A Collapsible Wagon and a Bag Bag

I have shopped at the Collingswood Farmers’ Market for well over a decade.  I wait each year for opening day.  Opening day is very soon!  May 7.

Many of the farmers and vendors know me by name and all of them know me by sight..I’m the lady with the wagon.  When I first started shopping at the market I would carry my purchases until I ran out of arm room and strength and then it was a quick trip to the car and back to shopping.  As I’ve said before my trips to the market are my weekly trips to the store for my groceries.  I buy meat, poultry, cheese, vegetables, fruits, and breads.  Because I make many and big purchases I started using an old fashioned shopping basket on wheels.  The kind my grandmother used to use.  You know, about three feet tall, a handle to pull, two wheels.  That was great except things on the bottom would get crushed.

Quite a few years ago now I stumbled upon the solution.  Warehouse clubs in the area began selling a collapsible wagon.  I’ll say that again.  Collapsible.  Wagon.  This is a sturdy metal framed wagon with a canvas like liner.  It collapses flat so it easily fits in the back of my car.  When I arrive at the market I open it up and go shopping.  When I’m finished shopping, I put my purchases in the car, put the strap in the middle of the wagon (thus making it flat) and put that in my car as well.
IMG_3520
This year the market is starting an initiative to stop the use of plastic bags.  Wonderful idea!  I’ve used my own bags for years.  Once I started using my own bags I noticed that the shopping and the putting away of my purchases became much easier.

I keep one bag elusively for baked goods.  Nothing gets crushed and they are all in one place when I come home from the market.  (I get to the market when it opens at 8AM so it’s important to know where my breakfast is!)  I put various baked goods from different bakers in the same bag.  DiBartolo’s rolls mingle pleasantly with Wild Flour’s zucchini bread slices. That bag goes right on the kitchen table when I come in and my husband knows there is something special for him in there.

IMG_3512

When I get to a farmer’s table they know I have my own bag and they take it from me and fill it with my choices.  They even put the heavy and wet things on the bottom for me.  (I put a clean paper towel in the bottom of the bag to absorb water).  The bags line up nicely in my wagon.  And when I buy a watermelon or cantaloupe from Buzby’s or Fruitwood Farms I just place it in the bottom of the wagon I also have a nice square cold bag for my frozen Hillacres Pride meat purchase.

IMG_3515

Finally I have a portable colander that my daughter gave me for my birthday.  It looks like one of those hard plastic mesh beach bags you can get anywhere.  In that I carry things like tomatoes.  Very delicate produce.

IMG_3511

When I get home from the market the bags come into the kitchen and the items in them are easily put away.  The wagon stays flat in my car all market season and I use one bag to store all the folded bags…a bag bag.  By 10AM my stash is stored and my car is ready for the next market day.

Advertisements

What’s the name of that again?

This is a family recipe.  One of those recipes that has been handed down.  One of those recipes with a real history.  And one of those recipes that’s not in any cookbook.  We call it langoosh.  Yes, you’re saying it correctly.  Langoosh.

This recipe is so delicious and so easy that I am sharing here with all of you so that it doesn’t get lost.  It looks daunting.  It isn’t.  Try it, you, and everyone who tastes it will love it.

Some family recipes are kept secret.  While this recipe has very few exact measurements (I’m posting photos by way of directions), please make it and share it.  The dish and the recipe.

The Ingredients:

  • fresh or frozen bread dough (enough for one loaf)
  • 8 to 16 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • a pinch of salt
  • a cup of whole milk (may need more….look at the pictures)

The recipe:

Butter a rimmed sheet pan.  Press the bread dough into the pan.  Make sure the dough goes up the sides of the pan.  No holes in the dough, please.  In a large bowl beat two eggs. Add the grated cheese, stir.  Add the pinch of salt, stir.  Add a cup of milk, stir.  The mixture should be watery.  There should be more cheese than any other ingredient.  Spoon the cheese mixture on to the dough.  Spread it from edge to edge.  Make sure your edge is tall enough to keep the mixture in the dough.  You do NOT want the cheese mixture to spill over the edge and under the dough.  Although it sometimes happened.  It will still be delicious.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until the crust and cheese are slightly golden brown.  When checking for doneness, carefully lift an edge of the dough to make sure the bottom of the crust is not getting too brown.

