Sunday, September 21, 2014

toast and jelly; using juice to make jelly at home

 wasting food is something i try not to do.  blame it on my upbringing, blame it on my profession; either one is true.  as a result, i recently became a hoarder of juice.  making cobbler by the bucket meant using lots of fruit.  to keep it consistent in such large quantities, i used frozen fruit.  don't wrinkle your nose at me; frozen fruit can be better quality than what many supermarkets or produce suppliers have on hand.  well, at least for something like a cobbler if you happen to be mixing up 40 pounds of it...

if you read the serving instructions, they tell you to thaw the fruit and discard the juices.  can somebody tell me why you would want to do that?  in reality, the freezing process destroyed the cell walls and as the fruit thaws, all of the liquid once held in place by those walls is now separating from the solids.  as it is released, it takes a lot of the flavor with it!  so when i began noticing that 25 pounds of frozen blackberries produced too much liquid for my cobblers and it looked more like soup, i began to reserve some of the juice that wept from the thawing fruit.  to make it easier on myself, i would thaw the fruit in two separate pans; one pan of 15 pounds and one pan of 10 pounds.  the juices that collected in the 10 pound pan were strained off and set aside.  thus began my hoarding of juice.

my husband began to wonder about me.  "what are you going to do with all of this juice?" he asked, repeatedly as my stash in the fridge grew and grew.  ten pounds of thawed blackberries produces about 6 cups of juice.  so began my experimentation with juice.  first i made some vinegar.  then some sorbet, followed by jelly and syrup and more jelly and even more jelly.  as the containers of juice collected in the fridge, i made jelly and gave it to friends and neighbors.  we also began to eat lots of toast with jelly.

now that i have landed here in virginia, i am eating toast with jelly on a daily basis; it is so much easier than trying to cook in a toy kitchen.  we close on our new home tomorrow afternoon and the movers are supposed to arrive on tuesday.  my days will be full of unpacking boxes and putting things into new places.  toast and jelly will be on the menu for a while, and as soon as i can, i am going to make a loaf of homemade bread to eat with it...
to make some jelly, you can produce your own juice or buy it.  if you buy it, go for the better quality pure juices that do not have added sugar or artificial ingredients.  kraft foods has a great chart on their website to help you figure out how much pectin, juice and sugar you need as well as instructions on how to make jelly.  this is such an easy thing to do that i may never buy jelly again!

disclaimer:  i was not compensated in any way by kraft for this post, nor do i suggest you use their pectin.  however, the chart is very accurate and easy to use and if the directions on it are followed, you should be successful.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

decadent triple chocolate brownies

cloudy, dreary days call for brownies.  actually, every day calls for brownies but on a rainy day, they seem to be just the thing to brighten the day.  maybe it is just the impending move and the many goodbyes i have had to share with friends that left me craving chocolate.  it could have also been the need to clean out the cupboards of many small quantities of ingredients; brownies were the perfect solution.

when it comes to brownies, there are some pretty polarizing views.  for some, they must be cakey while for others, fudgy is the only option.  personally, i like them a little fudgy and a little chewy but not at all cakey.  finding that perfect fudgy-chewy balance is challenging.  the fudgy factor comes from using unsweetened chocolate and butter in larger percentages than cakey recipes call for while the chewiness comes from a higher ratio of sugar.

let's face it, unless there are extra goodies like nuts or chocolate chips added, it doesn't matter how fudgy or chewy the brownies are because they are just plain boring.  when i make brownies, i love them to have nuts and chips. to make them a little extra chocolatey without making them any more dense, some unsweetened cocoa powder folded in with the flour works wonders.

remember how i mentioned i was cleaning out the cupboards?  i came across some odds and ends that i normally might not have thought to add to brownies.  first of all, i am not a fan of milk chocolate; i love the bitter flavor of nearly unsweetened (think 75% to 85%) chocolate.  as i pulled out the contents of my baking stash in the pantry closet, i came across a partial bag of milk chocolate chips, roughly 2/3 cup and then i found 3 milk chocolate hershey bars (1.75 oz each)  with almonds.  what on earth would i do with them???  no time for smores and no smoldering fire or marshmallows...i kept digging and pulled out an opened bag of golden raisins that were a little dry.  i put the milk chocolate chips, the hershey bars and the raisins on the counter and gathered the rest of the ingredients for the brownies.

