This is a sponsored post funded by the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA). I’m sharing tips on keeping your perishable items cold while visiting a farmers market, as well as a delicious breakfast or brunch recipe: Loaded Sweet Potato Skillet filled with fresh veggies picked up at the farmers market.
Loaded Sweet Potato Skillet | Farmers Market Tips
One of our favorite things about summers is visiting local farmers markets and grabbing not only super fresh produce but also checking out lots of local vendors showcasing so many great local runs from products. On a recent outing, the Derrick and I visited the East Lansing Farmers Market. The ELFM is open June 3rd thru October 28th, 2018 on Sundays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in Valley Court Park, 280 Valley Court.
We arrived shortly after the market opened for the day and we could not have asked for a better day, the sun was bright, a bit warm, but that’s just summer showing off. It wasn’t too crowded, no doubt it was a busy place but not overflowing with great throngs of people. There was even a musician under the gazebo playing a mix of bluegrass, folk, and blues, great accompaniment as we walked about the market, lingering here and there.
It is always a pleasure to get out of the house and enjoy not only the nice weather but to mix it up with the people who make up the diverse surrounding of our community. We talked maple syrup making with the folks at the Droscha Sugarbush stall, sampling several types of maple syrup. We loved the vanilla and cinnamon infused one the best, but ended up buying three different bottles. I guess you could say we love maple syrup, and you will have to stay tuned for our Strawberry + White Peach Waffles and find out just how to go from great waffles to really great waffles.
Continuing our visit, we also checked out a variety of homemade soaps, fresh cut flowers, and so many additional items. I also picked up fresh fish, including fish sausage. I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve never tried fish sausage, but was given several recipe ideas from the rep at The Fresh Lake Whitefish Company.
Tips on keeping items cold at the Farmers Market
Typically when we go to a Farmers Market, we are out doing other shopping, including driving to farmers markets in different cities. If you’re hesitant about buying meat and products that need to be refrigerated from the Farmers Market, here are my tips.
- First, buy your cold items last. If you plan to spend time exploring your Farmers Market, let that vendor know you will come back around to pick up your purchases. Many of them will let you pay ahead and hold those items for you until you are done shopping. If you plan to go straight home from the farmers market, you will be fine.
- Bring a cooler. If you plan to run other errands, bring a cooler with ice packs in it. Sometimes I am not sure if I am going to buy meat at the market, but keeping my cooler and ice-packs on hand is a life-saver. I say skip filling a cooler with ice since it will melt quickly.
- Store your cold items in a cool place. Find a cool spot in your car to place your items. I will run the A/C, and keep the colder items near the front of the car.
- Proper temperature. Before buying meat, cheese, and other cold items, make sure that farmer’s booth has kept those items at the right temperature and not out in the sun. If those items were not kept cool before you purchased them, you could get spoiled products.
- Make the Farmers Market your last stop. If you do plan to run errands the day you visit a farmer’s market, plan accordingly. If we know we are going to a market on a certain day, we will run all of our other errands first, so that way our perishable items are the last thing we load in our car.
Pro-tip: Find more tips on how to shop the Farmers Markets, including food safety, programs, resources, recipes, and how you can get involved by visiting the Michigan Farmers Market Association’s website.
So, here’s is what we made with the some of the items we picked up at the market. I started with some sweet and red skin potatoes, I grabbed some leeks, red onions, green apples, yellow and red bell peppers, and used some fresh sweet corn cut off the cob. I added some fresh cut thyme and cubes of smoked honey baked ham and my taste buds tell me this was definitely the right move.
Loaded Sweet Potato Skillet
- 2 cups sweet potatoes, cut into cubes
- 1 cup red skin potatoes, cut into cubes
- 1 cup fresh sweet corn kernels
- 1/2 cup green apples, cut into cubes
- 1/4 cup red bell peppers, diced
- 1/4 cup yellow bell peppers, diced
- 1/4 cup red onion, cut into a small dice
- 1/4 cup leeks, sliced thin
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black peppercorn
ProTip: Prep ahead, prepare both red skin and sweet potatoes by removing most of the outer peel and cutting them into slices, a rough peel leaves a little of the peel intact and adds a bit of additional flavor.
A mix of red skin and sweet potatoes make this recipe shine!
Browned cubes of smoked honey baked ham add tons of flavor to this potato dish, seasoning minimal!
Local farm fresh sweet corn go a long way in making this delicious dish an instant family favorite!
Red onion and both red and yellow bell peppers bring the savory in this deliciously easy potato dish!
Would you look at all those colors! Now, this is how you build flavor upon flavor and so epically good!
- Cut potatoes into one-inch cubes, doing so allows the potatoes to cook faster and evenly. Slice leeks, and dice the red onion set them aside. Using a sharp chef’s knife remove the kernels from two whole ears of sweet corn. Cut a Granny Smith apple and cut the pieces into one-inch cubes as well, place the apple cubes into water and add a tablespoon of fresh or a bottle lemon juice. All prep work can be done overnight to cut down (pun intended) on getting this delicious meal of the table the next day.
- I purchased smoked honey-baked ham already cut into cubes. Place a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, when the oil is hot add the ham and brown evenly. Remove the ham with a slotted spoon and place the ham on a plate or into a bowl, set aside.
- Add a half-tablespoon of EVOO into the skillet, toss in the onions and sauté until the onions begin to soften for three minutes. Next, add the red and yellow bell peppers and for two minutes, remove vegetables from the skillet and place them into the bowl with the browned ham.
- Place half-tablespoon of unsalted sweet cream butter into the skillet, when the butter is melted add the corn kernels two sprigs of fresh lemon thyme and cook for four minutes, remove the thyme and spoon the corn kernels into the bowl with the potatoes.
- Pour in the last tablespoon of EVOO into the skillet, when the oil is hot add the red skin and sweet potatoes, add a pinch of coarse sea salt and a tablespoon of freshly cracked black peppercorns. Brown the potatoes evenly and adjust the heat to medium-low, place a tight-fitting lid on the skillet and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about fifteen minutes. When the potatoes are soft and the ham and the rest of the veggies into the skillet and toss until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Top with two to three fresh sprigs of lemon thyme and serve. Now, watch this savory and hearty potatoes dish vanish!
So tell me, when’s the last time you visited your local Farmers Market? We find so many great items, and we love getting to know the farmers right here in our community. It gives Derrick and I a chance to spend some quality time together, but also connect with people. In the world of so much tech, online connections, and gadgets always attached to us, it’s refreshing to take the afternoon off and stroll through the market, sampling different products, sipping on Apple Cider slushies, and getting to know the people right here in our community. I challenge all of you to visit your market this season. And of my Michigan readers, here is a list of all the Farmers Markets in Michigan, as well as the vendors you will find at those markets.