slowly slowly the ant crawls over the quilt

I was thinking yesterday about one of Steve’s college professors who said that as a painter he tries to paint like an ant crawling on the surface.  Such is quilting.  I did get five more squares quilted.  It took me three hours.  Not that this was unpleasant, I spent most my time on the phone with my mom.  My mom has the awesome super power of always being awake when I am awake.  She must have learned it when I was a baby.  Anyway, if I wake up at 5:30 am in the morning and can’t get back to sleep, I can call my mom.  After I got off the phone,  I thought to myself, it took me 3 hours to quilt five squares, the quilt has 36 squares, (insert math here) : 21 hours for just the hand quilting part of the quilt.  Obviously, this is only a small part of how much I have worked on this quilt.  Now, making quilts is a great joy for me, so I obviously am not in it for the money or the fame. This is why I don’t sell my quilts, I could never make enough money to compensate me for my time and really make them the way I want them to be.

Anyway, I am also making progress on my stockings.

One done!  Yes, it is mine.  I have learned to do mine first because if I usually make them better as I go. Anyway, I made a monograms, edged the monogram with fur and paint.  Then I attached it with a button.  I added lace around the cuff and (hard to see) little gold beads at each quilted seam.  They are turning out great. I’m having a hard time motivating myself because I have three projects that all need the same thing right now: hand work.  For that reason, I will be glad when these are done.  However, these stockings at least have the added bonus of being portable. However, I only have eight days to complete them.

On another more delicious note: for those of you who live in Minneapolis-St Paul, the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market is open! It technically doesn’t close but in the winter, there is only meat, eggs, and seafood and they only come every other week.  Now, they are open every Saturday, and there is more variety. Don from Heinel Farm  was there with spinach and green onions.  There were already some bedding plants, chocolate and, also, Joe of Caribbean Heat.  Anyway, the big surprise was morels!  Paul and I had picked another five on the parkway.  We were really excited to get a quarter pound at the Farmer’s Market, only slightly overpriced.  We had a delicious dinner last night of morels and pasta.

farmers market review – Minneapolis Farmers’ Market

I was planning to review the Richfield Farmers’ Market, but I needed to give someone a lift downtown anyway (more about that later)… so we went to our old home Farmers’ Market under the overpass near downtown this week.  It occurred to me that I should probably review it as a baseline. 

I should say, that the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market is a unique place.  In spite of the state’s goal to annihilate it for a football stadium and their concerted goal to make parking unbearable by situating a Twins stadium nearby, it prospers.

I think that there are few places in the Twin Cities that such an ethnically diverse group of people mix.  If you want the true feeling of a city with many different cultures represented, come to the Farmers’ Market.  You will hear many languages spoken by both venders and customers. You will see evidence of many religions displayed from Muslims, Hindu and Amish people in colorful costumes. 

By the way, just to be clear, I always refer to the Farmers’ Market as whole, but there is actually two sections, each with different rules and ownership:  the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market and the Farmers’ Market Annex.  The Minneapolis Farmers’ Market  is the north three sheds, and the southern part is the Farmers’ Market Annex.  The guidelines for venders are stricter in the Farmers’ Market proper, so the produce, products and meats are more likely to be locally produced.  The Annex has a variety of products, many that are imported.

I would say that the best thing about the Farmers’ Market is the diversity of products.  Every week there is something new, and not just due to the change of the season. This week we found locally grown artichokes from Wisconsin.

Here’s a few of my favorite venders:

St. Martin’s Gourmet Importers- Farmers’ Market Annex, sometimes Farmers’ Market. 

Steve loves their olives, I think their balsamic vinegar is the best.

Bar 5  – Farmer’s Market. 

This family owned stand has lamb, duck, chicken, beef, rabbit, pork and turkeys.  My favorite is their smoked chicken.  We pair it with Asian noodles, peanut sauce, shredded carrots, spinach and cucumbers for a wonderful salad.  It also makes great sandwiches.  When they have duck and chicken livers, they are fabulous, very clean and delicious. 

Tou G Yang – Farmers’ Market

Wonderful garlic-  I will just show you this picture as proof:

Caribbean Heat– both Farmers’ Market and Farmers’ Market Annex

Joe has several great products, but my favorite is his tamales.  They make a great fast dinner.  His chips are great, very fresh and crisp.  His tortillas are hand-made and the taste shows it.  Steve likes several of his hot sauces, in particular, Marie Sharp.  My midwestern tastes can’t handle that heat.

