This morning my fetching young son woke up cheery eyed and bushy-tailed, after a quick nappy change he scurried away and plopped his jolly behind into the stroller. At 6:30 am there aren’t many places you want to venture off to in downtown Chicago, but if it’s the right day of the week there is usually a morning farmers market somewhere. In a slight of fortuity we were just a jaunt away from the Tuesday morning Chicago farmers market at Federal Plaza.
Without a grocery list or a dinner plan we shopped the farmers market. I feel this is the best way to go about it because you are more likely to try new things, and you will be forced to buy foods that are actually in season. Additionally, Farmers want to sell to you so they will allow you try their product; that is how I landed three vegan and gluten-free tamales to take home at no charge (I am skeptical and will have to get back to you with the verdict). I also ate fresh currants for the first time today, they are quite pungent when eaten raw, I’ll stick with the jam form.
Seduced by tiny wooden baskets, I made my way over to a petite stand of greens, beans, and stone fruits (peaches, plums, apricots, etc.). The green beans sent me back to my childhood, picking green beans and sugar snap peas from my grandfathers garden with my cousins and siblings. I popped the stem end off and could immediately smell sweet grass, I bit through the crisp skin and caught the sound of crunching in my ear, and the subtle dulcet juices and munch-able firmness sealed the deal. I purchased a basket of green beans and a large sugar onion for dinner ingredients, and general snacking.
#1: Green Beans
With the amount of antioxidants, carotenoids, Vitamins A, B6, C, and iron it’s a no brainer; ‘hericot verts’ are the perfect summer snack to curb junk food cravings.
My absolute favorite stand was the herbs; I’m a sucker for them and will usually dedicate $10 for small plants that will no doubt die within three weeks of my care. I just haven’t a green thumb; my mother could grow an avocado tree in Upper Michigan, graft rose bushes, and I distinctly remember our sun room having so many plants that it required venus fly traps; but me, I’m not so savvy in the art of floriculture. Even still, I always purchase herbs. Wooden ware bowl picture with green beans is from Grigg Fine Wood Works.
#2: Mint (plant)
Mentha plants are a perfect addition to summer lemonade, tea, mixed drinks, gels, marmalades or to simply chew on as a freshen up on your way out the door.
I saw the mint and was drawn in by its bright aroma. Lately I’ve been craving a lot of juice but it’s all so boring so I’ve decided that since drinking mid-day is frowned upon I will create my own juice mocktails to mix up my grocery store apple juice obsession. By adding mint to a simple lemon juice and water blend I can easily cleanse my taste buds of their saccharine addiction while enjoying its medical benefits. I mentioned this while purchasing my mint plant, and the clerk keenly suggested a lovely pairing for my mint…
#3: Lemon Balm (plant)
Lemon Balm is in the menthe family; it shares the piquancy without the mint notes, delivering a lemon citronella flavor.
Lemon balm is not a commonly kept herb plant, but I believe it should be. It’s most refreshing and delicate nature lends a lovely hand to herbal teas, ice cream, fruit, and candy. It also carries the ability to act as aromatherapy just as mint does.
My favorites change by geography, season and frankly if the wind is blowing I may be so inclined to change my mind, but for now, these are my current three must haves from the farmers market: green beans (preferably from Michigan), mint plant, and lemon balm plant. Be daring, try something new and let us know how it goes! My herbal lemon aid turned out delicious and the recipe can be found below the pictures of our morning.
Recipe Type: Drinks
- 3Tbs Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1 cup Water or 1 cup of prepared cold Tea
- 3 Mint leaves, clean
- 2 Lemon Balm leaves, clean
- Preferred sweetener as needed.
- Combine ingredients and shake with ice. Enjoy.