Taking the afternoon off

For the past few months my husband has worked a compressed workweek. It has meant late nights for him, but has also given him every other Friday off. This week he was very enthusiastic to go for a hike in the Gatineau Hills with the children, his sister and her husband.

I wasn't so thrilled with this idea, so opted instead to have him drop me off downtown to spend the afternoon at the ByWard Market.

By myself.

With no children.

Camera in hand, and with my backpack for carrying goodies home, at first I wandered the stalls to see what everyone was selling, to enjoy the colors and smells, from the tents of beautiful flowers, to the freshness of the fruits and vegetables. A leisurely pace, stopping frequently to just look, take a picture.

Of course there was the usual finds of carrots, brocolli, cauliflower and beans. Bright and beautiful, even for everyday vegetables. Trays of multi colored peppers included white and purple varieties as well as the usual green, red, yellow and orange (though the vendor I had would not let me mix and match colors, which is very unusual.)

The season for fresh berries is coming to an end but you couldn't tell from the displays of bright red raspberries, which sat next to a table covered in organic blueberries, fresh picked from Sudbury, only a short drive away from where my husband and I grew up. (I can still remember picking and cleaning blueberries with my grandmother when I was a child - I'd rather buy them from the farmer instead!)

A few rare finds among the produce - orange and purple cauliflower. The orange having been cross bred with carrots to produce a sweeter cauliflower, the purple bred with red cabbage. The purple is not sweet, instead having a peppery bite, almost bitterness to it. But oh so pretty to look at!

One vendor sold this cauliflower in bags, allowing for a mixture of regular, purple and orange, with a touch of brocolli. I opt for the bag with no "normal" cauliflower, and plan a veggie tray as part of dinner later that evening.

Another unusual find, Ground Cherries, looking a bit like tomatilos, though smaller. Inside the papery skin a small, light orange colored "tomato." The flavor is bright and vibrant, with a mild sweetness to it. I bring home a small basket to share with my family, expecting that I may be the only person who will eat them. (My three year old loves them, but the others choose not to try them.)

In the end I had to limit my purchases to what I could carry, but still was rewarded with a rainbow of freshness.

And I got home in plenty of time to prepare a little birthday dinner for my sister-in-law, which I will post a few pictures of later!

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