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Farmer’s Market opening means more fresh everything

Strawberry trifle and soda

Basil Strawberry Soda

1 pound of strawberries, trimmed

Juice of half a lemon

1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves

1 cup sugar

Carbonated water (or club soda)

Juice strawberries using a juicer or a blender. If using a juicer, juice the strawberries according to manufacturer’s instructions and discard the pulp. If using a blender, place strawberries in a blender and pulse until smooth. Strain through a sieve, pushing solids through with a spatula. Discard solids.

Pour strawberry juice into a liquid measuring cup, add water to reach 1 cup (if needed). Pour into a small saucepan with lemon juice, basil and sugar.

Heat mixture over medium heat until boiling. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let cool.

Strain syrup through a sieve into a clean container and discard solids.

To serve, spoon 2 Tbsp. of syrup into an 8-ounce glass, top with carbonated water and stir. Taste and add more syrup if desired. Refrigerate syrup up to one week.

Strawberry Trifle

4 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 box of pillsbury strawberry cake mix

1/2 cup prepared vanilla icing

16 ounces refrigerated whipped topping or whipped cream

Bake cake mix according to package directions for a two-layer cake and set aside to cool.

Slice 1 cup of strawberries, top with 1 Tbsp. sugar and mash. Refrigerate while cake is cooling. Slice remaining strawberries.

If you are whipping cream, use 1/2 cup vanilla icing to sweeten. If using refrigerated whipped topping, this is not necessary.  Remove half of whipped cream or topping and blend with sugared strawberries in a food processor to combine.

Now it’s time to layer. In a trifle bowl, crumble one pan of the strawberry cake in the bottom, then add a layer of whipped cream with the icing or the whipped topping. Follow with sliced strawberries and then the strawberry cream from the food processor. Repeat with cake, strawberries and top with remaining whipped cream and strawberries.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Opening day of the Salisbury-Rowan Farmer’s Market requires a plan — maybe recipes, but definitely a plan. First, run to Miller Farm, because they have one table of strawberries and it’s not full, and you must have strawberries for the lemon pound cake you’re going to pick up at How Sweet It Is.

But after strawberries, you must dash to Correll Farms because you saw farmer David Correll’s son, Talton, picking asparagus on Facebook, and there’s nothing better than fresh, spring asparagus. And he’s got the pencil-thin spears we like best.

Now, it’s time to get the lemon pound cake, which is always popular and very springlike. Lemons seem to say spring to me.

Now, check with Two Pigs to see if they have any lamb and to get a dozen eggs.

OK, with lamb chops, pound cake, strawberries, asparagus in hand — oh, and lettuce (red and green), rainbow Swiss chard, young onions — it’s off to the Ly’s booth to look at the flowers, always beautiful, but I am allergic to almost every one. And they have these gorgeous radishes, bright red, very round. Oh, and pea shoots. Pea shoots are delicious in salads, which are on the spring and summer lunch menu.

The baby bok choy looks good, but we already have the chard and we got fresh broccoli, very green broccoli, at Two Pigs. Maybe next time. But, we must have fresh cilantro — so good in scrambled eggs, and on salad, and in anything Mexican.

Now, what else? Always good to check out the soaps — Treehouse Soaps has lovely scents and special formulas with several choices for chronically dry skin. Today, there’s one with avocado puree. That sounds fabulous.

Over at The Soap Shack, my husband’s favorite soap, It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere, is back in stock and he picks up a watermelon and an apple. We leave our soaps in the hallway between our bedroom and bathroom until we use them, so it always smells great.

We cruise by Better Loafing, where the breads and sweets look good, but are off limits for me. I miss a good loaf of bread.

We see several friends, some of whom we haven’t seen since the market closed for the winter, so it’s always a good time to catch up. It’s our weekly social hour. We talk produce, recipes, politics, books, you name it. We check to see how much the children have grown.

Another walk by How Sweet It Is to consider the decadence of a lemon streusel or blueberry muffin, but that pound cake and strawberries comes first. Maybe we’ll blow the diet on a muffin next week.

We find that the folks at Thomas Family Farms have just killed two hogs and a cow and have fresh items available, but we’ve already gone over budget this week, so well make sure to start there next week. Filling up the freezer last fall has gotten us through the winter with local meat.

Rarely do we head to the market with a recipe in mind. We go and look around and think what can we make with this gorgeous, fresh item?

Shall we have a dinner of asparagus, Swiss chard and baby bok choy? Should we do a stir fry with the pea shoots and some of the other veggies?

Or should we get some sausages to throw on the grill and sauté some young onions and serve it with a salad?

Maybe pick up some dill for a yogurt sauce for the lamb chops. Heck, dill and yogurt make a good sauce for just about anything.

Next week, too, we can spend more time checking out the crafters who are here, including Tatyana Shurtz, who makes beautiful jewelry. Happy Roots, a group that recycles goods into crafts, and raises environmental awareness, was also at the market.

The Balloon Man was back, and Toi Degree, consumer and family life agent with Cooperative Extension, was at the market with a strawberry trifle and strawberry basil soda, a refreshing drink that was not too sweet.

The 8 a.m., crowd was quiet, but we are the serious shoppers, who come with a mission. More folks came later on a beautiful Saturday morning.

The market is open 8 a.m.-noon on Saturdays and 8 a.m.-noon on Wednesdays, starting this week. Not all vendors are at both markets, so don’t be surprised.

The market is at the corner of West Fisher and South Jackson streets, in the parking lot across from Rowan Public Library. Products and vendors change throughout the summer and fall. The market usually remains open into December for Christmas shopping.

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