Day 345–What’s Fresh at the Market

Brussel sprouts

The weather here in central North Carolina is having a case of indecision. Although we have had some chilly days, most of December has been in the 70s. I’m not complaining, mind you, but it is a little hard to get in the holiday spirit when you’re wearing shorts and a t-shirt. And flipflops.

One of the wonderful side effects of this warm weather is that our farmers are still harvesting lots of great vegetables! Here is what’s fresh this week!

  • Apples
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Collards
  • Bok choi
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Pecans
  • Sweet potatoes (orange and white)
  • Greenhouse tomatoes
  • Winter squash–acorn, butternut, pattypan
  • Beets
  • Turnips
  • Rutabegas
  • Radish

Have a wonderful week and don’t forget to support your local farmers as you make your holiday meal plans!

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Day 334–What’s Fresh at the Market

turnips

turnips (Photo credit: Joanna C Dobson)

Our farmer’s markets are definitely in winter mode. At the NC Farmer’s Market, many farmers who feature summer crops are gone and have been replaced with Christmas tree and firewood vendors. Our weekend markets have reduced their hours because, really, who wants to get outside at 8am when it is 30 degrees outside to score some fresh kale. Not me, that’s who. Even though the markets have lost their summer bounty and a bit of their festive air, they are still full of goodness!

Here is what is available now at central NC markets:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Turnips (and turnip greens!)
  • Beets (and beet greens!)
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Lettuce
  • Greenhouse tomatoes
  • Rutabegas
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter squash
  • Pumpkins
  • Butternut squash
  • Acorn squash
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Pecans
  • Apples

Day 308–Starting Week 45–Budget and Menu

What a fun week we have ahead of us! It’s making for some challenging meal planning, but we are going to enjoy it! Our farmer’s market is chock full of squash, sweet potatoes, kale, collards (which are better after a frost, so we’re leaving them for now), Swiss chard, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. Apples are in supply, but pricier than usual. In preparation for Thanksgiving, I have ordered our heritage breed turkey from Homestead Harvest Farm and have a small, boneless ham from Mae Farm as well. But in the weeks before Thanksgiving, we are still managing to eat well and make the most of our fall crops!

Our budget this week is $94.82, but we are eating out one night (Tom’s Birthday!!!), so that’s one dinner that is not on our menu (and I can guarantee it will cost more than $5.28), so we’re not really ahead food-wise, but we will have fun celebrating. Also, Tom #besthusbandever surprised me with tickets to my first ever NFL football game to see my beloved Broncos play in Charlotte (awwwww!). Since food at the stadium costs a small fortune, we are planning to save money by emptying our fridge tailgating with our pork roast leftovers and some other yummy homemade foods! I figure we are probably saving about $1,000 $50 not buying food at the stadium, so we are technically ahead this week, right? Right? I think this is why I am not an accountant.

Regardless of how you count your pennies, have a healthy and happy week!

Budget

  • The Produce Box (chestnuts, carrots, broccoli, apples, purple potatoes, grape tomatoes, cilantro, spinach, cauliflower, Swiss chard, apple cider, sweet potatoes): $29.00
  • Mae Farm (pork roast, Italian sausage, chorizo): $26.00
  • Rainbow Farm (chicken thighs): $7.00
  • Trader Joes (rice, rolls, cheese, tortillas, frozen fruit, soy milk, dried cranberries)$26.82
  • The Mitchell Pantry (canned marinara sauce, peach salsa): $6.00

Menu–Here is what we’re having this week!

  • Wednesday–Sweet potato/Swiss chard quesadillas w/homemade peach salsa, quinoa
  • Thursday–Chicken-veggie stir fry with rice
  • Friday–Slow cooker pork roast w/apples, cider and thyme; roasted potatoes, squash
  • Saturday–Out for Tom’s Birthday Celebration!!!
  • Sunday–NFL Tailgating Special–Pulled pork w/cider slaw on rolls, broccoli salad, apples, and sweet potato pound cake
  • Monday–Baked pasta with homemade marinara sauce and Mae Farm Italian sausage
  • Tuesday–Leftover pasta

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Day 265–Crock Pot Applesauce

I’m not sure who invented the crock pot, but I love them. I mean, I enjoy getting in the kitchen and cooking, but there is something magic about putting ingredients in a crock pot in the morning and coming home from work to find something wonderful…and finished! And while I find stirring risotto to be soothing, standing around cooking apples doesn’t have the same appeal to me. Not sure why, but there it is.

