Tag Archives: Farmer’s Market

Little pumpkins

PumpkinsAs I wrote last year, Erntedanktag is the German equivalent of the American Thanksgiving. While Thanksgiving here is a celebration for family and friends, and a time to invite people, Erntedanktag honors God for the harvest he has provided at the hands of farmers and home gardeners who till the earth.

I’m sometimes saddened when I see the incredible variety of fruits and vegetable that we have here in California in the supermarkets, where produce is often taken for granted — often thoughtlessly dumped into a basket. I have also seen vegetables or fruit dropped on the floor and not get picked up. I’m grateful my parents taught me to respect food. It is all the more fun to see when someone shops carefully, selecting seasonal delights to prepare into something sumptuous.

I have noticed some changes in the culture recently. At least in California and Oregon there seem to be more and more farm to table communities popping up, and chefs are opening restaurants relying on fresh, seasonal, and organic produce from local farmers and markets — sensible — and you sure can taste the difference.

That reminds me of a long time ago, when I grew some ornamental decorative pumpkins at my parent’s house in Germany, and then in the fall when they were ripe, tried to sell them at a local farmer’s market in Bad Hersfeld. I am not a good salesman, and at the time decorative pumpkins were unknown in Germany. At the market I would get questions ranging from “can you eat that?”, to “how come they are so small?” Restraint on my part, as to a reply was in order. I think I may have sold five or six of the pumpkins. It was a bit discouraging, and I learned to see the market from a farmer’s perspective, making me appreciate their profession even more. I guess I like the planting, and tending to part.

Have a blessed Sunday

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Sugar cane

Sugar cane

Sugar cane

I originally wrote this post in the spring, so it has a little seasonal delay.

It seems that my local Target store has implemented the new Bay Area “no more plastic bag” law, and switched to paper bags. I am amused though, when I receive a plastic gift card after purchasing some paper towels (for use in cat footprint removal as you may recall).

My destination today is the Oakland Farmer’s Market. It has been a long time since I paid a visit to it. It is cold on the sidewalk that is in the shadow of the high-rise buildings, but once I move into the sun on the opposite side, it is a pleasant walk. An abundance of produce is for sale today, and an assortment of food booths exude their aromas. One table has a stack of sugar cane stalks on it, and several young kids from a school class on an excursion are restrained by their teacher from grabbing them for misuse. I chuckle, as I fondly recall my oldest son’s mischievous antics at that age. I saw sugar cane once in the form of a burning sugar cane field in Venezuela, a memorable sight. It was a real blessing to be able to visit my youngest son there — thanks be to God.

At the corner of the market a three piece band is playing Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five”. One of the musicians is playing a flying-V electric violin. It is a unique rendition of the song. Mr Brubeck (may he rest in peace) would be delighted I’m sure. I have only recently explored and visited the historic part of downtown Old Oakland, and I must say it is delightful. Cleaned up streets, historic Victorian buildings, and small interesting local businesses. A rebirth. It is a fun place to walk.

For lunch I have a small combination bento box in a Japanese restaurant. I observe one of the patrons at the table next to me, rubbing two chopsticks together periodically after having removed them from the paper sleeve. After I receive the check, I stop by the table and ask what the purpose of this is, as it is unknown to me. The woman giggles, and says it is to get rid of any possible splinters. It seems today is an educational day.

The sun is shining on the market now and I stop at an orchid stand that I had passed earlier. After a fun discussion, and some information about proper orchid care, I purchase a Cattleya orchid (which is the queen of orchids I am told — I hope it won’t be a royal pain in terms of maintenance).

Back on Broadway, a worker is giving one of the old ornamental street lights a coat of fresh black paint. It is nice to see some civic pride in my adopted hometown.

I hope you have a blessed week, and an abundantly filled bento box day, but no splinters!

Ladybugs and elephants

I saw my first ladybug of Spring. She flew into the windshield (Thank God the car was parked), crawled up and down the glass investigating matters, decided the windshield wasn’t that interesting, and departed. I hope onto greener pastures, abundant with aphids. Such delightful bugs they are. Her visit reminded me of an amusing book I used to read to my sons when they were young — “The Grouchy Ladybug“.

The other night there were some fireworks after the baseball game (heard but not seen), which sent my cat Calvin racing under my photo supply table behind a basket into the furthest corner he could possibly squeeze into. As you may be able to deduct from this retreat, he is not fond of fireworks at all. However, this behavior is in stark contrast to when he sleeps on my legs while I’m watching a movie — when sometimes the sound can get loud. Go figure. I wonder what goes on in that little cat brain of his.

