Farmers’ Market Shopping and Afternoon Iced Vanilla Coffee

Moving to a big city from a small college town has had one immeasurable foodie benefit: farmers’ markets.

(Spelling correction for my journalism friends out there: the apostrophe is technically correct, since some “believe it indicates that “farmers’ markets” exist “for farmers and by farmers.”)

Portland has a wonderfully vibrant market community, which is not at all surprising given the city’s commitment to the small, the local, and the fairly-produced. Every week there are three farmers’ markets within walking distance from me (and a good handful more outside of my walking reach). There’s the Monday market downtown just a few short blocks away from my work – perfect for picking out some lunch time produce. Then the Thursday market has a quaint few sellers for me to pick up some quick dinner supplies.

On Saturday mornings though, the Mother of the Markets opens on the campus of PSU. There are more than 150 vendors and food stands to choose from, including the best reason to get up early – Pine State Biscuits at an easy commute.

Farmer's finds

So this morning, I found gigantic cherries for $3.50 a pound, local asparagus at $8/3 bunches. The real value prize from the markets though, is the selection of squash and zucchini. The traditional kind were $0.75 each, and we even discovered a new variety: patty pan squash!

Patty Pan

This gorgeous gem sold at $0.50 for a squash bigger than my spread hand. The fun flower-like shape came for free, of course. It was also much bigger than what I found at the supermarket when I looked for this particular variety. There it was called a “Sunburst Squash” and was closer to the size of the beets next to it.


Size compare

Which leads me to my first adventure for this blog!

“Meet a Veggie” – Learning about new veggies and cooking techniques to expand my healthy cooking range.

Just like traveling, new foods can be intimidating and foreign at first. But once we become accustomed to eating new foods, and learn how to prepare them, you can quickly feel just as at home with a bowl of beautiful new veggies as a tried-and-true pile of mashed potatoes.

Episode 1 to come – Patty Pan (or Sunburst) Squash

But for now — coffee.

After a long morning of adventuring, I was craving a cool iced coffee. Sure, I could buy one for a few bucks and a plastic cup. But what fun is that?

coffee overhead

I kept with the simple syrup theme for this one, since it really is the best way to add flavor to a cold drink. A little caffeine, a little sugar and a little vanilla-flavored comfort, for less than $1 in supplies.



Iced Vanilla Coffee

Makes 4 16 oz glasses
Time: 20 minutes


  • 5 cups brewed hot coffee
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • Several cups of ice


  1. Pour hot brewed coffee into a wide, deep pan so that it can cool. Cover loosely and set aside for 15 minutes.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium high heat, bring the water to a boil. Whisk in the sugar. Once dissolved and the liquid clears, add vanilla. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  3. Fill four 16 oz glasses 3/4 of the way with ice cubes.
  4. Measure 2 tablespoons of the simple sugar mixture into each of the glasses. Save any extra simple syrup in a small separate container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
  5. Pour coffee over each glass, stopping about 1.5″ from the top.
  6. Divide milk among each according to taste, using up to a 1/4 cup in each.
  7. Stir.
  8. Enjoy before the ice melts!

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