I used to think farmers’ markets were a summer event and was always sad to see the last of them in October. But since starting this blog, I’ve found that all farmers’ markets don’t disappear with the leaves. Yesterday morning, a foggy chilly morning, found me here at the Hillsdale Market that was bustling with shoppers, farmers, and craftsmen exchanging a cornucopia of food, crafts, and Christmas decorations.
I made a beeline for Ayers Creek Farm where I found the jam I had tasted back in October and dreamed about since!
Let me just say that some people on my Christmas list are going to be very happy with their presents this year. Carol and Anthony were also selling popcorn, cornmeal, and gorgeous vegetables including the biggest beets I’d ever seen.
From there I made my way to Nonna’s Noodles where I talked with the charming Sarah-Beth who hand-makes her beautiful noodles from a recipe that has been passed down from her grandmother using local ingredients like pasture-raised eggs.
There are noodles for everyone here–wide noodles, skinny noodles, colorful noodles, even gluten-free noodles! A package or two or three would make great gifts.
Have you ever tried fruited vinegars? If you ever see the Blossom Vinegar stand, don’t pass it by until you’ve tried some tasters.
Connie was happy to talk about and give me samples of her artisan vinegars. Wow! The flavors are subtle yet distinct, and after being stuck in a rut with my favorite balsamic vinegar for so long, I now have several to choose from for salads, cooked greens, chili, and so many other recipes. (For more recipe ideas, check here.)
By now, though I’d only stopped at a few stands, my bag was heavy and full. But I was intrigued by the Pine Mountain Ranch stand and stopped to read their extensive list of grass-fed meats. When I saw buffalo listed, I asked for a pound, but when a very friendly young helper told me about their Yak meat–lean, mild, and delicious, she said–I put down the buffalo meat and left with something new to try out on the family…(shhhh, don’t tell my son.)
Some farm stands are like works of art, and the Gathering Together Farm stand was a kaleidoscope of color and texture, and drew me in with the fragrant smell of sauteed parsnips and squash.
After getting a taster that whet my appetite for a hearty root stew, I filled my bag with parsnips, two kinds of carrots, a huge glowing red pepper, beets, lettuce mix, and greens. By now, though there were many more stands, I just couldn’t hold another thing. But I’ll be back! (And maybe with a wheeled basket that just might show up under the Christmas tree this year?)
The Hillsdale Market is open twice a month during the winter and will be open again on Dec. 18th.
Other winter markets: