Last weekend: windy and cold. This weekend: not windy and cold. It’s looking good for the Commencement Weekend edition of the Market — partly cloudy, high 60s, and… strawberries.
O, yes, local strawberry season is all but on top of us, and this season is supposedly bringing with it the bumperest of crops thanks to cooperative weather, courtesy of Mother Nature. As with asparagus, which will still be dominant at the Market this weekend, there is no comparison between berries purchased at the store and berries purchased directly from a local producer as far as flavor and freshness go. The scent of locally-grown, in-season berries on the breeze at the Market should be one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Yes, MW is geeked for strawberries.
If (if! Ha!) you buy some, MW recommends getting a quart for eating straight out of the container, and a quart to use on top of this recipe (wash & core the berries, then sprinkle with a half cup of sugar and let them sit in the bowl — refrigerate only if you’re not going to use after an hour):
BETTY CROCKER SHORTCAKE
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 3 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 6 tbsp. shortening
- 2/3 to ¾ cup whole milk
Sift or whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening with pastry blender or two knives. Stir in milk to make a soft dough. Knead lightly. Pat ½ dough into a well greased 8-inch round layer cake pan. Dot with butter. Pat out other half on top. Bake in a 450-degree oven 12-15 minutes. Split layers apart. Spoon sweetened fruit (not chilled) between and on top. Serve warm with whipped or plain cream. 6 servings.
Wait, you mean there’s other fresh produce, too? Dreamy. Other produce this week will include salad mix, arugula, spinach, head lettuces, radishes, rainbow chard, green onions, spinach, rapini, rhubarb, celery, and fresh cut herbs, along with a few surprises, perhaps?
Once again, it pays to get to all five rows of the Market. Remember — purveyors of goat cheese, farm-raised meats (may MW suggest, for the omnivores, giving Moore Family Farm’s pastured pork cutlets a try? At a mere two bucks a package, they’re fantastic in your stir fry or fajitas and incredibly budget-conscious), fresh eggs, and honey will also be at the Market, and let us not forget the baked goods and pastas and locally-made chocolate. NOM.
Also at the Market this weekend: more plants for your garden (herb, flower, veggie) and quality handmade art — art you can wear, art you can hang on your wall, art you can give as gifts… a plethora of good finds this weekend.
So, the Market introduced the LINK/credit/debit system at the Market last weekend. It was cold and windy and yet still, this program was a massive success. You guys really like the Market’s cute wooden tokens (see photo)… or maybe it’s about financial accessibility… or the convenience. No matter — LINK users can go produce-and-fresh-food shopping, credit and debit users are saved a trip to one of the cash machines, and vendors sell more stuff. It’s a win-win-win situation, as MW’s former boss still likes to say. For questions about how the system works and/or to get tokens, bring your plastic to the City of Urbana tent, located at the NW entrance to the Market, and they’ll be able to help you out.
Coming up at the Market:
May 15: Look for information about Eating Here. Banners will go up Monday near the Market site, but for this first part of the season’s rollout, there should be a brochure and other handouts available with more information about why Illinois-grown fruits and vegetables are so dang awesome.
May 22: Sprouts at the Market with Champaign County Extension’s Master Gardeners and Market vendor Tiny Greens will put on a seed planting workshop for the youngsters from 9-11 a.m. Registration is not required. If it rains, Sprouts will default to the June date, which is the 19th. Please call 384-2319 for more information about the workshop or the Sprouts program.
May 29: Urbana’s Public Arts Program holds their first Art at the Market workshop of 2010!