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10 Reasons You Hate To Cook (And What To Do About It)

by | Jul 25, 2012

Photo by liber

I don’t like the word hate and try not to use it. I especially dislike it when it is applied to any kind of food or cooking.

Do you really hate asparagus? Or are you just whining about something you haven’t bothered to learn to appreciate? Yeah, I thought so.

My theory is that most people who profess to hate cooking are actually just making excuses to avoid it. Why would anyone really hate cooking? What did cooking ever do to you?

The sad part is that cooking is a wonderful skill to have. Not only does it save you time and money on food, it can also contribute to better health, bring you closer to friends and family, and be a great creative outlet for stress.

You don’t have to love cooking, but knowing the basics and feeling competent in the kitchen can open a world of opportunity to improve your quality of life. But sure, go ahead and hate it if you want.

For the cautiously curious, here are a few of the obstacles that may be preventing you from getting past your pessimism and what to do to get over them.

10 Reasons You Hate To Cook

(And What To Do About It)

1. You suck at it

The first thing you need to do is understand the difference between not liking cooking and not liking to be bad at cooking. Big difference. I didn’t like being bad at cooking either, but there is a pretty easy solution: learn how. It’s much easier than you think.

2. You’re slow

I know you’re busy. We all have better things to do than slave away over one lousy meal. But when you aren’t experienced in the kitchen the planning, shopping, chopping, cooking and cleaning involved in making a meal can feel like it takes forever. That’s because it does.

I can always spot a kitchen rookie by how long it takes them to chop an onion (seriously it takes like 20 seconds max). The good news is with a little practice and some decent knives (see point 3) you can slash the time you spend making a meal until you barely notice.

Ditto for cleaning up. Seriously, put some muscle into it and it’s over in no time!

3. You have crappy knives

I generally don’t advise spending money to solve problems, but knives in the kitchen are an exception. Spending $50 on a half-way decent chef’s knife can do wonders for your kitchen confidence and efficiency.

And you probably already know what an inspiration a shiny new toy can be.

4. You pick complicated recipes

Some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten have less than 5 ingredients. If you’ve never cooked anything in your life, cassoulet shouldn’t be your first choice.

Rather than finding a recipe and deciding to cook it, start with an ingredient that is seasonal and you know you enjoy. It’s hard to mess up kale and garlic. Learn to fly before you jump off a cliff.

5. You choose out of season ingredients

The main reason people don’t like _(fill in the vegetable)_ is because they have only had it from industrial farms that grow foods out of season. I agree, you’d have to be a masochist to like these impostors.

Farmers markets and dedicated produce stands are your friends. In season ingredients taste worlds better than the out of season stuff shipped from the opposite hemisphere. Your food doesn’t have to be 100% local, but at least pick foods that grow in the same season you happen to be living in. This alone could completely change your cooking experience.

6. Your pantry is inadequate

It can be really annoying to flip through a recipe book or food blog and realize that you need to make one or many grocery trips in order to make any dish because you don’t have olive oil, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar or red chili flakes. If you don’t know what belongs in a basic pantry, check out my free How to get started eating healthy guide for a rundown.

7. You cook everything to death

Just because your mom cooked broccoli until it was dark gray and could be eaten by an infant doesn’t mean that’s how food is supposed to be prepared. Most vegetables cook quickly and taste better when they haven’t been incinerated. When your vegetables turn bright green in the pan, that’s your cue that the cooking is nearly done.

8. You only cook for large groups

Your first cooking forays shouldn’t be huge productions. Start simply and don’t bite off more than you can chew by promising to host a dinner or bring food to a potluck of 30 people. Start by volunteering to help in the kitchen with someone who knows what they’re doing. Make a side dish, or a simple one pot meal for yourself.

Practice makes perfect, and you want your first experiences to go smoothly to build your skills and confidence.

9. You only cook for special occasions

New cooks don’t need any extra pressure in the kitchen. If you’re just learning your way around the range, maybe you should hold off on hosting Thanksgiving dinner or Mother’s day brunch. It can be stressful to just coordinate a large meal, you don’t need the added pressure of possibly ruining a family holiday. If you want to contribute, volunteer to make the salad or biscuits. Start your real kitchen adventures in the privacy of your own home.

