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Farmers Market Recipes

Farmer’s Market Recipe: Watermelon Basil Gazpacho

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A wonderful take on this favorite cool summer soup using watermelon!

Some might strain out this soup, but I prefer it chunky. The complimentary basil and mint is a must! Try it with local seasonal tomatoes and cucumber.

Inspired by fresh ingredients found at the Covington Farmer’s Market!

   1 medium watermelon, de-seeded & cubedWatermellon
   2 large heirloom tomatoes cubed, or 2 cups of small tomatoes halved
   1 large cucumber, peeled, de-seeded & cubed
   ¼ red onion, chopped
   3 medium garlic cloves, chopped
   ½ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
   ¼ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
   ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
   ¼ cup red wine vinegar
   ¼ cup fresh lime juice
   2-4 cups of filtered water
   1 teaspoon ground chili flakes
   course sea salt & fresh ground black pepper
   Extra virgin olive oil for garnish
   Basil sprigs for garnish

Blend all except garnish in a blender or food processor, or chop and mix well. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, best overnight.

Add any more salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with olive oil drizzle and fresh basil sprigs. Enjoy!

Local Events This Week at the Farmer's Market

This Week at the Covington Farmer’s Market

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Never fear, friends! I have been duly chastised for my hopeful, if uninformed, comments regarding weather last week. However, this week, I am in full possession of accurate (sorta) meteorological data. There is a chance of rain tomorrow but if we let a little rain stop us, we’d never go anywhere. While there may be no sunshine peeking through the clouds, you’ll find a sunny smile on our vendors’ faces.. You can count on Kandy to have authentic Vietnamese cuisine served with sunshine. Siria will have her fabulous tamales, definitely salsa, and maybe even some guacamole. Frankie is busy preparing meatloaf, creamed potatoes, lima beans & tomatoes, and cornbread. You’ll want to get your eggs and a few veggies for the week. Don’t forget a few blueberry smokers from Jerry. You may be in the mood for smoking your meats and veggies, rather than grilling this 4th.

The Farmers’ Market String Band will get things rocking on Saturday, crooning out snappy tunes from the gazebo. Then you’ll get a taste of the sweet juiciness of our market watermelons. You’ll certainly want one for your 4th of July celebration.

Don’t know if you’ll be grillin’ this weekend but we certainly have the fixins’ for it. I found a delightfully different recipe for grilled ratatouille. I know, doesn’t that sound wonderful? All you need is 1 medium eggplant, 1 large zucchini, 1 large yellow squash, mushrooms, cooking spray or olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes. Basically, slice the veggies into medallions of equal widths, remove the stems from the mushrooms, then place onto skewers – zucchini, squash, eggplant, mushroom, repeat. Brush with oil (I’ll bet one of Spicy Lady’s flavored oils would be amazing), season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes or choose from one of Spicy Lady’s many blends for a different taste each time you make them. Then just pop them on the grill for about 20 mins, turning every 5 minutes or so. Brush with more oil as needed.

If you’re having a large group, make a smaller (shorter) version as an appetizer. Those kebabs would make a lovely meal on their own or an incredible side dish for grilled chicken (James), shrimp (Mr. Two), sausage, or burgers (Jubilee Farms). You may even want to add sliced bell pepper.

Lea has several delicious choices of raw salads to complement any meal. Tessier Gourmet has several new dishes that are fast becoming favorites. First is a Mediterranean quinoa with kalamata olives, chickpeas and green onion and occasionally with cherry tomatoes as an added benefit. Her Asian slaw is also a popular choice and Pam is now offering a Mediterranean tamale with chickpeas and kalamata olives. Mauricio has been tweaking his ginger cookie recipe and they are now even more flavorful. Ask about his ginger biscotti when you visit.

A few snacks are always welcome when you’re slaving over a hot grill so a visit to Spanish R Us is definitely in order – salsa, quacamole, avocado salsa, black bean dip and chips…. A big bag of kettle corn and/or pork skins are never too much and, of course, the cookies!! Visit Betty Rue for gluten free choices, Windfield Farms for cookies and muffins, and Vincent & Mauricio for a gorgeous assortment of decorated cookies (they’re not just for the kiddies, ya know.)

There really is nothing like a farmers’ market when the veggies are at their peak of flavor and variety. If you can’t find anything to go on that grill, you must have slept in. We will be here celebrating the 4th. Hope you will join us!

Lots of love,

Charlene LeJeune

Abundant Life Kitchen

The Covington Farmers’ Market is open each Wednesday, rain or shine, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Covington Trailhead, 419 N. New Hampshire and every Saturday from 8a.m. to 12p.m. on the side lawn of the Covington Police Station, 609 N. Columbia St. Call (985) 892-1873 for information or visit online at

Healthy Living Local Events Shop Local This Week at the Farmer's Market

This Week at the Covington Farmer’s Market by Charlene LeJeune

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Wed Farmers Market signGood afternoon, friends and great news – it’s Tuesday again! That means just one more day to a tasty lunch, sweet breezes, and relaxing music – perfect for summertime lunching. Now I know you’re thinking it’s gonna be pretty hot, and it is, but there always seems to be a fair breeze whipping up under the Covington Farmers market pavilion.

But it’s more than fair breezes enticing you to the Market for a lunch of Rebecca’s authentic Honduran food. It’s our amazing vendors and their love of food that has you dreaming of Kandi’s shredded cabbage salad with its crunchy bits of carrot, chicken, red onion and herbs and inviting you to partake of Nanette’s savory summer Minestrone soup with lovely chunks of squash, green beans, tomatoes, and great northern beans swimming in a savory broth seasoned with oregano and basil or tempting you with the prospect of Jeff’s pulled pork and a side of cheese grits and a luscious new creation – ranch macaroni salad.

