A Yellow Pepper – Peperonata

Nothing has surprised me more than how much I have written about food in this blog – I think that reflects how much food has connected me to this place.

The Uptown Farmer’s Market on Saturday is a block-long cornucopia of delight – stands full of farm produce treasure, live music, beautiful food produced or cooked locally – cheese, salmon, coffee, baked goods, bagels, and much more. You could pick any number of favorite booths, but I find it hard to get past the first three.

Under the name Willow Wind Nursery, our neighbors raise and sell plants and flowers. They are young and exuberant and kind. (I barely knew them when our dog Bill died, but they cried with me, gave me flowers, and loaned a pickaxe to dig the grave.) A lot of the plants here – that nepeta I like so much – come from their nursery. This Saturday morning, we talk about the neighborhood and their flower stand on our road in the summer, while I pick out zinnias in Crayola colors.

The farmers of Wildwood Farm, who add to their own produce by going east of the mountains to bring back corn and peaches, this day had a surprise – a blog-perfect display of dried beans: black, white, pinto, and kidney from a brother’s farm in Nebraska. These beans – transported in big bags on a westward trip to celebrate a graduation – got repackaged for us. A food mantra nowadays says to “know your farmer” (or your farmer’s brother). That connecting has been such a pleasure in moving here, and is part of why I stall at the familiar vendors in a market bursting with bounty and choice.

Red Dog Farm has a tremendous presence – the young farmer offers everything we get in the CSA and more. This Saturday a paintable yellow pepper caught my eye. Colored peppers are ripe versions of the standard green issue, and this one was a beauty.

At home black beans already soaked on the counter, I thumbed through Jack Bishop’s “Vegetables Every Day” and discovered a recipe for “Stewed Peppers with Tomato and Onion (Peperonata).” Perfect for today’s market harvest: sauté slowly sweet onions and peppers, add chopped-up fresh tomatoes, fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper, and cook a little longer. Serve hot or room temperature. It will make a great side with leftover squash and potato gratin.

And while the beans cooked, I painted the pepper. The food is inspiring here and a pleasure – a pleasure increased by knowing our farmers!

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