10. You don’t ask for help

If you are truly new to cooking, you may as well acknowledge that you will be slow and lack the basic skills and intuition of a seasoned chef. You are definitely capable of getting there, but in the mean time make your experience as pleasant as possible by letting others contribute their expertise and knife skills when you want to cook. It is also nice to have an extra pair of hands for cleanup.

Do you really hate cooking? Or are you just looking around the room and saying that you hate things?

Originally published May 31, 2010.

ATTENTION: Due to the excessive negativity of some recent commenters, I am permanently closing the comments on this post. If the contents of this article make you want to scream in rage, stab someone, punch a wall, or hurl yourself off a bridge, I suggest you find a therapist.

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Farmers Market Update: Burgundy, France

by | Jun 24, 2012

Wild Asparagus

Elyse Kopecky is an Oregonian living, working and playing outdoors in Geneva, Switzerland. She’s a passionate foodie lifestyle blogger who enjoys inspiring friends to live fresh. Follow her adventures in the kitchen and on the trail at and @freshabits.

Farmer Market Update: Beaune, France

by Elyse Kopecky

Beaune is a historic ville surrounded by vineyards and small organic farms spread across rolling hills. It’s known as the wine and gastronomic capital of the Burgundy region, and for good reason. The tiny town comes alive on Saturdays with an impressive local food market featuring specialties from the Burgundy region.

Beaune Market Square

I have a passion for farmers markets (borderline obsession) and often drag my husband to obscure places just to check out the local market. I first fell in love with Beaune in March when my husband and I planned a fun Burgundy-wine-and-cooking weekend excursion to celebrate our 7th anniversary.

Buying Vegetables

My husband and I returned for a second visit this June. Our trip was well timed. The bountiful spring harvest had begun, and the stands in the market were packed with an array of colorful fruits and vegetables. I loved all the variations of fresh berries, including wild sweet strawberries, tart currants, blackberries, and cherries.

Wild Berries

Wild Berries

The Beaune farmers market takes over a historic square in the heart of the walled old town and overflows into the surrounding cobbled side streets. Within the square there is a well-worn covered food market where you’ll find the butchers, artisan cheese makers, and fishmongers setting up shop.

Market Crowd

Don’t be alarmed that the meat actually resembles the animal, meaning the chickens, ducks, and pigs still have their endearing heads attached. That’s how the French spot quality and freshness.

Outside, the square is packed with rows of tables where the farmers sell everything from seasonal produce to olives, dried herbs, cured meats, farm-fresh eggs, crusty baguettes, creamy honey, hand-pressed oils, freshly picked flowers, and of course Burgundy wine (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the specialties of the region).

Cured Meats

One of my favorite stops was the stand of a young organic farmer from the Ferme duJointout, where they grow a rotation of seasonal vegetables and raise grass-fed goats and sheep. By the time my husband and I got to the Jointout stand, all that remained were a small selection of cheeses and a few bouquets of herbs, spring greens, and lettuces. With dirt from his farm caked beneath his fingernails, the young farmer looked as if he had arrived at the market straight from the field. A sure sign of farm-to-table!

Organic Farmer

I bought one of his last heads of deep purple romaine lettuce and my favorite chevre frais (goat cheese). The chevre frais was the first item we polished off when we arrived back at our home in Geneva. The Jointout artisan cheeses are so fresh and creamy that they alone are worth driving to Beaune to discover.

The French are serious about their food. They will happily talk about their produce, where it comes from, how it was grown, and how best to prepare (cook in butter, top with cream of course!).

Chanterelles Mushrooms

Chanterelles Mushrooms

Burgundy is proudly a leading region for organic food (called agriculture biologique) and most of the surrounding farms open their doors to visitors (you can buy half a lamb directly from the farm). Although, you do have to be careful that you’re buying from the “producers” and not the “traders,” just as you have to be in any market in Europe, but the traders are fairly easy to spot because their stands are usually full of bananas and pineapples, items clearly not native to France.

Organic Radishes

I made my way up and down every aisle and easily filled my basket to its brim. Luckily I had my husband tagging along to carry the load.