raisins are another ingredient that you either love or hate.  personally, i prefer golden raisins because they taste less raisiny and i almost always have a bag in the pantry.  even though i was a little skeptical, i decided to go ahead and blend my dark, fudgy brownies with milk chocolate chips and candy bar pieces along with some golden raisins.  before i could proceed, the raisins needed to be plumped so i put them in a pot, covered them with water and brought them to a simmer.  after letting them soak for 5 minutes, i drained them and prepared the recipe.  while you may not notice them in the pictures, the raisins are there and they add the perfect amount of chewiness to the bars without being obvious; from now on, they will be my secret weapon in brownies!

one last note, since i am in the middle of preparing for a move from nashville, tn to williamsburg, va, i was only able to use a scale for this recipe so the weights are in ounces with the digital conversion-sorry, no cups this time!

decadent triple chocolate brownies
makes 1 (9"x13") pan
32 (1 1/2"x 2") bars 

8 ounces (.50#) unsalted butter
4 ounces (.25#) unsweetened chocolate
2-3 ounces (.12#-.18#) golden raisins (measure before plumping)
15 ounces (.94#) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
6 ounces (.38#) all purpose flour
1 1/2 ounces (.15#) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 (1.75 ounce) hershey's milk chocolate bars with almonds, chopped 
3 ounces (.18#) milk chocolate chips

preheat the oven to 350.  grease a 9"x13" pan, line the bottom with paper or foil and grease the paper.  set the pan aside while you prepare the batter.

place the butter and the unsweetened chocolate into a heat proof bowl and carefully melt it over a pot of almost simmering water.  take care not to let the bowl touch the water or receive direct heat from the flame/heat source.  while that melts, place the golden raisins into a sauce pot and barely cover them with water.  heat the pot over a medium flame until it starts to simmer.  turn the heat off and let the raisins sit for 5 minutes.  drain the raisins and let them cool while you finish preparing the batter.

when the chocolate is melted, remove it from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla.  whisk in the eggs, one at a time, and continue mixing until completely combined.  place the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a sifter or mesh strainer and sift over the batter.  fold the batter together until no flour streaks are visible.  finally, fold in the raisins, chopped candy bars and the chocolate chips and scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

bake until the brownies rise up about 1/4 inch above the pan and a crust forms across the top, about 40 minutes.  remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting.  for the best results during cutting, chill the brownies for at least 2-3 hours or overnight.  by chilling them, you will get nice, smooth cuts without crushing the brownies.

if you chill the brownies, the best way to get them out of the pan is to gently heat the bottom of the pan a bit and flop them out onto a cutting board.  remove the paper from the bottom of the brownies and place a second board over the brownies.  invert the boards, remove the top cutting board and cut the brownies, marking them first using a ruler to get a consistent size and smooth cut.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

one hundred thousand shoes: remembering the world trade center

the view of lower Manhattan from Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ, summer of 1986

New Milford, New Jersey is a small town, a very small town.   As a child growing up there, the town boasted two grocery stores, several bars and convenience stores, a few gas stations and of course, the usual banks, pizza places, churches and fire houses.  The majority of school age children attended public schools and the entire town was served by five elementary schools, one middle school and one high school.  Yes, it was a bit like Podunk with one large exception; we were 8 miles out from Manhattan as a bird flies.  Taking a quick ride up to the Palisades meant you could be standing on the cliff looking across the mile wide Hudson River clearly seeing the lights from Yankee Stadium illuminating the sky. 

We lived so close to the big city, but it was hard to believe we could be so near that center of the universe without being part of it.  We were just like everybody else in the world; we lived the New York City life in tv sitcoms, news broadcasts and movies.  From Mayor Koch to Son of Sam, the Brownout of 1977 and disco dancing at Studio 54, we read about life in the Big Apple as if it were in a foreign country and we were convinced that none of that stuff could ever happen over here in Jersey. 

One of the biggest events from my childhood was the completion of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.  Briefly, it was home to the worlds tallest buildings but for many of the folks looking across the river at New York City’s skyline, the towers were a bit like the mythical Emerald City.  Growing up, I never gave the buildings a huge amount of thought.  Yes they were there, yes I knew of them; my grandfather worked in one of the towers.  That was as far as it went.  Honestly, I didn’t think of them that often.  Then I grew up and graduated from The Culinary Institute of America, and suddenly found myself working in building 3, the hotel that sat between the two towers. 

