Week 42 Budget and Menu

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I know I resisted fall for as long as possible, but I am finally embracing it (which is good since I can’t do anything about it anyway!). We are all about warm, cozy, plant-based suppers this week, and I’m looking forward to trying out some new ideas, like acorn squash soup with heirloom beans, which is an invention born of necessity (I rehydrated too many beans for another recipe!), and pizza with pumpkin, sausage, fried sage and gruyere cheese, which has been on my mind a lot lately. Do you ever dream about recipes?

Our budget this week is helped by Tom’s big score! After a day of fishing, we have some lovely bluefish and mackerel that we will be enjoying over the next couple of months. We have a busy week ahead, but it should be fun as well! Have a happy and healthy week!

Budget [$111.63]

  • The Produce Box (lettuce, yellow squash, tatsoi, string beans, eggplant, bell peppers, potatoes, heirloom tomatoes): $41.00
  • Hillsborough Cheese Company (mozzarella): $6.00
  • Locals Seafood (NC shrimp): $12.00
  • Coon Rock Farm (Italian sausage): $10.00
  • Trader Joes (organic rice, curry simmer sauce, pepperoni, sage, shredded gruyere cheese, frozen fruit, yogurt, Ezekiel bread): $42.63

Menu

  • Wednesday (scout night)–Green salad with hard boiled egg
  • Thursday–Girls night out
  • Friday (softball night)–Acorn squash soup with heirloom beans, cornbread
  • Saturday–Shrimp and vegetable stir fry with organic rice
  • Sunday–Curried eggplant, green beans and potato over organic rice
  • Monday–Make your own pizza night
  • Tuesday–NC bluefish, sauteed squash, green beans
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Stocking Up for the Gap Season

Here in NC, we are rapidly approaching the Gap Season, where summer crops are tapped out or on the way out and fall crops haven’t yet started producing much. How could that be??? Didn’t summer just start, like, yesterday? I love summer–even with the mosquitoes. I’m feeling a little sad about the gap, really. I feel like I have so much unfinished food business. I have tomato and eggplant and zucchini recipes to try, more tomato sauce to freeze, and I’ve only had okra a few times this summer. Still not sure how that happened.

Fortunately, the summer season tapers off gradually and I have a couple of weeks to get my act together before the gap. I’ll be stocking up on what I can this week and next. Mostly peaches, green beans, okra, tomatoes, summer squash and zucchini…any other suggestions? While I finish canning and freezing our summer bounty, I am excited about one thing. Football.

Fall means football, which also means stews and chilis and braised short ribs. It also means sweet potatoes and pumpkin and collard greens. If there is one thing I have realized on our journey (and trust me, there is more than one), it is that when you eat local, you genuinely appreciate the sweetness of each growing season and the importance of paying attention to what is available to you at any given time. I will miss fresh, ripe peaches, but not enough to buy their tasteless, black-hearted cousins at the grocery store. I do, however, have 18 half pints of peach butter and 4 quarts of peach halves that I will ration out over the next year, and that will be enough to sustain me until peach season comes again.

 

Week 35 Budget and Menu

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One of the great aspects of working in a downtown area is our Wednesday downtown farmer’s market. Not only can I walk down the street to do my shopping, but I can get lunch, too! I am completely in love with this Korean mixed rice bowl offered by Kim Bap (see photo above)–I may very well be addicted to the chili sauce. The whole bowl is filled with warm rice, brisket, kimchi, and vegetables (today it was cucumber). Yum!!!

Well this week’s produce at the market was beautiful, but I can definitely see that the seasons are starting to change. The berries are gone and tomatoes and peaches are on their way out. For the first time this year, I saw muscadine and scuppernog grapes and many of our vendors have early apples. Sigh. I’m still not finished with summer, but it is clearly coming to an end.

This week’s menu for Labor Day weekend features some wonderful, late summer produce like corn, bell peppers, butter beans and figs. I tried a fig and almond cake that was wonderful, but ugly. I’m going to try again and hope that the next version is more photogenic!

