The Lunenburg Farmers’ Market Cookbook: Homegrown Recipes for Every Month of the Year

Recipes By Elisabeth Bailey and Photography by Alyssa Valletta

Google Maps has informed me that I am a solid 58 hour non-stop car ride away from the Lunenburg Farmers’ Market, an indoor oasis of farm-to-table culinary delights. I have dispatched my good friend Mara, a Halifax resident, to investigate on my behalf as soon as possible. It’s not that we don’t have a wide array of farmer’s markets here on the west coast. But if you’ve been to enough markets like these, you’ll see that each one has something unique to offer, based in part on location and history. Personal stories arise from the soil, the sea, and even dreams from abroad. When you visit a farmers’ market, hopefully you encounter an immediate sense of community. The vendors all know each other, and if you go often enough, they also get to know you and offer helpful suggestions for your next meal. It’s a friendly atmosphere where strangers can bond over a love of carefully cultivated fresh produce. Half the fun is stopping by a vendor’s table, when the market is not too busy, and learning more about how they came to be a farmer, artisan, or creative in the the local market. In lieu of my long distance predicament, the next best thing I can do is to live vicariously through Elisabeth Bailey’s tantalizing recipes paired with Alyssa Valletta’s food photography.

The Lunenburg Farmers’ Market Cookbook is thoughtfully organized by the calendar year. What’s in season for each month and also available at the market is presented with photos and easy to follow recipes. Stories about specific vendors are also interspersed and make for an interesting and memorable association with different plates. And in recognizing that certain produce may not be available throughout the year, there are also some excellent tips on how to best preserve fresh produce, or how to experiment when there is an abundance of substitutions available (see the instructions for using rhubarb juice as an acidic replacement for lemon).

When I go into a bookstore, I generally avoid the cooking section. Cookbooks of the past have been overwhelming. Too many instructions, the blocks of text a blurry maze that can be off-putting. A poorly captured photo. This cookbook is very different, however. The layout is inviting; the appeal of fresh radishes are enhanced with simple, foolproof recipes. Consideration is given to a variety of palates. There are a few recipes for the keto-friendly diet (search for the greens with healthy splashes of olive oil and a bit of protein), the heart-healthy and low cholesterol diet (Jacob’s Cattle beans!), middle eastern comfort food diet (Maghrebi Shakshuka with farm fresh eggs), and no holds barred, full-on food comas (pumpkin whoopie pies, carrot cardomom coffee cake, boozy root beer milkshake). The recipes are easy enough to sub-in alternatives, allowing you to enjoy the ideas with the flexibility of your own creativity and dietary needs.

Whether you are a local to Lunenburg (please go to the market and support your local farmers) or “from away” like me, you’ll be sure to find inspiration and something new to add to your home cooking menu. Don’t know who Meredith Bell is? A name worth learning, especially if you’re lucky enough to go to the Lunenburg market. At the very least, check out the photos. I never had a desire to buy cod fish “cheeks”, but now I know what to do with them, especially with a pinch of saffron. The vanilla cupcakes with blackberry frosting are worth the admiration.

Elisabeth Bailey is a food and gardening writer with a passion for the diverse and abundant farms, gardens, and waters of the Maritimes. They are the author of A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes the Whole Year RoundMaritime Fresh: Delectable Recipes for Preparing, Preserving, and Celebrating Local Produce; and The Make-Ahead Sauce Solution: Elevate Your Everyday Meals with 61 Freezer-Friendly Sauces. Elisabeth and their family live and enjoy great local food in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

Publisher: Nimbus Publishing (June 4, 2024)
Paperback 9″ x 7″ | 144 pages
ISBN: 9781774712634

Mala Rai is a poet, drummer, psychology student, and technical writing hired gun on the West Coast. Her most recent poems have appeared in Eclectica Magazine, High Shelf Press, and Anti-Heroin Chic. You can follow her on Instagram @malaraipoetry

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