Matthews Community Farmer’s Market

When I moved to Charlotte, I knew I wanted to live in South Charlotte. The house I ended up buying was the last I looked at and is near the community of Matthews. When people ask me where I live it’s just easier to say, “near Matthews” rather than South Charlotte. Gives them a better idea of where exactly I am. What I didn’t realize when I moved here was the proximity of an amazing Farmer’s Market. It’s literally a five minute drive.

Matthews, for those of you outside NC, is a small town that was populated in the 1800’s. Here is a bit of history from their official website.

In 1879, Matthews was incorporated as a municipal corporation in the state of North Carolina. Jeremiah Solomon Reid headed a committee to secure the town charter. The town’s official name became Matthews, in honor of Edward Watson Matthews. In 1880, the official census listed 191 residents.

The downtown is at the corner of John Street and Trade Street. It’s not big…but it is quaint.

The Matthews Community Farmer’s Market is open year round, with special hours during the winter, and in the summer there is a twilight market on Tuesday nights. Everything sold at the market comes from within a 50 mile radius. Local. Fresh. Yum.

Here is a very important tip about the market…YOU MUST GET THERE EARLY. It opens at 7:15 am and by 7:45 a lot of stuff is sold out. What can I say it’s a popular market. This morning I went by Hinson Farms, as their son has his own fresh egg business, but they were sold out. I was there at 7:30. He’s still one of my favorite people in the market. He said, “sorry, they are all gone” and I replied “that’s a good thing”. He said, “well not for you”. Their eggs are so yummy indeed it was good for him but not for me.

I was on the hunt for basil, tomatoes, red onions and wanted some fresh goat cheese. I always buy goat cheese from Bosky Acres. They have plain and some flavors…my personal favorite is garlic and chive. You can also find them at Earthfare if you don’t make it to the market. I use it for my turkey/goat cheese grilled cheese (see earlier post). I also put it in scrambled eggs.

 I bought my red onions today…4 for $3 from Fisher Farms. I can’t wait to put them in my Orzo salad, which I am making tomorrow for a BBQ at my parent’s house.

They had some amazing looking purple cauliflower which I will try very soon!

A vendor I normally visit but didn’t today because I have lettuce in my fridge is Tega Hills Farms. They have the best lettuce. The bibb is my favorite. Today she even had squash blossoms! I plan to stuff those with some goat cheese and fry them up this summer.

but you have to get there early…because there is always a line!

A few other tips about the market.

They have cooking demonstrations from local chefs most weeks.

They have a large lot in the back for parking.

The ladies that sell flowers there have the best flowers. I bought some for Easter and they lasted almost two weeks. They are gorgeous and well priced.

 

Also, they have an email list that sends out a blast Friday morning telling you what vendors will and won’t be at market and what kind of veggies, fruits and other products they anticipate being there. Here’s the website for the market.

http://www.matthewsfarmersmarket.com/

Last, I bought a new camera this week so hopefully I can improve my food photography. I forgot to take a photo of the tomato man…but here are a few shots of his yummy tomatoes. They are a little pricey but grown with love. He’s always at the front of the market.

Enjoy your Saturday evening! I will be in bed early after this early trip for you all…ok and for me too!

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A yummy orzo pasta salad by Giada for Memorial Day

File this in the “If you have been to my house you have eaten this file” because I love making this dish and serve it often. Additionally, it’s two recipes for the price of one because a crucial part of this pasta salad is Giada’s red wine vinaigarette, which is also a staple in my house (and my work fridge for that matter). I rarely buy salad dressing anymore that’s how much I love this dressing. This is illustrated by how beat up the pages are in my Giada book on that particular page…

I know I know, you can’t read that…so here is a link to the recipe as well. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/red-wine-vinaigrette-recipe/index.html

I make one adjustment I feel you should know about. I don’t put a full cup of Olive Oil. I did at first but to me…it’s just a bit too much…so I do 3/4 of a cup and it comes out great.

Ok so now to the orzo pasta salad…which is also a Giada recipe. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/everyday-italian/orzo-salad-recipe/index.html

I make some adjustments but want you guys to know where/how I started making things. She includes garbanzo beans and mint…I omit them. Sometimes I put cheese in, sometimes I don’t. I LOVE red onion in this recipe…but the other night when I made this I didn’t have any.

So start by cooking your orzo pasta. I do follow her direction about this and cook it in chicken broth. Adds such a nice flavor. This time I used 3 cups of broth (as I had some open) and 3/4 cup of orzo. Once it’s al dente…give it a bath! I put mine in the colander and rinse it off.

It stops it from continuing to cook, keeps the salad from being too starchy and also cools it off at the same time. While the orzo was cooking…I got busy and chopped a tomato (one of the ones from the Super G market I bought a few weeks ago…yes weeks), some basil I needed to use, and a bit of buffalo mozarella I had left in the fridge.

Add in your orzo…and your red wine vinaigrette and boom orzo salad. Giada says to use 3/4 of a cup of vinegarette…again I use less. Use your best judgement.