To get to work each day, I took the Path train in from my apartment in Jersey City to the World Trade Center.  After a quick ride under the river, the train stopped at a platform deep down under the street.  Commuters would have to climb about two stories just to get up to the basement of the towers.  From there, a long and steep escalator would climb slowly up about 4 stories just to get to street level on the concourse between the towers.  The seemingly endless crowd of people would file onto the escalators, some standing patiently to the right while others passed them on the left side of the slowly rising treads.  Still, others preferred to walk up the less crowded staircases that also rose up to the concourse; the tapping of their shoes echoed loudly.  The concourse was a destination in itself since it was the only enclosed shopping mall in Lower Manhattan.  And like the rest of New York City, if you could think of it, you could probably find it in the many shops that lined the walkway between the towers.
looking down from the indoor observation deck

First time visitors to the World Trade Center were easy to spot; they were looking straight up in the sky at the top of the towers, mesmerized by their size.   At first glance, the center seemed to be a never ending collection of staircases and escalators leading to concourses and elevators that took you higher and higher.  It was the big city equivalent of a country corn maze made of plate glass and polished stone.   Both towers consisted of 110 stories that were nearly an acre apiece and when added up, it was well over seven million square feet.  By some accounts, 50,000 people worked in the towers each day and it required its very own zipcode, 10048.
the view of the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge from the indoor observation deck

Working second shift as a pantry cook in the hotel, then known as the Vista International Hotel, I would arrive at the hotel about 2:30pm each day.  Because of a lack of seniority, I had to take my break no later than 5 o’clock.  Considering that I started my shift at 3, I frequently was not ready to walk out for an hour break but had little choice in the matter and had to make the best of the situation.  The employee cafeteria was down in the basement, 2 floors below street level and it was often smoky since tobacco free zones were not yet the norm.  Having relatively few real friends to sit with during my break, I frequently chose to go outside during nice weather. 

There were many outdoor areas perfect for sitting and reading and watching the passersby.  After a quick trip to the locker room, I would head outdoors to soak up the sun before having to jump back to the line and the dinner rush.  Just after 5pm, Monday through Friday, the doors to the plazas and the buildings would open and a steady stream of people would make their exit.  Like a swarm of bees or termites, they would head out of the towers and walk to the various buses, taxis and subway stops that surrounded the entire center.
the plaza between the buildings and the Sphere sculpture 

One by one, two by two, or in some other configuration, they walked, quickly.  They had homes to get to, dinners to prepare, families to spend the evening with.  Not a minute was wasted while making their escape.  Just as surprising was the fact that  they also entered the buildings each morning with that same sense of purpose and urgency.  This I learned on the few rare occasions that I wandered through the center in the early morning hours while covering a vacationing co-worker’s scheduled shifts.

It was like a beehive in almost every way.  Workers focused on getting to the office on time and getting the job done so that they could make their way towards home again.  And like bees, if you impeded their progress at any point, you got stung.  It was best to keep moving and moving quickly at that.  People watching had to be done from the sidelines where you could minimize the risk of being run over.  What I saw, who I watched, I cannot recall much.  A vague recollection of a few of my co-workers lingers but I have been gone for so long they no longer have names I can recall.  The buildings are gone too and that is something I still find hard to believe even though I traveled there and saw the pile of rubble that must have stood 8 stories tall.  However, I don’t dwell on that much since it feels like part of my heritage, part of my history fell with the towers.  But when it is quiet and I do take a moment to think about that place and that time in my life, echoing through my memory is the sound that so many thousands of shoes make as they strike polished stone concourses and concrete sidewalks.

my husband, Darry, on one of our many trips up to the outdoor observation deck

Saturday, September 6, 2014

pennington's triple chocolate truffle bars

by now, you should have figured out that i have a thing for pennington's strawberry rye.  yes, i was given a bottle for free, but, and that is a big but, i am not being paid or compensated in anyway to do this.  the truth is, i am a light weight; i cannot drink large amounts of alcohol and one drink is usually my limit when it comes to mixed drinks.  as a result, i generally prefer to use it in a dessert where i can savor the flavor without getting a hangover.  and if you saw the other two recipes i posted that feature pennington's strawberry rye, ice box cake and strawberry tea-ramisu (links below), you know how well it blends with other flavors.  so just imagine how well it blends with chocolate...

the recipe is a simple one; a quick to mix brownie base that is baked and cooled and topped with a dark chocolate ganache that is loaded with pennington's strawberry rye.  the final touch is a swirl of white chocolate and then off to the fridge they go to set the ganache so that they can be cut into bars.  so easy that anyone could make them-and i urge you to do so!

