Thursday, June 7, 2007

Buy Fresh, Buy Local

Or, putting my money where my mouth is.

Today was the first time I got to the local farmer's market since it moved mid-winter because I wind up working late on thursdays a lot. It's still expensive; I spent $27 for a week's worth of produce and 2 tamales. Still, I've found the way to get the best deal is to go at the end of the day and, when the vendor isn't swamped, ask them for a dollar amount of an item they sell by the pound. They almost always overfill the bag by 20% or more - though I would never complain if they didn't (see * items). I probably got about $30 worth of stuff for my $27 including a dollar's worth of arugula. Arugula has not been in plentiful supply since I moved away from Farmer Steve which is a darn shame.

Just for grins, here's what I remember buying:
  • a dozen really skinny japanese cukes $2
  • 3 pints of sweet strawberries $5
  • artichoke, new variety, large $3
  • baby bok choi $2
  • 4 limes $0.50
  • 7 deep red plums $1*
  • 6 tangerines $1*
  • arugula $1*
  • snap peas $1*
  • 3 hass avocados $2
  • 2 tamales $5.50
  • some things I already can't remember for $3

The good stuff:
  1. Tamale Dinner
    I ate half each of my veggie tamale and pork tamale with some leftover hominy, and skinny new cukes.
    Tamales with sauce, hominy and cukes
    Factoid One: I did NOT like tamales before I moved here. A couple years ago I went to dinner at a friends' house. They'd been in this area for a while before Boston and were making tamales. I went anyway. Turned out those tamales were quite tasty which gave me the courage to try these. (Thanks GA and F!) I prefer the sweet corn tamale to the veggie combo tamale shown here, but I came at beggar hour, not chooser hour. well inhaling a half pint of strawberries, one plum, and 1/3 of the XL artichoke, shown cooking here
    boiling artichoke with lemon
    I usually cook my chokes whole which takes 45 minutes. Being a varietal I've not tried before, I'm not sure if 30 minutes overcooked this one because of the chopping, or if it just had an inherently mealy texture but it was a little mushy. Factoid two: I called my mom after leaving the market to tell her about my moneysaving scheme. She and my dad were just sitting down to eat artichokes for dinner. (Yes, at 8:40pm. My apple fell close to the tree.)

  2. Eggs

    A colleague has a small family size farm in Ojai and keeps chickens. They produce surplus eggs in the summer months which he sells. For $1.50 I got the following selection of eggs in all different colors, shapes, and sizes. I dig it.
    varicolored eggs

  3. Fun with Industrial Food Products
    While you might argue that this goes under my "oil" post, not my food post, it's food I eat and I'm sticking it here. I'm continually entertained by EasyMac. Sometimes, I just want some mac-n-cheese and it's usually when I don't have fresh food handy. This stuff tastes just as good as the add your own milk and butter kind but doesn't require me to stock fresh milk or make more than I should eat in one sitting. And when it boils in the microwave, the rising air bubbles line up the noodles like little soldiers. Which, as my mom would say, is cooler than hooties.
    Easy mac standing noodles

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Easy Mac is a wonderful invention. Just enough for the little one... with a couple of spoons left over for Mom to get her fix :)