Shopping at the Winter Farmer’s Market

Assumptions. I know better than to make them, yet I still do. Before we started eating local, the winter farmer’s market (in my mind) was a place of leftover collard greens, cabbage and sweet potatoes. Sad. Lonely. Bereft of good eats. I should just give up and head to the grocery store, right? Wrong!

Visiting our winter farmer’s markets always amazes me and disproves my assumptions. At least in NC, there are lots of great foods waiting for us at our local markets.

Not only is the State Farmer’s Market busy, but I am really amazed at the variety of fresh vegetables and fruit (apples) that were still available. Thanks to a very mild winter (at least in NC), farmers are still growing and harvesting white potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes (mostly locally grown hothouse), salad greens, turnips, kale, spinach, green peppers, apples, fresh beans, broccoli, collard greens, beets and more. And the prices were definitely lower than the grocery stores on just about everything.

I was glad to find Scott Smith of Heaven On Earthorganic farm at the market. He was awesome! He and his wife have a farm outside of Wilmington and they love organic farming. Farmer Scott let me taste test my way though his vegetable stand so I could discover the difference between dino kale and curly kale (dino kale is thicker and spicier), how turnip greens with a little bit of yellow (from frost) are sweeter than the bright green leaves (the frost brings the sugar to the tips of the leaves) and more.

In the end, I did buy vegetables, including the dino kale (the name alone makes it interesting). Scott suggested that the dino kale makes terrific kale chips, something I had heard of, but hadn’t tried before. OH. MY. GOODNESS. They were devoured by my family and my pre-teen daughter (who eats vegetables grudgingly) decided they were amazing. Light, crispy and salty, these are the perfect antitode to potato chips. The recipe is below.

  • 1 bunch fresh kale (we used dino kale, but any kind would work)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar (we used balsamic)
  • Kosher salt to taste (we used about 1 Tbsp.)
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Wash and dry the kale.
  3. Cut off the lower woody stems and compost.
  4. Cut the kale into pieces about the size of potato chips (2-4″ or so).
  5. In a bowl (or a plastic bag, if you don’t want your hands oily) put the chopped kale and add 1 Tbsp of the olive oil.
  6. Toss the greens with the oil until leaves are covered. (If you use the bag, massage the bag until the leaves are covered).
  7. Add the vinegar and toss again to coat.
  8. If needed, add the remaining Tbsp. olive oil (depending on the thickness of the leaves, you might not need this).
  9. Carefull place leaves on an oven safe baking rack or on a cookie sheet (I used a rack). Don’t overlap leaves.
  10. Sprinkle leaves with salt.
  11. Put rack/baking sheet in the oven and roast leaves for 20-30 minutes (this will depend on how thick your leaves are, so check on them after 20 min.)
  12. Remove from oven and enjoy immediately!

 

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French Pastries–Eating Local Is So Good

One of my treats this week has been to walk to the boulangerie on our street each morning and pick up our breakfast. Oh, the choices!!! They have lovely, hearty multigrain breads, fluffy-as-clouds pastries, the staple flaky croissants and tartines (small baguettes served with butter and jam). What you won’t find here are eclairs, napoleons, or any other French dessert pastry–for those, you go to the patisserie, or pastry shop. You won’t find coffee, either, so for that you go to a cafe or, in our case, Starbucks. While this means we have a divide-and-conquer strategy for petite dejeuner, it also shows that people have a great sense of pride in doing one thing and doing it well. If I go to the local grocery store at home, odds are pretty good that no one working in the bakery section can answer detailed questions. Go to a boulangerie, and they can tell you where the flour comes from, who makes the baked goods and all the differences between the breads. Of course, the assortment of goods in an American grocery is so huge that one person couldn’t possibly know all of it well. In our little boulangerie, we have fewer options, but it doesn’t matter because what we have is enough.

I’m pretty sure I won’t be tackling these at home, but here is an assortment of the kinds of pastries available at our local boulangerie! From the top, they are:

Pain aux raisins
Pain du chocolate (accompanied by a rogue pancake from Starbucks)
Croissant au beurre

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Week 11 Budget and Menu

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This week, we are definitely making a big push to use what we have in our pantry of canned goods, our freezer and our garden. It’s “use it up” time! This winter is the first season that we have had canned goods, a freezer full of local veggies, and a successful winter garden. We planned very well and still have plenty left over. Next year, I’m not sure we need quite so much, but it’s good to have yummy food to share rather than regretting we didn’t put up more! We are having a smaller amount of meat this week, but more seafood–NC flounder is always a hit in our house. We’re buying only local seafood from the NC coast and while it does increase our expenses for the week, it is always well worth it. YUM!

Ellie and I are going to try a new recipe this week for Espresso Chai Granola from THIS blogger, Wanna Be a Country Cleaver. Can’t wait!

Our budget is a bit over our goal of $100.00, mostly because we are having fresh seafood twice this week. We also stocked up on oatmeal, which will last a while. As usual, we are paying ourselves back for our canned and frozen foods since those stock up items were not included in our weekly budget last summer. But all in all, I think we did ok!

Budget [104.23]

  • Locals Seafood (scallops, flounder): $46.00
  • Farmer’s market (onions, eggs, cheese): $10.00
  • Trader Joes (mushrooms, frozen fruit, yogurt, breakfast burritos, dried coconut): $38.23
  • Mitchell family pantry (home canned tomato soup, frozen tomatoes, summer corn, pickled asparagus, canned peaches): $10.00
  • Mitchell family garden (Swiss chard, Chinese cabbage): FREE!

Menu

  • Sunday–Dinner out to celebrate our last Girl Scout cookie booth!!!
  • Monday–Grilled local cheese on homemade whole wheat bread with homemade tomato soup
  • Tuesday–Swiss chard with mushrooms and farm eggs, peaches
  • Wednesday–Girl Scouts (sandwiches and leftovers for dinner)
  • Thursday–Cornmeal dusted NC flounder, summer corn, pickled asparagus
  • Friday–Organic portabello mushroom “pizzas”
  • Saturday–Stir fried NC scallops and Chinese cabbage
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