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Now on to today’s post…
So you may read this post’s title and say…blending? Blending what?! Blending with my best blend, Heather! She came to visit me last weekend, and we had an amazing, fun-filled Sunday. It really turned out to be a fantastic time, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that it started pouring the rain when it was time for Heather to drive back to MA. The weather knew how I was feeling!
I took my flower child (she pulls off that look!) to her favorite Glastonbury spot, and one of mine, Daybreak Coffee Roasters! Last time Heather visited she fell in love with the local cafe, so a trip to get their coffee and blog AKA what I do many weekends was at the top of her list.
After a few hours of tech time and caffeinating (that should be a real verb) ourselves, we set off to a destination I’ve been dying to show Heather, the Coventry Farmers’ Market. This is by far the best farmers’ market I’ve EVER attended – and it must have been everyone else’s best as well, because we ended up waiting in traffic for about 30 minutes on the windy one-lane road leading to the parking area! Finally we found a spot on the side of the road and walked the remaining 1/2 mile…fine with us, it was a gorgeous day. A tip to any CT residents who want to attend – it starts at 11AM, but aim to arrive by 10:45AM at the LATEST!
One of my very first blog entries was actually about the products I found during my first trip to the Coventry Farmer’s Market! How funny – last time I went I was a new blogger, and now I have all these amazing experiences and new friends under my belt as a result of starting Cait Plus Ate. Who knows where I’ll be next time I go?!
We were in heaven! The market was hoppin’ – it was opening day of the season after all.
I’m such a salt fan that I had to pick up a tiny jar of smoked sea salts. Any new kind of salt is a must-try in my book! Can’t wait to try this on a meat or seafood from the grill.
I purchased one the above votive beeswax candles from Swift Farm. The man working there gave Heather and I some very interesting info on candles. I burn them every morning and evening, and usually buy them from Bath & Body Works. Those are parafin candles. Apparently they are not only the most common, but also the most HARMFUL to the air. According to the Swift Farm rep, the second-best form of candle to burn is soy, but most are NOT non-GMO. That leaves us with the best kind to burn – 100% beeswax, completely natural. And they really do smell fantastic! I’m going to “burn through” the rest of my B&BW candles, but what he had to say was interesting and I’ll have to reconsider whether or not I want to purchase any more from there in the future.
I also bought a natural lip balm from Swift Farm. The ingredient list is amazing: almond oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, comfrey oil, vitamin E oil, and rosemary & peppermint essential oils. It feels so soft on my lips, smells great, and gives a slight, satisfying peppermint tingle. Crazy though how those with nut allergies would need to avoid this lip balm. I could easily forget about the almond oil and am worried I’m going to give some to a nut-allergic friend who asks to borrow some!
Last year I visited Iffat, a hilarious, friendly man who runs the Lazizah Bakery in Yantic, CT. They are famous in the state for their falafel, but don’t sell it at the farmers’ market because Iffat would have to make it in Yantic and bring it to Coventry since the fryer isn’t portable. He’d rather NOT sell a lower quality version of his most famous product than make the money he could probably make if he sold pre-made falafel. I admire that!
Iffat was just as fun as he was last year, calling Heather and I “beautiful girls”, and answering my questions about the above herbed pita, which I purchased and made into a FAB shrimp pizza for dinner a few nights later with my mom.
There was just one case of tabbouleh left, one of Heather and I’s favorite Mediterannean foods, so we decided it was fate that we split it!
I had told her all about Yummy Hummy, another booth that impressed me last year. We sadly arrived too late to get the carrot & ginger hummus we’d heard would be offered (of course, it was sold out!) but there were still some unique products left that I snatched immediately – strawberry salsa and dandelion green & carrot top pesto!
Heather purchased some hummus and swooned over it. Yummy Hummy is a great, humble company and they make so many unique hummus flavors! Others that I hope to find at a farmers’ market to purchase someday: spicy sesame, lemon cilantro, summer squash & curry, beets & scallions, pumpkin spice, acorn squash & black pepper, and MOJITO!
Last season I purchased dill pickle chips from Christine’s Country Kitchen, so I knew I wanted to try to get different selections this time around. Plus I’ve only grown MORE adventurous with food in the last year, so it makes sense that I ended up expanding outside of my pickled horizons. Of course I selected a jar of garlic pickles first, but I followed it up with sugar-free pickled beets and sweet & spicy mustard! I’ve been rocking the pickles and beets in my salads…I still don’t think I enjoy eating beets alone, but am now at the point that I’m loving them in my salads. I’m a mustard fanatic and sampled many at this booth, but ended up choosing the sweet & spicy.
The most touching moment of the day came courtesy of Shayna B’s Gluten-Free Bakery. All their treats are also VEGAN, which was great news for Heather, who had not had the best of luck at the farmers’ market finding baked goods or any breads that fit the vegan bill.
We started chatting with the owner and she was so kind and appreciative of our passion and desire for healthy, natural, wholesome food. We each received a sample of the Wendy Bites, in the bottom row of the picture below, made with fantastic vegan and gluten-free-friendly ingredients like garbanzo bean flour. A nut-free version without the almonds was even available, though I have to admit the bites I had with the almonds were the best ones 🙂 Heather decided to buy a package of Wendy Bites, and when we came up 50 cents short, they let us purchase the Wendies anyway! We couldn’t believe how kind the folks of Shayna B’s were and could tell that they really, really just wanted their treats to reach as many happy people as possible.
After visiting Shayna’s we decided we’d spent enough of our life savings for one day. My bag sure was heavy!
On our way back to the car we remembered that there were BABY ANIMALS at the market that day! We passed them at the entrance and stopped for some playtime.
See, I’ve been known to rock the poses with farm animals before. Behold, my last trip to the Central Park Petting Zoo…
After I was done making a fool of myself, we walked back to the car and went to West Hartford’s quaint Blueback Square, another CT gem I wanted Heather to visit, to meet up with our girl Jenny. I met her through Heather and am so grateful – she rocks and we’ve already become fast friends.
We snagged iced tea from the Green Tea House and took it outside to enjoy the last rays of sunshine before the impending downpour.
So fabulous to chat and sip with these girls. Great end to the day – actually, the day ended with Heather and I literally jumping into my car and closing the sunroof right as the downpour began, but you know. Good friends, good timing.
After Heather (sadly) departed, I laid out my farmers’ market finds and immediately started planning how I’d incorporate some into that evening’s dinner.
I topped a leftover salmon burger with the strawberry salsa, and my mom roasted up the zucchini and squash (I got a ton for just $3.50). OMG! An amazing, amazing meal. I was in heaven the whole time.
What’s the best find you’ve gotten at a farmers’ market?
Farm animals…love ’em or hate ’em?