Monday, 10 September 2007
The Farm market
In a nearby village, on the village green, on every second Friday morning, they have a Farmer's Market. I love Farm Markets and I went a few days ago, for the first time. It was quite a bit smaller than most markets, but the stalls were full of gorgeous produce, meats, breads and pies. I got some really nice looking runner beans along with a beautiful bunch of beets at the vegetable stall. All the vegetables looked so tasty and fresh . . . crisp, round green cabbages with ruffly leaves . . . fat orange carrots, feathery green leaves still attached, lined up in bunches . . . stacks of peppers and courgettes . . . all fresh picked . . . all begging me to buy. I could have easily gotten more, but they would only have gone to waste and so . . . I restrained myself.
The bread stall was no less enticing. The table stacked with all sorts of crusty, rustic loaves, the smell breathtaking, but once again, I restrained myself (which I am regretting now!) There was meat from a farm in Ashford, Burnt House Farm, all beautifully presented . . . quality beef, lamb and pork, all organic from Arberdeen Angus cows, Romney lambs and Saddleback pigs. I picked up some pork chops and lamb for work, and a few packets of minced beef for at home. (she said it had only been minced that morning and it looks really good)
Then there was a stall with Free Range-Corn Fed Poultry The birds looked beautiful . . . rows of fat chickens and ducks, all free range . . . beautiful turkey sausages (their own recipe) minced turkey and turkey burgers . . . and at Christmastime, they specialize in free range Bronze Turkeys, all from Upper Fairlight Farm in East Grinstead. I bought a lovely chicken to cook for the Mr for the weekend and some turkey mince to make them some turkey burgers next week. The chicken, once roasted looked very moist, with a beautifully crisp skin. I did taste one of the wings (cook's perogative you know!) and it was extremely tasty, succulent and juicy, and well flavoured . . . not anaemic like some that you buyin the local supermarkets.
Next there was a pie stall, sporting lovely crisp Fruit Crumbles, juicy Apple pies, Steak and Kidney pies and puddings, Steak and Ale pies, Steak and Stilton pies . . . all beautifully presented with golden flakey crusts, enticing bits of pie juice seeped over the edges and pooled in the corners . . . how could I resist . . . I bought a Steak and Ale pie for our supper one night and a Steak and Kidney Pudding for Todd to savour at a later date (it's in the freezer now) If it's even half as good as it all lookes, he's in for a real treat!
I'd just about exhausted our funds by then and so I tried to creep away without buying anything else, slinking past the stalls, stacked with beautiful homemade preserves and buckets of olives . . . when a voice cried out to me, "Would you like to try our homemade fudge?" I am such a soft touch . . . there was rum and raisin, vanilla, chocolate. . . . and the piece de resistance, candied ginger, studded with delicious little bits of candied ginger. I caved. for how could I, having now tasted, pass this all by. Resistance was futile, and so I bought a bag of lucious ginger fudge. There goes the diet. Mmm, it is so good, all beautifully creamy and buttery with that lovely, hot bite of ginger which pushes it well over the top!
I am now looking forward to Friday morning two weeks from now, and I am going to go armed with more than just a few pounds in cash! I was well impressed with this small country market and I hope that the locals support it so that it continues for a long time to come. There is something familial about a local farm market, like the heartbeat of the village that supports it. It breeds a feeling of community pride, and a sense of belonging to a larger family, a herald of old fashioned values, a feeling of stability, all things sadly lacking in most communities today, in a world where people no longer know who their neighbours are, or much less, care . . . If you have a farmers market where you live I urge you to check it out. You are sure to find some local treasures and . . . I am guessing . . . some new friends in the process!
I have long enjoyed a love affair with cauliflower cheese, that is until I discovered this little gem . . . my love affair has now expanded to include sweet potato with the cauliflower. Delicious!
*Cheesy Sweet Potato and Cauliflower*
This is comfort food at its very best. Lovely, meaty, orange fleshed sweet potatoes combined with beautiful, earthy, cauliflower florets . . . all encased in a rich cheese sauce, crusty bits of grilled cheese gilding the top. What’s not to like!
2 large orange fleshed sweet potatoes
1 small cauliflower, broken into florets
Cheese sauce (see below)
3 TBS snipped chives
Salt and pepper to taste
3 oz cheddar cheese, grated
Bake the sweet potatoes in a hot oven until tender. Set aside to cool for a few minutes. Put the cauliflower into a microwavable bowl, add a few TBS of water, cover with cling film and cook in the microwave for 5 minutes on high. Drain and set aside.
Prepare the cheese sauce as below. Preheat your grill.
Cut the sweet potatoes into wedges and lay them in the bottom of a greased oven proof dish. Drain the cauliflower and spoon it over the sweet potatoes. Spoon the hot cheese sauce over top (you may not need it all). Sprinkle with the grated cheese and the snipped chives. Grill for three to four minutes until golden and bubbling. Enjoy!
Makes 1 ¼ pints
2 ounces butter
2 ounces plain flour
1 ¼ pints milk
1 bay leaf
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour, stirring until smooth. Let cook over low heat for one minute to cook the flour then slowly stir in the milk, whisking until smooth. Add the bay leaf and cook over medium low heat, stirring, for about 10 minutes until thickened. Remove the bay leaf. Stir in the cheese and season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.