Enjoy! Happy Memorial Day! Don’t forget to honor those who fought for our freedom! Oh and enjoy some racing too with the Coke 600 on FOX at 6pm ET! Sorry I couldn’t resist a tune in message!

Make Ahead Turkey Meatballs for Easy Mid-Week Meals

A few years ago I started making turkey meatballs and putting them in the freezer to mix with whole wheat pasta for an easy weeknight meal. I’ll use either a pound or two pounds of frozen turkey depending on how ambitious I feel that day.

This is so easy to do on a Sunday and prepare yourself for the weeks ahead.

So get a bowl and let’s make some meatballs. Here’s what to put in the bowl.

Ground Turkey

Chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup of Italian Bread Crumbs

An egg

Garlic (2-3 bulbs…whatever you are comfortable with)

Onion (1 medium or small is fine. Sometimes I will use shallots to use them up)

Parmesan Cheese (to taste)

It’s going to look like this

Now here is the key…don’t over mix it. Once the ingredients are somewhat combined…start making the balls.

I roll mine in a bit of flour before I put them in the pan to keep them together. I fry them up in olive oil. NOTE: Use a non-stick pan for this. I don’t know why I used this pan this time but I won’t do it again. Brain fart by me.

Make sure to turn them once the bottoms get carmelized and yummy.

A twist that I love…is to put some lemon juice on each one after they are done. YUM! Sometimes I do it in the pan, sometimes I do it on the paper towel when they are cooling.

I then put 3 or 4 in a freezer bag and make mid-week packages. When I pull them out of the freezer…I put some olive oil over them and let them cook for about a minute in the microwave.

Coming soon:

Singapore Noodles

A trip to the Matthews Community Farmers Market

and much much more TBD!

I swore I wasn’t going to cook this weekend…but I did…French Onion Soup

I got home from Mother’s Day brunch at Georges Brasserie (which was lovely) and it turned into a rainy, gross day. I wanted something warm and cozy but not too heavy because I ate well at brunch…and these onions I got on the way back from Darlington Raceway at McLeod Farms were calling my name. I also wanted something easy and hassle free as it had been a long weekend.

How could I not turn them into a delicous French Onion soup on this rainy Sunday?

I used the Google machine and found a basic Betty Crocker recipe that I used as a guide.

I chopped the onions. Melted 2 tablespoons of butter and put them in the slow cooker for an hour as directed.

I then mixed as directed

a tablespoon or so of worstershire sauce

3 tablespoons of flour

pepper

and a teaspoon of sugar together and added into the slow cooker along with about 6 cups of beef broth.

Set the slow cooker for three hours and walked away.

About two hours in…I noticed that the onions were not as carmelized or as soft as I would like. So…I punted. I took the onions and added some olive oil, a tablespoon of butter and some salt and pepper and put them in a pan to carmelize. So glad I did.

It took about 25-30 minutes to get them looking this yummy. I added them back into the broth in the slow cooker, added some chopped thyme and let them cook for another hour.

After the hour I put some in a bowl, added some crusty bread and some parmesean cheese and put it under the broiler for just a few minutes.

Easy. Breezy. Cozy. Yum.

Tikin Xic Fish…and I am not perfect!

Greetings!

My parents and I spent the Christmas holiday in Cancun, Mexico this year and I fell in love with Tikin Xic fish. At the all-inclusive resort we stayed at, there was a little restaurant near the pool that only served lunch. We stumbled in there the first day and I tried this fish. I then ate it every day, and even tried it at a local restaurant.

I wish I had taken photos of that fish because it was presented so beautifully.

Here is the wikepedia description of Tikin Xic fish.

Tikin Xic, pronounced “teekeen sheek” in Yucatec Mayan and meaning “dry fish”, is a fish dish prepared in the Meso-American style. The fish is prepared whole then marinated with adobo de Achiote and sour oranges then wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked in an earth oven beneath a wood fire.

The reason I went to the international market Super G Mart (see last post and then run there) was to find the Achiote paste. I did not however purchase a banana leaf and in hind sight perhaps I should have.

Here is a photo of the Achiote paste and ground Achiote…which I may experiment with next time. The paste is up top.

I  looked at many recipes on the internet and here is what I did…

I squeezed two limes into a bowl

Added a cup of orange juice

Used 1 oz or about half of the package of Achiote paste and dissolved it into the juice

Added some of my Dos Equis

and then threw my fish (I used Tilapia but might use another white fish next time) in a bowl and let it marinade for a few hours. I put a bit of fresh oregano on top.

So the key to this dish…is the pickled onions. Remember this…the key to the dish.

I chopped up some fresh thyme and oregano I had in the fridge. Sliced a red onion into thin rings. Juiced my remaining two limes from the Super G Mart. Added some fresh pepper and some white wine vinegar and added them all together. YUM!

I also put some rice in my rice cooker. 1 cup of rice. 2 cups of water. And wash the starch out of your rice for goodness sakes. It makes all the difference.

