herbs, add eggs, and cook ’til done. Quick, easy and healthy. We’ve had it with home made salsa and avocado and wrapped in Ezekiel bread. De-lish!
I came across a rhubarb butter recipe from one of Facebook pages I follow. It was such an easy recipe that I decided I wanted to try it. That same Waterdown vendor was selling a bunch (about 8 stalks) for $4 so I bought some. The recipe doesn’t say what kind of apples to use so I just used the red delicious I had on hand. I estimated about half the amount of honey, because 1/2 cup seemed like too much, and used 1/2 tsp cinnamon. It turned out a bit too cinnamony but it had the perfect combination of sweet and tangy the consistency was good. My TO family loved it so much I decided to make it again. I got a good deal on Friday at a vendor on the top level as the Waterdown vendor wasn’t selling any. I doubled the recipe (and adjusted the seasoning to taste) so I could share some with my Hamilton family when I head back to work tomorrow. Hope they like it!