pennington's truffle brownie bars
makes 1 (8"x8") pan yielding 32 (1"x2") bars

brownie base
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped 
1 whole egg plus 1 extra yolk
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder-either dutched or natural
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

preheat the oven to 350.  lightly grease the 8"x8" pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  

carefully melt the butter with the unsweetened chocolate so that they do not scorch-a microwave may be the best options for such small amounts.  

in a mixing bowl, whisk the egg with the sugar and vanilla until combined.  add the melted chocolate and whisk until smooth.  

place the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder in a sifter or a mesh strainer and sift it over the batter in the bowl.  fold it together gently taking care not to over mix the batter.  

fold in the chocolate chips last and scrape it into the prepared pan.  bake until the top feels slightly firm but not at all stiff or hard, about 20-25 minutes.  allow the brownie to cool completely in the pan.

ganache topping
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream 
2 ounces white chocolate, chopped

place the bittersweet chocolate into a heat proof bowl with the 3/4 cup heavy cream.  set the bowl over a pan of nearly simmering water without allowing the water to come in contact with the bowl.  stir the chocolate occasionally to help it melt.  

while the chocolate melts, prepare the brownies by removing them from the pan by inverting them onto a platter.  line the pan with clean paper so that it comes up the side of the pans by at least an inch; you will need the excess to help you remove the brownies after the ganache sets.  replace the brownies in the pan on top of the clean paper and set the pan aside.

when the chocolate is mostly melted, remove it from the heat and stir in the pennington's.  whisk it until smooth.  scrape this mixture into the prepared pans and smooth it out so that it is level across the top.  

prepare the white drizzle by placing the white chocolate in a small microwave save bowl with the 1 tablespoon of heavy cream and carefully heat it on the lowest setting for 10-15 second intervals until it begins to melt.  stir the mixture to finish the melting process.  drizzle the mixture over the top of the chocolate ganache in a random pattern and use a toothpick to swirl it.  place the pan in the fridge for several hours or overnight to set it completely.

to remove the brownies from the pan, gently heat the bottom of the pan on the stove top and lift them out using the excess flaps of paper.  carefully peel away the paper away from the sides and bottom of the brownies.  using a sharp knife, cut the brownies into 1" strips and then cut each strip into 2" pieces.  to keep the bars looking neat, clean the knife with hot water between cuts and wipe it dry before cutting again.  serve at room temp but store them in the fridge-if they last that long...

like cooking with booze or want some quick and easy no-bake desserts?  check out the other recipes with pennington's strawberry rye!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

wandering the streets: an early morning walk in colonial williamsburg

after two days of rain that were mostly spent in a car driving from house to house on our search for a place to live, i walked to colonial williamsburg.  since darry had to work, i rode in with him and left the car in the lot at william and mary and walked the mile between the university and the historic village.

it was early by most standards, barely 7am, but not early to me since i am generally at work before 4am each day.  although this was rush hour, there were hardly any cars around-something i am sure will change once classes start again next week.  as i walked along the sidewalk that parallels the university grounds, i noticed the moss and lichen covering the brick walls that border the property.  while i do not know how long the brick walls have stood along the walkway, it was obvious that they have been here quite some time.

as a gardener with a preference for shade plants, moss is something i try to encourage in my own garden.  there are methods of introducing it that call for blending moss with buttermilk and painting it where you would like it to grow but there is something magical about letting nature take the lead.

the different colors and textures blend together beautifully.

to really appreciate the beauty, one must get close up.  moss are unique plants that do not produce flowers or seeds but instead reproduce through spores.  those little brown pods are actually spore capsules getting ready to burst.

lichen on the other hand is not really a plant but a symbiotic partnership formed by fungus and an algae or bacteria.

very few places were open so early so i headed over to the local coffee house for breakfast.  it was truly peaceful out here as there were still so few people out and about.

my goal was to photograph as much as i could before the tourists descended and made a clean shot impossible.  this is the walkway into the village from merchants square.

knowing that this is a major tourist attraction, it was a surprise to learn that many of the houses are privately owned and that the owners live in them.  it is also legal to drive on the roads but not during the day when the roads are full of tourists.  another surprise was the number of runners i encountered and not just single runners but entire packs of them.  on several occasions i was passed by a group of 5 to 6 running together.

but even with the runners, walkers and occasional car, it was still quite possible to get the shot and simply enjoy the morning.

every detail in the village must look as though it has endured the centuries.  wooden gates and the locks that fasten them as well.

this little guy let me get just close enough before he dropped his breakfast and ran

the brick walkways were slightly slick with the morning dew and the cracks were filled with moss.

