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Sunday, September 15, 2013

MoFo 2013, day 15: Tompkins Square Park Farmer's Market

Serendipitous! A page I follow on Facebook recently shared some old photos of New York City from the 70s and 80s and they're scary and amazing and incredible. Or maybe not so incredible. In certain parts of the city, at certain times late at night or in the wee morning hours, the old grittiness is still here but certainly a lot has changed.
I was born on St. Marks Place in the East Village in the early 80s, a couple blocks from Tompkins Square Park and there would just be crack vials strewn all over the place, junkies nodding off, and homeless people sleeping on the benches. My family moved out to Queens in '86; in 1988, there was a riot in the park when the police attacked the homeless people and drug addicts, as well as bystanders, photographers, and anyone trying to document the scene. These days, there are punk shows in the park every summer to mark the anniversary and...a farmer's market on Sundays.

                         Indigo tomatoes! Aren't they gorgeous? And lil stripey green ones too.
                                                                   Bug on beets

It's smaller than Union Square, obviously, but there is still everything you need (and maybe more, meat stand.) I found that stalky green thing that I mis-spoke and called callaloo last time. It's cardoon! I figured it was only right that I buy it and figure out some way to use it to make it up to you. Callaloo IS a thing, just not this thing. It sounds pretty crazy. I will get back to you on that.

                                     The cardoon, a tomato, two eightball zucchini - 5 dollars.
Amaranth, $3. I have no idea what to do with this either but it was so pretty I couldn't not buy it. I have to stop doing that.
                              A little green bug on the leaf and the pretty amaranth blossom.
While I peruse the internet for ideas on what to do with either of the leafy things, I am cooking the eightball zucchini. Using Hannah Kaminsky's basic idea for hollowing the squash out, stuffing it, and roasting it.


The filling is leftover pinto beans, the chopped insides of the zucchini, onion, the tomato, dried dill, olive oil, and salt.
Stuffed. I may meet up with G and his dad for an early dinner, so I'll let you know how the zucchini is later. My money's on tasty.

29 comments:

  1. so much awesome produce. i went to our farmer's market yesterday for a fast run before going to the library...i just got some garlic & peppers...

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  2. Whoa! These are awesome finds from the Tompkins Square Park Farmer's Market! The market looks lovely especially the Indigo tomatoes! I have never heard of cardoon - what does it taste like? Whoa, these amaranth looks amazing, perhaps use it in a stir fry? These stuffed zucchini balls are so cute - mmmmm!

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    1. Yeah, I think this was my most exciting farmers market run so far! I shoulda bought those pretty indigos. I'm definitely thinking a stir fry is the way to go...there are a lot of Asian recipes for amaranth.

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  3. I've never cooked cardoon or amaranth, so I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with it. Stuffed zucchini, on the other hand, is something I used to do all the time. However, they were the long skinny, boring kind, not the cute little round ones.

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    1. Stuffed zucchini is so easy and adaptable but I don't do it nearly enough. But yes, the eightballs are a bit more fun to hollow out. If they lasted longer, I'd use them like jack o lanterns!

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  4. Okay, yes, farmers market definitely trumps police beating homeless people.

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    1. Agreed. Not that there aren't still plenty of homeless taking back the park. It's an odd juxtaposition.

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  5. Interesting story on the park! I grew up in Queens and somehow I never knew that. Very cool that such positive changes have been made. The farmer's market looks beautiful, such amazing produce! What cool produce you picked up too, the zucchini is so cute! And the indigo tomatoes are so pretty! I hope you enjoyed your stuffed zucchini, they sound delicious!

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    1. Aren't they so cute? I'm planning on eating one later for luuunnnchhh.

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  6. I love hearing the history of specific locations, I think it honors the memory of what happened and brings a lot more meaning to what we do in that space! It's awesome that there is a Farmer's Market! Such beautiful produce; you captured some fantastic shots.

    I thought amaranth was a grain. . .oops! I will definitely stayed tuned to see what you do with it!

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    1. Agreed, I love hearing about it too and there is so much history in this city that I don't even know about.
      You can eat all parts of amaranth. I think the blossom part is what becomes the edible grain. *Off to do more research on that...*

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  7. You've got to love anything you can stuff with itself and then cook to wondrouness. I never knew about the history or the amaranth - I'm learning over here today!

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    1. Right? Human bodies are stuffed with ourselves but we aren't anywhere near as delicious as zucchini (I'd think.)

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  8. Interesting tidbits on your/New York's past! Hanna Kaminsky is a genie. I thought amaranth was a grain(?!), is that like the top of it? Or a completely different plant?

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    1. NYC has some pretty crazy history. I especially love the working class/seedy underbelly stuff. Amaranth is a grain but I guess you can eat all of the plant too!

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  9. I have a habit of buying random vegetables as well, I had no idea amaranth looked like that! Very cool information on the history of certain New York areas, there's so much I don't know about that place.

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    1. I don't know as much as I'd like to either! It's pretty wild stuff.

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  10. I've commented before about how much I share your affinity for urban neighborhood observations/history/stories. The gentirifacation process is a fascinating thing. And complicated when less crime can lead to displacement can lead to better quality of life can lead to housing discrimination, etc etc. Anyway, great food finds!

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    1. It's all so interesting. I definitely have a nostalgia/ punk affinity for the dark and dirty times but I do appreciate feeling safe walking around at night. It's a complicated thing.

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  11. I will echo what other readers said about the vibrant produce shots, never cooked cardoon, but in the old days I have had an eightball, that's what you said, right?
    Also fantastic coverage of the eighties. Ugh lived on Avenue A and 13th back then in a black painted apt. for a while. Gritty times. Thumbs up for the punk bands marking the anniversary.

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    1. Hahaha, GiGi! Tompkins was the appropriate place to buy the eightball zucchinis, then, no?
      I wish I could hear all yr crazy stories of the East Village in the 80s! Everything I know is pretty second-hand; I don't remember much of it.

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    2. yes for sure good score ;)

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  12. Whoa; that's what the amaranth plant looks like? interesting! But don't look at me; I had a bag of amaranth (seed?) in the pantry that seemed like a good idea at the time, but I have no idea what to do with that either. I'd like to note that the compost people at Tompkins square are much nicer than the scary militants in USQ!

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    1. I think people pop it? And put it in granola? I don't know, either. Was wondering if I could cook the seedy blossoms, but I tossed em.

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  13. Too bad your parents couldn't stick it out in the East Village. Think how much their real estate values would have sky-rocketed. Have you eaten the stuffed Zucchini yet? It looks very healthy.

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    1. The reason my parents finally moved was because the roof above their bed caved in! Plus, two kids in a one-bedroom apartment kinda thing. It's probably for the best we moved; now I can yell "I'm from QUEENS!"
      I have so many leftovers from this month I have not yet eaten the zucchini. Probably tomorrow for lunch.

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  14. Okay. so I've definitely seen amaranth greens (uh, leaves, not greens, I guess?) but it seems like it would be pretty easy to use them like kale or chard. Maybe totally simple stir-fry with garlic? Also, those pictures are crazy! NEW YORK.

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    1. Yeah, they are a lot like young chard.
      Aren't the pictures wild? The subway ones are especially crazy.

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