Gearing up for the holiday dedicated to eating, I started thinking of where I get my food. I’d like to say I buy only organic, cruelty-free food from local farms but that would be a lie. We are beginning to do a little of that — some local vegetables during growing season, cage-free organic eggs when Clare or I purchase them, cruelty-free (until they are slaughtered) chickens when Clare is around to eat it, organic grass feed meat when Clare is around. We do make sure to buy non-farmed fish, though — but I suppose that is because I’m the only one who buys fish.
When we lived in Pittsburgh we shopped in “The Strip” most Saturdays. It was such a fun experience — getting cheese from the cheese store, meat from the butcher, bread from the bakery, pasta from the macaroni shop, coffee from the coffee store (you get the picture) that I’ve often thought longingly of those days. A couple of years ago Dean told me about an Amish market up-county that he heard had good food. We visited one Saturday and have been back many times since. It is a little like our Pittsburgh shopping experience — except we can stay warm in the winter.
The Lancaster County Dutch Market — or as we call it “The Amish Market” is housed in a strip mall in Germantown, Maryland and is usually open Thursday through Saturday each week. Within the “market” are about a dozen vendors that cover all food groups (meats, dairy, grains, fruits and vegetables, pretzels and candy). They also sell furniture and flowers. In addition you can eat breakfast or lunch (maybe dinner too) at either King’s Barbecue Pit where you order your food (including rotisserie rabbit) and take it home or sit at one of the booths to enjoy it there or the Dutch Family Restaurant — a sit-down eatery in the center of the market. We’ve not eaten at either, but it is on our to-do list. We have eaten at the Lapp’s Pretzels, however. I am willing to bet you have never had a pretzel as good as the pretzels Lapp’s sells.
Each vendor is family-run — so the person that helps you and takes your money is Amish — men and women are all in traditional dress which makes sense because they are Amish. I don’t know the story, but I think that the people that work in the market must travel down from Lancaster County Wednesday evenings and go back Saturday evenings. I don’t have any idea where they stay during their work week or how they travel the 100 or so miles from Lancaster, PA to Germantown, MD. Some of the Amish at the market seem young enough to still be in school — and I doubt they go to school in Montgomery County — so either they don’t stay in school as long as non-Amish usually do or they just look younger than non-Amish.
While it is not exactly like our Pittsburgh shopping experience, it is definitely an experience and we plan on purchasing our meats from there from now on. Their vegetables may be home-grown in the growing season, but unless they have greenhouses and grow summer fruit all winter long, I think they must import lots of their produce from afar. Still, I’d prefer buying fruit and vegetables from them than the local grocery store for some reason, at least during the non-growing season.
Back in December one of my Facebook and Twitter friends — a birdwatcher from The Netherlands — posted that she was going to have Mustard Soup for lunch. After a bit of discussion where I expressed disbelief, then awe, she posted a recipe and when I wondered where to find Groninger Mustard she offered to send me a jar and I accepted (and offered to send her a local spice in exchange — she chose Old Bay seasoning).
Before too long I received not one, but two jars of Groninger Mustard and set them aside until after wrestling season when we could enjoy the fat and calories with Andrew.
One day, a couple of weeks ago I purchased the ingredients for the soup and followed a recipe I found online (I’d lost the link that my friend sent, but assumed all recipes would be similar).
I was sure that I was going to love this soup, it sounded so delicious (mustard, bacon, cream — what’s not to love?) and even took a series of photos while preparing it à la The Pioneer Woman.
I know enough about cooking to become concerned when I saw how much flour in relationship to how much fat was in the recipe — of course I didn’t thoroughly read the recipe before I was well into making the soup (that would have been the prudent thing to do) — but plowed ahead anyway. I also knew, as I was pouring in the cream that I had not cooked the roux enough and that the soup would taste floury.
While the soup was lovely to look at, especially sprinkled with newly sprouted chives from our herb garden, it tasted more like it should have been the base for biscuits and gravy (a dish I dislike) instead of the delicate cream soup I’d envisioned.
I’m going to assume I used the wrong recipe and undercooked the roux and maybe try again sometime. We still have a jar and a half of Groninger Mustard left. I sent a FB message to my Dutch friend, asking her if it was supposed to be so thick, but she didn’t respond. She may have overlooked the message; she has a lot of friends. Either that or I insulted her by not liking the soup. Nah — Not Gwen.