Once the rice was done, I added about a tablespoon of vegetable oil, some salt, a bit of lime juice (I keep some in the fridge at all times) and some chopped cilantro. Homemade Chipotle cilantro rice. So yummy and not as fattening. They use way too much oil.

I decided to try and cook the fish on a flat fry pan I have since there was the yummiest carmelization on the fish at the resort. It didn’t really work out as I had planned, but was still yummy.

The entire time the boyfriend and I were eating this I felt like something was missing…but I couldn’t put my finger on it. It kinda tasted like the resort but something wasn’t right. It wasn’t until about an hour later when I went to show him a photo on my phone that I discovered…I had forgotten the onions! Oh no! The delicious pickled onions were in the fridge!

Luckily we had some fish left over and I made us both lunch for the next day with the onions. We both agreed it was so much better. And yes, I am still bitter I forgot the onions.

Might have been the best Monday lunch of all time. And we used the onions for Taco Tuesday but damn! Let’s just say I will be making this again in the near future.

More from the international market adventure soon!

Run don’t walk to Super G Mart

I checked something off my Things I want to Try list this weekend.

I drive by the Super G Mart on Independence Blvd in Charlotte all the time. I’ve always wanted to go in. I have heard great things about it. So this weekend…I made my first trip and it will NOT be my last.

Don’t be intimidated by the International market. Sure there was some stuff there that I will never be courageous enough to try. It’s filled with asian, indian, and latin food treasures. Upon entering…you will be BLOWN away by the produce and the price of aforementioned produce. It’s amazing.

Here’s a photo of the Super G Mart…you know where it is…in the shopping center where the Best Buy used to be just past or before (depending on which way you are coming from) the CarMax on Independence.

I was in heaven in the produce department. Cooking Thai food or an asian stir fry? No problem. They have Thai Basil, fresh ginger, fresh lemongrass. Making tacos or in my case Yucutan style fish (the real reason for my visit)? No problem. They have so many kinds of peppers it’s crazy (including Thai peppers). The tomatoes? They were $.59/lb. Yup. And…I got the most amazing fresh spinach for $.99 cents. This warrants a photo. Stat.

Right?

I went there for Anchiote paste for a dish (next blog entry) and they had it in two different forms a paste and ground up. I also got some frozen veggie spring rolls, two different kinds of rice, some rice noodles and some lo mein noodles. I guess I will be blogging about asian food in the near future! 🙂 Stir fry has been on my mind.

So be brave and head on in there! To cap off this blog I will leave you with two photos that perfectly illustrate why you should go.

This was my bounty:

 

The green leafy stuff on the left…beautiful cilantro. Three bunches for $.99 cents.

This was how much the bounty cost:

Yup…$38 bucks.

Super G Mart on Independence. Look. Into. It.

Easy Huevos Rancheros for Cinco De Mayo!

Happy Cinco De Mayo everyone!

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that I find myself a little sad this morning. If you are 30-45, chances are you too are sad that today you woke up and realized that today is the first full day living in a world without MCA from the Beastie Boys. I love the Beastie Boys. I’ve seen them three times live. I have every album. And…this…

One of my most prized possessions in my house…is my skateboard signed by the Beastie Boys. I won it listening to KROQ all day one Saturday as I cleaned my room in the House of Hooch (my post college two story apartment where I lived with friends Annie and Kate…yes there were two Kates in one house). Those ladies let me try out new dishes on them when I really had no clue what I was doing in the kitchen. 🙂

Strangely enough…on my agenda today after this blog is cleaning my closet. And I will listen to the Beasties or Jazz Fest from NOLA while I do it. Weird.

Ok now to the recipe! So I make Huevos Rancheros quite a bit. I normally make it when I have leftover homemade salsa and guac (see previous post) but today I didn’t have that so I just made it with what I had…Cholula hot sauce…which is always in my kitchen.

As you can see…you don’t need much to enjoy this Mexican deliciousness.

Eggs

Cheese

Beans (I used black)

Tortillas (I used whole wheat)

and some hot sauce of your choosing.

It’s so quick too!

I put a tortilla in a non stick pan to heat it up, start another fry pan to cook the eggs, and put the beans in the microwave just to heat them up.

Once your eggs are firm on the bottom, turn on your oven to broil and start assembling.

Put your beans on your tortilla, slide the eggs on top, and add cheese. Put them in the oven to melt the cheese and finish cooking the eggs.

Once browned in the oven use a spatula if needed to get on to the plate. Add the Cholula and boom! Huevos Rancheros.

This seriously took me about 10 minutes to make this morning for the boyfriend and I.

A few more notes: yes I fully understand I need to go into pre-production on this blog and post this so you can make it on Cinco De Mayo. But I only make breakfast on the weekends, so I will try to pre plan better so you can enjoy holiday meals on the holiday. I’ll try to pretend I’m a big Food Network star. Also, I am trying to be a better photographer so I also took this photo using the foodie package on Hipstamatic. A real camera is on my list of things to buy…but the closet calls my name first.

Have a great weekend! Tomorrow I am trying a new recipe based on a fish I ate in Mexico every day over the holidays. Ticin Xic style fish. So yummy!