In this month of February, my garden plans continue to evolve and take shape on paper as I stumble upon fresh new ideas. My seed lists continue to be refined while reigning in any unrealistic, overzealous goals for spring planting, and I've been identifying sources for purchasing my organic, heirloom, non-GMO, open pollinated, non-hybrid veggie and flower seeds. This step in the gardening process heightens the anticipation of spring planting, and I enjoy it immensely, but I'm longing to bring into my kitchen some dirty veggies. Yes. Not squeaky clean ones from the grocery store's produce department. No, I want some clinging dirt that indicates they were freshly plucked from the soil. With the exception of those using high tunnel farming practices, there's nothing to be plucked from Minnesota gardens at the present. So, what else was I to do but go to the Sanford Farmer's Market in central Florida.
Upon arriving at the market, I headed immediately to a vendor I had researched online: State of Harmony Farm. Their animals are pastured/grass-fed and welfare/humane certified. Integrated pest management and other organic practices are utilized. The farm offers a CSA with positive reviews from those utilizing the service. "No upfront costs. Just pay for the week you order. Small $35. Medium $50. Large $70." Simplistic and flexible. Nice.
The market opened at 10A. As the clock at the market's entrance indicates, I arrived at 11:10, so State of Harmony Farm's remaining offerings were limited. But, there was the dirt I had been longing to find. Clinging to the multicolored radishes. And the roots were intact. The neatly bundled collards were crisp and lovely with their red-veins and red-tinged leaves. Winter offerings. Appropriate for the season. I also bought three dozen multi-colored eggs after receiving confirmation that the hens roam freely on pasture in the sunshine pecking grass and bugs. Some of the eggs had poop clinging to their shells. For many, it may be a turnoff, but it means the eggs' natural protective coating had not been washed off. This is a very good thing because the coating prevents bacteria from entering the shell and reduces moisture loss, thus extending the shelf life of the egg. Dirt and poop. Both good.
For lunch, I knew Roots Raw Juice Bar would be perfect. The walk to Roots on South Sanford Avenue is therapeutic in itself. Located on a quiet side street close to downtown, you'll pass by Antidote Apothecary & Spa and Claire's Hats. How quaint, right? Upon my arrival at Roots, there, on the bathroom hallway wall, was a painting of a rooted plant with the words "rejuvenate" lettered on its stem. This place surely would continue to feed my winter season soul.
From the menu posted on the wall, I ordered a Cabbage Patch Salad consisting of spring greens, red cabbage, tomato, cucumber, and sunflower seeds with a finely diced topping of carrot, broccoli, red cabbage, and celery and a sprinkling of dried currants to add a bit of sweet. Drizzled with a light, clean dressing made with olive oil, red (white?) wine vinegar, salt, and pepper, it was just what I was looking for. To complete my meal, I chose a Go Bananas! Smoothie made with banana, hemp protein, cacao, and coconut water.
Root's cacao banana smoothie prompted me to make Detoxinista's Chocolate Banana Protein Shake , but I subbed plain coconut water for the liquid. The intensity of the recipe's chocolate flavor is very good, but, if mimicking Root's smoothie is a goal, you'd want to use less cacao and more coconut water. And the banana slices resting along the sides of the glass with whipping cream nestled atop like a winter stocking cap? Minimalist Baker was my inspiration. Her creations and photography skills are a must-see! I was thrilled with how simply slipping in some slivers of banana elevated the presentation of my shake, but you have to see the master's version: "Banana Split Smoothie." It is truly an art form using food as the medium.
FYI, the Winter Garden Farmer's Market in downtown Winter Garden, Florida is a must-stop if you are in the vicinity and looking for another market option.