Budget [$90.32]

  • The Produce Box (peaches, sprite melons, gala apples, sweet corn, bell peppers, heirloom tomatoes, squash, zucchini, lettuce, onions, butter beans): $36.00
  • Hilltop Organic Farm (cherry tomatoes): $4.00
  • Homestead Harvest Farm (eggs): $5.00
  • Rare Earth Farm (steak): $14.00
  • Hillsborough Cheese Company (goat cheese, figs): $9.00
  • Trader Joes (pie crust, frozen fruit): $12.32

Menu

  • Wednesday–Tomato sandwiches (Girl Scout night!)
  • Thursday–Skinny taco casserole, salad
  • Friday–Leftover casserole, salad
  • Saturday–Fig and goat cheese pizza with caramelized onions, peach cobbler
  • Sunday–Roasted red pepper tart
  • Monday–Grilled steak, butter beans, stewed okra and tomatoes
  • Tuesday–Leftover buffet

Week 34 Budget and Menu

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I am not letting go of summer yet, no way!

Summer used to yawn out in front of me like a vast, open stretch of beach sand–lazy days, melty ice cream, the smell of cocoa butter and pool chlorine, and sweaty games of kick-the-can until late in the evening. And even a bit of boredom. This hazy, melty kind of summer stopped a long time ago for me. At some point it was replaced by status meetings, family schedules and concerns about skin cancer. What the whaaaaaat???

Now that I’m approaching 50, I definitely have a sense that time is speeding up. Months and years are whipping by and I find myself asking things like “How could summer be over…AGAIN?” Seriously. Where in the world did summer go? I can’t find my favorite sun screen at Target anymore, but I could go on Pinterest today and download 50 recipes for pumpkin. It is August. That is wrong, people. I want my summer back.

So I am making a stand. I refuse to let summer go, and will live in denial until I have had my fill of popsicles, grilled hamburgers, days by the pool and hot pink nail polish. I will not wear boots, no matter how cute they are and I will keep my flip flops by the door as a reminder not to give in. And no…I repeat NO…pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin protein bars, pumpkin oatmeal or pumpkin ice cream until late September. Ok, maybe pumpkin ice cream… Still.

Summer, I am not done with you yet. I have 4,264 summer recipes left to try, and about 600 canning jars still to fill. I need to ride my bike. And paddle my kayak. And make s’mores. And eat tomatoes. Lots and lots of tomatoes. So here is my menu of summer goodness to celebrate summer, even though Target probably has Halloween costumes crowding out the school supplies. And if anyone knows of a way to filter out “pumpkin” from Pinterest, I’ll be glad to know it.

Budget [$107.13]

  • The Produce Box (peaches, watermelon, tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, squash, okra, pink eye peas): $31.00
  • Locals Seafood (crab cakes): $20.00
  • La Farm Bakery (sandwich bread): $4.50
  • Hillsborough Cheese Company (jalapeno goat cheese, figs): $9.00
  • Rare Earth Farm (ground beef): $8.00
  • Mae Farm (bacon): $6.00
  • Trader Joes (organic chicken, burger buns, cream cheese, frozen fruit, yogurt): $28.63

Menu

Wednesday–Pasta with chicken, eggplant and Nello’s lavender tomato sauce, green salad
Thursday–NC crab cakes, summer vegetable tian; watermelon
Friday–Egg salad sandwiches, homemade pickled beets, more watermelon
Saturday–BLT sandwiches, sweet potato fries, peach cobbler
Sunday–Grilled bison burgers w/caramelized onions and local hoop cheese, field peas, stewed okra and tomatoes, more peach cobbler
Monday –Crock pot chicken tacos
Tuesday–Chicken taco pizza with roasted peppers

Week 33 Budget and Menu

Where did the summer go? It is hard to believe that we are coming up on fall already! I haven’t had the time to can or freeze nearly what I wanted, but we have a few weeks left of summer produce, so I better get busy! On the horizon–peach salsa, roasted red pepper ketchup, roasted tomato sauce, and barbecue sauce. Yikes!