The Bounty

Here’s what we purchased:

  •  wild strawberries
  • cherries
  • blackberries
  • charentais melon (French variety)
  • baby potatoes
  • green dried lentils
  • wild asparagus
  • romaine lettuce
  • rhubarb stalks
  • coeur de boeuf tomatoes
  • sunflower honey
  • chevre frais
  • whole grain baguette
  • Burgundy Pinot Noir

Thankfully, Beaune is an easy two-hour drive from Geneva. My husband and I are already planning a return visit during the fall harvest. You can read more here to explore the impressive organic farmers and winegrowers in the Burgundy region.

Bon app!

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Farmers Market Update: Patras, Greece

by | Jun 3, 2012

Organic Farmers Market in Patras, Greece

After working as a post doctoral fellow for 5 years at Washington University in St. Louis, Matthew Denos of, a biologist, feels privileged to live in Greece. Being a foodie with a desire to help people lose weight safely, he offers a  Nutrisystem promotion, a clinically studied weight loss program.

Farmers Market Update: Patras Organic Market, Greece

by Matthew Denos

Bottles of Wine

It was a sunny and busy day in Patras, Greece and I headed out to the farmers market. I didn’t want to miss it because it runs only once a week.

What differentiates this Farmers Market from other conventional markets in the area?  This is a 100% organic farmers market. All the food in this market is organic. That means that the food grows without pesticides, herbicides or any fertilizers. In addition, the ground where the plants are cultivated has been left to clear of these chemicals before the seeds are sown.

Farmers from all over West and South Greece gather here every Tuesday to sell their organic produce. All kinds of colorful vegetables, juicy fruits, cooking herbs, wine, honey, and even organic soap and aromatic and antiseptic extracts are sold here. I love it because it is the best place in the area to buy Certified Organic Produce at affordable prices.

Being located in the sunny Mediterranean basin, Greece is the heaven of farm products. It is the country where the Mediterranean diet developed, a way of eating that has now become a part of the country’s history, tradition, and culture.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are at their prime in spring and therefore I was expecting an abundance of oranges and lemons, as well as the first of the year’s harvest of strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, garlic and onion stems, but also all kinds of leafy vegetables that Greeks call horta (wild radish, dandelion, mustard, etc). I desperately wanted to stock up on some of my favorite late spring produce.

Eggplants and Peppers

When I arrived at the market place in late afternoon, growers and producers were standing behind their stands brimming with seasonal food. Their contagious enthusiasm and pride in their products drew many customers. All seemed to enjoy themselves. There were about 30 stalls under red and white awnings arrayed in two lines facing each other.

I started off at the potatoes stall. If I were allowed to  put only one organic vegetable on my table, that would be potatoes for 3 reasons: First, I am potato guy. I eat potatoes almost every day. Second, organic potatoes taste so much better than conventional ones. Third, potatoes have one of the highest levels of pesticide residues among conventional produce. So, here I am, loading my basket with 5 kilos (12 lbs) of great organic potatoes.

Stocking up on Potatoes

Stocking Up on Potatoes

Do you see the oranges and lemons on the other end of the stall? These are two of the most abundant fruits in Greece. Citrus groves are almost everywhere especially in Peloponnese, the Southwest part of Greece. The annual citrus production is close to 1 million tons, the majority of which is oranges, mandarins and lemons. One third of it is exported to Western Europe and the Balkan countries.


If you ever visit Greece in Spring, when citrus trees boom, as soon as you get out of the airport you will smell the characteristic intoxicating citrus scent that fills the air this time of the year. Oranges sell for 60 cents a kilo (euro), the equivalent of 34 cents/pound (USD). I put 15 kilos (36 pounds) in my bag. I eat 2-3 a oranges a day.


The label says: “Fresh and Juicy,” and heck are they!

“I’m telling you, no taste!”

You see this vendor talking to my brother? When I took this photo, the vendor was  telling my brother his story. Back in the 70s, he visited Los Angeles, CA. He was going to get married with a very rich Californian woman. The woman was so wealthy that  she bought him an expensive Corvette as soon as the he landed in LA. He finally did not marry the girl and decided to come back to Greece. But what still lives vividly in his memory is that some of the fruits he ate in California were not as tasty as the ones in Greece. You see his gesture? “I am telling you, they had no taste” says emphatically shaping a “zero” with his two fingers. I am sure Darya will refute that, as will my brother who has lived in LA. Kinda funny, isn’t it?

