Lime Mint Jelly, Bread Baskets, and Market Fruits – Between Seasons at Dufferin Grove Farmers’ Market

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Everyone has a running list of things they would hypothetically do if they won the lottery or had all the money in the world.  Actually, let’s not even say all the money in the world – just more than what you already have.  While one of my goals in life is to go on a cupcake shop tour across the country, the states, and the world, there is one other food-related thing I wish I could do, and that is to buy everything that strikes my fancy at every single farmers’ market I go to.  And I mean EVERYTHING. 

It’s a little embarrassing to admit this, but if money wasn’t a concern, I would and could have easily blown $30 at the newest and latest Lunchtime Office market I recently wrote about, at the ING Direct Cafe.  Some raw vegan food from Earth & City (vegan pizza and a raw brownie), a pie from Yorktown Pie Company, another edible veggie bowl and container of dip from Luscious Dips, some seafood from Hooked Inc. and some tortillas from ChocoSol.  Can I eat all of it at once?  Goodness, no.  I might be a food tank, but even I couldn’t down all of that in one go.  I would take half of it home.  But $30!  That is an absurd amount to even think about spending for lunch at one market.  But there it is.  If I didn’t have to watch my wallet or think about budgeting, I would bring the markets home with me.  There has never been one market I have been to where I didn’t want to leave with a wheelbarrow full of fresh bread, fruits and vegetables, and pantry items.      

I think these market visits have really challenged me to be creative with my meal-planning over the last year.  It’s easy to come to the false conclusion that going to the markets time and time again would yield the same foods and products during the same season, thus resulting in boredom.  After all, many of the same businesses and vendors are present each time.  Far from it is the way I see it.  My knowledge, tastebuds, and exposure to different food products have grown with these markets and in turn, many vendors have reciprocated by bringing new and creative things to the table each week for their customers and market-goers.  I find myself discovering new things every time and I get excited about things all over again. 

My last visit to Dufferin Grove was back in December before the holidays so I paid another visit to the indoor winter market recently to see what goodies I could get nice photographs of and – surprise, surprise – I left wanting half the market!  It’s so interesting to see how a farmers’ market evolves over the course of a year and watching it move along in transition between seasons.  You can tell that while the winter vegetables and comfort foods are still making its rounds, spring is waiting in the wings to break out full force.  Just look at the sunny lemons and oranges.  Spring is definitely going to be one very exciting season this year because I’ll get to see many of the markets that were hibernating over the winter come back and I’m looking forward to that.  My favourite discoveries this time around were the cornmeal sourdough bread loaves, the artisan pumpkin seed loaves, and – get this – lime mint jelly in a jar!  As of late, I have been on the biggest toast and _____ (insert some form of spread, dip, or condiment here) kick lately.  

I know that sounds kind of ho-hum (really, Deb?  Toast is your food adventure?), but it makes a world of difference when you start experimenting with different kinds of bread and spreads.  I’ve been having a field day with my peanut butter on Texas toast with almond milk, sesame seed bread with beet hummus, and 12-grain rye with garlic spread.  And now to find out there is such a thing as lime mint jelly?!  That makes me all sorts of excited.  I think it would taste fantastic with a turkey sandwich on some French bread.  Once I finish off my container of beet hummus (I actually bought the beet hummus for my mum, but I kind of polished off half the container myself, oops)  I just might pick up a jar.  Or maybe just another container of veggie hummus.  We’ll see.

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Dufferin Grove Park is located at the intersection of Dufferin St. and Bloor St. West.  The Dufferin Grove farmers’ market is held year-round at the northwest corner of the park every Thursday from 3pm-7pm.  For more info on the farmers’ market and its vendors, click here.

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Winter Vegetables, Kale, & Garlic Focaccia Buns – The Indoor Rinkhouse Farmers’ Market at Dufferin Grove

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Aside from the beautiful, vibrant farmers’ market sign, soil, patches of grass, and some tree trunks, what do you see up top?  If you said ice rink, you are right and you get a big fat cookie! 😀  I went to my first official winter indoor farmers’ market yesterday at Dufferin Grove!  Now I know I’ve been to the indoor lunchtime markets at the Centre for Social Innovation a number of times since they started in September, but the CSI markets have always been indoors so technically, my visit to Dufferin Grove yesterday was my first in what I call “the indoor market circuit”.  Markets such as Dufferin Grove, Eglinton Park, Sorauren Park, and Wychwood Barns have all moved indoors for the winter season and the new kid on the block, 99MRKT, is taking the city by storm with its indoor fall and winter market emporium.  I’m so excited to see what the winter will bring and I’m already looking forward to my holiday visit to Evergreen Brick Works later on this month!

