Stuffed Zucchinis with Roasted Tomatoes and Melted Sharp Cheddar

The hustle and bustle has begun.  The farmer's markets are moving into full swing.  To my absolute delight and surprise, a new farmer's market has set up shop about 5 minutes from my home.

They've chosen to locate in the lot of an abandoned sugar mill not far from here.  Several times a day, the trains still chug-a-lug by at a slow and steady pace right along where the market is located.  When I arrived early in the morning, I heard the clickety-clack of the train's wheels rolling along directly behind the market activity.  The sounds were like a backdrop behind the soulful wailing tunes of a vocalist who crooned a jazz piece in an area set up alongside the market.  

I thought it a magnificent setting for a market.

The lovely and elegant wisteria blooms

The singer's voice was smooth and rich and the morning atmosphere was bustling but quiet as farmer's worked to set up their stalls.  Trucks were open and being emptied of loads of fresh lettuce, baskets of radishes, and bins of stacked carrots.  Laughter could be heard as farmer's called out to one another in greeting and then said something funny.

Soft and pretty light on a fading moon by a rising sun

Everyone seemed to know everyone and I imagine that these weekly markets are a good place to catch up with the news of other farmers trundling their produce in from all parts of southern Texas.  

I am not, by a long-shot, a country girl, but these country scenes, whether it be farmer's markets, fields of farm animals, or tractors churning up and down their fields just captivate me for some reason.  

This sweet early morning scene {above} certainly caught my attention the other day as I was heading out of the city.  It was early in the morning. The sun was slowly swelling above the horizon.  Seemingly oblivious to the change of sweeping light, this cow in the field continued his morning munch.  The moon was full and soft, gently hanging in the sky like a pale round jewel but on and on the cow munched away, seemingly oblivious to the beauty of his surroundings.

I must confess, the mood around our house is turning restless.  With the seasonal shift, markets opening up, baby farm animals galloping about the fields...comes changing seasonal moods.  I feel ready to close the books and push them aside.  

Adventures, road trips, and summer days full of daydreams are calling.  

Riley and I find our eyes sliding down the page of each class schedule to count and recount the weeks, the days, the pages, the chapters until the final assignments appear at the bottom.  

And then I chide myself.  "Don't push the time."  This time will never repeat itself.  Find the beauty in this endeavor and continue to teach the joy of learning and the pursuit of new knowledge.

But...truth be told...the end of May is...ahem...{eight} weeks away!

So, back to market day.  Lots of carrots that day at the market...dirty and earthy, pulled right up out of the ground. I chatted a bit with the bee keepers or apiarists, as they are known, and sampled some marvelous creamed honey.

Any tidbits they tell me about bee keeping I find fascinating.  I am ridiculously afraid of bees.  They cause some kind of primal school-girl-like curdling scream to emanate from me when I hear any sort of buzzing sound but I, nonetheless, would very much like to visit a bee keeping farm and understand and witness the process more.

"Honey is the only food that we humans eat that comes from insects" the apiarist informed me.  I had never even considered this before and wondered how in the world did someone bravely reach in and taste honey for the first time.  And what did the expression on their face look like after that first taste?!

The fields are lush and purple bursting with  bluebells right now.  If there is a show-me season of states then I would have to say that Texas can definitely claim "spring".

Since the end of the year feels like it is within grasp, and we are all weary of the same 'ol, same 'ol schedues, it seems that energy for weeknight dinners keep losing steam and getting simpler as well.

Often, I am looking for something quick and easy that I can pull together in less than 30 minutes at the end of the day.

More than often, I am peering into the refrigerator and pantry and literally holding the last of everything salvageable there and trying to figure out what magic could happen in a short amount of time.

I did pull a quick dish together the other night that was unanimously deemed delicious.  Leftover from the market that week were a handful of zucchinis, yellow squash, and an eggplant.  I also had some yellow cherry tomatoes and a bag of cheddar cheese that was nearly empty.

Why does everyone in Texas say 'hook 'em horns'...look at this big guy...that's why

I decided to try and salvage the fresh produce by making some stuffed vegetables.  I scooped out the meat of each of the vegetables and sauteed them with an onion, herbs, and some carrots.  

In a separate pan, I browned the ground beef and seasoned it. (but that could be easily omitted to make this vegetarian)

I decided to roast those yellow cherry tomatoes. They burst with sweet caramelized flavor when roasted in the oven.

After mixing everything together, the beef, the vegetables, and the tomatoes, I gently piled spoonfuls into the zucchini, squash, and eggplant shells.

With a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper each vegetable boat was covered with shredded cheddar cheese and in the oven they went.

The oven was set to 400˚F (200˚C) and they baked for about 30 minutes.  

These stuffed vegetables have been repeated several times on weeknights when leftovers are calling for attention, energy is low, and the lure to reach for fast food is tempting.

Instead of beef, rice is another option that would give some heft to this quick meal.

Looking at the calendar of events in this area, many food and cultural festivals are coming up.  The time of cool breezy weather is limited here and between now and the beginning of June, calendars are full each weekend with outdoor activities before the temperatures begin to sizzle.

Summer is just around the corner.  My herb pots are getting refreshed with new seeds.  Little ones are wobbling on their bikes along our neighborhood lanes learning how to ride on two wheels.  

My daily walk is getting crowded as the scene looks like something from the movie "101 Dalmations" as people and dogs of all statures are enjoying this window of perfect weather.

I don't know what made me notice this scene {above}.  The khaki colored grasses were so tall that the richly hued cream, chocolate, and caramel colored cows were barely visible.  Set against the backdrop of olive and sage colored trees, the scene appealed to me.

I think if I could create a pleasing outfit, it would have all of these colors in it.  From nature to fashion...perhaps that is how some fashion designers find their inspiration.

So if you are like us, and you are feeling that dreaded end of the year blues drawl lamenting the story of your daily grind, you might look to something like this quick and flavorful dish to get through those sometimes bothersome week night meals.

Labels: , , , , , ,