I got cheese. – Farmers’ Market Annex.  Love, love, love the apricot cheese.  Also, the five year cheddar with tiny little crunch crystals in it is wonderful.  These are domestic cheeses from Wisconsin, but very high quality and unusual.

Don Heidel – Farmers’ Market

Steve loves Don’s yellow corn (he also has bi-color).  The yellow is harder to find and has that distinctive corny flavor.  My favorite is his microgreens.  He is the first one in the spring with vegetables, usually with parsnips and onions.  His microgreens come in before anyone else’s and are super tender and sweet.

Tollefson’s Family Pork– Farmers’ Market

Tollefson’s is another meat vender.  He only sells pork, but with a plethora of products.  My absolute favorite is his ham.  It is the best ham I’ve ever had.  It will ruin you for ham from the grocery store.  He also has great thick cut bacon.  One of his unique products is smoked pork chops.  They will grill one up for a sandwich while you wait or you can take them home and make them yourself, both great.

Untiedt’s– Farmers’ Market and Farmer’s Market Annex

Untiedt really seems to be doing farming in a way that is about diversification.  He offers both Minnesota grown produce from his farm and high quality trucked in products at the Annex.  He is one of the earliest farmers to have tomatoes- and real Minnesota grown fabulous tomatoes.  He has heirloom tomatoes.  He has produce stands around the city if you don’t make it downtown.  His trucked in produce is very fresh, especially the peaches.  If you are like Steve, and can’t ever get enough sweet corn on the cob, he has corn that he ships from the south before his own Minnesota crop comes in.  Just to get an idea of how many different things he has on a regular basis, two weeks ago he had blueberries, tomatoes (both regular and heirlooms) raspberries, peaches, melon, Minnesota corn, zucchini and cucumbers.

So as I said, we had to give someone a lift.  I scammed a picture of him:

Yes, here he is, our own street musician, born and raised on the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market.

farmers market review Bloomington farmers’ market.

We have gone to the Minneapolis farmers’ market under the freeway bridge near downtown for literally a score of years.  The past few years it has become more and more like a fair.  Prices have been going up.  And worse for me, who is slightly freaked out by crowds, it has become crazy crowded.  We also have to park between six or seven blocks away.  It’s no big deal to walk in but coming back with several pounds of heavy produce is kind of taxing. We have decided to tour the surrounding cities farmers’ market with the possible goal of moving to one of them during the busiest season, June, July and August.  So this Saturday, we went to the Bloomington farmers’ market.

The Bloomington farmers’ market is about the same distance from our house as the Minneapolis farmers’ market, but in the opposite direction. The parking was great.  We got there at 9 am and were able to park about a block and a half away.  Not too bad. There were three rows of stalls, which is much smaller than the 6-8 double-sided rows in Minneapolis. This meant that there were only about thirty stalls.  That being said, we found most of the items we were looking for.  My list included: cucumbers, peppers, onions, and eggplant.  All of these were easily obtained from a couple of Hmong farmers.  One of them also had fairly decent tomatoes and the other some beautiful heirloom yellow carrots.

We did see some duplication from the downtown market, mostly in the area of meat.  Tollefson Family Pork had a nice sized stand.  Because of the lower amount of people, we really could get right up to them easily and get helped right away.  In case you haven’t tried Tollefson’s pork, their ham and bacon are fabulous. The other meat vender that we also see downtown is Blue Gentian farm.  They offer a variety of heirloom meat. We bought a beef steak from them. We heard that they will soon be offering goat, one of the few meats that neither of us have tried.

Steve was pleased by the diversity of garlic at this market.  There were three farmers selling garlic.  One had three different beautiful large varieties.  We had never tried the purple striped garlic so we decided to try it.

I have to say that I found the wide aisles very refreshing, and was completely unjostled through the whole experience.  There was live music which, while not inspiring, was pleasant. The market sits right by a little lake, so it was picturesque.  Many families were sitting on the shores of the lake and lunching. 

I missed cheese at the market and there were very few choices of fruit.  I really only saw cantaloupe and raspberries.  The prices were as high as the downtown market, so value-wise it was no different.  The quality was just as high, and since there were fewer stalls or perhaps because of that, there were no really stalls offering lesser quality produce. 

Will we go back?  Maybe.  I found nearly everything on my list but cheese.  I loved the ease of going there, but only found one new thing.  I may try going back there to see if the stalls turn over and offer new interesting products, or if they are static through the season.