At this time of the year the harvest is coming in and the variety of vegetables and produce is plentiful. There are lots of places to buy pumpkins and small gourds and the prices are all over the place. I went first to the Riverview Market on Riverside drive, this is a good market for produce and high end food products. I took a look at their pumpkins and they were priced at $5 for a medium size one. Then the small gourds which are only good for display or arrangements with fall flowers, they were selling at $5 for one. Given how small they are, smaller than an apple, I thought this is silliness. So I went across the river to Mackenzie farms on Hwy 1 in Stratford, only 5 minutes by car from where I was and found an incredible array of pumpkins and gourds and other fresh produce. This is a large farm specialty is cabbage and other root vegetable, they also produce corn. No middle man to muck up things and no transport cost.
I bought 6 small gourds for $5 and larger gourds for another $4. They also had green tomatoes and Will has a recipe for Green Tomato Pie. So got a basket of those. Better quality and better prices. I did not know it but they also have 35 Mexican seasonal workers. This is a big farm. They also make 4 tons of coleslaw per year that is sold all over this Maritime region. Lots of families came to choose their pumpkin looking for the best shape traditional pumpkin. I like the odd looking ones, they have more personality. All over the Island there are farms who do direct sales to the public just off the main road. Same for eggs and meats, we buy our meat from a producer who is just 25 minutes from us on Drake Road on the way to Montague. You can ask for any cut you would like and he is very accommodating.
I just love this type of Farm direct sale market where the Farmer and his family are present and serve you directly. We have a 58 vendor Farmer’s Market near the University but it is very different and it tends to be pricey. What was nice about the Farmer’s Market on University ave. was the socializing but in the age of Covid that is gone. We are encourage to shop local but often that may mean you pay more, we support our favourite spots and the merchants we know. If you go to the large Super Markets the produce is not good quality and expensive, per examples a bunch of mediocre looking asparagus is $7 and one avocado is $2.
Recently I find that prices in grocery stores have exploded, it is difficult to find anything under $5.99, it appears to be the base price. Of course everything has to be trucked unto the Island and often some 1100 Km distance. So there is something to be said about shopping with smaller shops locally, you can buy all dairy products, breads and cakes, meats and vegetables right here on the Island, it may mean shopping at several different stores but the prices can be better with fresher quality.
Every night we have a different menu for dinner, last night was homemade Lasagna for two, tonight it’s Toad in a hole, now I have to go shop for toads I need 4 nice big ones. Served with roasted potatoes. Yummy! In French it would be Crapaud dans un trou not to be confused with a frog which is grenouille. PEI has a village called Crapaud (toad) and we also have another village called Souris (mice) no one seems to know where these ancient names came from. We also do wine pairing for each dinner.
Did I mention this is a British recipe. My friend Sheryl in Scotland provided this recipe. Disclaimer no toads in PEI were harmed in anyway for this dish.
With our changing tourism scene due to the Pandemic, new festivals have been created for local consumption. This week it’s Scarecrow in the City. The hope is that locals will go out and shop and use venues like Founder’s Hall who has been faltering for the last 2 years.
Good weather will help a lot.