I'm having a little period of fluff-brainedness lately. It's odd, because I should be super-organized and sharp as a tack now that I'm getting eight hours of sleep a night and I no longer have my boobs at the constant beck and call of a twenty-one pound overlord. But...that's just not happening. I'm still having way more than my share of scattered moments, as evidenced by one fact in particular: I left my camera at my mom's house over Easter weekend.
This is particularly tragic because my daughter and dog have been extra cute recently. Bean put one my brasierres on her head yesterday and pranced around looking like Minnie Mouse for a good ten minutes, and Gretchen the dog looked for all the world like she was reading one of the baby's picture books all the while. Too adorable, and no photo evidence. This also leaves me without any food porn, even though I have been diligently cooking.
So I decided to go ahead and give a shout-out to some of my favorite local stores, markets, and restaurants. I originally planned to feature about five places in one go; this quickly proved to be both impractical and kind of overwhelming. So I've decided to just feature one local business each Friday over the next month or two, so that I can devote plenty of time and loving detail to each location. I am madly in love with these places, but I'll try not to get too lovey-dovey gooey.
I know that most of the people who are kind enough to follow my blog don't live locally, so feel free to skip these Friday posts for a while, y'all. This is just my attempt to (possibly) help some great local folks, and to maybe steer some Clay County, Florida, vegetarians in the right direction.
So without further ado, allow me to sing the praises of:
Everyone loves famers' markets. They are deservedly popular, too; I used to make a biweekly twenty-minute drive so that I could go to one in the next town over (more on that in a later post). Now, I only have to take that trip if I'm craving a particular hard-to-find item, becuase Countryside Produce has filled my weekly vegetable needs.
The place for plant foods in Lake Asbury, Middleburg, and even Orange Park if you don't mind a little bit of a drive. They always, always, always have a great selection of fruits and veggies. The owners, Doug and Earlene, are also the nicest people on the planet, and they really stand by their products; I can't count the times when Doug has looked at what I've selected and told me to wait while he pulled something fresher or better from the back. They try to focus on locally or Florida grown produce (sometimes from their own farm), but they usually have a pretty nice variety of the more exotic items as well. Depending on the season and on demand, they also carry cane syrup (perfect for biscuits - which I'll blog about later, I promise), Florida honeys, and Georgia pecans.
This is where I go every Friday to empty my wallet on screaming green vegetables. Today, for example, I hauled home a bag of fresh Starke strawberries as well brussels sprouts, eggplants, bell peppers, snap beans (all grown in Florida), some of the first crop of Vidalia onions, and a bunch of bananas and a pineapple as a special treat for Bean. All for about eleven bucks, which is about half of what I'd end up shelling out at one of the local grocery stores. And no one at the supermarket delights my daughter with endless games of peek-a-boo with while we're shopping. Take that, Winn-Dixie!
I love this place. I want Earlene and Doug to adopt me, even though I think I'm too old to be their kid. So instead, I've sworn allegiance to their produce. It only took one tasteless basket of roadside stand strawberries and a couple of rubber red tomatoes to make me see the light. And I always come back for more.