According to the USDA, the number of farmer's markets in the United States rose from 1,755 in 1994 to over 6,131 in 2010.In addition to a renewed interest in eating healthy, locally grown foods and getting great bargains(two dollars for over three pounds of beets at this week's West Fork Garden Market;beat that big box store!), I can't help but wonder if there are some fond memories coming into play here. Remember those fresh potatoes we used to dig before we got too busy for such things? The lettuce you used to snip for dinner before lettuce came cut and prewashed in plastic bags? The green beans that Grandma cooked, that had a snap when you bit into them? I say I wonder because I am not a psychiatrist; certainly not an expert. But when I go each week to the local farmer's markets, fond memories come flooding back to me.
My grandmother(we called her Nanny) was a character by any one's definition. Standing at four feet ten inches tall and presiding over a very large family,she knew how to cook. She loved to fish and she liked to drink. Some would say she drank too much . I suspect she thought she just drank her fair share. She lived to almost one hundred and in later years she cut back to a six pack of beer a day. She obviously had a strong constitution because although sometimes she had a bit of a glow about her, you never thought she was tipsy.
Well into her seventies when I was a teen, she was still crazy about fishing. Donning a pair of waders with a spinning rod in hand, she would spend days in a raging river in search of trout. I was the only kid I knew who had their parents permission to skip school to go fishing with their grandmother. We would go home at the end of the day and she would cook our catch along with whatever was fresh from her garden.
These are a few of my fond memories. My grandmother is gone now as I am sure some of your loved ones are.I hope that summer dishes and your trips to the local farmer's markets bring back some fond memories to you as well!
As follows is my grandmother's recipe for Green Beans and Potatoes. It is not a fancy dish. It's comfort food. You won't find it on the menu of your local gourmet restaurant. But you will find most of the ingredients at this week's farmers markets.
In a large pot, melt half a stick of butter. Add 1/4 tsp. of baking soda and let it foam.
Add about 4 lbs. of new potatoes and 1 lb. of fresh picked green or yellow beans.
Cover with water and cook until tender. Add one can of evaporated milk and warm through.
(Vegan version-Substitute vegan margarine for butter and soy milk for the evaporated milk)
John Ford lives in Winslow, Arkansas. He has pretty much given up hope for a productive garden this year and will be shopping at the local farmer's markets regularly.