One of the many reasons to look forward to weekends is the farmers’ markets. There is one every Saturday that is about a five minute walk from where I live. I got pretty excited when I recently found out that Baltimore has two bigger ones downtown so I routinely try to convince any friend with a car to bring me with them. There’s something special about waking up early and strolling over to the market on a brisk, Fall morning.
The markets are always bustling with people and there is usually someone playing music – everyone is cheerful and relaxed, unlike the stressed-out, in-a-hurry people you see at the supermarket. It truly is a shopping experience like no other, where you get to taste samples of fresh fruits, sip on stellar coffee, and swoon over delicious looking pies and pastries.
After recruiting some friends to join me at the markets, I always start by getting coffee and something to munch on, like biscuits. Then I’ll peruse the stands and get my vegetables and fruit for the week. It’s amazing to see the variety of produce that are available and I always end up buying something I wouldn’t typically buy at the grocery store. This past weekend, there was a notably larger amount of squash. Acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, of all shapes and sizes, were scattered around the market. There was even a mini pumpkin patch!
I’ve only bought and ate spaghetti squash once before but I impulsively decided to buy one that day. Spaghetti squash is a freak of a food and by the name, you can probably guess why. It’s technically a vegetable but when cooked, the inside resembles spaghetti. Although it doesn’t exactly taste like spaghetti and doesn’t have quite the same satisfaction as carbs, it is a fun vegetable worth trying. It can be baked or microwaved but I microwaved it for convenience.
SPAGHETTI SQUASH W/ CHUNKY TOMATO SAUCE
1/2 spaghetti squash
3 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
Use a knife to cut into the squash 1/4 inch vertically from top to bottom and on the opposite side. Use a fork to poke some holes in the squash for ventilation. Place in a baking dish and microwave for 5 minutes.
Using a dish towel or oven mitt, take dish out of microwave. Use the knife to cut the stem off and then completely cut squash in half vertically. Place squash halves back in tray, skin-side up. Fill tray with 1 inch of water and then microwave for 5 minutes. (Caution: squash will be hot!)
To make the sauce, heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add garlic and onion and stir until tender.
Add tomatoes and oregano. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Use a fork to rake out the spaghetti strings from the squash. Keep the spaghetti in the squash or put on a plate. Top with tomato mixture. Sprinkle on freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Recipe adapted from Food.com
Sadly, the kitchen in our college dorm suite does not have a conventional oven. Although we won’t be able to bake cakes, we can still make mug cakes!!! Mug cakes are a college classic since they are a super quick, one serving snack or dessert. This was my first time making one so I was skeptical yet fascinated at the same time.
These Nutella mug cakes were dessert after the home-made dinner my suitemates and I had (Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas). It was our first time sitting at our small dining table and eating a proper, home-made meal. It took about 2 hours to make the guacamole, quesadillas, and mug cakes and probably less than 20 minutes to eat it all! Still, it was worth it. The four of us agreed that we should try to cook dinner like that every Sunday night, a good way to start off each new week.
The mug cakes turned out interesting…They were so rich that none of us could finish a whole mug cake in one sitting. The hard part about cooking them in a microwave is that they don’t get heated evenly so some areas were more cooked than others. Overall, it was impressive for a 4 ingredient dessert using a microwave, although not the same as a regular cake of course. Nonetheless, I’ll definitely be making more mug cakes in the future!
NUTELLA MUG CAKE
4 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup Nutella
3 tbsp milk
Combine all ingredients in a mug and mix with a fork until evenly blended.
Cook in microwave for 80 seconds. The top should look done but if still wet, microwave for another 15 seconds. Use a toothpick to test whether cake is still gooey on the inside. Let cool in mug completely before eating so that it sets.
adapted from Kirbie’s Cravings