I had such a fabulous day out yesterday, but unfortunately nature took its course and I came down with a nasty migraine in the early part of the evening that left me incredibly nauseous and sick, hence why I couldn’t write and share these photos with you all yesterday.  I feel awful that I had to skip a day like that (especially after all the gushing I did for the blog’s 1st birthday!), but I feel much better now and I’m excited to fill you all in on my first indoor winter market visit of the season.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: the market at Dufferin Grove exudes such a sense of belonging and community.  There’s a board right outside the rinkhouse with a weekly newsletter posted on it with great bits and bites about some of the goodies at the market, recipe ideas, and much more.  I arrived at the market only a half hour after it started and the market grounds were already packed with eager shoppers, ice skaters, and hockey players coming in and out and milling around.  Yes, ice skaters and hockey players!  The Dufferin Grove farmers’ market takes place in the indoor rinkhouse during the winter season, right beside the outdoor ice rink located at the northwest corner of the park. 

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The First Sightings of Fall Squash and Pumpkins! The Farmers’ Market at Dufferin Grove Park

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Today was the most glorious, beautiful day ever!  Sure, the leaves haven’t changed colours yet and the ground isn’t littered with gorgeous leaves to skip around in, but it was a chilly day today and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.  It was clear, crisp, fresh, and the best day to be outside.  Throughout the entire summer, I donned a hat and cringed whenever the blazing sun hit me at an awkward angle making my skin prickle.  Today, I didn’t take my hat out of my bag even once and the cool breeze felt so good on my chipmunk cheeks.  With the exception of grabbing myself a bite and using the ladies’ room, I was hardly inside at all today. 

I visited two farmers’ markets, had some yummy food, made a wonderful new friend, and went on one VERY long walk across town!  Just think, I started my morning at Roy Thomson Hall, had a great meeting and tea date with said friend, grabbed a bite to eat on King St., and then proceeded to walk from King and Bathurst all the way to Dufferin Mall.  I KNOW.  I am a nut.  Either that or just a glutton for punishment.  Nothing beats the walk I did in April along Dundas West, but I have to tell you, my feet were sore by the time I caught the bus at the end of my day and I was out like a light on the ride home.  Someday I’ll probably pay for this and my feet will rebel against me, but for the time being, it works for me.  Exercise, fresh air, and seeing lovely sights and getting to know the city better.  Works for me!

So, what was I doing at Dufferin Mall today?  I finally got my tooshie to the farmers’ market at Dufferin Grove Park!  The park is beautiful and SO BIG!  I know I sound like a child when I say this, but all I could think about when I left the market was how great the park would be in the winter for sledding and tobagganing because it’s rather hilly, haha!  It’s going to look so gorgeous in another several weeks when the leaves start changing.  It’s a great venue for a market, and for things like picnicking, throwing around a frisbee, and squirrel watching which my friend Wini (aka. squirrel scout) would greatly approve of.  There’s also a wonderful sense of community here.  Not only do children’s playgroups come here, but there’s also a tennis court on the premises and a community garden for gardening classes as well as a vegetable and herb garden!

There’s lots to see at this market and there’s lots to eat!  There were tables of fresh baked bread, veggie pizzas with crushed red pepper dough (I whimpered when I saw these because they looked so delicious), rows and rows of green, red, and black grapes in pints (they reminded me of wine grapes!), salad mixes, greens, and sunflower sprouts from Kind Organics, heirloom tomatoes, pickled vegetables and preserves, and lots of other fruits and vegetables sitting fresh and prettily on adorable printed fall tablecloths.  They have a selection of hot lunch food and snacks right near the rinkhouse (things like crepes, burritos, ice cream, chocolates, salads, baked goods, and more) and come October 1st, the market will be hosting their annual tasting fair from 1pm-4pm, with all food going for $2 a pop. 

What excited me the most today though, was my first squash and pumpkin sightings of the year!  It’s feeling like fall more and more and the sight of pumpkins and squash got me in a tizzy today.  I have more squash photos than I do pumpkin ones in this batch (or maybe patch?), but I have lots of pumpkin photos to show you all from another market, so I’ll have those to show you all real soon.  It was so awesome seeing barrels and barrels of carnival squash, spaghetti squash, and butternut squash alongside bright orange pumpkins, beets, rutabagas, and beautiful crisp apples.  I’ve been reading up on pumpkin recipes like crazy and I’m dying to get myself a cute mini one to tote around!  I can’t wait to see what the next few weeks are going to bring at the markets and I’ll hopefully have some fall baked goodies for you all in the next little while!

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Dufferin Grove Park is located at the intersection of Dufferin St. and Bloor St. West.  The Dufferin Grove farmers’ market is held year-round at the northwest corner of the park every Thursday from 3pm-7pm.  Their annual tasting fair is slated to take place on October 1st from 1pm-4pm.  For more info on the farmers’ market and its vendors, click here.