Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tired of Winter Produce Yet?

Here in Charlotte, the weather has been unseasonably warm. We've had more days of over 80 degree weather than I can count on one hand in the last two weeks. Daffodils have come and gone and tulips are almost out of here too. The poplars and pear trees are even starting to fade! 

What does that mean for the farmers markets though? Unfortunately, the answer is that we're probably still looking at a couple more weeks of the same produce options you've seen since the beginning of the year as new crops are planted and grow. Farmers' stocks of sweet potatoes, squash and greens will probably continue into mid-April or later. This means that the same things I've been serving my household and friends for months won't be changing for a month.

However, there are still exciting ways to both take advantage of the last of the winter crops and also explore some new foods. Maybe now is the time to enjoy the non-seasonal offerings at your local market. For example, I have been buying a loaf a week of Duke's Bread. I make a lot of soups this time of the year because winter produce lend themselves well to soup (butternut squash, vegetable, carrot top) and trying one of the many varieties of bread really makes a soup dinner more exciting. Of course cheese like those from the Chapel Hill Creamery (which Charlotteans can buy from Simply Local) and Cheval Farmstead can make a great soup and bread meal even better.

This may also be a great time to explore the protein options at your farmers market. Windy Hill has an amazing meat selection all year round and the 7th Street Market has a fish seller with some beautiful options regardless of the season.

So embrace the slight lack of produce variety inherent to March and early April and try something new!

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