Farmers Market Challenge: Week 14

Last week’s post was all about summer; this week’s is all about fall.

The air is crisp, the orange, red and yellow leaves are blowing in the wind, children screeching with glee as they scatter through the organized piles, hoodies and winter leggings taking over shorts and tanks, hot chocolate fast replacing ice cream.

‘Tis the season for belly warming, hearty recipes.

The Bartel menu has officially embraced fall – tortilla soup; quinoa, kale and squash stew; stir fry; and cheesy, cheesy quiche were staples of the week – made all the more comforting by market-fresh goodness.

To be honest, I didn’t know we were going all in with fall, in fact, our market shopping list this week was quite lacking. We had our usual meal-planning session, but both husband and I were stumped as to what to put on it. Meals were suggested, but ultimately rejected – we were not inspired.

So we went in with a list of our staples: greens and a few veggies, and that was it. We left it to the market to decide.

This week’s loot:

Zaklan Heritage Farm:

  • 1 mini purple cabbage: $1
  • 1 leek: $3
  • 1 purple onion: $1.60
  • 1 bag arugula: $4
  • 2 bunches mustard greens: $5

Greendale Herb and Vine:

  • 1 eggplant: $2.50

Country Village Market:

  • 1 basket Brussels sprouts: $3

Golden Ears Cheese Crafters

  • 1 medium-sized  chunk of smoked gouda $8

Wild West Coast Seafoods

  • 1 pound petrale sole: $12

Total spent was $40.10.

Of the loot not on the original must-have list were the Brussels sprouts (screams fall), red cabbage, leeks, eggplant, onion, smoked gouda, and petrale sole.

Smoked gouda
Smoked gouda

We knew we wanted a fish, tuna to be exact, but unfortunately, due to a “crummy” season, what was $12 for a pound a month or so ago is now $18 to $20. Sadly, out of our price range. Ron “the fish guy” suggested we try the petrale. We were hesitant at first because every time we’ve purchased sole from the grocery store it has significantly shrunk upon grilling.

That’s filler, Ron told us, all water. Apparently most fish sold in chains have added water filler to beef up their appearances!!! Ron assured us it was a tasty fish that would retain its size, and at $12 a pound, it was within our family friendly budget.

Because it’s a lighter fish, we didn’t want to overload it with seasoning – keep it simple, Ron advised.

We splashed it with olive oil, added dill, salt and pepper, wrapped it in tinfoil and threw it on the barbecue, along with tinfoil wrapped veggies, including the eggplant and zucchini from last week.


My only concern with the fish, which by the way, my four-year-old devoured without any prodding, is the bone content – there were a lot of small, fine bones littered throughout. Good thing the boy doesn’t care about appearances of his foods just yet; it was quite mangled by the time I was through with it.

The Brussels sprouts and eggplant were grilled on the barbecue – sooo yummy! A portion of the leeks and cheese were used in the quiche; the remainder of the leek was used in a quinoa stew that also used the delicata squash, tomatoes and tatsoi from last week, as well as the Russian garlic from two weeks ago, and the onion, and purple cabbage. Pretty much I threw everything I had in there!

Essentially, a kitchen-sink stew
Essentially, a kitchen-sink stew

The stir fry incorporated the green beans, red pepper and garlic from last week, as well as this week’s onion. And with one more day to go, a little bit of onion and cheese remaining, I am heavily considering making a single-serving French onion soup.

Fall, it’s a beautiful, tasty time of year, don’t you think?

Farmers Market Challenge: Week 13

Last week’s market day may have been the first day of fall, but my brain was not letting go of summer. With the sun shining, warming my skin every time it peeked around the clouds, I could not shake summer from the mind.

Neither could my shopping list.

Roma tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, and hot pepper filled the definites.

You see, I had recently been gifted Thug Kitchen, a vegetarian cookbook, with, ahem, rather racy language. I love cookbooks, I love looking at the pictures (pictures are key), and I love setting a new cooking challenge for the chef of the house, which is usually not me.

But perusing through the pages it was me who was drawn to the mid-summer, pico de gallo style salsa– everything in it reminded me of summer; everything in it reminded me of market freshness; everything in it screamed I could make it.

Mid-summer salsa courtesy of Thug Kitchen.

