Farmers Market to Table
Every Saturday morning after an early morning walk with friends, I head to the downtown Covington Farmers Market. The seasonal vegetables and fruit, meats, poultry, seafood and other freshly prepared foods at the market help me shape my menu for the week.
I love having a local food diet, knowing who grows my food and where it comes from 24 hours after harvest. One reason to become a locavore or to choose a locally grown diet is to support our local farmers and our local economy. Since there is no clear-cut definition of what’s local and what’s not, many locavores use a 100- or 200-mile radius as their guide. Supermarket produce purchased by people in the United States travels on average, 1,300 to 2,000 miles from the farm to the store. This travel time is called food miles. Food grown and purchased locally accumulates fewer food miles.
Depending on where you live on the Northshore, there are many options for buying local food. The Covington Farmers Market, Mandeville Trailhead Community Farmers Market, Hammond Farmers Market and Camellia City Market in Slidell are open every Saturday morning. Abita Springs also has a Farmers Market on Sunday afternoon.
If I don’t get too distracted by the fresh buttery shortbread baked by Suzy of Windfield Farm and Bakery or the extraordinary Korean pancakes from Korean Food Catering, I take a few moments to perform a quick scan of what is available this week and begin to develop a menu of possibilities in my head.
In January and February the market is abundant with fresh greens. The turnip, mustard and collard greens, spinach and cabbage are calling my name. I have a plan for you my friends…Gumbo Z’Herbes. Throw all traditions of eating this only once a year on Holy Thursday or Good Friday to the wind. Green gumbo it is!
The local citrus from Plaquemines catches my eye. One of my favorites, Salade Letchine, a Moroccan style salad that I typically serve with couscous comes to mind. The colors are bright and the cooling flavors of fresh citrus on the palate would be the perfect complement to the green and spicy gumbo. One sack of Louisiana sweet red oranges and a bag of kumquats for good measure please.
Amazingly enough, Louisiana strawberries began showing their sweet faces at the market before Christmas. The strawberries, either chocolate dipped or plain, make a wonderful garnish for my French King Cake with almonds and puff pastry. The French style King Cake is a nice variation to the traditional brioche style New Orleans style cakes we all enjoy.
It’s also not too early to think about Valentine’s Day. I can picture these bright red juicy strawberries saying, “I love you” on top of a heart shaped Chocolate Torte.
Time to return to the kitchen and start simmering that pot of gumbo and rolling out the puff pastry. Company’s coming.