Alright babes, we are SO excited to announce a new series hitting the Côte blog.... The Lifestyle Series! A series of healthy food and lifestyle tips to get you to be the best version of YOU. You asked for healthy tips, we listened! Our first series in this #cotelifestyle will bring you recipes and tips straight from the homes of the best local chefs as well as the latest info on our favorite markets and restaurants around town! Each month we hope to sit down with some of our fave locals and give you healthy living tips straight from their kitchens!
Our first installment in the series is the one and only Friendly Market! Everyone's favorite place for fresh fruits and veggies, homemade dips, CHICKEN SALAD (personal fave), and even plants! We were able to meet with Jennifer Lee, the head of the Friendly Market produce and ask her how she started, where she gets her produce, and what her favorite homemade recipes are!
The Friendly Market Produce Stand
The Beginning: Now we focused only on the produce section of the Friendly Market which includes fruits, veggies, meats, and seafood. We know there are a lot of amazing homebaked goods inside (Mindy's Baked Goods are AMAZING!). So if you're into buffalo dips, chicken salads, and oatmeal cookies, head inside the market and treat yourself, but don't forget to check out the great healthy options outside! Jennifer runs the produce market and we love to support a fellow boss babe passionate about healthy living! And you can tell she is passionate; as we took photos around the market, she was talking to everyone, slicing up samples of fruits and veggies, and teaching us all about where they came from and how the tastes differed between types. You can tell teaching is a passion of hers. And seriously, the oranges were the juiciest oranges we've ever tasted!
Jennifer actually worked with Matt and Mindy (Friendly Market owners) for years over the summers and taught 4th grade math and science at Morehead Elementary before taking the plunge into running the stand last year. Being great friends with Mindy and raising their children together helped her to take the leap! The Friendly Market has a great family friendly vibe (it shows as soon as you walk in the place) which has given her the confidence and support to continue to grow the produce market into what it is today!
Apples and oranges prior to being sliced up and distributed for sampling
Support Local: If you love to shop local and support small business, you can't get any better than the Friendly Market! Not only are you supporting local boss babes, such as Jennifer, you are supporting small farms from all over the area! There are farmers from Morehead City, Newport, Beaufort, Swansboro, and fresh meats from Goldsboro, Raleigh, and Wilmington. Seriously?! What a great way to support our Eastern North Carolina neighbors from all over! The Friendly Market differs itself from other farmer's markets because it is open 7 days a week! Being open every single day rather than just a Saturday market means they have the capacity to support a larger variety of farmer's and fisherman. So you know you can always find something you need. It also means that when you buy from the market, you're probably buying from somewhere Jennifer herself has traveled to and picked out by hand. She can tell you all about the farms they come from and even the name of the farmer's dog! Can your grocery store say that?
We got to taste these sweet white turnips (on the right) that we would normally never try! Tasting before buying is one of the great perks of shopping small!
Eco Friendly: You know we can't get through a post without telling you what you can do to reduce your carbon footprint! Shopping local means you're supporting local farmers and a lesser carbon footprint. The less travel, the less gas and emissions, equals less cost from farm to table. This is something Jennifer has mapped out to a T! She makes sure each trip has a concise route and she is picking up enough produce, meats, and seafood to make sure the gas she did use was worth it! She is all about reduce, reuse, recycle and it's obvious when you're at the market! They recycle boxes that the produce come in either by reusing it for stock or offering to customers to pack groceries (or bring your own reusable bags!) Jennifer even had us throw our orange peels and other scraps into her compost pile (and said she would dig up others from the trash for those that had thrown them away!). There are so many ways they help the environment it's hard to list them all, it's definitely become a part of their lifestyle. They offer paper free receipts, clean with reusable clothing, and offer cloth napkins to their customers who are sampling the produce! In Jennifer's words "every thought and every step for our planet matters - never give up on it." We couldn't agree more!
So pretty! And all of the beads are handmade by Jennifer's mom!
Recipes: Jennifer will give meal suggestions along with the fresh produce, meats, and seafoods you choose. Your visit to the market is truly personalized! While you are outside shopping; feeling the sun on your face, breeze in your hair, and listening to the birds chirping, Jennifer will be able to suggest ways to cook the produce you pick up. She loves to read a customer's face when they pick up something and wonder how to use it in their own kitchen! Every trip to the market is a personal experience tailored to the customer, we would much rather get inside cooking tips from her than have another Pinterest fail! She makes sure to build her customer's confidence in the kitchen. Happy produce + confident cooking = healthier and yummier meals! Her top selling item right now is definitely the NC Strawberries! And we can attest to the amazing smell and taste of these. When we first entered the market, a fresh plate of sliced strawberries were sitting with the display right at the front. We were able to munch on these as we shot our photos, and she even made sure to wash the ones we purchased so we could eat them straight from the pack! Little things like that are what really separates The Friendly Market from other places. One of her favorite snacks she suggested were strawberries on top of their chicken salad! Which we have never tried, but will be as soon as possible! A great midday summer snack! One easy dinner recipe she shared sounds perfect for anyone on the go! She calls it:
"Friendly Market Produce Stone Soup"
Basically pick up anything that looks fresh and yummy at the produce stand
A few carrots
A few potatoes
A couple onions
A bell pepper or two
A few turnips
A pack of brawurts -- from thier local farmer, Shoe Branch Farms in Newport!
1 carton of beef broth
Chop it all up.. no fuss, no muss, add some dried herbs from your spice cabinet, and cook on low all day in the crock pot.
How easy is that?! She says it tastes different every time because it's made with whatever is fresh and is ready when you get home from work! We know we will be trying this on days we have a jam packed schedule and no time for cooking (which is pretty often when you run a business).
Strawberries to the right --- SO good!
As if we didn't stress it enough already, we had an AMAZING time at the produce stand and taking pictures with all of Jennifer's gorgeous produce. Her passion definitely shows in her stand and we can't wait to go back and try out her recipe! We cannot thank her enough for the hospitality she showed, not only to us, but to all of her customers.
And we hope all of YOU enjoyed our first installment in our #cotelifestyle Series! Jennifer may not have 'chef' in her title, but she sure has a passion for food. We will take suggestions from her any day!
Thank you all for supporting our local shop and we hope that this series helps you to support other locals and make healthier choices! We would love to know what you thought about our new project or if you would like any updates on recipes from the Friendly Market in the comments below! And remember to document your own cooking adventures by using the hashtag #cotelifestyle so we can share tips and tricks together!
Abby & Andie