Down the lane a bit, a beautiful display of tomatoes! My favorite vegetable. Or should I say fruit?


I filled my bag with 2 kilos (4.4 lbs). When I later ate a few at home, I could clearly see how much better they taste comparing to conventional tomatoes.


Brocolli stems, beets, green beans, and squash (zucchini) were abundant in many stalls. The zucchini fruit is very popular in Greek recipes where we usually boil them (some prefer to fry them) and eat them with olive oil and garlic. Delicious appetizer! I purchased some, boiled them next day, dressed them with virgin olive oil, lemon juice and pepper, and ate them with olives. They had a slightly sweet taste that went great with my turkey fillet.

Ready to make your own healthy Greek salad? This vendor sells horta. On his stall you can find lettuce, chicory leaves, spinach, rocket, garlic and onion stems, dill, parsley, and green Amaranth which is known as vlita in Greece. I used to grow vlita in my backyard.


Swinging around to the other side of the market, I stopped to sample these gorgeous looking olives. Could olives not be present in a Greek farmers market? Of course not! Anywhere you look in Greece you see olive trees. Olives are a real treat and one of the local favorites in Patras. There are at least 6 local olive varieties that differ in size, taste, and color.

Olive Bar

The olive “bar” at the farmers market is the right place to figure out exactly what your favorite type of olive is and purchase it.

Olives in Jars

The woman at the olives stand also sold smashed olives in little glass jars. Smashed olives spread on small barley rusks makes a delicious appetizer. I purchased two jars and they were delicious. The jar also contained red pepper, oregano and other herbs, which all added to the healthy taste and flavor to the smashed olives.

Smashed Olives

As I was taking a few pictures of the olives in the jars, the lady behind the stall asked me why I was taking pictures of her produce. I explained to her that I was going to write an article about the local organic Farmers Market and post it online. When she asked me what site I would publish it in, I took a piece of paper and wrote “”.

Link Sharing

She marveled at the fact that people in San Francisco would see her beautiful display of various types of organic olives.

Strawberries are at the market each week. Their aroma is out of this world and they taste sooo sweet! Unfortunately, they sell out within 10 minutes of the market’s opening. Who can resist the aroma of 360 different esters, alcohols, terpenes, and aldhehydes that comprise the strawberry flavor! I was not there soon enough to take pictures. Next time.

Grape leaves are necessary for making dolmades, a Greek delicacy made of rolled vine leaves stuffed with rice, meat and seasonings. Look how tender, green, bright and clean they are, and totally organic. My brother bought 30 leaves. His wife used them to make the best “dolmades” I have ever eaten. The label says: ΑΜΠΕΛΟΦΥΛΛΑ, which translates to “grape leaves”.

Grape Leaves

Honey, royal jelly, and propolis—powerful natural antibiotics, medicinal marvels with many health benefits. The label says: “Royal Jelly, the battery with the longest life”. On the back shelf sits natural soap made of honey and propolis.

Honey, Royal Jelly, Propolis Soap

I talked with the vendor, Mr Nikos Smyrnis, a member of the Smyrni organic farmers family, who explained to me how they prepare their organic products in the family’s 37 acres in Arcadia, situated in the mountainous south Greece. They cultivate olive trees, vines, herbs, aromatic plants, and cereals.

Beeswax Candles and Honey

The little vial that the man is handing over to me contains an antiseptic solution of propolis. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used propolis as a pharmaceutical agent for its anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and pain-killing properties.

Antiseptic Propolis Solution

Antiseptic Propolis Solution

I ended my little tour in Patras’ Organic Farmers Market by visiting the wine stall. Sant’or is the name of the company that makes this absolutely fantastic organic wine.

Wine Sant’or

They have their own vineyards in Santameri, a beautiful village in west Greece, which I have visited a few times. They cultivate a local grape variety called Santameriana. I bought a 5-liter white Santameriana wine. It is served cold with multigrain bread, seafood, and white cheese. Yum!

