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Visiting a Country Produce Stand Makes My Heart Sing
Soon the produce stands will reopen and we will be able to visit often to find scarlet tomatoes, plump and delicious, sweet blueberries, and many more of our favorites.
I, for one, can hardly wait.
Okay, first things first. I know the title says Produce Stand and this is me preparing brussel sprouts. Talk about the horse before the cart...well, I had to upload the video ...did not want to put it on Youtube so that is why you see this video rather than a video of the produce stand.
You will see brussel sprouts and I will blab about them so you may get the connection or you may just go, "O, my. She has really lost it this time!!!"
(Maybe that was my intent---
just to give you a chuckle here at the onset.)
Plump Carrots Fresh From the Ground
-Fresh fruits and vegetables have an allure to me perhaps as strong as dark chocolate and ice cream ....and that is strong.
The colors and textures and the aromas....they sail across my senses and capture me with their wily ways.
A few days ago, a friend and I (yes, I have ONE) went to lunch. And on the way home we took a back, out-of-the way road that lead to a tiny but very prosperous produce stand.
Situated right next to it were acres of strawberries and a handful of folks with bucket in hand were picking. Now, I like fresh, and all, but truthfully, after picking acres of berries all throughout my youth, paying the extra few pennies to have them picked, works for me. (Now blueberry picking is another story because I can stand up to do that but let me not digress. )
The tables were laden with green peppers, strawberries, of course, brussel sprouts, onions, squash, beets, kale, and plump, red tomatoes plus an assortment of other veggies.
Since I was not traveling to my home till many hours later and it was a hot day, I left those luscious offerings till the next day. My friend purchased what she needed as she was headed home.
Stalks of Brand New Brussel Sprouts
Digressing a Bit...
Our land in Virginia was lush and perfect for growing the most delicious vegetables and fruits on the planet. The property not covered with plants giving us foods to enjoy was a field of blooms....such beautiful plants that often the local florist purchased flowers from Mother and most Sundays her flowers adorned the Baptist Church we attended. Actually I do not know how I got to be grown without being struck down by lightning because I broke every Baptist rule in the book like wearing shorts on Sunday or swimming on Sunday.
Not disparaging the Baptists....
I learned a lot of Bible lessons from those years but the resounding message was on of 'hell fire and damnation' and it haunted me when I left Sunday school each Sunday.
( I am mainly of the church of God and me...as I feel like we have it going on pretty good ---God, the Angels and me---but I do attend services at the local Episcopal church which I adore.)
But alas I did digress once again Back on topic now....Writing 101---stay on topic !!!
Three Sisters....the Little Dark-Haired One Became an Angel at age 9
Picking and Selling...
Those days when it was planting time, my job was not really to do much but be a kid. I did love to drop the seeds in the wells Momma had made down the long rows.
When it was strawberry picking time, I did get off school sometimes to help pick. If you know about these berries: 1. They need to be picked when they are ready or they will turn to mush very quickly. 2. They are offer a veritable smorgasbord for any birds in the area. So picking I did when I was not stuffing them in my mouth. Ambrosia....that is what they were.
My sister and I got to select some veggies and fruits to take down to the end of the lane to sell. We carted an umbrella, a small card table, old wooden boxes to sit on, and our produce---some of it in our hands and as much as we could fit in a wagon---down the quarter mile lane to set up for business. Sometimes we had to make two trips.
Most of our customers were out-of-towners from Richmond who came to fish, swim, boat, and generally relax. They would ooh and aaah over the fresh produce and say they could not believe we were selling them so cheaply.
About three in the afternoon, we would be dusty and pooped so we packed up our business and trekked home.
So vivid are the memories of the two little girls at the end of the road telling stories and laughing and joking till a customer showed up.
I can hear the oyster shells crunching under our feet as we made our way home.
Those really were the days....
Milo Likes Greens, Too!!!
A Part of Who I am.....
Over the years, having a garden of veggies has been part of each summer for me. But not on the scale that I remember from those long ago childhood Virginia days.
This year I may be able to plant some late veggies hopefully but am not certain.