I was dubious at how it would turn out at first, I mean, I’ve been all sorts of loving Muy Rico’s pico de gallo all summer long. What if I didn’t pick out the most perfect tomatoes; what if I didn’t chop the onion the right way; what if I didn’t use enough garlic; what if I made it too spicy, or not spicy enough? Yes folks, these are the questions that dominate my brain when taking over the meal-making reins. Baking, which I love to do, is exact, cooking is subjective – too much room for interpretation.

But here’s the thing, this recipe was crazy, crazy, crazy easy. I made it with a four-year-old running all around me and didn’t get frustrated once. Chop a few veg, don’t burn your fingers or eyes with the hot pepper, mix it together, throw it in the fridge, and BAM, done!

The unique touch: a 20 cent Macedonia hot pepper. Gemma at Zaklan Heritage Farms told me it was on the milder scale of hot peppers, but I was not taking any chances, I’ve been burned by the heat of jalapenos one too many times before!
The unique touch: a 20 cent Macedonia hot pepper. Gemma at Zaklan Heritage Farms told me it was on the milder scale of hot peppers, but I was not taking any chances, I’ve been burned by the heat of jalapenos one too many times before!

Some might associate easy with lacking – don’t do it!

I know I’ve said it before, but wow, the power of ultimate freshness – grabbing those ingredients right off the market tables, ingredients that have been picked fresh that day, and plopping them into your mouth hours later – is HUGE! So fresh. So flavourful. So marketlicious!

All but two of the ingredients (salt and lime) were acquired at the market.

We decided to appropriately pair the salsa with our vegetarian Mexican stuffed peppers (featuring market tomatoes, corn, and cilantro) that we discovered awhile back through this market-buying challenge. I made what I thought was a huge batch of salsa; it said it was good for 4-6 servings. We ate ALL of it. We had leftover fillings for the stuffed peppers, but no leftover salsa. We had leftover tomatoes, cilantro, onion, and hot pepper, but no leftover salsa.

The kitchen was most definitely calling for more!

Mid-summer salsa paired with end-of-summer stuffed peppers.
Mid-summer salsa paired with end-of-summer stuffed peppers.

This week’s loot:

Zaklan Heritage Farm:

  • ~ 2lbs roma tomatoes: $2 per pound
  • 1 red onion: $2.50 per pound
  • 2 sweet peppers: $2
  • 2 bags mustard greens: $5
  • 1 head red lettuce: $3
  • 1 Macedonia hot pepper: $0.20

Ripple Creek Farm:

  • 1 bunch cilantro: $2
  • 2 Georgian Fire garlic bulbs: $3.50
  • 1 zucchini: $2.50
  • 1 delicata squash: $3.50

Bose and Sons Family Farm:

  • 2 corn: $1


  • 1 bag microgreens: $5
  • 1 bag green beans: $2

Jam Shack Preservery

  • 1 jar pear and pineapple ginger jam: $5

Total spent was $41.40. We had 90 cents to spend from the previous week, leaving us in the red for 50 cents.

You may have noticed I don’t have exact dollar amounts for the produce acquired at Zaklan Heritage Farms; I admittedly got excited, and distracted, by the Macedonia hot pepper, which I had never seen before!

Loot of the week
Loot of the week

Other market-lovely meals of the week included paella that featured the green beans, onion, garlic, and peppers from the market; weekend frittatas that also used peppers, zucchini, and onion; and a whole thwack of lunch and dinner salads.

My husband and son drooled happily over their morning (and snack) toasts thick with the pineapple and pear with ginger jam from Jam Shack Preservery.

We had hoped to get a loaf of chocolate bread from A Bread Affair, but sadly it wasn’t on the shelves due to quality control. It will again be on the list for this week with fingers crossed.

The expenditure wasn’t all summer, though. With a few of our definites for the week dashed, we had some unexpected money to spend to fill up the budget. On a whim, I grabbed this delicata squash off the Ripple Creek Eco Farm table; I have no idea what to do with it.

What oh what to do with a delicata squash???
What oh what to do with a delicata squash???

Please help – I am looking for any and all suggestions! With the dwindling days of the summer market, just one more left to go (don’t forget, the winter market starts November 5 in Uptown New West), any items you’ll be missing?

The complete series