Monday, September 22, 2014

Adventures in fresh produce

We love us some farmers markets, rinok, produce stands, whatever you want to call them. Although we had a major packout fail this time and didn't pack spices in air freight, when you have fresh produce you don't need much additional flavor. Plus, we like to do some "putting up", and made sure to put canning supplies in air freight.

All this leads to ... the weekend farmer's market running in Astana through the fall, wherein farmers from some nearby areas bring in their produce every weekend at low, low prices. We decided Saturday that it was a good use of our time to figure out the bus schedule and route and pile everyone out to the "сельскохозяйственная ярмарка" (agricultural fair). 

Unfortunately, by the time we got out of the house and the bus got through traffic, it was mid-day. The hoardes of people (yes, I used that word intentionally and ironically) meant that any stop at a stall to try to buy some of the food we came to buy would take longer than our patience and hunger levels could tolerate. For example when the kids and I went to the honey stand, a woman in line was calling out another woman for just walking up to the front and told her they had already been waiting 1/2 hour.

Conveniently, the mall next to the fair held Burger King, so it was lunch and back home for us. Getting what value we could from the experience, we silenced the whining Alex by telling her that when you try something new, sometimes it is wonderful and sometimes it doesn't quite work out.  The kids got 2 bus rides out of it, so they should have been pretty happy. 

We were wary, but in need of ingredients for various culinary projects so Sunday we headed out again. This time we got out earlier in the day, made the kids take backpacks with toys and snacks to keep them entertained while they waited for us to hunt and gather, and went to Evrazia.  The best way I can describe it is that it is as close to Sennaya Ploschad as anything I have found here so far. There's inside and outside vendors, selling all kinds of meats, farm fresh eggs, dairy products and fruit and veggies. Oh and honey too!

We got tomatoes, peppers and onions for salsa. We got three different varieties of apples for sauce, apple chips, and pie (one variety was pretty fresh/sour). The strawberries should have been passed over, but we ended up incorporating them into apple-strawberry sauce. I can't wait to make scrambled eggs from the 10 (they don't sell by the dozen here) that Terry chided me into buying - I was sure they would all break all over everything on the bus ride home. Can you tell which egg in the photo is store bought vs. market? And of course the honey! It is so good that offering the children bread and honey for treat elicits squeals, not groans.  We'll be back often.

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