Art + Design, Food + Drink

At the Farmers’ Market with Claudia Pearson

We’re thrilled to have artist Claudia Pearson guest blogging today! She’s even created three gorgeous illustrations specifically for this post. Claudia recently collaborated with Chronicle Books to create Perpetual Harvest, a sweetly illustrated set of 12 prints that feature what to plant and enjoy month by month.

About 10 years ago, right before our first son was born, we started buying our vegetables and fruits exclusively from the farmers’ market. I don’t recall deliberately deciding to only eat seasonally but the shift was a natural one perhaps reinforced by the relationships that flourished between the farmers, my husband, and me.

Once our second son came along it seemed crucial to educate them on the origins of their food and explain how the seasons change what we eat. We’re seeing the benefits of this now, especially with our 9 year old who is very aware of what he eats. Our weekly trips to the local farmers’ market have become a family ritual, especially when you throw in some apple cider donuts, and asking the kids to select vegetables they’d love to eat during the week helps our meal planning a great deal.

The market has also become a huge inspiration for my illustrations and I see how my work resonates with others who are also choosing to eat in this way.

When I shop, it’s partly by ingredients for recipes but also by color and texture. I’m drawn to the delicate pattern of a plum or the vibrancy of a capsicum pepper. My favorite seasons have to be spring and fall. Spring brings the promise of longer, warmer days and reintroduces our palettes to fresh, leafy green vegetables. It breaks the monotony of root vegetables—which I love, but honestly for how many months can one eat carrots and potatoes?

There’s the inevitability of at least 6 months of variety and with that comes fall and its broad spectrum of colors and tastes. You still get to eat heirloom tomatoes, grapes, and radishes, but the introduction of winter squash is a comfort when the nights draw in and the days get chillier. Kale is certainly top of the list in our household. The kids loves it roasted in the oven. Just lightly toss it in olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast it for about 20 minutes at 300.

We have a favorite kale salad from Epicurious that’s great for dinner parties, as it goes a long way and the longer you let the kale marinate the yummier it becomes.

2 tablespoons dried currants
7 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, divided
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 bunches Tuscan kale (about 1 pound), center ribs and stems removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise
2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
Parmesan cheese shavings

Place currants in small bowl; add 5 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar. Let soak overnight. Drain currants.

Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, honey, oil, and salt in large bowl. Add kale, currants, and pine nuts; toss to coat. Let marinate 20 minutes at room temperature, tossing occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese shavings over salad and serve.

Pairing this with a soup is a meal in itself and the creaminess of a butternut squash is a delicious contrast to the slightly tart flavors of the salad. This particular recipe is written by good friend and local Brooklyn chef Sung Uni Lee as part of a 12-month series of recipes that we collaborated on.

1 yellow onion, chopped
1 rib of celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, medium dice
1 tart green apple, peeled, cored, chopped
3 cups vegetable broth
Pinches of nutmeg, salt, and pepper

Possible garnishes: roasted pumpkin seeds, ricotta cheese, gorgonzola cheese, sliced apples, herbed croutons.

Cook butter, onion, celery, and carrot in large saucepan for 5 minutes.
Add squash, apple, and broth. Bring to boil. Simmer for 10 minutes or until squash is soft.
Let cool for at least 1/2 hour. Use blender to puree.
Add spices to taste.
Garnish as desired.
Serves 4-6.

What are your farmers’ market favorites? Let us know! We’ll randomly select one commenter to win a copy of Perpetual Harvest (closes 10/17).

Latest posts by Claudia Pearson (see all)



  • Angie K. October 11, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Eggs, pork, apple cider and the girls loves the homemade kettle corn and doughnuts.
    Thanks for the chance.


  • Marika October 12, 2012 at 11:29 am

    My roommate and I have been making kale chips every week- sometimes with quite a bit of cayenne pepper on top. Right now I'm loving roast squash. And there's nothing better than the first tomatoes and sugar snap peas of the season; they generally don't last the walk home.


  • Sara P. October 12, 2012 at 11:36 am

    I love to buy stone fruit at the farmers market during the summer. The taste just blows any supermarket fruit out of the water!


  • Janel October 12, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    I love patty pan squash, beets, honeycrisp apples and fuzzy navel pie. I love our farmer's market.


  • mirabelle October 13, 2012 at 8:43 am

    I love figs and squash blossoms from the market – no way you can find them or will they taste half as good from a supermarket!


  • Melanie October 15, 2012 at 11:23 am

    We get exceptionally good honey at my market and really great berries. These days it's all about the peanuts, eggplant and squash varieties.


  • BreeAnn Veenstra October 17, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Right now I'm all about the Michigan apples and apple cider at our market. Oh, and the pumpkin doughnuts!


  • Lindsay October 17, 2012 at 11:34 am

    My boyfriend has a sustainable/ethical livestock farm where he raises cattle, pigs, and chicken on pasture (and sells at several local farmer's markets). Three cheers for happy animals! Not that I'm biased, but his eggs are pretty much the best thing ever. Golden yolks like you've never seen and a fun assortment of egg shell colors from a variety of laying hen breeds. Just saw Claudia's work over the weekend and absolutely love the principles and artistry; these prints look fabulous!


  • Vanessa October 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    These illustrations are fabulous, Claudia is one of my favorites! I love to buy rhubarb at the farmers market, especially because it makes my boyfriend giggle to hear me say "rhubarb" (oh, the wonders of the southern accent).


  • Kristen October 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Fresh donuts, heirloom apples, Rancho Gordo dried beans, padron peppers, Rosa Bianca eggplants, squash blossoms… I could go on 🙂


  • Carrie October 17, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Cucumbers picked fresh that morning. Nothing beats that just-picked crunch!


  • Kristen Powell October 18, 2012 at 5:14 am

    The whole farmers market experience is my favorite part of the week! But if I had to choose, I love getting white sweet potatoes lately, and swiss chard, and apple cider!


  • Chris C. October 19, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Depends on the time of year. Right now, I'm really excited about apples and winter squash. In the dead of winter, I love all the kale and citrus we get at our markets!


  • Lorraine Woodcheke November 1, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Thanks to all who entered to win a copy of Perpetual Harvest. Congrats BreeAnn Veenstra – you're our winner!

    *This giveaway is now closed. Thanks!*


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