Having come from the Farmer’s Market with some home-made asparagus soup, and a batch of green onions, I went into my local supermarket to complete my grocery shopping. Putting the gathered items on the conveyor belt, I was questioned as to whether I had brought my own bag, or if I would like to purchase a paper one. I responded, that unlike an elephants’, my memory is rather faulty, and that I would like a paper one. The cashier then suggested that it might be of benefit to consume some peanuts. Triumphantly, I held up a can of peanuts at the end of the conveyor belt. “Well there you go”, she said surprised, and amused.

May a ladybug fly across your path this week, and some peanuts bring back good memories.

Girl Scout cookies

Thin mint cookies

Thin mint cookies

Another beautiful February Sunday. The magnolia blossoms on the old tree in front of my church are more than half open now. Blue sky and sunshine abound. After service, I go home to take a nap, as my cat Calvin woke me up twice last night. I wish he would comprehend that it is unnecessary to meow before using the litter box (which he seldom does, as he uses outside almost exclusively — for those who might be interested in such fascinating details). Silently taking care of business would be most appreciated. The second disturbance, in the form of bringing down his toy mouse (which smells like catnip by the way — in case you were wondering), is somewhat understandable, as it seems to be a present for me. The timing however is subject to debate.

I’m off to the Farmer’s Market and then the grocery store. My nap was a bit long it seems, as the Farmer’s Market is already starting to close down. I do find one vegetable stand that is in the process of packing up, but still open, and I purchase some leeks from the farmer, for making potato-leek soup later in the week — it is supposed to rain and get cold again — and that’s when it tastes especially good.

It must be spring, at the street corner where the market is set up, some Girl Scouts are already hawking their cookies. I can never say no to a smiling little girl with cookies, and one box of thin mint cookies later, I depart. Next stop: Peet’s coffee, for a café au lait. The sidewalk however is blocked by a Bernese mountain dog, who is standing diagonally — an immovable barrier. I suppose he wants to be petted, and he has succeeded very nicely in accomplishing his purpose. I am granted passage once I have finished my petting duty. At Peet’s, the girls behind the counter spy my cookies and make subtle hints as to how good thin mint cookies taste. An old fashioned barter of cookies for coffee takes place.

I walk down the street past the Farmer’s Market that is almost completely disassembled now, and then find a bench to sit on that is bathed in sunshine — a fine place to enjoy my café au lait. As I sip my coffee, I see a father walking on the opposite side of the street with his daughter holding his hand. She is carrying a stuffed leopard that is bigger than her (à la Calvin & Hobbes). My cat Calvin would be proud of her. A bit later, there is some avian commotion, as three crows fight over who gets to sit at the very top of a light pole. Never mind the fact, that there is plenty of room for everybody. Pitiful behavior. They finally all leave, after the needless ruckus  comes to an end. I would also venture to guess that the tone of the conversation left a lot to be desired.

Pushing my shopping cart past the sliding doors at the supermarket, I am greeted by one of the employees, who is giving out samples of fresh strawberry cake — it is an easy sale. This year I decided to give up ice cream for Lent, and those who know me, know what a “sacrifice” that is for me. As I contemplate the prior purchase of the cookies and now the cake, I think to myself, although both don’t fall into the ice cream category, perhaps I am consuming a bit too much sweets and defeating the purpose of Lent here. The checker sees my cake on the conveyor belt and asks: “Gonna eat that by yourself?” Nope, it will be shared.

Have a blessed week, and support your Girl Scouts

Matthias Leue

Leeks, bacon, and more

Leeks

Leeks

Well, my Tegut bag (Miss Tegut I named her, you recall?) finally saw the light of day last Sunday at the local Farmer’s Market. She was filled with some fresh leeks (pictured above) and some petite French beans. The local supermarket then supplied additional ingredients, consisting of a pint of heavy cream and a bag of russet potatoes. In the meantime, some bacon that was still residing in my refrigerator, musing its destiny, was delighted at the arrival of the other items. Combining all the ingredients (minus the petite French beans which are for use in another dish), we have one of my favorite winter soups — potato-leak soup — a winter recipe from my mother. A fine way to warm your insides, in our freezing, bitter cold, California winters.

Have a blessed week,

Matthias Leue