Sant’or Wine

Here is another vendor selling their own organic wine. The label says: Wine made of organic grapes, 2 euros (USD2.6) per bottle.


The Organic Farmers Market in Patras runs every Tuesday from 2:00 pm to 6:00pm in the winter season (up to April 30th) and 4pm-8pm during the summer season (up to October 1st). Greek organic producers love their agriculture. If you ask them about their products they have a story to tell you for each one of them.

Smell the freshness!

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Farmers Market Update: Poway (San Diego)

by | May 27, 2012

Maui Onions

Kristine Valenzuela is a corporate woman by day but spends most of her free time trying to adjust to having three daughters while attempting to enjoy all the goodness life has to offer. Food, wine, spending time with friends and maintaining her blog, Is Everybody Listening?, are just a few things that help keep her balanced. For a glimpse into her life, follow her on Twitter @specialksd.

Farmers Market Update: Poway

by Kristine Valenzuela

Greetings from Poway, California, also known as “The City in the Country”. Anyone who doesn’t live here would probably consider Poway a suburb of San Diego but our proof of being a stand-alone city is we have our own farmers market.

Cioggia Beets

Ok, that’s not really proof but it makes for a great intro.

It really is a piece of country living here. While Poway has all the modern conveniences, there are glimpses of a lost era as seen in the turn-of-the-century charm of Old Poway Park. Next to this park is where you’ll find Poway’s farmers market, held every Saturday morning and twice a week each summer.


Poway, CA

It’s relatively new as far as outdoor markets are concerned. Translation: it’s very small but growing rapidly. Another downside is that not too many of the vendors post the name of their farm so it’s hard to give credit for the beautiful produce. In general, it’s one of my favorites and not just because I can walk to it.


Poway Market

I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to farmers markets which means I don’t need a lot of the extras found in other spots throughout the county like prepared foods, jewelry makers, ceramics and imported linens. Our market has just the basics and I love it for that reason.

You won’t find too much in the way of exotic fruits and vegetables either although you’ll see a few once in a while. Let’s get real. That stuff is great to look at and experiment with from time to time but on a daily or weekly basis, the basics end up on our plates most of the time. As a working mom to three girls with different tastes, it’s victory enough to get them to eat broccoli.


Ginormous Lemon

A huge thrill about living in the San Diego area is our weather affords us fruit throughout the year and there’s no shortage of it in Poway right now as we approach summer. From giant lemons (as held by my 5 year old) to amazing Valencia oranges, we’re fortunate in the citrus category. I’m happy to say, my kids really only know orange juice as being hand-expressed from oranges (thanks to Summer Tomato for the education on store-bought OJ).

The strawberries have just hit their peak. They’re so sweet, you would swear they were dipped in sugar! I was happy to see blueberries, cherries and loquats this week as well.


The veggies are what I buy the most of so that I have everything I need to make dinner. I love buying Maui onions with the stalks because I can use both the onion and the stalk.

Greens are a huge deal now that I’ve figured out different ways to incorporate them into meals. I wish I was as accomplished with beans because they sure are pretty.

Spring Beans

If root vegetables are your thing, it seems to be a good time for white and red turnips, kohlrabi, radishes, carrots and different potato varieties.


Tokyo Turnips

My favorite sighting of the week was seeing bunches of chamomile flowers. It made me want tea on the spot.

Artisan Bread

Aside from our many fruit and vegetable farmers we also have fresh eggs, free-range poultry, wild seafood, artisan bread, organic cheese, olive oils and lots of pretty flowers.

Pin Cushion Flowers

The day I visited the farmers market also happened to be the same day the Boardwalk Craft Market was happening at the adjacent Old Poway Park. If you’re really into crafty stuff, this was the best day to get food as well as a variety of handmade items. Plus, there’s a really cool vintage steam train that provides rides in the park.


Boardwalk Craft Market

There’s nothing to hate about a place that offers something to keep the adults and kids happy. Until next time – adios from So Cal!

