It is an image I hope will be etched in my mind forever. It was Wednesday, my second market day in August. Three generations–my mom, Marina and I–were sitting at our stall in a former coal bin at the Granary (a grain elevator built in 1885) at the Lemont Farmers Market.
A woman comes up to browse, and I go into my hard-neck garlic spiel, onto Picasso shallot, Zephyr squash, and Poona Kheera cucumber patter, and finally, the Harner Farm apple pitch (my sister Larissa is married to Earle Harner), discussing what little I know about Zestar and Paula Red apples.
“I’ll take one of those golden cucumbers. My son loves cucumbers,” the woman says. Beside her stands a youngster of about 7 or 8. I explain that Poona Kheera cucumbers are originally from India. They come out of the garden with tiny black bristles that I brush off, and the skin is so tender it doesn’t need to be peeled. She hands the cucumber to her son. He turns it horizontally, like a cob of corn, and bites into it.
As they continue walking down along the row of vendors, the boy snacks on his cucumber. It is one of those I-wish-I-had-my-camera moments. Laurie Lynch
Fritter First-Aid: The garden (and daily rainstorms) have rewarded us with a bounty of cucumbers, squash, and zucchini. To try something a little different, Marina and I made Zucchini Fritters. I found a recipe that called for 1½ pounds of grated squash (salted and towel dried), one egg, ¼ cup flour, and added chives and chopped garlic. Made a dipping sauce—3 T. of rice vinegar, 1 T. Tamari, 1 tsp. sugar and a couple shakes of red pepper flakes—an interesting accompaniment. Problem was, after frying ¼ cup portions of the batter in oil, our fritters fractured. They tasted fine but crumbled into several pieces. Does anyone know the secret to creating firm but tender Zucchini Fritters?
Snack First-Aid: Sue Smith, champion of all things Lemont—the farmers market, Friday night concerts on the green, Strawberry Festival, and Granary restoration—brought a bowl of homemade pickles to market this week, giving each vendor a taste. (Last week, it was cherries.) Then, in Sue-Smith-style, she handed each one of us her recipe for Refrigerator Pickles. Marina and her dad made a similar batch last week. ‘Tis the season!
Sue Smith’s Refrigerator Pickles
6 cups sliced cucumbers and 1 onion, sliced
Mix together 2 cups sugar, 1cup vinegar and 1 T. salt, and pour over cucumber and onion slices. Fill jars and refrigerate for four to five days before serving.
BTW: At the Lemont Farmers Market we’re known as Garden 101. (Last summer it was Garlic 101 but I’ve expanded my offerings.) The Lemont Farmers Market runs through October, Wednesdays from 2 to 6 p.m., but I am only there during August.
A Plug: The fearless threesome went to see The Hundred-Foot Journey the other night. I loved Helen Mirren, food, and France before buying the tickets, so I’m hardly impartial, but I give the movie two thumbs up.
Some Thugs: Last week was a tough one. My ATM got skimmed. My email got scammed. I made a trip to Rock Springs, but not to the Philippines. In the words of Dino, a former F-d-L customer: “If they would only put their energies toward making rather than stealing.”
Written on Slate: “When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, fault lies in yourself.” –Techumseh