A short list

A short list of things that we haven’t really eaten this summer that otherwise frequently appeared in our diets:

  1. mushrooms (they are available at the market – just v. expensive)
  2. bananas
  3. any beans other than green ones
  4. avocados
  5. hummus
  6. pre-made veggie products (total: 1 box mini corn dogs, 1 box veggie nuggets)
  7. citrus (other than lemon juice, primarily for preservation acidity)
  8. cold cuts or “lunch meat”
  9. frozen vegetables (though we have a frozen meal every few weeks)
  10. shrimp

I was thinking about all of this last night while watching another episode of Jamie at Home and thinking about how I didn’t really miss any of these things.  OK, I do splurge on the occasional banana, and I do miss guacamole – but for the most part, this has been a really painless and amazingly tasty few months!

Eating and Growing Locally: Week 14

Eating:
In a bout of “what the hell do we have in the fridge?”, we made our all-local meal:

Local dinner

Pork kefte, broiled Mediterranean veg, and homemade tzatziki sauce, all of which were delicious and have been subsequently snacked on.

Homemade Tzatziki

Tzatziki (from Serving Up the Harvest)

3 C quartered and thinly sliced cucumbers
1/2 t salt, or more as needed
1 C greek yogurt or sour cream
1 garlic clove, minced

Combine the cucumbers and salt in a colander and toss to mix.  Let drain for 30-60 minutes.  Transfer to a clean kitchen towel and pat dry.  Combine the cucumbers, yogurt, and garlic in a large bowl.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Set aside at room temperature to allow the flavors to develop for at least 30 minutes before serving.

This is the halved version of the recipe – the amount that we made – and it still made a LOT of tzatziki.  We’ll probably halve it again next time.

Broiled zucchini and tomatoes

Broiled Zucchini with Herbs (adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites)

2 t olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
juice of 1/2 lemon (a couple of tablespoons)
a handful of finely chopped basil (or mint) and chives (or scallions) – as much as you’d like or have on hand
salt and pepper
1 medium-sized zucchini, sliced into rounds
1 tomato, sliced

Preheat the broiler.  In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, garlic, lemon juice, herbs, salt and pepper.  Toss the zucchini and tomatoes with this mixture until evenly coated.  Place the vegetables on a lined baking sheet and broil for 8-10 minutes, until the zucchini is just tender.  Serve immediately.

We ate lots of other delicious things this week – penne with zucchini and ricotta, homemade pizza with random leftovers from the market, and grilled chicken with a zucchini salad –  we just don’t have pictures.  Nom nom nom.

Growing:
As we move into the dog days of summer – and our last month with a balcony – our garden seems to be winding down. The lettuce looks weird – some of it is definitely lettuce-y, but some appears to have tall stalks and flowers. Maybe I don’t know how to grow lettuce? A couple of tomatoes and chilis are ripening on the vine, and our basil trucks on into its fourth month. Over the next few weeks we’re going to be finishing things off – picking the lettuce, transplanting the herbs, letting things go to seed and die – but for now I’m just enjoying the changing colors from my vantage point by the window.

By the numbers: July 2008

July numbers:

Three month comparison:

At the start of this whole thing, I suspected that while we may find ourselves spending more on produce than we normally do – our diets on the whole would improve without a substantial overall increase in food spending. After three months, the numbers support this conclusion. We’re spending about the same amounts as we were before starting to shop at the market – but we’re getting gorgeous fresh things, meat and cheeses straight from the producers, wonderful baked goods made from local ingredients instead of overly processed snacks or produce with a ridiculous amount of packaging that can’t be reused. Our milk, chicken, and the odd packaged meal (for those nights when cooking is just not going to happen) still come from the store, as do staples like olive oil, kitty litter, and sandwich bags – but on the whole I think we’re doing quite well!

Eating and Growing Locally: Week 13

Eating:

  • In an attempt to like cauliflower, I roasted a head of the purple stuff.  It was pretty tasty, but I’m still not convinced.
  • A LOT of blueberry pancakes last weekend when Erin Fae was here.
  • Peach ice cream and peach turnovers to use up the last of the peaches and the last of the puff pastry.
  • Spaghetti and meatballs with both the sauce and the meatballs from scratch.
  • Two all-local frittatas with garlic scapes (local for Erin Fae, who brought them as a gift), zucchini, onion, and tomato.  OMG so good.  I think we’ve mastered the frittata – now we just have to master getting it out of the pan:

Frittata attack!

Growing:

The first of the Amish Paste tomatoes committed tomato suicide, but I’ve been steadily picking little Beam’s Pear tomatoes throughout the week, as well as beans and the basil, which has now stayed alive for THREE months.  We also got our first red chili this week = hooray!

Eating and growing locally: week 12

Eating:

We caved and bought chicken at the store.  We eat a lot of chicken, and while we would love to buy it locally, it’s prohibitively expensive for not much meat.  We’re not perfect.

What we DID do this week was make 1 lb of ground pork into two awesome meatball-filled meals: spaghetti and meatballs on Saturday with a homemade sauce, and meatball sandwiches on chili-cheddar bread from Atwater’s along with leftover cole slaw on Sunday.  We also stretched 1 lb of pork sausage into 4+ meals – crustless quiche with local eggs, sausage, zucchini, and onions Monday night (with leftovers for lunches), sausage, zucchini, and onions tossed with pasta and homemade roasted tomatoes on Tuesday (with leftovers for lunch), and sausage patties with assorted other meals throughout the week.  Without even really trying, we had a couple of totally local meals, and a bunch of mainly local meals.  Hooray!

Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the melon as big as my head that I’m still working on:

Literally bigger than my head

Growing:

We’ve hit the heat of mid-summer, and the plants look tired.  I keep hoping that we’ll have a bumper crop of tomatoes, and then I eat all of them whenever any are ripe.  There are beans ready to be picked, and the lettuce and herbs persevere.

Today we’re signing a lease on a new apartment in Alexandria.  We’re excited about the place, but one drawback is that there’s no outside space for our garden.  With a crazy Miss Mina (who is currently running around pouncing and meowing for no ostensible good reason) and a Basil who likes to bite plants, we’re not sure what we’re going to do – I think the bigger things will go to friends, and I hope to rig up something for the herbs in the kitchen window.  (Did I mention that there are windows in every room?!)

By the Numbers: June 2008

Our total grocery spending was down this month, but that’s likely because our eating-out spending was up as a result of Bonnaroo.  Beginning July 1, we started tracking our eatings-out in order to provide us with better budgetary numbers going forward.  We’ll be moving to a new place in the fall, and being able to accurately calculate our expenditures will be important for our fiscal well being.

I’m really proud that this month we neared 50-50 on our market/non-market spending!