When the langoosh is done your kitchen will smell swooningly delicious.  Place the tray on a cooling rack.  You can eat it warm or at room temperature.

Traditionally this is made on Easter and eaten cold.  After slicing a piece of langoosh horizontally, one puts ham or kielbasa inside and eats it like a sandwich. I often make it to serve with hamburger vegetable soup.

The Long Lonely Winter of Frozen Vegetables

The long lonely winter of frozen vegetables and fruit raised in foreign countries is over. The farmer’s market will be open soon. And I can’t wait.

During the market season my weekly trip to that lovely space filled with local treasure and friendly farmers and vendors is my supermarket. I walk from stand to stand seeking Jersey fresh treats and looking for new foods to try.

In the first weeks of the market are lots of plants. I buy a few tomato plants, a cucumber plant or two, and a couple of pepper plants. I have little sun in my yard but I do have enough for a small garden. When I was a child we had a tiny backyard so there was no space for a vegetable garden. My father would plant tomato plants along the fence line with the rose bushes. There’s always room for a tomato plant. There are farmers who sell “patio tomatoes” that is just that, a potted tomato plant that grows on your patio (or porch). I am also making a list of fresh herbs that I will make into a kitchen herb garden located in various pots clustered out my kitchen door.

But back to the lonely winter of frozen vegetables. Actually not as bad as all that. During the market season I freeze my favorite vegetables at their peak. In November when the market ends my freezer is full of beans, corn, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli. The best thing to make with all of those vegetables is soup. Especially now when I’m trying to use up all the things I’ve saved for my winter meals.

IMG_3420

My ninety-year-old father passed away suddenly a couple of weeks ago. And the weather has been chilly, rainy. So, since the weather was bad and I was feeling a little low I went to my freezer and pulled out the ingredients for a big pot of vegetable hamburger soup. The soup went together very quickly and when my husband walked in the door the kitchen was warm and cozy and we had, with some rolls and butter and cheese, a lovely, filling, healthy meal. It was nice to sit quietly (for the first time in a long time) and enjoy our soup and conversation (and a little Radio Swiss Jazz) as the sunset.

Vegetable Hamburger Soup Recipe

Serves 8 easily.

Ingredients

  • About 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 leek, sliced (just the white part)
  • 2 carrots, diced
  •  1 stalk of celery, diced
  • ½ to 1 pound ground beef

the following vegetables can be fresh or frozen:

  • a cup of green beans
  •  a cup of frozen spinach
  • ½ cup cranberry beans
  • ½ cup lima beans
  • ½ head of sliced cabbage
  • ½ to 1 cup of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • ¼ to 1/3 cup of soaked barley
  • 1 32 ounce box chicken broth
  • 4 or more cups water (or more if soup seems to need more broth)

In a large soup pot, melt about 3 tablespoons of butter. Saute in the melted butter 1 sliced leek, 2 diced carrots, 1 stalk of celery diced. Then add to the pot ½ to 1 pound of grass fed ground beef. Break it up and cook until light brown.

Next add green beans, cranberry beans, lima beans, sliced cabbage, a diced tomato, diced zucchini, frozen spinach.  All of these vegetables were in my freezer. Frozen during the summer from fresh produce. None of the vegetables are cooked before being frozen.

After adding all of the vegetables and the beef pour in 32 ounces of chicken stock and four or more cups of water. Turn the burner on medium and wait for the soup to start to simmer. Then turn it lower to simmer for about four hours. While the soup is coming to a boil I soak ¼ to 1/3 cup of pearl barley for a ½ hour. Drain the barley and add it to the soup. Stir everything. That’s it!

This soup can be made in a slow cooker. Temperature low….time 6 to 8 hours.

Serve with your favorite crackers and some good sharp cheese. This soup is always just what the doctor ordered.

*All of the vegetables were purchased from farmers at the market. The meat and cheeses are purchased from Hillacres Pride.