Day 120–Starting Week 17–Budget and Menu

I thought I had my menu for the week worked out and then the temperatures dropped back into the upper 50s. Yes, I could still grill outside, but I’m wimping out. Week 16 was supposed to end with grilled beef and vegetable kabobs, but in the end, I made beef stew. It seemed to fit the weather conditions better and (since it was made in the crock pot) it was easier as well. And it made good use of my carrots from the Produce Box last week. And, thanks to someone who signed up for The Produce Box and listed me as their referral, I got a nice $12.00 discount on this week’s box of veggies (THANK YOU whoever you are!!!). This week’s budget looks great at $84.54!!! Here is our budget for this week:

  • The Produce Box (all organic this week! double lettuce, peas, onions, swiss chard, kale, garlic, rutabega): $14
  • Fickle Creek Farms (Boston butt): $20
  • Coon Rock Farm (smoked bacon): $10
  • Farmer’s Market, misc. (cucumbers, tomatoes): $5.00
  • Trader Joes (red wine vinegar, gruyere cheese, mozzerella cheese, frozen fruit, yogurt, organic half and half): $32.54
  • Great Harvest Bread Co. (honey whole wheat sandwich bread): FREE!
  • La Farm Bakery (Italian bread): $3.00

What’s on the menu of eats this week? Here it is! I’m still trying to figure out what to do with rutabegas…

  • Sunday–Roasted beet salad, bread
  • Monday–Crock pot pulled pork barbeque, salad
  • Tuesday–Asparagus and gruyere quiche, salad
  • Wednesday–Swiss chard and mushrooms with eggs
  • Thursday–BLT sandwiches, salad, carrots
  • Friday–Leftover cleanup night
  • Saturday–Family pizza challenge, salad

Here’s hoping for warmer temperatures and some sunshine!! Have a terrific and healthy week!

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Day 26–A Locavore’s Lunch–Big Ed’s

Honey

Honey. If you are the kind of woman who hates being called “Honey” then by all means do not eat at Big Ed’s in Raleigh. Big Ed’s is one of those wonderful restaurants that has become an institution in and of itself, serving up large plates of locally grown vegetables and blue plate specials of NC pork, catfish and chicken pastry. And the waitresses WILL call you “Honey.” Or Sweetie.
Or Sugar. My advice? If you’re averse to such nicknames, suck it up and deal with it. Why? Because it’s meant in the nicest way possible (not in that creepy, condescending way that salesmen and politicians use), the service is amazing and friendly and the food is really good. Gut busting good. Paula Deen needs to come down here and learn herself a few things (and that, I promise, is my last Paula Deen reference).

Southern, homestyle food is not coated in sticks of butter, fried to within an inch of its life and drown in sugar, no matter what celebrity chefs say. True southern cooking is has its roots in necessity, practicality and, in some cases, poverty. Most southern cooking depends on lots and lots of vegetables. Why? Because in our agricultural state, vegetables were more plentiful and affordable than meat. Meat is more often used as a seasoning, stretching out what folks had for as long as possible. And people ate seasonally because, well, you ate what you had. Even desserts rely mostly on local, seasonal fruit (the exception is banana pudding, but that is sacred territory).

If you want to taste true southern, homestyle cooking and you can’t go to your mama’s house, Big Ed’s is a great place to try. All the vegetables at Big Ed’s are purchased from the State Farmer’s Market a mile or so down the road, so the vegetable selection is not only local, but seasonal (don’t ask for strawberries in January). The pork and most other meats are sourced to NC as well. When I asked about the vegetables, the cashier looked nostalgic and said, “Sam even grows some of the vegetables in his own garden. Oh, you should taste those green beans. We sell out fast on those days.” She had such a happy look on her face that I made a note to definitely COME BACK in green bean season. And at $6-$7 dollars for a plate (meat, two vegetables, biscuits, drink and dessert), this is locally sourced food at an affordable price.

My lunch was delicious pulled pork barbecue (NC pork), collard greens, black-eyed peas, biscuit, fresh cabbage slaw and a piece of yummy sweet potato cake. You can also get breakfasts made with local pork sausage and local farm eggs. Or pancakes as big as your head (and I am not kidding).

I’m glad that my town celebrates local eating and locally sourced food both on the high-end and at the homestyle end of the eating spectrum. Because after all, locally sourced food should be available to everyone, honey.