Farmers’ market time

Yesterday marked a day I’ve been anxiously awaiting since the first peeks of spring weather–the beginning of weekly farmers’ markets in Chicago! While it’s still too early for most fruits and vegetables, the market did not disappoint. Let me tell you why. The meat. I have been saying to Andy all weekend that I don’t know why we ever bother to buy meat in grocery stores, because the stuff you get at the farmers’ market that was raised and slaughtered on somebody’s ranch down state is just mind-blowingly tasty.

But before I get to that, here’s a peek at something hilarious:

Yes, a dog in a stroller. And clearly a stroller that was specially made for dogs. Maybe it’s just me, but I was nearly on the ground laughing at this. I had to snap this picture really quickly with my phone because the woman pushing the dog around looked like an utter nut job, and I didn’t think she’d appreciate me laughing at her pup. But really. Come on. The funniest part was that he just sat in there, totally attentive, looking in whatever direction she went. Granted he was tethered to the inside of the stroller, but he was just completely docile, happy to be out for his non-walk.

Anyway, back to meat. On Saturday night I cooked ham steaks that we’d bought from Sugar Creek Ranch in Sterling, Illinois. Unfortunately they don’t seem to have a website. Anyway, the guy was mainly hawking eggs, but he had these enormous coolers of all sorts of meat, and being a lover of ham in any form, I suggested we try the ham steaks. They. Were. Amazing. So flavorful and textured–not like the slimy, dense ham you’re used to eating (and, I’ll admit, even that stuff is good if you don’t know what you’re missing!).

I created a glaze and baked one in a glass pan–very simple. My glaze consisted of:

  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • sprinkle of ground cloves
  • 3/4 c water

I whisked those ingredients together, poured it over the ham, tucked a blanket of foil around it to keep it from drying out, and baked in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. So, so wonderful.

One big thing in season right now is mushrooms. We saw one table with a bunch of morels but didn’t end up trying them. Andy’s had them–I never have. I wonder if it’s more about the thrill of the hunt with morels than the actual taste? We did get some regular white mushrooms, though, and green onions. I sauteed those together in a skillet with a little bit of olive oil. The mushrooms were very, well, mushroom-y. I love mushrooms, but I think they often end up being a vehicle for whatever flavor you’re cooking them with. These had an earthy flavor that stood on its own.

For some reason, I typically fall prey to over-cooking my mushrooms, but I was careful with these and they tasted excellent.

I’m just thrilled that farmers’ market season is here again!

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