Take-out meals simplify your holiday schedule

The Westchase District Farmers Market is having a banner year. Even amid a rough economic climate caused by the worldwide pandemic, the farmers market topped previous years in vendor participation, foot traffic and revenue.

Farmers Market Manager John Carey attributes the uptick to people feeling more comfortable being outdoors in an open-air setting. “Once they come to the market, they realize we’re a place for fresh produce, eggs, bread as well as discovering authentic, local items,” said Carey. “Coming here to shop is an experience.”

Continuing to deliver that experience is what’s on Carey’s mind. As the year closes, it’s an ideal time to attract more shoppers for holiday gift buying. “The farmers market is the perfect place to find gifts for others,” said Carey. The farmers market is stocked with simple delights that can fill stockings and gift baskets.

Retail centers and grocery stores typically see a surge in traffic during the holidays which leads to a competition for parking spaces and tight mobility. The farmers market’s location at Westheimer and Rogerdale give it a prime spot with easy access. In addition, the St. Cyril of Alexandria Catholic Church parking lot, where the market is held, provides ample parking.

Earth Friendly Designs has ‘gems’ to sparkle any gift box.

Ideas to build your gift basket

Friends and family will love specialty items sold by a variety of vendors. Whether it’s hand-made jewelry or non-perishable items such as jelly and jams, there’s plenty to make your gift basket cherished for the holidays and into 2021. Here are 15 ideas:

ABJ Farms/Ma-Mere’s Maison – Varieties of jelly and jam in 8-ounce jars from farm-picked fruit

Cafetto Specialty Coffee – Ground or whole bean coffee grown and imported from Colombia

Chilesquiles – Texas-made essential cooking sauces with fresh, natural and sustainable ingredients sold in 16-ounce jars

Comatli – 100 percent natural gourmet sauces in spicy salsa varieties

Doggy Moma – Prepared meals your dog will love. No preservatives, no feed-grade, made from real ingredients

Dr. Lucy’s Alkaline Foods – Nutritious, alkaline, gluten-free foods – like agave – sold in jars

Earth Friendly Designs – Compelling, unique designs for bracelets, neckwear, and earrings made from recycled metals

Houston Winery – Fine and flavored wines made in a Houston micro winery

Imperial Candle Co. – Locally hand-poured luminous soy candles in enticing aromas using natural ingredients

Inconceivable Coffee Roasters – Artisan batch-roasted coffee in robust flavors and blends, plus coffee mugs

Lakonia Imports – Imported, award-winning 100% Greek extra virgin olive oils, olives and vinegar, sold individually or in gift boxes

Miriam’s Snacks – Central American food and plantain chips sold by the bag

Pure Texas Honey – Raw Texas wildflower and varietal honey, available in squeeze bottles and jars

Rio Grande Organics – Make holiday snacking on munchies complete with organically-grown pecans

ShoSho’s Kitchen – Homemade, unique pepper jellies, from spicy to fruity, Sableh cookies and cinnamon roasted pecans

Maja, with Le Sorelle, puts the finishing touches on a ham and cheese crepe with spinach.

Dinner for one or a small party

There are many choices for prepared foods to serve out of town guests for the holidays. Carey says that getting your food at the farmers market provides the best taste, vitamin content and freshness. “A lot of people shop here to get take out,” said Carey. “We can accommodate the busy nature of the holidays, it’s great to be able to pull up, browse our vendors and then grab dinner to go.”

You’ll find prepared meals like chicken salad, Indian food, pulled pork, smoked turkey, grilled brisket and barbecue, tamales and empanadas filled with chicken or beef. Treats like sorbet ice cream and organic juices complement the meal. Find these meals at Avila Flavors and Experiences, Best for the Best, Biryani Hut, Jami’s Fine Foods, Le Sorelle, Manish’s Indian Food, Tamales Mama Belen, The Bark BBQ and more.

If you’re planning the ultimate holiday meal, buy here and skip the grocery store. You can shop farm-raised pork, grass-fed beef and locally-caught seafood at Erbe Ranch. According to PEAS Farm’s Patricia d’Agrella shoppers enjoy fresh veggies, including green beans, Brussels sprouts and spinach. “Pumpkin, honey for baking and gifts are our top holiday items,” said d’Agrella.

“The great thing about what we offer is that it’s seasonal and year-round,” said Carey. “We are here every Thursday, whether you are shopping for the holidays or a different time.”