So I am loving this crock pot applesauce recipe that came with my Produce Box this week. I’m not a huge fan of cold applesauce, but I do love it warm. And mix it in with some steel cut oatmeal and I feel like I’m wearing a warm, fuzzy Snuggy all morning long. Except people aren’t rolling their eyes at me. I think it would be great with the Maple Oatmeal Bread from Sugar Dish Me also (note to self: stop dreaming about this bread and make it already).

You can alter the sugar and spices (I added clove to mine) to suit your taste. This recipe makes about 8 cups of sauce–enough to eat now and freeze some for another day!

Crock Pot Applesauce

  • 4 pounds of apples, cored and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  1. Put sliced apples (I leave the skins on–more fiber is never bad, right?) in a large bowl.
  2. Sprinkle lemon juice over the apples.
  3. Mix sugar and spices together in a small bowl and sprinkle over apples. Using a spoon or your very clean hands, toss the apples and the spiced sugar together until coated well.
  4. Put all in your crock pot. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.
  5. Mash with a potato masher for chunky sauce or use an immersion blender (careful–sauce is hot!) to blend all together.
  6. Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze in freezer bags to enjoy up to 1 year later.

Day 262–What’s Fresh at the Market

Tomorrow is the first official day of fall and in spite of all the hot weather we had this summer, it looks like fall produce is right on cue! Peaches and berries are a memory and more hearty vegetables like sweet potatoes and squash are here in earnest. Also, many savvy farmers have jams, jellies and fruit butters made from their summer produce. If you can’t (or don’t want to) make your own, buying local jams and jellies is a great way to eat local and support your farmers all year long! Fall is still a great time to explore your farmer’s market  so get out there and happy shopping!

Here is what’s available in central North Carolina this week:

  • Apples (not many, but totally worth the price)
  • Grapes (muscadines)
  • Melons (they are fading out, won’t be around too long)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Squash–acorn, butternut, gourds
  • Pumpkins (I know they are squash, but they are in a class all their own!)
  • Broccoli
  • String beans
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes (we’re at the end here with field tomatoes)
  • Summer squash
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers
  • Turnips and greens
  • Field peas
  • Collards

Day 241–What’s Fresh at the Market

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We still have fresh seafood at our farmer’s markets–yay!

Nothing says fall like pumpkins and for the first week, they have made an appearance at our farmer’s markets. Pumpkins!!! In August!!! Time for me to suck it up and realize that summer really is winding down. The good thing is football season starts this weekend in earnest with some serious NC college football. So, when one door closes, a stadium door opens. I guess I’m ok with that 🙂

Here is what you can find this week at our local, central NC farmer’s markets:

  • Apples
  • Figs
  • Grapes–scuppernog and muscadine
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Field peas (all kinds)
  • Field tomatoes
  • Hothouse cucumbers
  • Butternut squash
  • Acorn squash
  • Pumpkins!
  • Bell peppers
  • Green beans
  • Hot peppers–all kinds
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White potatoes
  • Corn (we’re coming up to the end of the season here)
  • Okra
  • Summer squash
  • Zucchini
  • Eggplant

Day 231–What’s Fresh at the Market

This is the first week I have noticed a big shift at the farmer’s markets. Peaches are hanging on, but will be gone very soon and most of the berries are gone as well. You know what is taking their place? Apples! A sure sign that fall is right around the corner. We’re moving into early fall and the markets are starting to reflect our waning summer. Here’s a sample of what you can find in central NC right now:

  • Apples–green and red varieties
  • Grapes–scuppernog and muscadine
  • Figs
  • Peaches
  • Field peas–butter beans, crowder peas, black eyed peas, pink eyed peas, purple hull and more
  • Tomatoes–they are all just beautiful right now
  • Hothouse cucumbers
  • Sweet peppers–red and green
  • Hot peppers–all varieties
  • Summer squash
  • Zucchini
  • Green beans
  • Onions
  • Butternut squash
  • Acorn squash
  • Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Herbs
  • Garlic
  • