Big Apple, Small Basket: Week #1

Welcome to a new summer weekly installment at SKC called Big Apple, Small Basket.  Check back to read more about Kendra’s adventures in finding, maneuvering and cooking summer dishes from the many farmers’ markets in New York City.

Landing a supercool internship in New York City for the summer meant one big thing: I’d be leaving home (the San Francisco Bay Area) and my other home (Chicago, where I go to school) for two months to live and work in a buzzing metropolis that I’d only ever been a wide-eyed tourist in before.  New York City?!  My palms sweat at the thought of it.  I told myself it was ok to be First Day of School Nervous while I ferociously Google Mapped every subway stop near my office building and made a long list of things to do once I arrived.  I took a five hour long plane flight, signed a short-term lease on a tiny studio apartment, bought an Unlimited Ride metro card, unpacked my summer reading and made sure my A/C was functional.  Then, I looked at my fridge.

If my life has ever really felt like it warranted being written about on a blog associated wth Big Girls, Small Kitchen, it is right now.  I put on my Big Girl work shoes every morning and take public transit among suits and pencil skirts to a skyscraper and my very own desk (!!!!).  At the end of the day I come home to the three-foot-square corner of my apartment that is floored with tile rather than wood like the rest of the room, indicating that it is, in fact, the Smallest Kitchen ever.  I had to buy miniature baking sheets because the oven is too little for regulation size.  There are also no numbers on any of the knobs, so I played with trial and error (and set off the fire alarm twice) before calling my mother and being advised to buy an internal thermometer (I had no idea these existed/my mom is brilliant/now I won’t burn the apartment down/etc).

In a city and a summer full of newness, change and no dishwasher, I am so glad I can turn to a thing that I know I love, and that Manhattan and the surrounding area is thankfully bursting with: farmers’ markets.  I have made it my goal to visit a new outdoor local vendor “greenmarket” every week, find and purchase the best produce, cook with it and share the recipes here.  It’s been awesome so far – to visit the markets, stock up on fruits and veggies for the week, and figure out the difference between express and local trains because mostly if I didn’t have my iPhone to tell me which way to turn, I’d often be in Delaware – and I can’t wait to check even more weekly markets off my list.  Come on this adventure with me?  I can’t promise we won’t get hopelessly lost, but at least the meals will be worth it.

Kendra Vaculin does not want to talk about the fact that she’s a rising senior at Northwestern University because if she says it then it’ll be true.  She’s a double major in Theatre and Creative Writing and watches Suits religiously.

Do you have suggestions for markets I should visit?  Awesome summer recipes that require in-season produce?  Words of wisdom for the noobiest New York City noob to ever live?  Let me know in the comments!  And with that cry for help series of inquiries, here’s week #1:

East 92nd Street Greenmarket // Radish and Sugar Snap Pea Salad
1st Ave between 92nd and 93rd; 5 blocks from the 96th Street stop on the 4,5,6

One city block long, this market is comprised of tents that line the east side of the street in a single file row.  Lots of awesome produce – including the biggest leaves of kale I’d ever seen in my entire life and mesclun so organic and fresh that the woman behind the counter went through every leaf with her customers to clean and remove the occasional bug – as well as floury and rustic offerings from a few bakeries.  This was a small market for sure, and easily managed in a morning, which made it a perfect first round pick.

The super colorful radishes immediately caught my eye; I loved that I could get purple, red and white bulbs all in the same bunch. And with each bunch only $2, I walked away with an armful of the peppery root vegetables.


Radish and Sugar Snap Pea Salad
Inspired by Bon Appetit
Serves 2-3

½ pound sugar snap peas, trimmed and stringed
2 cups chopped radishes
2 ounces feta, crumbled
1 tablespoon olive oil
the juice of ½ lemon
coarse salt and fresh ground pepper

Combine snap peas, radishes and feta in a bowl.  Toss with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

Originally posted on Sunday, July 8th, 2012

4 Responses to “Big Apple, Small Basket: Week #1”

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    July 9th, 2012

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  2. Jenny @ BAKE

    July 9th, 2012

    congrats on the internship! my flat has a tiny kitchen, you get used to it eventually

  3. Bethany

    July 9th, 2012

    Love this idea! I’m living in DC for the second summer in a row and I am trying to get to all the outdoor markets I did not visit last year.

  4. Hannah

    July 9th, 2012

    Can’t wait to read your column! Great idea…I might use it as my guidebook if/when I move to NYC in the near future!

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