Steam Train


My purchases for the day:

  • Strawberries
  • Chioggia beets
  • Valencia oranges
  • Kale
  • Potatoes
  • European style butter
  • Ceviche


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Food Revolution Day: Join me at the farmers market, hangout with Jamie Oliver & get a free Mercado Bag [sold out]

by | May 9, 2012

Farmers Market Boot Camp

Big news! On May 19th, I’m hosting one last Farmers Market Boot Camp at the San Francisco Ferry Building in support of Food Revolution Day and Jamie Oliver’s foundation.

For those who don’t remember, last year I offered a farmers market tour/class for a few weeks that was really fun and wildly popular. But I hadn’t started it up again this year due to time constraints.

To support Food Revolution Day I’m hosting one last boot camp and donating all the proceeds to Jamie’s foundation. Even better, Quirky is donating a Mercado farmers market shopping bag to everyone who takes the class. How awesome is that?!

Space is limited to only 10 people, so don’t wait to sign up.

Food Revolution Day Farmers Market Boot Camp


The last Summer Tomato Farmers Market Bootcamp


Saturday, May 19th @ 9:30am


San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market



Sign up here (sorry, the event is now sold out)

Hangout with Jamie Oliver

If you can’t make it to San Francisco on May 19th why not just hangout with Jamie in the comfort of your own home? Jamie is hosting a Google+ hangout for Food Revolution Day that will be broadcast live to everyone. For a chance to join the hangout and talk to Jamie himself, all he asks is that you make a simple video describing one meal that revolutionized your life. Jamie will be watching the videos and will pick the winners who get to join him live. For more info check out Jamie’s video below.

There are a handful of us here on the front lines trying to help people get healthy and live longer, richer, happier lives, and it is hard to argue that anyone has had a bigger impact than Jamie Oliver. I have tremendous respect for Jamie and all he’s done to raise awareness for the importance of real food, educating people around the globe about what it means to eat well. That’s why when the Food Revolution Day team asked if I’d be willing to help out, I jumped at the opportunity.

To learn more about Food Revolution Day or host your own event, check out the Food Revolution Day website.

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Farmers Market Update: London

by | May 6, 2012

Open Sundays 10-2p at Moxon car park

My name is Helen Manis, and I’m a lawyer who lives in London. I love to bike around and listen to music at the same time, lethal though it is. I also love yoga, jogging and cooking. I am not particularly good at any of these things.

Farmers Market Update: Marylebone, London

by Helen Manis (photos by Michael Blyth)

Last Sunday I visited one of London’s larger farmers markets in Marylebone. Marylebone is actually called Marylebone village. Non-Londoners: if a place in central London is called a village, this means that it is expensive. The pretty high street is famous for coffee houses, restaurants and high-end interior shops. As well as the boutiques Marylebone also holds its weekly farmers market in a car park on a Sunday. I have always loved the relaxed feel of Marylebone and can happily spend a couple of hours with a coffee wandering around the stalls picking up the weekly groceries.

Marylebone Farmers Market

It’s worth getting to the market early. Unlike the more famous (and more expensive) Borough Market, the locals still outnumber the tourists, but the market can and does get busy and many items sell out by closing time. Its not surprising to see why—Marylebone has a huge range of artisan breads, fresh vegetables, dairy, organic meat and hot food. The stall owners are knowledgeable and friendly and many of the prices are not too bad all things considered. All of the food is sourced locally and the stalls are independently run.

One of the things that I love about Marylebone is the unusual food that you can pick up.  If you go, try and head to the Alham Wood Organics, which sells buffalo milk and cheeses. Almham is a really friendly family run organic farm who sell at a lot of the London farmers markets. The milk is amazingly creamy and tastes really clean. Their buffalo mozzarella is used at one of my favourite London restaurants – Franco Manca pizzeria in Brixton market.



Less unusual but equally tasty are tomatoes. Call me unoriginal but tomatoes are my absolute favourite and I eat them pretty much every day in salads, roasted or as a base for sauces. I usually go to the Isle of Wight tomatoes stall. You can buy fresh tomatoes or their additive and preservative free products, which have won awards galore (for good reason).


My best friend Stuart and I are having a bit of a love affair with fresh beetroot in salads at the moment so I pick up some for dinner together with heaps of fresh salad leaves from Dr Adrian Izzard’s stall.



