BY LAUREN SEPHTON
With the abundance of seasonal fruits and vegetables being harvested, September is an impeccable time to explore these foods from the garden on the table. From drinks to appetizers to dessert, learn how you can incorporate these seasonal ingredients into every handcrafted dish you make.
Grab your kiddos for an enjoyable Saturday morning at your local farmers market, which you can even use as a fun educational experience. Try giving them a dollar to purchase their favorite small vegetable. It is a great opportunity to teach them about harvest time and seasonal produce. In the meantime, talk to your local farmers to hear their special stories and learn about how they farm their produce. It is not only important to know how your ingredients were harvested, but to show support and thankfulness to your local farmers.
Now, let’s move onto the incorporation of these foods from local gardens. The majority of individuals who shop at their local farmers markets every week say that one of their main priorities is seeking local fresh or dried herbs. You can truly taste a substantial difference in each meal by adding herbs from local gardens. There is even a sweet woman that grows over 120 different types of herbs on her farm in King, North Carolina. Now, that’s impressive!
With that being said, how do you incorporate local herbs into a variety of dishes? Let’s begin with tea. For example, chamomile is a popular herb found at many NC farmers markets. Simply add 3 tablespoons of chamomile flowers with a sprig of fresh mint into a teapot with 8 ounces of water. Bring to a boil and steep for 5 minutes. Add a little sweetness by stirring in raw honey from a local farmer. By the way, did you know that raw honey from local farmers can help with allergies? According to several studies, raw honey acts like an allergy shot. Since the bees pick up local pollen from your environment, as you eat local honey, you are slowly building up a tolerance to pollen allergies.
Farmers markets are not only exceptional for homemade herbal drinks, but ideal for entertaining guests. Individuals can entertain by bringing their local market items to the table with a jubilant charcuterie. Farmers markets are a great source for finding preservative-free cured meats that add savory goodness, ripe heirloom tomatoes to brighten up the platter, soft cheeses to add richness or a creamy spread, and other seasonal delights. These delectable seasonal treats can range from sweet cherries in the summer to figs in the fall. The options are endless!
As you complete your stroll through the farmers market, keep an eye out for grass-fed meat and free-range eggs. You may even come across a farmer who sells a dozen of eggs that are beautifully mixed with pastel green, blue, yellow, and brown eggs. They make the most outstanding scrambled and over-medium eggs for breakfast time, but that’s not where their superpowers end. For instance, try making a sausage, sweet potato, and egg hash for a delicious meal today. Simply, cook some spicy chorizo or mild Italian ground sausage until brown and crispy. Add the cooked sausage into a bowl with diced sweet potatoes, thinly sliced onions, fresh rosemary, and garlic. Toss with some olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Roast for 30-40 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender and brown. Making a few wells into the mixture, crack an egg in each well. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the eggs have reached your liking. Voilà!A meal crafted solely from farmers market ingredients.
Even though September brings us to the end of berry season, it is also bringing us to the harvest of other sweet fruits, such as apples, pears, and figs. Do you know the one single recipe that can be altered to any seasonal vegetable or fruit? It is a galette! A galette is basically a flat cake, pancake or pastry dough wrapped over a filling of your choosing. Try out heirloom tomato & mushroom galette or a blueberry pecan galette. Galettes are exceptionally easy to make and can be altered to be savory or sweet, depending on how your taste buds are feeling on a particular day.
As you travel this season, visit your destination’s local farmers market to create new experiences and to learn more about that area. Or better yet, check out a local farmers market here in NC to truly experience all the blessings that it has to offer.