Scoot Over Farmer’s Market!

Our two-year old loves to smell all the flowers at the Saratoga Farmer's Market!

Our two-year old loves to smell all the flowers at the Saratoga Farmer’s Market!

Every Saturday morning our family goes to the farmer’s market. We roll out of bed, munch on a light breakfast, gather our reusable bags and empty glass bottles, and head to the market, our eyes still gritty with sleep. It’s our family tradition. Our girls eagerly anticipate going to the market each week. They delight in choosing the fruits and vegetables for the week and later timidly ask for their special weekly treat from Miss Linda, one of our favorite vendors. Their excitement over seeing their favorite vegetables appear throughout the different seasons, like tomatoes or strawberries, explodes from their little bodies as they excitedly beg to eat “just one” cherry tomato, sweet pea or strawberry before we have even left our favorite farmer’s stand. In the summer, we typically get our items and settle down in a warm sunny spot to enjoy our weekly treats and maybe snitch a few veggies from what is supposed to be our weekly (not Saturday morning) supply of CSA veggies. We love our Saturday morning tradition. It works for our family. But, we know it’s not something that works for everyone.

We have shared at length about being a part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Essentially, we pay for our year’s supply of veggies (occasionally we get a few fruits too) in advance. This helps us because we do not have to budget for veggies each week and we get a discounted rate by buying everything in advance. It also helps our farm because they get a large sum of money from numerous CSA members, which they can then use to buy larger items for the farm and better budget/plan out their year. Most of the CSA’s around this area are designed to get picked up at a farmer’s market. There are several different markets in the Albany region. At the Saratoga Farmer’s Market, where we go, there are three or four farmers that offer a CSA option. As wonderful as it is to get veggies at a cheaper rate, it can be difficult for some to get to the market to get those veggies, especially when the market is only once or twice a week.

Thankfully, there are other options available to people who want to get fresh fruits and veggies that are non-GMO and locally grown. Often, especially in the summer time, farms have farm stands where they sell their crops. Additionally, some of the farms that offer CSA’s will let you pick up shares at their farm or at an alternate location. Often, just a quick email or phone call is all it takes to set it up.

Other services are cropping up around the country that deliver fresh crops directly from the farmer to you or to a set location that is not a farmer’s market. One such service is available here in the Albany region. It’s called, “Field Goods.” (Click here to access their website) Field Goods takes fresh crops from a variety of small local farms and distribute it as shares (small, standard and family-sized)  throughout our community. In addition to the usual fruit/veggie CSA, they also offer a bread and herb/allium CSA. They deliver year-round to numerous locations throughout the Albany region, including many apartment/housing complexes and work places. For a list of all their delivery locations, click here. This is a great option for those who may not live near a farmer’s market or are unable to attend their market when it is open. A friend of ours is a member of Field Goods and has her fruits/veggie CSA delivered right to her workplace!

Finally, Local Harvest is a wonderful resource for putting people in touch with their local farmers. It has a terrific search option that allows you to search for CSAs, grocery stores, farmer’s markets, farms, and even meat markets that grow/sell sustainably grown food in your area. There are even some farms that allow you to purchase items online at Local Harvest and have them delivered right to your home!

So, if, for whatever reason, farmer’s markets are not an option for you and/or you are unsure of where to get wholesome, local foods, take heart! There are lots of other options out there and, if your area farmers are anything like the ones I know, they’d be more than willing to work with you on the best way to get their delicious food to your door.

And we’ve got life!!!

So, after our last garden failure a few years ago, today I am pleased to report…WE HAVE LIFE in this year’s garden!!! Hurray! Last time around, despite planting a wide variety of seeds, we only grew one measly tomato (that then fell on the ground and proceeded to rot). This time around we only decided to grow four things: Cantaloupe, squash, tomatoes, and radishes. Instead of planting directly into our soil (which we have now figured out is not the greatest quality), we planted in a raised bed. We have seen a huge difference this time around!

Here’s the first sprouts of this year’s garden popping up!

The first sprouts have sprung!

The first sprouts have sprung!

Now a month or so later, we are so very tickled to announce….our squash have their very first flower, which means, the squash are soon to follow! Check it out!

Here's the very first squash blossom!

Here’s the very first squash blossom!

It’s been wonderful to watch our garden grow (and continue to grow) this time around. We can’t wait to taste the food from our family’s very first harvest! It’s looking like we will have a good amount of squash, which means I’ll have to come up with some tasty squash recipes. If you have any favorite squash recipes, please share! We’d love to add them to our recipe collection!

Coconut Curried Shrimp Salad

In the summertime we do simple meals. Our upstate NY home does not have central air conditioning and the heat often seems to drain the life out of us. Cooking in our kitchen during blistering summer heat is definitely not an enjoyable experience.

Summers are also busy. Between vacations, time at the pool, exploring the outdoors, gardening, and outdoor home improvements (because those are definitely tough to do in the wintertime in NY), it’s a hectic season. Maybe God knew we’d all be so busy outdoors in the summertime and that is why most of fruit and vegetables are ready then. We don’t have to cook, we just go pick our food right off the plant and eat it. It doesn’t get much easier!

So, in the summer, we opt for simple whole foods. For lunch today, I munched on some pistachios, cherries, yogurt, kale chips and a banana. Simple. Easy. Delicious. For summertime dinners, our family adores salads. Even our two year old eats her salad with gusto. So, today we are sharing a recipe for coconut-curried shrimp salad. It is one of our favorites. We hope you enjoy it too!

Coconut Curried Shrimp Salad

Mix together: 1/2 teaspoon of curry, 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon garam masala, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, a pinch of black pepper, and 1/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut. Once mixed, toss the spice mixture with 1 lb of large shrimp (peeled). Coat thoroughly.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat until melted. Add shrimp (in a single layer). Cook shrimp for four minutes on one side and flip. Then, cook for another three minutes on the other side. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Prepare a salad with toppings of your choice and add the shrimp on top. Enjoy!