This is the time of year you want to head to the Regional Market with empty produce bins in the fridge at home and a wallet full of small bills for multiple purchases.
A trip to the market on Park Street in Syracuse earlier today turned up:
A bumper crop of corn, 12 ears for $3.50 at this stand. We've eaten corn twice in the last week, and both times it was the tender, sweet, pop-off-the-cob kind of corn.
Beautiful cranberry beans, $2 for a quart. Pop 'em open, steam the cream-colored beans inside and serve them with a little butter or olive oil and garlic, the vendor suggested. I've never tried them before.
Zucchini, yellow squash, green peppers, garlic.
Kale and collards and every imaginable salad green, for $1.50 a bunch, or less.
Tomatoes, $2 a basket. Nothing tastes better than a homegrown tomato.
H-U-G-E melons, $3 each, ready to eat now or a couple days from now, depending on your preference. Sniff them if you like, but no need to thump them. If they're still green at the stem end, they'll ripen in a few days, the grower noted.
Cabbages large enough to feed a family of 12 and bunches of purple cauliflower. The cauliflower turns a shade of blue when it's cooked, according to the grower, and would look awesome on a vegetable tray. Wouldn't it?
Two things at the market gave me a slight startle today: the arrival, in abundance, of mums and early apples.
I have nothing against mums and apples, but they remind me of autumn. And it seems like summer is just getting cranked up.
I still want to eat peaches morning, noon and night. And make a peach cobbler or tart.
And I'll take sunflowers over mums any day. What could be more cheerful and summery?
The same goes for glads.
One last note: If your market day is Wednesday, check out the farmers market that's been growing in the Bayberry section of Liverpool.
It's held 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each week in the parking lot of the Bayberry Plaza, at the corner of Route 57 (Oswego Road) and Blackberry Road.
About a dozen vendors set up there each week, including a couple selling jewelry, handbags and Avon products.
But yesterday it seemed that most people came for the fresh-picked peaches rather than the fresh-picked purses.
Ithaca is a college town (a small college city, actually) known for its gorges and gorgeous setting on Cayuga Lake. It's somewhat isolated, about an hour from Syracuse and four hours from New York City, but it's also a major destination for food lovers.
The presence of the world-famous Moosewood Restaurant alone makes it a draw for some foodies, but there are dozens of great restaurants. In the summertime, Upstaters like us like to grab a market basket and cooler and hop in the car on a Saturday or Sunday morning for a trip to the Ithaca Farmers Market.
The market, open on Saturdays through mid-December and Sundays through October, features more than 100 vendors who set up shop in the wooden pavilions at Steamboat Landing on the lake.
You may never see the words "organic'' and "natural" with as much frequency as you do at this place. In addition to fresh produce, like the chard, rainbow chard and other greens, above, you will find flowers, wines, vinegars, honey, pasture-raised meats and cheeses, clothing, jewelry and art.
There is also an amazing array of international foods available for purchase, including burritos, sushi, samosas, just to name a few, and all-American favorites, like homemade ice cream. Enjoy a little picnic on the waterfront, listen to some music and watch the parade of people. People-watching is part of the fun.
Here, you're looking at a display of blueberry vinegar from Cherry Knoll Farm, Marathon.
is some of the best blue cheese I've ever tasted. A small wedge costs about $8, but it's worth it.
If you can't get to Bloomer Creek Vineyard in Hector, on the east side of Seneca Lake, for a tasting any time soon, you can taste some of their wines at the market.
Macro Mama features peanut lime noodles, tapioca pudding topped with fresh blueberries and other macrobiotic foods and snacks.
I carried home a pound of bacon from Kingbird Farm in Berkshire and put it in the freezer until local tomatoes come into season. The farm tries to sell everything it raises within 30 miles of the farm, according to the Web site. Something tells me that bacon is going to make the best BLTs ever.
A pound of baking lard fromThe Piggery will be used in a Pie-Making 911 session with my mother, who makes the world's best pies the old-fashioned way. With lard.
As if a trip to the Ithaca Market isn't enough, here are two worthy side trips (thanks, Lillian).
A stop at Ithaca Bakery on Meadow Street yielded this beautiful French bread round, which was surprisingly light and delicate beneath its crusty exterior.
And Red Feet Wine Market, across the street from the farmers market, is a REALLY nice alternative to your wine superstores, offering a selection of vintages from the region and the world that won't overwhelm you.
Last stop (thanks, Gloria): The Plantsmen Nursery, in Groton, which specializes in native shrubs, perennials, ornamental grasses, etc.
Ithaca is a great place to visit, especially if you're hungry.