There is something about the whole process of growing plants be they edible or decorative that is part of who I am . So the title is not misleading at all...my heart truly does sing when I pass a produce stand. Those moments down the lane where childhood hides and gifts from the land abound.
Stalk of Brussel Sprouts
Steam Them if You Wish
Actually you can steam these little babies in a small amount of water and get a tender dish to enjoy.
Steaming is said to preserve more of the flavor but for me roasting seems to work just as well.
Try either way and select which you prefer.
Why Eat 'Em?
Brussel sprouts are relatives of cabbages so is it any wonder they look so much like their cousins?? Cabbages grow up out of the ground...ever grown any?? Sprouts grow on the thick stalk as shown in the photos.
Sadly, the Brussel Sprout is said to be among the most disliked foods on the planet. They are one of those foods you either like or not.
We often joke that things that are good for us do not please our palate. For some that is true as mentioned above. Again, they are good for us and are sometimes recommended for digestive health
Need Vitamin C and Vitamin A? These are a great source. They also are sources of fiber, iron, folic acid, beta carotene, magnesium and selenium. Selenium is said to be among those substances that helps stave off cancer.
In the night the cabbages catch at the moon, the leaves drip silver, the rows of cabbages are a series of little silver waterfalls in the moon.— Carl Sandburg
Close-up Showing Where Stalk is Cut
Fresh Really are the Best
'Purchasing fresh brussel sprouts, still on the stalk, is the best way to purchase them.
They are tender and sweeter and all around much better.
I have had all kinds of others...frozen, 'fresh' in the grocery store, 'freshly plucked' at a produce stand, but the ones still on the stalk have that 'truly just from the garden' texture and taste' that is unrivaled.
Even if you think you do not like them, you may be surprised.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts Quick and Easy
1. Preheat oven to 425. Remove sprouts from stalk; wash
2. Pluck off any yellow leaves, rinse, cut in half if desired.
3. Place in a light bath of olive oil. Dust with salt and pepper.
4. Lay gently on parchment paper covered baking sheet.
5. Bake at 400 for 25 to 30 minutes; stirring at halfway point to insure they cook evenly.
Prepping Sprouts for Cooking
Sprouts Cut; Placed in Olive Oil Bath; Dusted with Freshly Ground Pink Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
Sprouts Gently Scattered onto Parchment Paper Covered Baking Tray
Baked till Crisp on the Outside Tender on the Inside (Dark Brown Pieces are Loose Leaves That are Mini Sprout Chips, Divine)
The Earth's Offerings
Walking down the lane and onto the property in my mind's eye is akin to a wrinkle in time. As I move onto the lane, today slides away and the yesterdays of my youth come alive just that easily.
Crunching over the oyster shells, covering our shoes with gritty dust, greeted by the squeal of the gulls swirling above the creek in search of a morsel for dinner makes us pick up the pace a bit so as to not miss anything that might be happening at our home.
At the crest of the hill the property came into view. On the east side of the land was the chicken coop where many hens were pecking away hoping that soon I would come give them a handful of corn.
To the right of the lane were the acres of land in some state of being readied for planting...either newly tilled or just planted or better yet, near harvest time.
The aroma of the dark, rich loamy soil filled our nostrils whispering that these crops would be better than ever. And, most years we would say,
"This is the best corn I have ever eaten.
Have you ever tasted such juicy, sweet strawberries?"
Loving the land and all that it produced was something we children understood from our youngest years. The majority of fruits and veggies that we ate came from the land on our property. Land lovingly tended by my Momma and Daddy day after day, throughout most of the year. Come winter, a grand stash of frozen or canned veggies and fruits were on our table for meals that others could only dream of.
Steaming hot blackberry cobbler in December made from those berries I had to wrestle with the wasps to gather was an amazing surprise
That love for the land still remains. Some of my happiest moments are when I am working in the soil preparing it grow some luscious food or fabulous flower. And passing that love on to my grandchildren brings such great pleasure.
Produce Stands are not the ONLY thing that make my heart sing...