and if you stopped for a moment to take a peek at what lies on the other side of the fence, this would be the view.  even though it seemed neglected or perhaps just lacking plants, it still made for a beautiful view.  my gardener's view had visions of hostas, ferns, hellebores and other deep-shade loving plants filling the beds and with my imagination, i could see azaleas, rhododendrons and hydrangeas dotted throughout the area to create colorful focal points.  even so, there was beauty in just the patterns formed by the beds and the bricks and the moss that was filling in the spaces.

as i wandered from place to place, i encountered another walkway leading to yet another secret garden.  this wooden staircase climbed a hillside up to a brick walkway between houses.  the bright red door caught my attention and i headed towards it.

and right into a garden in the process of renovation.  my thoughts continually ran back to this; how did the colonists have time for so many gardens?  obviously, these homes were not inhabited by working class folks; they had servants, maybe even slaves which would explain how they had the time to maintain so many beautiful gardens along with all the other daily chores completed without the many modern conveniences we are accustomed to.  it also crossed my mind that a tourist attraction must be just that-attractive.  who would go visit it if it showed the signs of real life and what it was like back then before things such as indoor plumbing and sewer systems...

regardless of what it must have been like then, it was a beautiful way to spend a morning and i look forward to going back and visiting again and again as the seasons change.

churches were central parts of colonial communities.  the bruton parish church building which dates back to 1715 was no exception; it was attended by george washington, thomas jefferson and patrick henry to name just a few.  to walk the grounds which really are little more than a cemetery, is also a sobering experience.  modern medicine has made childbirth safe for women and the likelihood that a child will grow to adulthood is something we take for granted.

the inscription of this tomb reminded me how lucky we are to be living in this day and age.   young mathew whaley only lived to be 9 years old and he "lyes interred here within this tomb upon his father"

and yes, i am one of those people that like to wander cemeteries looking at the names and dates as well as the stones themselves.  this tomb grabbed my attention with a skull and crossbones on one side

and an angel on the other.  unfortunately, time has take its toll and the inscription across the top of the tomb was not legible and so i have no clue who was interred within or why they might have such an interesting tomb.

and as is customary, a lock on the churchyard gate, but i do wonder if that would have been the case back then.  there was a time when churches doors were always open for anyone seeking refuge.  honestly, i just like the hardware on the gate, the idea that someone hammered hot iron to form them makes them worth a look and a photo.

and just as my morning began, so it ended.  as the sun came up and the heat and humidity rose, i walked out of the village on the same sidewalk that i arrived on.  too hot and too bright for photos, i went to see the indoor sights of the local art museums, the dewitt wallace decorative arts museum and the abby aldrich rockefeller folk art museum, both which are entered through the old public hospital.  don't let the name fool you, it was not a typical hospital but one where they housed the insane and treated them in the hopes of "restoring them to their lost reason..."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

the dog street pub; dinner in colonial williamsburg

a saturday in the summer is the best day to visit colonial williamsburg.  yes, there are a lot of people-it is tourist season, but there is also a lot more to see.  the historical village is alive with people in period costume and they are busily re-enacting everyday life as the colonists experienced it.  they are also friendly and will patiently listen to you and answer every question you have for them.  just be prepared for canons to go off-they can scare the crap out of you if you are not watching the performance and are just strolling the nearby gardens...

after a busy day of driving in endless loops looking for a place to live, we wandered back to colonial williamsburg to see the village.  something to keep in mind, you can enter the village freely and wander the streets without buying a ticket.  many of the gardens and exhibits allow you to enter for free as well but to see and experience the entire village, you will need to buy a ticket since many areas require it for entrance.  we had only an hour or so to walk the village and decided to wait to buy tickets on a day that we could truly stay and experience it all.

after spending much of our time just wandering gardens, we ventured back to merchant square and into the dog street pub for what we thought would be a drink in the bar and a chance to cool off and get out of the hot sun. we sat at the bar sipping drinks; a glass of pinot grigio for me and a glass of the founders pale ale nitro for darry.  since we were a bit tired from all of the time spent driving, a little overheated from the hot summer sun and apparently hungry, darry decided to order something to snack on.  we started out with house made hummus.  the lovely presentation of a glass jar and freshly baked croutons was almost too pretty to dig into.  the light, creamy hummus was made with just the right amount of garlic and lemon and was just what we needed to accompany our drinks.

of course, one thing led to another and we stayed for dinner-but don't worry, we went home at a respectable hour and there was no walk of shame...darry has a thing for burgers and the dog street pub did not disappoint him.  the feta and onion stuffed lamb burger was devoured quickly and every burger he has eaten since (he does love burgers) has been compared to it-none have come close.

