Smile Politely

Market Watch: June 5, 2010

We are definitely settling into a summer groove here at Market Watch. Flipping that calendar page over to June, plus the sticky weather and the preponderance of fizzy, cold drinks chez MW, have really moved this feeling along, as has the impending availability of fresh summer food. Where to get the stuff? Urbana’s Market at the Square, of course. As of this writing, the forecast for this weekend’s Market is calling for temperatures in the 80s and some clouds, and maybe a popup storm or two, but nothing your umbrella can’t handle. Don’t let the chance of a little rain get in between you and the strawberries, yo.

So, yes. There are still plenty of strawberries. If you’re interested in the early spring stuff, like asparagus and rhubarb? Get thee to the corner of Illinois and Vine early, like 7 a.m. early, because we’re definitely on the back end of the season for that kind of produce. However, as the old saying goes, when the asparagus door closes, the pea window opens. Seriously, it does! Just make sure that you peruse all five rows of the Market — there’s produce and baked goods in every row, plus all manner of other farmers market awesome.

Here’s an incomplete list of this week’s available produce: salad mix, head lettuces, arugula (get there early), asparagus (ditto), collard greens, radishes, rainbow chard, green onions, kales, spinach, rapini, rhubarb (get there early), turnips, greenhouse zucchini and cukes and green beans, hydroponic tomatoes, peas, garlic scapes, strawberries, and fresh cut herbs. A few vendors have early potatoes, and you might find some carrots. MW will take this opportunity to remind you that vendors will bring what they have, and MW does not always know ahead of time what they will be bringing. Can’t emphasize it enough — shop the Market all the way through to make sure you’re seeing everything that’s available, because there is produce everywhere in the Market, not just near the entrances.

So — peas! While they don’t have quite the exotic cachet of asparagus or strawberries, fresh peas are an awesome spring find. Market vendors have been known to bring both shelling peas, which are the kind you get the peas out of the pod to eat, and snow peas, which have edible pods and are good in stir fries. Both kinds, when fresh, are far different than anything you’ve ever had from the grocery store. Here’s one really simple thing you can do to shelling peas:

Take the shelling peas, still in the pods, that you bought at the Market and remove the peas from the pod. Compost pods, if you can. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Dump peas in boiling water and boil for no more than 30 seconds. Drain peas, dot with butter and a sprinkling of salt, if desired, and eat. YUM.

The Market continues to tweak its credit/debit/LINK system, which, if you do not already know, is a way for Market shoppers to use credit, debit, and LINK cards at the Market by swiping the cards at the City tent and receiving tokens to shop with any vendor (for LINK users, the tokens are for use to purchase LINK-eligible foods) within the Market. Remember, cash and checks are still most welcome at vendor booths, and some of them take plastic on their own.

Reminder, but worthy of repeating: the Market can be found on Twitter here and on Facebook. The Market also has a page on the City’s new site — click here to get there.

Coming up at the Market:

June 5: The Urbana Free Library comes to the Market – they’ll be there from around 8-11:30 a.m.

June 12: Recyclimpics with U-Cycle! Fun, recycling-related activities for kids from 9-11 a.m.

June 19: Sprouts at the Market v 2.0!

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