The farmer’s markets are alive right now. Produce is in hard and heavy, and the tastes of fall are everywhere. In addition to buying for meals, UC and I are buying to put up for winter. Last week it was peaches and pears for saucing (the peaches have been sauced, still waiting on the pears to be ripe enough), and next week it’ll be all kinds of things:
-Peppers. Roundabout is bringing us their seconds at a nice price, and UC are taking all we can get. We’ll roast them, then put some into oil, turn some into sauce, and flash individually freeze some.
-Tomatoes. Well, these will actually be two weeks from now when the Nelkes return to the market from their vacation. We’ll be getting some unknown-but-large quantity of linguisa tomatoes to sauce. Yum! I hope to can some, since we’re running out of freezer space.
-Chevre. The unpastuerized goat cheese will soon be out of our reach for the winter, so we freeze a bunch of it while we can still get our greedy little paws on it.
-Squash. We’re heading to Roundabout directly to pick up a bunch of winter squash, and we will be taking several of the Nelke’s Long Island Cheese squash. We’ll also be picking up beets and carrots.
And, heaven’s knows what else. Anything we can get our hands on that keeps, really. It’s an expensive time of year; and, though I am very happy to be supporting our local farmers, I also can’t wait until we can have a garden to offset the expense. Spending now is thrifty for us, however, becuase it means healthy, local, fresh foods year this winter. And, it means spending less at the grocery store, too. We’ll be eating quite a bit from our stores as the cold sets in!
This brings us to where we’re putting all this. Well, that’s kind of hard to explain. The short answer is we’re turning a section of our back spare bedroom into cold storage. It’s got two outside facing walls with nothing really resembling insulation, so it stays fairly cool in there anyway. We’re going to keep the door shut and have a small fan running across the shelving for circulation. With some other measure in place, this should keep it at a reasonable storage temperature. It does mean losing the use of the backroom for guests, but it has meant I’ll now have room to set up permanent sewing quarters. I’ll take the trade off for now.
Meals this week are a bit odd, as we have rehearsal almost daily for “An Ornamental Murder,” a dinner theater type dealy we’re in to benefit Habitat for Humanity. Dinners most nights have to be fast if we hope to get anything done at all other than rehearse.
Market bill this week: $60.00. Grocery store won’t get done until Tuesday; but, according to my price book, it should be about $40.00. We’re still trying to stay around $100/wk including household and personal goodes, despite rising grocery costs. What isn’t figured in there is tonight’s meal, because part of it isn’t ours. More on that in a minute.
Today was “Kitchen day,” and I made organic chicken stock (which I need to go drain soon), roasted chestnuts for freezing, froze the peach sauce, harvested paw paw pulp, and will be putting on porridge shortly. UC is still baking, and when he’s done we’ll have ciabatta and whole wheat sandwich bread.
Sunday. Garlic sautee’d shrimp over whole wheat pasta, in a lemon-butter sauce. Served with edamame. One of the meals I’ll be doing for my client this week is shrimp, and unfortunately you can’t buy just 4 large, quality shrimp. So, we decided to have a nice meal and get a full measure for ourselves. UC is trying his hand at the seafood thing tonight, and I’m really excited to taste what he’s doing. This is not in any way definable as a frugal meal. Tasty, but definitely not frugal. Well, we are saving the shells to make stock, but that is about where the “Frugal” ends.
Monday. Grass fed beef and mushroom straganoff using whole wheat noodles. Served with corn. I love the flavor that Panhill’s Gate’s beef gives my stroganoff. It’s rich, but because I use grass-fed beef, low-fat organic sour cream, and organic tomato paste, it’s very healthy. You don’t need all the canned soups and creams to make good stroganoff! The quick part about this is that I’ll be making it in conjunction with my client’s meal. Again, you can’t buy a 1/3 of a pound of grass fed beef, so I’ll be making a full measure and bringing the rest home. Since I do an inclusive menu for her (meaning her groceries are included in her fee), this becomes a good option. She gets more extensive, varied meals that I otherwise wouldn’t reasonably be able to cook for her in the current budge, and all the ingredients get used.
Tuesday. Meat balls. Served with sweet potatoes and sliced heirloom tomatoes. This is UC’s dish, he’s the meat ball guy. Again, grass-fed beef from Panhill’s Gate (hi, Patti!), local sweet potatoes, and heirloom tomatoes from Waterpenny Farm.
Wednesday. Indian Spinach Tofu over brown rice. This is one of those new meals. It’s a crockpot recipe from A Year of Crockpotting, the site created by a woman who swore to cook more for her family by using a crockpot every day for a year. She’s got some really fun and interesting recipes on there, and I’ve spent more time on that site the last few evenings than I could really spare. The tofu will be from the Twin Oaks Commune, near Charlottesville, VA. This is by far the best tofu I’ve ever had, and at $2.00/lb, it’s also a fantastic deal.
Thursday. Spanish Braised Chicken with peppers, served with butternut squash. Another crockpot dish. The peppers are from the Nelke’s, the squash from Roundabout, and the chicken is from safeway. Unf, we just couldn’t use another whole chicken right now. Too expensive, and not really necessary. So, not local, but organic.
Friday. Beef Fajitas. These will be made from leftover London Broil from Panhill’s Gate. The last broil we got was HUGE, so we used some for broil, some for sandwiches, and the rest will be tossed in a skillet with chocolate, green, red, and pueblano peppers, onion, and appropriate spices. Pile onto a tortilla shell with homemade vegetarian refried black beans, diced heirloom tomatoes from Waterpenny, and some sour cream, and you’ve got a meal. The orginal broil cost us abour $20.00, but we ‘ve gotten 3 meals (all with leftovers) out of it. So, 3 x 2 people = 6 portions, plus 3 lunches for UC makes 9 (for most people, this would be 11 or so). That’s about $2.22/portion, and the sides we’ve used have been less than a $1/portion (often much less, like tomorrow, which will be something like $.50/portion). $3.00 or under a dinner isn’t sillycheap, but it’s not bad!
Saturday. No dinner, we’re fed at the play.
Lunches this week will be leftovers and soup I’ll be making just for that (lentil & turkey sausage). Snacks will be smoothies, fruit, PB&J, etc. Breakfasts will be porridges, eggs, fermented oats, and fruits.
And, dinner is ready. Time to go!