anyone that knows me, knows of my love for mussels.  these were simmered in a cider and bacon broth.  i ate each and every one and used all of the bread available to soak up the broth.

i think i will like living so close to the bay and the ocean, especially if it means these will be fresh and readily available.

the pub has quite the selection of beer on tap but none is as unique as the "real ale" which the bartender was kind enough to explain.  the brewing process uses traditional ingredients but also includes a second fermentation process in the container.  the ale is only served from a special tap on the bar and this tap does not use the additional carbon dioxide or pass it over cold plates like beer served from a standard tap.  the result is that the ale is a little less carbonated, a little less cold and it likely will have a trace of sediment from the fermentation process in it.  the real ale available on our visit was a legend brown ale and it had a nice deep amber color and a smooth flavor with absolutely no bitterness- a good thing since i am not a beer drinker (as if that wasn't obvious already) but if i had to, i could have easily consumed a 10 ounce imperial half pint.

the two beers, side by side, the real ale on the left and the pale ale on the right.  it was an enjoyable way to start the evening, we look forward to being able to do this again especially as the seasons progress.  the chance to see the colonial village during the different seasons is something i am looking forward to.

many thanks to the bartenders on duty during our visit, they gave us great service and answered all of our questions-even those about where they lived; well, we are trying to find a place to see the menu, and the beer list check out the website.

and one more thing, we were not compensated in any way for this, we paid for our drinks and food ourselves!

Monday, August 18, 2014

farmers market foray; colonial williamsburg

this week, i am posting from colonial williamsburg, the area i will be calling home in the very near future.  hard to believe but after a quick 19 years, darry and i have sold the house and are relocating to williamsburg for his new position.  as part of that transition, i went out there this week to begin the search for a place to live.

part of that process included getting to know the area.  sure, i visited colonial williamsburg as a kid but this is the first time i have done so as an adult.  my father will be proud to know that this time, i truly appreciate the historical aspect of the city and i am looking forward to getting to know all i can about this beautiful place.

during the summer, the historical merchants square is home to a weekly farmers market.  each saturday morning, the street is filled with vendor booths stocked with products ranging from flowers, baked goods, chocolates and produce to meats, cheeses and honey.  if you cannot find it here, it just isn't in season!  be sure to check out the website as it lists the vendors who will be in attendance each week-yes the website is updated weekly, so you can plan your trip in advance if there is a specific item you would like to purchase.  darry and i spent the morning wandering from booth to booth while listening to live music courtesy of a local group of what we assumed were very talented high school students.  the best part about the market, you can purchase wooden nickels, tokens if you will, for $5 each and then spend them all season long at the market-a great idea if you want to stick to a budget or if you happen to pop in at the last minute and are short on cash.  these tokens spend like cash and if your total is less than $5, they will give you change in cash.

having lived in tennessee for a while now, i was a little surprised to see such a small variety of tomatoes.  it seems that the folks in nashville are much more tomato crazy-must be the tomato sandwich that drives it.  only one vendor had cherokee purples-a tomato that darry is completely hooked on, and rightly so!  we settled on a basket of mixed tomatoes to snack on.

i love fresh flowers and was amazed at how many of these bouquets had giant marigolds in them. looks like i will have to plant the monster sized ones in my new garden so that i can put them in bouquets too.  to see them here, look at the blue bucket in the bottom left corner, that was mostly marigolds.

 nothing like fresh berries from the market-just picked and juicy!

apples are coming into season here.  we were going to snap up a few honey crisps but as we approached the booth, they were wiping them off the list because they had already sold out...maybe next time!

 no shortage of freshly picked melons here, love these baskets-they would be great for the garden

this sign made me laugh-embrace new cultures...did someone tell them we are moving here?  trust me, we may be moving a mere 660 miles but it is a whole new world and a completely different place and culture!

did you know that the virginia peninsula which is where williamsburg is located, meets the chesapeake bay making fresh blue crabs and mollusks a truly local product.  the virginia seafood booth in the market sells cooked crabs (without the claws) for a dollar a piece.  while that may seem like a bit of a rip off, the majority of the meat is in the body and as we stood there looking into the cooler, darry's eyes lit up; he had visions of an inexpensive source for crab shells to make bisque and that totally works for me!

and while i am truly sad to be leaving friends, gardens(as well as gardeners) and fellow food bloggers behind, i am comforted to know that my suspicions are correct:  pie fixes everything!