FARMERS' MARKET CHALLENGE
FRESH AND TASTY
Flats and flats of organic, fresh raspberries. When we went back 45 minutes later, they were sold out!
The rules are pretty simple. Take $40 to your local farmers' market and buy ingredients to fix dinner for 4 people. It is tough to do, but not impossible. Cook up your dinner and send us your menu and some pictures. Our official "rules" are listed below.
Six City Catering employees took on the challenge last month. We visited markets from Renton to Ballard. Here are some tips and advice for your trip to the market.
Leave your shopping list at home. Unless you know that what you want is in season and that it will be there, you can be in for some dificulty trying to fill a shopping list at the Farmers' Market. You will have far better luck keeping an open mind, buying what is fresh and plentiful and creating your menu on the fly.
Portion control. Markets are increasingly carrying proteins. Every market we visited had selections of fish, beef, lamb, and chicken. Be prepared to pay premiums for these items. You most likely will not be serving filet mignon if you take up the challenge. We were able to successfully serve salmon, flank steak, chicken, lamb, and pork. If you keep to your portion sizes, you'll find that your dollars will go further.
Look before you leap. Before you pull out the wallet, take a loop around the market and see what is available. Check out prices while you are walking around.
LOKI FISH COMPANY
Smoked salmon on display. Fresh salmon in the coolers.
He who hesitates is lost. While you want to look around, if you see supply dwindling on something you want, buy it. 2 or 3 of us went back to purchase only to find out that the item was sold out.
Use it all. Buying beets? Cook the greens. Buying onions? The green tops can be used too. Many vegetables give more than you think. You can stretch your dollar by using it all.
Don't worry. You can find it at the market. While you might not be able to get tomatoes in May, you generally will be able to cover your food groups at the market. Aside from being able to purchase fish and meats, all of the markets we visited had cheese stalls, bakery stalls, pre-made desserts, even fresh pasta. Farmers' markets have moved far beyond just fruit and vegetables.
Bring the kids. Most markets are kid friendly -- some more than others. Live music, snacks, and friendly vendors make for a fun shopping trip.
- All main ingredients must be purchased at the market.
- Staples don't count toward your total bill. Oil, salt, pepper, flour, etc. can all come from your pantry
- You can supplement from your yard with fresh herbs
- Everyone is allowed a "cheat." For example, one of our menus used a lemon in the dessert.