Allow me to acquaint you with some of my favourite market buys.
Fennel. I love this stuff with its feathery green fronds and aniseed-y taste. But buying it at the supermarket can be mega expensive. I think it is £4.75 per pound or some other exorbitant figure that puts it out of my reach. Except at the market. There you can get big ole fennel 2 for £1.50. That’s 75p each. But you have to go early as they sell out quickly. And it’s not by size or weight--it’s per fennel. Did you notice that? So I can 2 good sized heavy ones for £1.50. Yes please.
Red peppers. I am pepper mad. I love the shiny red pepper and its crunchy sweet taste with all that vitamin C. More than an orange I think I read somewhere. But in the supermarket you get 3 in a plastic bag for £1.50 and one of them is green. I don’t like green. They have a funky bitter taste to me. Or you could go to the posh shop Marks and Spencer (M&S to those of us in the know) and get 3 for £1.60 but with no green. But it still comes in a plastic bag. What is the solution when you need peppers but don’t need plastic? Try the market first. Yesterday I got 6 fist sized glossy red peppers for £1. Yup, you heard me. One pound. And no plastic. One had a slightly wrinkled side so it was eaten up last night, but the rest will last the week. When the market has no peppers I will resort to the M&S bag to escape the dreaded green one. But most of the time I can snap some market ones up into my little cloth bag.
Friends have asked me “How can two people possibly eat 6 peppers in a week?” The answer is easy. Tonight we’re having a mixed bean and veg salad with roasted corn on the cob. One pepper goes in there. Tomorrow we’ll have Barley Risotto from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook with roasted fennel, red onions and peppers. That’s 2 more peppers gone. See, we’re half way there already. Then I’ll roast (I see a theme here with all this roasting veg, don’t you?) sweet potatoes, tart bramley apples, carrots, 2 more peppers and red onions in the oven and then add stock and make a soup. I’ll puree it in my beloved Vita-Mix (I could write a whole post about this--and will wax lyrical about it at a future date) and have lovely sweet tangy soup. That just leaves one pepper to go which will probably be put in a salad somewhere along the line at lunch.
Now I’m very hungry so I’m off to make lunch. Probably involving a red pepper in some way. Yeah.
Oh something I meant to add. You see how the thought of fresh food makes me go all gaga and forgetful? When I was coming home from the market yesterday in my dress apron and new mob cap (mob caps are cool) heavily laden with produce I was shouted at my several men who had clearly been imbibing alcohol. Now I have a slosh of brandy or frangelico in my chocolate oat milk from time to time, but I don’t sit around in front of a Medieval church drinking Triple XXX Lager at 10:30 in the morning. Ya dig? So one of them shouts, “Nice hat!” and I smile my friendliest smile and say, “Thanks,” and try to carry on but another ones gets up and stands in front of me. I stand up straighter giving my most confident and radiant smile and the man in my way shouted, “Piss off you lot.” Okay. So the other men amble away and the man starts to talk with me. Here is a replay of our conversation.
“What’s that all about then? Them clothes?” He gestures spilling a slosh of lager on the pavement.
“I’m a Quaker. It’s the church I go to. Most Quakers don’t dress like this but I do.”
“Oh Quakers. Yeah, they’ve got some Quaker stuff on the outside of the library.”
“Oh yeah, that's right. There is that mural on the library that shows Quakers in Hitchin.”
“Why do you wear them clothes if no one else is?”
“Well I don’t want to buy clothes that are made in sweatshops by poor children.”
“Aw yeah. I saw a show about that on telly. Them little foreign kids working 18 hours a day for pennies. That’s a real shame. So where do you get your clothes then?”
“I sew them myself.”
His eyes start to shine and he becomes really animated.
“Aw my sister she has a sewing machine and she makes all her clothes and her kids clothes, too. She has this old machine with a treadle where you have to pump it with both feet to make it sew.” He demonstrates sewing technique and spills a bit more lager.
“I’ve always wanted one of those old fashioned ones. I just have an electric sewing machine.”
“That is cool. Yeah, really cool. Good talking to you. Nice to see someone keeping the faith.” And he waved and toddled off.
So yeah. Being plain can have its advantages. I have spoken to a man and shown him kindness. He may (or may not depending on the amount of lager he drinks) remember it. But I will.