Thursday, July 29, 2010

Georgia food adventures

You're probably tired of hearing me talk about all of the wonderful food I've been enjoying since the move.  Too bad, because I have to share more.  One of my favorite luxuries of living near Atlanta is being able to make occasional trips to the Dekalb Farmers Market.  I remember stumbling into this place while I was in college and being completely blown away.  The name is misleading because it's not your typical farmers' market, it's more of a store... but unlike any store I've ever seen. It does have tons of produce, some local, some not so much (at least everything is very clearly identified).  But my favorite two sections are the grains and spices.  They buy everything in bulk and then package it themselves, so their spices are incredibly cheap (some less than 10% of what you would pay in a typical store).  And they have every grain I've ever heard of (including sorghum, not that I have any desire to buy any).  The meat, seafood, and cheese sections are amazing, too, but I'm usually too cold to stay long once I get to those sections (I'm pretty sure they keep the store at around 50 degrees, and I can never remember to bring extra clothes).  Every time I go to this place, I leave with a huge smile on my face.  Not only is it a fun shopping experience, but it's so cheap (but incredible quality) that I always feel like I've won something.

Unfortunately they don't let you take photos in the store (I can't figure out why), but here's what I got:
my loot from the Dekalb Farmers Market
Notice the plethora of grains (in the tall, stacked containers and the bags in front) and spices (the short containers).  I tried to control myself because I went two days before I left for Toronto, so I couldn't buy many perishable foods.

My favorite part about the produce section is that I've never heard of about a quarter of the items they sell.  It's the perfect place to find strange ingredients for recipes, but I'm also excited about trying something new each time I go.  This time I didn't go too crazy, but I decided that I needed to finally eat a dragon fruit.  The descriptive sign above them went into detail about their laxative effects, so I was a bit hesitant about eating it the night before my trip, but I was brave and suffered no consequences.  I really enjoyed it, and was excited to see some at the opening reception at my conference a mere two days later.

dragon fruit

My favorite part of my new food adventure has been enjoying all of the fruits and veggies from my grandma's garden.  I have an amazing family (and am completely spoiled), and my mom and great aunt and uncle pick food specifically for me whenever Mom will be making a stop by my place on her way home from Grandmother's house.  It might not be that exciting for those of you with great gardens, but it's wonderful when you're stuck in an apartment with no place to grow anything.  Here's what Mom brought last weekend:

produce from my grandma's garden
(okra, butter beans, millions of tomatoes, and butternut squash)

green beans
(a mess of green beans)

(figs galore)

Plus I have more blueberries, but I forgot to take a photo.  How can you be sad when your dining room table is filled with amazing produce?  I going to experiment with drying some of the figs in my oven this weekend - does anybody have any tips?

And to top it all off, I had the experience of my life the other day.  Every year my grandparents would take a field trip to Dickey Farms in Musella, GA.  After hearing tons about this place, I convinced one of my friends that we should venture out there, and now I completely understand why they love Dickey Farms.  It's not a huge operation, but I was mesmerized by the washing/sorting/packing machines.  If you go in the middle of the day, you will find dozens of retired people sitting on the porch in rockers eating peach ice cream.  And if you go out back, little old ladies are frantically piling the "reject" peaches into 1/2 bushel boxes.  While we were there, a church van pulled up with tons of excited ladies, and I can only imagine the pies and cobblers that they made when they got home.  We happily joined in to fill our box for only $5.  Yes, you read that right.  Five dollars.  And we had well over 30 pounds of peaches in our box.  The entire process was fun - I was trying to catch the peaches as they flew off the conveyor belt (but felt like Lucy in the chocolate factory).  Many of the "rejects" had a soft spot, but plenty were fine - just too ripe to ship to stores.  We split the box, but I was still exhausted after freezing my half.  A big part of me wants to go back next week, but I'm not sure what I would do with more peaches.

Somehow between shelling beans and going to the peach farm, I've been able to get a lot of work done in preparation for my fall classes, but that's less fun to talk about :).  Have any of you had an exciting food adventure recently?


Joanne said...

Between the fresh produce and grains, I don't know what I'm jealous of more!

Tasty Eats At Home said...

FInding stores like this is SO much fun! I have a lot of restraint issues when it comes to these kind of things. I too come home with a bounty like you have! Pretty much jealous of your figs though!

Katie said...

Joanne - It's ok, you don't have to choose :)

Alta - I had to talk myself out of filling 3 carts, but I can't wait to go again!