Cook outside your comfort zone in honor of National Farmers Market Week

kohlrabiIt’s the height of summer, and the tables of farmers markets around the country are overflowing with firm-fleshed, scarlet tomatoes; bunches of fragrant basil; and — depending on where you live — juicy stone fruits, avocados, and more. Such bounty makes it easy to celebrate National Farmers Market Week August 1-7 by visiting a market near you (you can find one via the Eat Well Guide, LocalHarvest, or USDA). And there almost definitely is one near you, as there are now more than 5,000 around the country, up an astonishing 13% from the previous year.

I’m lucky enough — or cursed, depending how you see it — to live in Oakland, Calif., where every day I have several farmers markets within 20 miles to choose from, all the way through the winter. And I love them. I’ve been doing the bulk of my produce shopping at them for five years now, trying varieties of apples I never see in the grocery store, and practicing seasonal martyrdom by forswearing strawberries and tomatoes until they reappear in the spring and summer, respectively.

Whichever market I go to, I always run into several friends, either shopping or selling, and I come home in a better mood than when I left — something I cannot say about supermarket shopping.

I’m in a rut, though, with my farmers market routine. I know what I like, who I like to buy it from, and I head straight for those stands. So this year, I’m going to celebrate National Farmers Market Week by forcing myself out of my vegetable comfort zone. I’ll be picking up whatever looks weirdest or most unfamiliar to me – kohlrabi, say, or Romanesco broccoli — and figuring out how to cook it.

Care to join me?

3 Responsesto “Cook outside your comfort zone in honor of National Farmers Market Week”

  1. Kevin says:

    “practicing seasonal martyrdom” – well put! Balancing trying new things with respecting the tried and true can be a tough battle indeed.

  2. Sheila says:

    It looks like it’s the season for challenges! Without even reading this post, I decided to butcher a whole chicken (head and feet still attached) purchased from a local farmer this past weekend. This adventure was out of my comfort zone, as I grew up in a vegetarian household and am now used to purchasing pre-butchered cuts of meat. I learned a lot from my butchering experience, not only in terms of practical skill, but also in terms of pushing myself to try something new.

  3. Here’s a contribution to the project from my Mental Masala blog: taking on the turnip with 1) quick pickles and 2) a turnip green and potato dish from Spain (adapted from Mediterranean cooking expert Paula Wolfert).