The breads and home-made cakes are completely out of this world. I try and make my own bread (once it comes out of the oven I usually finish the entire loaf in about 20 mins) but some of the speciality loaves at the old Post Office Bakery are too tempting and I buy a date and walnut loaf. Obviously I pick at it on the way home.


Spring has truly sprung when the tulips are out. Tulips are one of the best flowers—they are cheap and simple but so pretty. I put them in a little Le Creuset milk jug.


As always I could wander around for longer but life gets in the way. If you do find yourself in central London on a Sunday morning you could do worse than spend a couple of hours at Marylebone Farmers market.

What did you find at the market this week?

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Mercado: The Ultimate Farmers Market Bag – Now Shipping!

by | Apr 22, 2012

It’s been nearly 7 months since we took pre-orders for Mercado, the farmers market bag that I asked the Quirky Inc. community to help me design, and the wait is finally over. Mercado is now shipping and we are accepting new orders.

I think you’ll love the final product, we spent months making sure every detail is perfect. I tested multiple versions of the bag and they integrated all my suggestions on design and materials to create the best product possible.

Mercado: The Ultimate Farmers Market Bag

I couldn’t be happier with the outcome, and it’s just in time for farmers market season. If you submitted a pre-order you should have received an email yesterday. Click on the link they provide to confirm your shipment. Please check your spam folder if you can’t find the email.

You can order the bag directly from Quirky. You can even grab a custom link that lets you earn 10% on sales if you share it with your friends and followers. The bag will practically pay for itself 😉

Mercado: The Ultimate Farmers Market Bag

Thanks everyone for your patience and continued support. I can’t wait until Mercado arrives in your mailboxes!

Order Mercado Now

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Farmers Market Update: Almost Summer

by | Apr 22, 2012
Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard

It is absolutely glorious in San Francisco this weekend, one of those rare 80 degree days that we see maybe 4-5 times a year (and yes, I write about it every single time).

Spring Carrots

Spring Carrots

I was so happy to be back at the farmers market, having missed the past 3 weekends. As I had hoped all the spring goodies are appearing, like asparagus, peas, green onions and strawberries. Yes, I bought strawberries! And tomatoes!

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

Around this time of year I start craving daily salads. I think it is because the produce is so sweet and crisp, cooking anything too much almost feels like a crime against nature.

Large Lettuces

Large Lettuces

All greens are thriving now, including lettuces, spinach, kale, chard and assorted herbs. Top these with carrots, sweet peas, beets, artichokes, fennel, green onion and fresh spring eggs or chicken and you can’t go wrong.

Shelling Peas

Shelling Peas

It’s also a great time for broccoli and cauliflower, which were beyond gigantic today from Eatwell Farm.

Monster Cauliflower

Monster Cauliflower

Seriously we’ll be making a ton of roasted curry cauliflower with this bad boy.

9lbs Cauliflower

Oh, and did I mention I finally got my hands on Mercado?! They just started shipping, so if you pre-ordered one you should get it very soon. Place new orders here.

Mercado Test Drive

Mercado Test Drive

I got home all of my food no problem, even the heirloom tomato and delicate strawberries. Successful test!

Tangerine, Tangerine

Tangerine, Tangerine

There are still a few last remnants of winter, like these amazing tangerines we found. They are much sweeter and less sour than they were even just a few weeks ago. Get them while you can, because they’ll be gone before you know it.

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: Early Spring

by | Feb 19, 2012
Daikon Radish

Daikon Radish

Normally in San Francisco we lament our lack of summer. Despite being in California, this city is notorious for being buried under a 300 ft blanket of fog from June til August. But this year, winter is oddly lacking.

We’ve had some rainy days here and there, but they haven’t lasted long and have been interrupted with unapologetic bursts of sunshine. As you can imagine, this is affecting our crops.



Even though we’re only half way through February, winter produce has dwindled dramatically, and we’re already seeing spring vegetables like fava beans and green onions.

Spring Onions

Spring Onions

I don’t know if this makes me happy or sad, but it is definitely odd. I mean, isn’t there something wrong with this picture?

February Tomatoes

February Tomatoes

But the nice part is walking through the market is a pleasure. The sun is out, but I haven’t seen the thick crowds we get in the summertime on those rare nice days.



