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Why You Should Shop At Farmers Markets When You Travel

When I travelled in the olden days, before 9/11, I brought back food in jars and bottles.  The 3-ounce liquid rule makes this impossible on any trip where I’m doing carry-on. When I check a bag I’ll stick in a bottle or two, and maybe some jars. BUT … I have to assume that the suitcase will be tossed, dropped, and placed under a dozen heavier bags. There’s a better than 50 percent chance that the bag will be opened (by the TSA) because of the jars. When this happens it’s unlikely that the items will be put back exactly the way I packed them. Not a complaint – just a thing to keep in mind. I regularly get a nice note – inside my bag – from the TSA. Carry-on is the safest way to transport your food.

And, it turns out that all sorts of non-liquid edibles do better on a plane than the average toddler.

On a recent trip to Rochester, MN I came home with all of the following:

Shiitake mushrooms … When I got home I brushed them with olive oil, sprinkled them with salt and pepper, and za’atar. I roasted them until the gills were golden and beginning to crisp.

In the carry-on bag with the mushrooms I had eggplant, mixed peppers and chilies, cipollini onions, and garlic.

A day or two after my trip I made some super-simple (and healthy) Baked Eggplant Parmesan. How? Spray or brush a pan (or a parchment-lined pan) with olive oil. Season the oiled pan with salt and pepper (so the bottom of the eggplant tastes as good as the top.

Set a slice of eggplant on the seasoned pan. Lightly speinkle the top of the slice with salt and pepper. Add a few thin slices of garlic and chili pepper, and some anchovy bits (optional – but umami filled). Top with a second slice of eggplant. Season the top with the salt and pepper and a few more chili slices. Top with parmesan. Bake at 350 F until the top is bubbly and brown and inside is creamy – about 60 minutes.

Thinly sliced purple daikon radishes make a great salad when tossed with chopped peppers and sliced Belgian endive . Sesame oil and cider vinegar make a great dressing (seasoned with s & p. and a teaspoon of marmalade or jam.)

And it’s cold outside (in an Arizona sort of way) so I made Pumpkin-Miso Soup.

Sauté chopped cipollini onion in olive oil (any onion will do). Add garlic, and bell peppers (I had a brown and a red pepper). Add 4 cups of miso ginger broth (thanks Trader Joe’s) and a can of pumpkin. Bring to a boil and add a cup of freekeh, or rice. Cook until the grain is tender and season with salt and pepper. A handful of of chopped parsley or kale adds some color contrast.

I did not bring home any of my favorite vegetable at the Rochester Farmers’ Market. There was a bin of crazy carrots – but it was set out for kids to snack on as parents shopped.

How can anyone not love a farmers market?

 


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