Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Six Days - Countdown

Today's Farmers' Market is located in Des Moines, Iowa. So, considering it's Iowa and there are lots of farms everywhere, you'd think the Des Moines market would be spectacular, right? Well, you'd be correct -- it is spectacular.

I went to high school and college in Des Moines, but haven't been back, other than a quick drive-through, for about twenty years. Last summer, I met my best friend from high school there and spent a fabulous weekend with her and her family. One of the places we went to was the Des Moines market. Even though I was expecting a lot, I was still shocked. It is a huge and has so many different products.

Here's my friend, her mom, her sister and her adorable and super-smart daughter:

The market is located downtown at 300 Court Ave. and is open Saturdays, 7:00 am to noon, May 1 to October 30. It goes on for blocks in every direction. Some of the things we bought were mini-squashes (although I didn't know what these were at first -- they are adorable), German pastries, peppers, cherry tomatoes, a pie and Rainier cherries (big smile). As you can imagine, you'll find lots of fresh corn as well as any other fruit or vegetable you can think of. I will admit, though, one of my favorite things was the fresh kettle corn. Really, I've never had better.

Following are some pictures from the market. Tell me if your mouth doesn't water:

Here's the market's website:

Whether you live in Des Moines or plan to drive through for a summer vacation somewhere, don't miss the market. You will thank me.

Today's recipe is the easiest dessert you'll ever make -- plus, it's yummy.

Summer Strawberry -- I Don't Want to Work Hard But I Want Something Good -- pie


1 graham cracker pie crust

2 pints of strawberries, hulled and cut in half

1 container strawberry glaze (I find it in the fruit section of my grocery store)


Mix the strawberries with about 3/4 of the container of glaze.

Pour into pie crust -- pile high!!!!

This part is very important -- you need to let the pie sit in the refrigerator for a minimum of two hours. The glaze soaks into the strawberries.

Serve with some sort of whipped topping. I like Cool Whip, my husband and son like heavy whipping cream. Either way, you can't miss. How easy is that?

Monday, March 29, 2010

One Week

NOTE: For some reason that I'm not smart enough to figure out, the above date is for yesterday. Today is really TUESDAY, March 30. I'm sure of this because the calender in the bottom corner of my computer screen tells me so.

FARM FRESH MURDER, the first in the Farmers' Market Mystery Series, publishes one week from today. Yay! In celebration, for the next seven days, I'll highlight different farmers' markets throughout the country. At the end of each post, I'll also add a quick and easy recipe idea.

Today's market is the one I'm most familiar with -- the Salt Lake City Downtown Farmer's Market. This is the first market I shopped -- a number of years ago. It has grown and expanded over time but has kept its homey comfortable feel.

During the spring and summer and into the fall, every Saturday (and Tuesday evenings last year), Pioneer Park (400 W. 200 So.) hosts the market.

Since I moved to Salt Lake City a couple decades ago, this area of downtown has seen lots of renovation. Surrounding the park are newer businesses and living spaces. It's great to see the way the area comes alive with the farmers' market.

There are so many products at the market, but my favorite fruits are watermelon and Rainier cherries. I think I'm the only person on the planet who gains weight from eating so much fruit during the summer. I load up almost every Saturday. There's nothing like fresh farmers' market fruit.

Of course, there are some amazing artists at the market, too. I love the following bowls -- a few years ago I actually tried to make one of these. It wasn't pretty.

This guy sounded terrific. I was surprised at the different tones/notes he could reach.

BONUS EXTRA -- in Salt Lake City we also have something called The People's Market. This year it will run every Sunday from June 14 to October 24, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. It is located at the International Peace Gardens (1000 So. 900 W.) and is unique in that there is no set-up. Apparently, vendors can just show up to sell their crops/wares.

Fresh! Yum!

Utah has some great artists. It's probably difficult to see the detail in this picture, but this guy's work was breathtaking.

I love quick dinner ideas and one of my family's favorite dinners is (thankfully) easy and quick. Last summer, at the Salt Lake City Downtown Market, I picked up some mushrooms from this guy:

They were so good -- sadly, I got them up during my last visit to the market, and I didn't pay attention to what kind they were. They were something I'd never heard of, something exotic. I'll go back this year to buy more and memorize the name. Anyway, following is a recipe for our quick and easy (and healthy, by the way) dinner. Use whatever mushrooms you like, or experiment with different ones. Normally, we use a package of Baby Bellas. This recipe is for three people, one being a hungry-all-the-time teenager. Change ingredient amounts according to your needs.

One roasted or baked chicken. Cook it yourself or pick one up a cooked one at Costco or your local grocery store, or your farmers' market, if they have them.

One large onion, chopped in big pieces (sometimes I use red, sometimes white)

One container of mushrooms

One package of noodles. For this meal, we like mostaccioli -- they're substantial but they aren't so thick that they overwhelm the other flavors.

Margarine or butter

Extra Virgin Olive oil

Salt and pepper, or a dash or Montreal Chicken Seasoning.

Okay, the ingredient list probably makes the meal pretty self-explanatory, but start by pulling the meat off the entire chicken and tearing it into medium-sized pieces. Set aside.

Prepare the noodles -- al dente, always al dente.

While the noodles are boiling, put the mushrooms and chopped onion pieces into a pan with some olive oil -- on medium heat. Saute until the onions are tender but not mushy. They get kind of sweet at this point. For the last couple minutes, put the chicken pieces in with the mushrooms and onions. Add some salt and pepper or Montreal seasoning. If you're lucky, your noodles and onions and mushrooms will all be done at the same time!

Drain the noodles, then mix into them a few tablespoons of butter or margarine. Immediately, serve the chicken, onions and mushrooms over the buttered noodles.

My son loves this dinner so much, I think I'm going to have to start buying double everything.

Good luck and let me know if you try it.