Midtown Farmers’ Market: Week 21–On the Brink

Earth tones begin to prevail

We’re really on the brink between two seasons at the Farmers’ Market: looking in one direction there are enough ripe tomatoes, ears of sweet corn and red peppers to make you think it’s high summer. But the next stall down is stocked with the winter squash, storage onions and gnarly root vegetables that make you apprehensive of cold months to come. There are some notable changes from the summer market: this week was the first in which I didn’t see cucumbers available anywhere. Onions, which earlier in the year came with their green stems still attached, are coated with brown or red papery skins after being out of the ground for a few weeks. Where you could once buy new potatoes that were perfect lightly steamed and dipped in aïoli, now the potatoes are large and require more aggressive treatment. I am afraid tomatoes and zucchini will be the next to go.

A squashed photo of squash

In past weeks I have been reluctant to embrace some of the new fall vegetables, but this week it was time to accept change. It was hard to resist all that beautiful squash! I am a sucker for a pretty package, so I had to buy an orange and green flecked Carnival squash (a flavorful acorn squash variety). I also bought a red Kuri squash on good past experiences and a very strong recommendation from the farmer. Finally, I bought a butternut squash, because it seems to be the most popular variety for recipes – I have a few that use it.

Cabbage isn’t exclusively a fall vegetable; it’s available most of the summer, too. Although I buy a cabbage now and then in the summer, a head is more than I can use in a week or two (so I  end up pickling it). This week, Martha saw some smaller heads of cabbage, and I got to thinking of warm fall cabbage dishes and the sale was made. It didn’t hurt that we could bundle the cabbage with all the shallots we’ll need for the winter for $5.

If you read these farmers’ market posts regularly you would have noticed over the last few weeks that I was really not looking forward to fall. When we got home and laid everything out on the kitchen table, though, I was excited. At the end of summer, I found myself buying the same vegetables each week. There are more than a few ways to combine these vegetables, but I was getting a little bored seeing more or less the same pile every week (I can only imagine your pain, reader). So it was refreshing to see squash and cabbages cropping up. And as I thought through the morning’s bounty trying to figure out how I would use all this stuff up in a week, I noticed that my brain had switched from summer cooking mode to fall: I was thinking less about grilled meats, salads, and slices of fresh tomatoes and more about rich braises of cabbage and apples, deeply roasted squash, and all the other hearty comforts of fall food. With only a month and a half left for the market, there are many good dishes to bring the season to a close.


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2 comments on “Midtown Farmers’ Market: Week 21–On the Brink”

  1. Kim 20 September, 2009 at 9:02 am

    I’d never known the red kuri squash before moving to Denmark. They’re known exclusively as hokkaido here and seem to be the most readily available squash around. I bought one and ended up baking then mashing it, not exactly high food art! I’d like to see what you do with the squash and maybe get a recipe out of you!

  2. Tom 20 September, 2009 at 11:31 am

    I’ve used kuri squash to make soups. Here is what Deborah Madison says about this family of squash in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (which is a great reference on vegetables, even if the recipes should be taken with a grain of salt, or the addition of several thousand grains of salt): “…squat and round and usually dark green except for the Kuri, which is red-orange. All these squash have dense flesh, which is extraordinarily sweet. You’ll be asked if you added sugar to your soups.” Coming from Acorn squash, the Kuri is definitely more flavorful. For this week’s squash, I’m planning on doing a kind of Moroccan pie (bisteeya). Hopefully I will post it later this week.

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