Summer squashes

Posted by Jenni

Though I’ve been in the D.C. area for a week, I didn’t make it to any markets before this last Saturday. When the temperature finally dipped below ninety, I left the house early with my dad and the kids, glad for cooler air and fresh produce.

When we arrived at the Old Town Alexandria Farmers’ Market, it was packed with people noodling through the open stalls, picking up vegetables for the week. The crowds made it hard to frame a shot and I found myself waiting around for a stall to clear or a vendor to complete an order before I could snap my photos.

The market is colorful, with large canvas umbrellas in green, yellow and red over the various displays. The produce was colorful too, though somewhat artificially: this market is open to any vendor, regardless of the origin of the food, which explains the mammoth displays of flawless red peppers.

I chatted with the folks at The Lamb’s Quarter stand, who produce meats and vegetables on their Maryland farm (it’s been family-operated since 1690).

Theirs is one of just four producer-run stalls at this market so it’s no wonder the tomatoes I bought from them turned out to be so good. My dad cut up one of them and served it as part of a crudite plate yesterday, and I couldn’t stop stacking the tangy cubes on my fork with rectangles of avocado and slices of parmesan.

I walked the perimeter of the square’s central fountain with my daughter who palmed the money my dad gave her when we arrived, looking for a way to spend it.

I palmed my camera, looking for photo opportunities and a few fresh vegetables to bring back to the kitchen.

We left with a soft loaf of sandwich bread, fists full of pastries and a rather large magenta rhinestone bracelet that closes with a satisfying click.

Also, a heaping handful of bright yellow pattypan squashes.

These ended up as a limp mound of buttery sauté on our lunch plates. The tender, browned semi-circles were soon gone and I gnawed the crust of my grilled cheese sandwich wishing on one hand that I’d sliced and sautéed them all; glad on the other that I saved the last three and can make another small batch before we head back home this week.

Speaking of which, I have a couple of kids who’ve had a great vacation but are ready to be reunited with their own beds and Dogsy, the Pillow Pet. I miss home, too. I’m anxious to see if my kohlrabi is ready to harvest and ready to kowtow to the mild Pacific Northwest skies.

See you again on Thursday, with squash, knife and cutting board in hand.

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