Hitting Up the Weekend Markets! Squashes, Crab Apples, and a Sea of Rainbow Colours at Liberty Village

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It’s Friday and the weekend is here!  I’m excited because there’s so much going on with the last of the outdoor markets, Pedestrian Sunday in Kensington, and the spooktacular yummies that await me on Hallowe’en!  I have so much I want to do but there’s always never enough time.  I haven’t even been able to do any Hallowe’en baking for you guys!  Hopefully I’ll have something fabulous for you all on Monday, but for now, I’m chugging away at getting these weekend market photos up!  If you’ve been following the Farmers’ Market series since I started it back in May, you’ll have noticed that many of the markets that I hit up were weekday ones.  It’s a habit from university that it’s still in my blood and a little hard to kick.

While I was in school, my weekdays were flexible.  I would go to my classes on the days I had them, I would attend meetings whenever they arose, and I would stick myself in the library for the day when it was necessary.  Between all these activities though, I would hop around town.  I took advantage of the precious time I had to do things during the school/work week because I knew I would have to succumb to a weekend of work.  Sometimes there was just too much going on during the week to “sit down” and get things done.  Three hour break in between classes?  Sweet, I’m taking a break at the mall.  Classes finished by noon?  Nice, I’m spending the rest of the day downtown.  I would get my shopping done that way, I got to stroll around, and of course, I got to eat.

Pretty graffiti art by Liberty Village

Cupcake offerings at For the Love of Cake!

This habit of rushing around during the week and staying home on the weekends has made it a little difficult for me to get out to the weekend markets this year.  I’m the opposite of most people.  While they can’t wait to get out and party it up, I’m laying in front of the tv tired from the week’s antics!  The reduced transit service in my area doesn’t exactly help matters either.  But missing the weekend markets started putting me in a bad mood so I tried my best to get out to a few of them and I’m so happy I did.  I finally went to Evergreen Brick Works and just recently, I ping-ponged between two Sunday markets in the city: Leslieville and today’s Liberty Village!

Liberty Village is an up-and-coming neighbourhood in the west end off of King Street sweeping the city by storm.  The industrial feel is still very much present, but businesses in and discussion of the area are both steadily growing as more people venture out to explore.  Even though I can’t say that I could spend an entire day in the neighbourhood, there’s some great stuff in the village that I love, such as For the Love of Cake cupcake shop (blog post forthcoming, I promise!), Demo Soap Studio (if you get a chance to check them out at the One of a Kind Show, do it!), and a handful of dining establishments that look great on paper and that I can’t wait to try out.  I went to Liberty Village for the first time in the summer of 2010 and it’s definitely grown in the past year.  I think many people who have an interest in design and architecture will also appreciate the area, in addition to foodies, because the main strip was constructed in a way that makes it very distinguishable from other neighbourhoods in the city.  You’ll just have to go and check it out 😉

The Liberty Village farmers’ market, located in the Green P parking lot just outside the Liberty Market building on East Liberty Street between Atlantic and Hanna Ave., is a sister market to others in the city: Bloor-Borden-Lippincott, Sick Kids Hospital, Ryerson University, and East Lynn Park.  If I had to make a comparison, I would say that the Liberty Village market is a little more similar to Bloor-Borden-Lippincott.  The Liberty Village one didn’t have the ginormous herb table, but I recognized some of the same tables and farmers.  The markets at Sick Kids Hospital and Ryerson are much more different in their offerings.  Liberty Village is more fruit and vegatable centric whereas the market at Sick Kids has waaay more baked goods, and Ryerson has a mix of both.

It was a beautifully warm day when I went (which is a stark constract to the weather we’re having now!), and the market was busy.  The tables were just bursting with beautiful colour and I was so giddy to see two particular things at this market: crab apples and baby squashes!  We’ve all heard the terms “sour grapes” and “crab apple” but I’ve never actually SEEN a crab apple before.  Unless I missed them, none of the other markets I’ve been to have them.  They were adorable.  So cute and small and bright pink-red!  I did a little bit of research and found out that these fruits are wonderful for making jellies, jams, and preserves.

And the squashes!  I can’t get over how pretty they are.  And how good they are to eat.  I saw these adorable baby squashes at the market that were white with deep green striping and I asked the farmers how to cook them.  They told me I could cut them in half, sprinkle a little brown sugar, put some butter on them, and roast them in the oven for about 45- minutes.  Friends on Twitter also made a few yummy suggestions like sprinkling cinnamon on too!  Let it be known that aside from butternut squash soup and Chinese squash, I’ve never actually eaten or cooked things like butternut, acorn, or spaghetti squash until recently.

Once my fall kicked into high gear, my mum started going on and on about how much she loved it when my grandma used to make it when she was growing up and how she had somehow forgotten about it until now.  So we bought some butternut squash.  And ate it.  And loved it.  My dad and brother didn’t really care for it one way or the other, but my mum and I cleaned off almost an entire one between the two of us.  It was juicy and soft and mildly sweet.  In my opinion, it’s more awesome than a sweet potato!  Sweet potato lovers, don’t hate me.  Or throw your sweet potatoes at me.  I just love the flavour and texture of butternut squash more.

The weather this weekend is looking a little nicer, so I’m hoping I can make it out to some fun stuff happening in the city.  Enjoy Friday today and check out the outdoor markets while you still can!

*****

Liberty Village farmers’ market is located in the Green P parking lot on East Liberty Street between Atlantic and Hanna Ave.  Liberty Village is located just south of King Street West and the market is held every Sunday from 9am-2pm.

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