Foodventures with farmers markets and Mexican bakeries

Since school is starting soon, I’m trying to get up earlier in the mornings. I know I’ll thank myself for it when I start substitute teaching and wake up around 5:30 or 6 a.m. The hard part about getting up early right now is that Matt is working a night shift several times a week.

Cauliflower seedling growing in our window sill

To avoid banging around our small apartment while he sleeps during the morning and early afternoon, I’ve been trying to get out of the house. One day this week I went to the community garden and just started watering everyone else’s beds that looked kind of droopy. I didn’t have anything to do in my own bed, because I planted seeds with Matt a week or so ago. They’re happily popping up, and the other transplants that I started at home aren’t quite ready to go in.

Another day I ran a bunch of errands.

But Wednesday I had some foodventures! That was probably the best day out of the apartment this week.

I bumped into and chatted a while with one of the other gardeners at the community garden during a morning watering trip. She told me to check out the farmers market located near the traffic circle that comes up if you go down Camp Bowie. I looked it up, and it’s called the Cowtown Farmers Market, which operates on Wednesday and Saturday mornings.

So, on Wednesday morning, I got up early and went to check it out. I arrived sometime around 8:30 a.m. and found several booths open. I didn’t think it would be too big on a weekday, but it wasn’t disappointing. It was mostly produce (melons, onions, okra, squash, etc.) with the exception of one baked goods stand.

Here are my spoils, including some from a Mexican bakery. More about that in a minute.

Spoils from my foodventure

The squash cost me $4 and the okra cost me $5 for two of the small baskets that the vendor had displayed, which would have cost $3 a piece or something like that. We got to chatting about where his farm was located and the types of cantaloupes he had for sale because I noticed he had two varieties. He said one was the traditional cantaloupe that most people see at the grocery store and the other was a Israeli cantaloupe that had a stronger, sweeter flavor.

He had a runty one that was a mix of the two and he added it to my purchase for no extra charge. Now that’s my kind of farmers market! I’m a bit partial to vendors or businesses who give away things or discount items for first-time customers. It’s a good strategy with me, for sure. I’m going to be more inclined to purchase from him in the future.

After the farmer’s market, I wasn’t quite ready to head home. It was still early and the temperature hadn’t hit 100 yet. So, I headed back toward our neighborhood and hit up Esperanza’s Bakery & Cafe, which is located near Park Place Avenue and 8th Street.

I’d been meaning to check out some of the Mexican bakeries in town, especially since they seemed to be everywhere. I’d never been to one before, and I was curious to see what kinds of baked goods they’d have. It didn’t hurt that I was starting to get a little hungry.

When I pulled up and parked, I noticed that Esperanza’s had two doors. I managed to enter the right one, because the other goes to the cafe. The bakery store front doesn’t seem to have a lot of variety but there is a menu above the counter with additional items that can be ordered and comes from the back.

Although I ended up getting a couple of things, I mainly saw sweet items that aren’t a normal purchase for us. I do enjoy the occasional confection, though, and I purchased a cinnamon roll the size of my head for a whopping $0.95.

And, yes, I did eat the entire thing. It took me two goes at it — once in the morning, once in the afternoon.

I also bought two bolillo rolls (which, if you don’t know, is a basic white bread) for $0.40 each. Together, they’re about the size of a small French bread roll. I feel like this was the best deal I got at Esperanza’s, and it makes it worth going back. One roll is the perfect size for Matt and I when I make garlic toast with dinner because it results in a couple slices for each of us. Carbs, yum.

The other thing I got there was a pack of fresh tortillas. I think 10 comes in a pack — we’ve almost eaten them all so I can’t count and see — and it cost me $2.25, I think. They were also delicious. I had a friend in high school whose mom made homemade tortillas. They weren’t quite as good as her mom made them, but it came relatively close. Same texture and almost the same taste, if that makes sense.

I have a feeling that Saturdays might be better for shopping at both the farmers market and the Mexican bakery. I don’t think I’ll go this weekend, but I’m sure I’ll check it out eventually and report back on those foodventures, too.

If you’re interested in how I prepared some of the spoils of my trip, stay tuned. I made a smashingly good dish with the okra that is inexpensive, healthy and easy. I’ll post it soon.

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