This week’s menu uses quite a bit of carry over food from last week, which helps the budget a lot! We ended up eating more sandwiches and random fruit last week, so some of the dishes on this week’s menu might look familiar. We’re starting to bridge over to fallish dishes, but we aren’t quite there yet for full-on autumn foods. Are you noticing a change in your farmers market finds?

Budget [$95.17]

The Produce Box (bibb lettuce, bacon, hoop cheese, butterbeans, purple splash tomatoes, peaches, watermelon, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, onions, zucchini, yellow squash, blueberries): $50.48

Trader Joes (yogurt, frozen fruit, Ezekiel bread, organic butter): $28.46

Mae Farm (smoked pork chops): $16.23

Menu

Wednesday–Crock pot barbecue chicken, tossed green salad
Thursday–Chipotle sweet potato pizza
Friday–BLT salad
Saturday–Healthy eggplant parmesan
Sunday–Butterbeans with bacon, squash & zucchini
Monday–Smoked maple pork chops over sweet potato grits
Tuesday–Leftover buffet

Week 28 Budget and Menu

This week I am playing catch up of sorts. I haven’t been blogging as regularly because I have been canning and freezing much of our summer fruits and vegetables. I have recipes to share coming up! We’re slowly getting closer to our budget goal of $100 per week, but we are still a bit high. Due to the heavy rains and unseasonably cool temperatures this summer, many of our farmers have lost their tomato crops and watermelons aren’t doing so well either. Hopefully things are turning around, but the end result is that prices at the farmer’s markets are a bit higher than last year. That’s life, right? We still have some great summer treats in store this week–a wonderful local shrimp salad, fruit salad and grilled kabobs. I can’t wait!

Budget [$111.32]

The Produce Box (watermelon, cantaloupe, blueberries, peaches, blackberries): $25.00
Locals Seafood (shrimp): $10.00
Mae Farm (bacon): $8.00
Rare Earth Farm (kabob beef): $12.00
La Farm Bakery (sourdough bread): $6.00
Various farmers market vendors (onion, okra, tomato, peppers): $12.00
Trader Joes (avocados, organic rice, organic chicken, organic sugar, frozen fruit, yogurt): $38.32

Menu

Wednesday–shrimp chili lime salad
Thursday–BLT sandwiches, roasted baby okra
Friday–tuna salad in tomato cups, fruit salad
Saturday–birthday party (out)
Sunday–grilled beef kabobs, rice, grilled peaches
Monday–pasta with ceccha sauce
Tuesday–chipotle chicken salad in avocado, fruit

Week 25 Budget and Menu

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My treat from the market–fresh strawberry agua fresca from Bo Ku!

The blackberries are here! The blackberries are here! I am so glad to see blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches and melons all making their market appearances this week!!! And corn. Yum. This is the time of year I just eat myself into oblivion.

This week’s budget takes advantage of some wonderful produce that is available, as well as some lovely, locally made pimento cheese ravioli! I hope to be posting the recipes for the fish, spicy blackberry sauce and eggplant this week, so watch for them!

Our budget this week is over by $11.71, but we are out of some key staples like organic cane sugar, kosher salt and olive oil, so we are stocking up this week. Thank goodness for Trader Joes!

Did you know you can keep up with SOLE Food Kitchen on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? Follow us, “like” us and be a part of the conversation!

Budget [$111.71]

  • The Produce Box (grape tomatoes, eggplant, ORGANIC: blackberries, blueberries, chard, yellow potatoes, string beans, beets): $39.50
  • Melina’s Pasta (pimento cheese ravioli): $6.00
  • Hillsborough Cheese Company (mozzarella): $6.00
  • Mae Farm (brats): $8.00
  • Locals Seafood (red drum fillets): $18.00
  • Trader Joes (prosciutto, frozen fruit, yogurt, butter, Parmesan cheese, organic cane sugar, salt, olive oil, Ezekiel bread): $34.21

Menu

  • Wednesday–Leftover pasta with cauliflower sauce
  • Thursday–Working late
  • Friday–Roasted beet salad with goat cheese
  • Saturday–Fish with cherry tomatoes, green beans, potatoes
  • Sunday–Healthy eggplant “lasagna”
  • Monday–Grilled brats with blackberry ketchup, roasted potatoes
  • Tuesday–Pimento cheese ravioli with crispy prosciutto and pecans