WatermellonYou’ll get there and have trouble deciding between Frankie’s bread pudding with rum sauce or the new egg custard pies with eggs so fresh you can see the yellow. Don’t forget the veggies – zucchini, bell peppers, squash, potatoes, and watermelon. Our vendors are offering some incredible dishes that are hard to pass up, which is why I usually pick up several and enjoy them throughout the week. Sometimes, I even let Mr. Wonderful share in the bounty.

Saturday morning will roll around (as it usually does at that time of the week), just as bright and lovely as ever. Prepare yourself now for the delightful tunes of Joe Barbara coming from the gazebo. Pat Lester’s Food Wagon will be parked at the curb on Columbia Street. Make sure you get here early to get your coffee and enjoy the morning, the music, the many market delights.

Bartlett Farm has heirloom tomatoes galore!!

Bartlett Farm has heirloom tomatoes galore!!

New vegetables are joining the ranks each week. Nick has a selection of heirloom eggplant with names that are as inviting as the vegetable, such as Ping Tong, Pandora Striped, Louisiana Green, and L’il Sailor. They could get you in trouble, though. “Hey, John and Mary, how ‘bout joining us for dinner tonight? We’re cooking up a batch of L’il Sailors – so nice and tasty!” (OK, OK, I’ll stop.) Mr. Houston has 2 varieties of watermelon – traditional and one called Moon & Stars. You may even get lucky and get a few of Natalie’s ghost eggplant.

purple hull peasEddie has yard-long beans and purple hull peas in the shell and you’ll find cuccuzzas hanging around Bardwell’s table. The Clecklers have sweet Alabama peaches and Pink Lady peas. John has a tasty mix of fuzzy yellow tomatoes, bright orange and long skinny reds that look more like a red pepper than a tomato. Didn’t matter to me; they were real good. Fancy names or not, there’s still lots of good eats on the tables.

A Rainbow of kombucha from Kombucha Girl Living Beverages

A Rainbow of kombucha from Kombucha Girl Living Beverages

Althee tells me she is adding no sugar added jams to her repertoire starting with mango and blueberry and will soon add strawberry as well. Hot Tamale Mama is stunning the tamale world with her latest creation – red beans and rice tamales! I haven’t tasted them yet but Pam has a knack for making the ordinary extraordinary. She also has a new oyster mushroom and lentil soup. With all this great food hanging around, please tell me you’re not planning to sleep in. We’d hate for you to miss out.

Lots of love,
Charlene LeJeune
Abundant Life Kitchen

The Covington Farmers’ Market is open each Wednesday, rain or shine, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Covington Trailhead, 419 N. New Hampshire and every Saturday from 8a.m. to 12p.m. on the side lawn of the Covington Police Station, 609 N. Columbia St. Call (985) 892-1873 for information or visit

General Healthy Living Shop Local

The Wonderful Watermelon is in Season

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The watermelon is a vine like flowering plant originally from S. Africa (family Cucurbitaceae).  It is related to the cucumber, pumpkin and cantaloupe.  The watermelon fruit is referred to by botanists as a pepo, a berry with a thick rind and fleshy center.  The flesh of the watermelon may range from red to pink, and sometimes orange, yellow or white.  It grows wild in southern Africa, reaching maximum genetic diversity with sweet, bland and bitter forms.  There is evidence of its cultivation in the Nile Valley from the second millennium B.C., and seeds were also found in the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

Watermelons were cultivated in China by the 10th century, now the world’s largest watermelon producer (even introducing “square” watermelons).  It was introduced to Europe in the 13th century, and according to John Mariani’s Dictionary of American Food and Drink, “watermelon” made its appearance in an English dictionary in 1615.  Native Americans cultivated the fruit in the 16th century, and it may have been introduced to Massachusetts as early as 1629.  By 1954, Charles Frederic Andrus set out to produce a disease and wilt resistant watermelon.  Mr. Andrus was a horticulturalist at the USDA Vegetable Breeding Laboratory in Charleston, South Carolina, and his creation became known as “that gray melon from Charleston”.  Today, most commercially grown watermelon varieties have some “Charleston Gray” in their lineage.

Single WatermelonA watermelon is about 6% sugar and 91% water by weight, and like many fruits, is a good source of Vitamin C.  Despite some information to the contrary, the seedless watermelon is not a result of genetic manipulation, but hybridization.

The watermelon rind, though often discarded, actually has a very high concentration of nutrients (horses love them).  In other countries, they are often used as a vegetable.  Chinese cooking, for example, uses the peeled rind stir-fried, stewed and more commonly, pickled.  In the stir-fry, it is cooked with olive oil, garlic, chili peppers, scallions, sugar and rum.  Apparently, pickled watermelon rind is popular in the southern U.S. also.  Watermelon juice may be made into wine, and Covington’s own Kombucha Girl (at the Saturday Farmer’s Market) makes a fantastic Watermelon Water Kefir now that they are in season.  You can find watermelons at the Covington Farmer’s Market and local farms like Stoney Point Farm in Amite, who often sells watermelons in the Covington area.

Phenolic compounds in watermelons (flavonoids, caratenoids) offer some anti-inflammatory and antioxidant support.  The redder the watermelon, the higher its content of lycopene, and some studies show watermelon may contribute to antihypertensive effects.  Always consult a professional for advice regarding the nutritional benefits of foods that best fit your situation.