Today I focused largely on green vegetables, but also brought home some seasonal goodies like mandarins and walnut oil.

Roasted Walnut Oil

Roasted Walnut Oil

I’m not sure what to make of the weather, but at least I’ll be eating well.

Today’s purchases (~$40):

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Meal Planning Without Shopping Lists

by | Feb 15, 2012

Photo by evelynishere

Photo by evelynishere

Food shopping can be intimidating, especially if cooking is new to you.

A common approach to this problem is to pick your recipes beforehand, make a list of what you need and then shop until everything from the list is in your basket. But being comfortable shopping without a list is a valuable skill worth adding to your healthstyle toolkit.

Lists can come in handy, especially when you’re planning a large meal or event where organization is essential. But at a farmers market, shopping lists aren’t nearly as useful.

You can never be 100% certain of what you’re going to find at the market each week. Sure there are things you can usually count on (I know I can find kale at my market year round), but having a long catalog of ingredients for a particular recipe is likely to be frustrating.

A shopping list you can’t fulfill will leave you scrambling, running around the market looking for absent ingredients or inferior substitutes. No fun. The last thing you want to do is turn the farmers market into a source of anxiety.

Still the best reason to avoid lists at the farmers market is that discovering new and interesting foods is what makes shopping there such a treat. It takes an open mind and curious eyes if you hope to find the next tree tomato.

So how do you free yourself from the shackles of shopping lists without ending up with a pile of random vegetables and no obvious meals?

When shopping at a farmers market, the best meal planning strategy combines both structure and flexibility. Start with an idea of what you want to accomplish, then let the season’s offerings nourish your spirit of adventure and round out your menus.

Meal Planning at the Farmers Market

Step 1. Quantify

Think about how many meals you want to get from your purchases (e.g. 4 dinners, 5 lunches), and be sure to have that many main course ideas (vegetables being the centerpiece) given that a few will probably repeat.

At this point it is okay to have one or two things in mind you know you want to make, but the rest of your meals should be inspired by wandering through the aisles and seeing what catches your eye.

Step 2. Visualize

As you discover which foods will be the focal points of your meals, start to think about how you might like them cooked (even if you don’t know how). Think about what other flavors usually taste good with what you’re buying–consider herbs (parsley, thyme, mint, cilantro, etc.), proteins (meats, fish, eggs, legumes) and side dishes.

If you can’t think of anything, try to remember how these foods have been served to you in a restaurant. If you still aren’t sure what other flavors would be a good choice, ask the vendor you are buying from. Farmers are usually pretty good at cooking the foods they grow.

Step 3. Consolidate

For all the different ideas you had for meals, think of those with common flavors. Look for similarities between the dishes and overlapping ingredients. For example, most dishes will need some kind of onion, garlic or both. The farmers market is also a great place to get herbs and spices.

Look around and see what is available, purchasing the ingredients that are the most versatile. Flavors that can be included in several different dishes also give you the flexibility to change up your meal plans in middle of the week if you are suddenly struck with inspiration.

Step 4. Collect

As your ideas solidify, be sure to collect all the elements you need. iPhone apps can be particularly helpful with this if you want to double check ingredient lists. Because most popular recipes are born from available seasonal ingredients, it is likely you will find everything you need while shopping at the farmers market. If not, you might need to pick up the rest of your ingredients at a regular grocery store–not the end of the world.

To make sure you don’t forget anything, think about each dish individually and deconstruct each of the elements in your mind. This will jog your memory if you forgot to grab a lemon or some garlic.

Step 5. Plan

It is good to have a rough idea of when you are going to eat each of the meals you visualized. Some vegetables hold up better than others over the course of a week in the refrigerator. Plan to eat the most delicate produce in the first day or two, and save the hearty kale and broccoli for later in the week. Here are some tips to keep produce fresh.


Creative shopping without lists takes some practice, but you don’t have to be a master chef or flavor expert to get it right. When cooking with delicious, seasonal ingredients you can’t go wrong with simplicity. Start with the basics and work your way up as you get more comfortable in the kitchen and at the market.

Do you use shopping lists?

Originally published January 20, 2010.

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