Week 22 Budget and Menu

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The farmer’s markets are once again bustling with shoppers and bursting with late spring goodies! We are also getting more fresh tuna and fresh shrimp from the NC coast and that is reflected in our budget this week (it’s too good to pass up!). We are over budget by $22.59, but we have been under budget the last two weeks, so I guess it all works out in the end. My budget was helped slightly by a terrific electronic coupon from Locals Seafood, which saved me $5.00!

This week’s budget also reflects our need to use up some of the wonderful things we canned last year–jam, pickles, salsa–and some vegetables we froze (field peas, roasted tomato sauce). Since we don’t count our “stock up” expenses in our weekly budget, we figure a “per container” rate and pay ourselves back when we use them.

What is on your menu this week? Are you finding new foods at the market? We are so glad to see sugar snap peas again! Have a healthy and happy week ahead!

Budget [$122.59]

  • The Produce Box (blueberries, broccoli, tomato, romaine lettuce, potatoes, kale, bok choi, sourdough bread): $32.25
  • Locals Seafood (yellow fin tuna): $20.00
  • Mae Farm (pulled pork barbecue): $8.00
  • Trader Joes (fresh ginger, organic butter, pasta, frozen fruit, soy milk): $25.34
  • Wild Onion Organic Farm (celery, carrots, yellow squash): $10.00
  • Homestead Harvest Farm (eggs): $5.00
  • HillTop Farm Organics (strawberries, sugar snap peas): $8.00
  • Mitchell family pantry (jam, pickles, salsa, field peas, roasted tomato sauce): $14.00

Menu

  • Wednesday–Farmer’s market salad
  • Thursday–Egg salad sandwiches on local sourdough, homemade pickles
  • Friday–Grilled tuna steaks with stir fried vegetables
  • Saturday–Out for our anniversary!
  • Sunday–Mae Farm pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad, greens
  • Monday–Pulled pork hoe cakes with homemade salsa, field peas
  • Tuesday–Ellie’s spaghetti tacos with homemade roasted tomato sauce

Improving Awareness of Farmers Markets

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I stumbled upon this fascinating article about one reason low-income families are still not shopping in large numbers at farmer’s markets. Access is, of course, one issue. If you don’t have transportation or a farmer’s market near you, you are probably not going to go searching for one. But, as access to fresh fruits and vegetables in low-income areas increases, farmer’s markets are still not seeing the turnout they expected. Why?

This article addresses the issues of education and awareness of not only what you can find at farmer’s markets, but also how to pay for it. Many markets have vendors now who accept SNAP food assistance, but it seems that many consumers don’t realize that or understand how it works.

HERE is the link to the article itself. An interesting point of discussion. At my farmer’s market runs this weekend, I am going to ask the vendors I use whether they accept SNAP and how it works for them.

In my area, I think a lot of older people understand how to cook fresh vegetables. North Carolina has always been an agricultural state and most people I meet over the age of 50 grew up either on farms or near their family farms. Most worked on farms. Hard work, for sure. It’s the younger people who I think need education of a different kind. They need to learn how to cook.

Nothing against microwave ovens (they are helpful), but the proliferation of microwaves and processed frozen foods have left us with at least one (and probably two) generations who have absolutely no idea how to cook from scratch. When you have no idea how to cook fresh food, you either don’t buy it or you buy it and it rots in your refrigerator because it seems like too much work.

In the 1930s, 40s and 50s, County Cooperative Extension offices around North Carolina had home demonstration agents who traveled to rural and urban areas around the state teaching women how to create balanced meals and how to can and preserve food safely. Now, some of these programs were condescending and a little misguided, especially in the South. But we need this kind of intentional effort now, offered in a more user-friendly way,  to reach out to young people and young families!

Do you see efforts in your area to increase education about how to use farmer’s markets? Efforts to improve cooking knowledge? Inquiring minds want to know. Share!

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