I love to cook. I mean, I really love it. I’m not saying I’m good at it. But the kitchen and I have fun together. Sure, there have been times when plates were politely picked at then cleared. Kids said, “It’s great, Mom, I’m just not hungry.” And then, in the morning, I can’t find any cheese.
Still, I’ve been cooking for a long time. Decades. Since my first batch of scrambled eggs when I had to stand on a chair to reach the stove. I’ve made a vegan Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve made chocolate cake out of beer. I’ve pulled together meals on an outdoor stove in my driveway after having gone without power for 2 weeks thanks to a brutal East Coast hurricane. But I’ve never cooked like this. The produce I’ve bought at the farmers markets here could inspire poetry.
East coast people go to farmers markets, too. All I’ve seen there are self-consciously cute and overpriced Saturday morning events with minimal turnout and selection, only vegetables on offer and no hot food at all. So my first visit, a year before moving here, to the Portland Farmers Market was a revelation. I thought I had found some kind of rare, magical thing. Like a unicorn, but with tamales and hand-made cheese. Turns out, that’s how we do farmers markets in these here parts. Why? Because we have, um, farmers. It took me a couple of weeks to realize this. I’m miles ahead of my friend Dave who once, after a half hour of deep, silent thought blurted out, “I just realized Ore-Ida stands for Oregon and Idaho!”
Dave’s been here for four years.
My winter blues aren’t due to the weather. I’m missing McMinnville’s downtown market 1:30-6 p.m. Thursdays. Ray’s Produce in Newberg is shut down for the season, too. Bummer. Luckily, the McMinnville Public Market is year-round.
Come spring, I’ll be there shopping at every market and farm stand in the valley for unfamiliar vegetables — with no regard for the fact that I have no idea what to do with them. For now, I’m a regular at Harvest Fresh. Feel free to inundate me with recipes. I’ll return the favor.
It’s time to trade my southern-fried habits for some healthy, organic Oregonian living.