The transition from summer to autumn is evident at the City Market. Summer berries, tomatoes and corn are mostly absent, replaced by pumpkins, eggplant, bell pepper, chili peppers and late season greens. I also spotted squash blossom but resisted buying them.

Today I left the apartment with seven dollars in bills as my budget. It’s amazing how tight-fisted and selective you can be with a set budget versus just ringing up a cart of groceries at the supermarket. I made those seven bucks stretch pretty well even though I’ll supplement the purchases with a run to the store for other goods.



Long beans aka string beans or snake beans.


I bought some long beans aka string beans or snake beans that will be stir-fried with beef, red curry paste, Thai basil and garlic and served with rice.


Thai basil

Thai basil.


Water spinach

Water spinach.


This water spinach (above), also called Chinese spinach and water morning glory, will be stir-fried with garlic and shrimp and served with rice. It can also be steamed as a side dish with soup or tempura-battered and fried.

Below, I’ll likely slice and saute this summer squash with onion as a side dish. I love the striping that reminds me of watermelon rinds.


Summer squash


I’ll use some of the ginger and saute it with Asian pear in butter for a light dessert. The remaining ginger will be used in a stir-fry with pork, onion and garlic.


Asian pear and ginger

Asian sorrel

Asian sorrel aka sour leaf.


I spotted this red-stemmed plant at several Asian farm stands. It was labeled as Asian sorrel, sour leaf and gongura at different tables. The latter is a word used by Telugu, people mainly from the states of Andhra Pradesh, India, where the leafy green is typically pickled. Known as rau chua in Vietnam, sorrel is a tart-tasting herb that is eaten raw as an accompaniment to spring rolls and soups. French sorrel is used in sauces with fish as well as in soups and purees, tucked into an omelette or stuffed in fish. I skipped the sorrel this week but might experiment with it next week if still available at the market.

Fresh chestnuts still in their prickly husk were another find at the market. Of the Earth Farm Distillery had a basket of chestnuts at their stand. I may buy them later in the season. Instead, I opted to by a bottle of blackberry liqueur made from blackberries sourced from the Mule Barn Berry Patch in Lathrop. Sarah from Of the Earth passed out a sample. One sip made a convincing argument to splurge on the liqueur. Slightly sweet with a kick from the 20% alcohol by volume, the blackberry liqueur will be enjoyed as an after-dinner sipper or perhaps added to fruit compote and served over ice cream. Of the Earth also makes and sells fruit-flavored brandy, eau de vie, rye whiskey and grappa.



Chestnut basket

Of the Earth spirits

Sara Of the Earth


When I returned home, I was eager to eat some of the fresh produce and herbs I had purchased including an heirloom tomato, a remind that summer has passed. I made crostini, using rosemary focaccia from Bloom Baking Co., topped with blistered strips of yellow bell pepper that I bought at the market earlier in the week, sliced Cherokee purple tomato, Thai basil and a bit of sweetened goat cheese from Borgman’s Dairy Farm. Light, colorful and full of flavor, this dish hit the spot.