Farmers' Market and a Simple Supper in Parchment

This year I decided not to have a stall at the farmers' market. I literally burned myself out last summer - I caught some sort of a strange virus in August that I'm still recovering from. The doctors (I saw about a dozen) were never able to determine what it was and most of them said helpful things like, "You'll probably get better." or "This thing should run its course but we really can't say for sure." Well, it's been almost a year and I can finally see that there will be an end to my fatigue and digestive distress and I'm feeling pretty grateful to have come through it in one piece.

I took my first trip to the market last Saturday and it was great fun to be there as a shopper. I found some gorgeous new potatoes, carrots and artichokes (the bell pepper in the picture is just there as "lipstick" and the asparagus was from California - I couldn't resist - it was cheap!)

The woman with the flowers was there again and I picked up this bouquet for a few dollars. The vase is an incised French shell casing from World War I known as "trench art". I bought it for fifty cents at a garage sale.

We had picked up some halibut cheeks before getting on the ferry on Friday so I decided to invite a few friends over for dinner. I wanted to keep things simple - I wrapped the fish and vegetables in parchment and boiled a few potatoes to serve alongside. Baking in parchment is a wonderful way to coax the natural flavours out of food and I absolutely love this style of cooking. I placed a long piece of baker's parchment on a sheet pan and arranged all the ingredients in one layer over the top (I had blanched the carrots for about three minutes beforehand). I seasoned everything with a bit of olive oil, soy sauce and thin slices of onion and ginger.

I covered it in another length of parchment and sealed it well. It baked at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

A sprinkling of fresh parsley was all that was needed for a final touch. It tasted like the essence of summer!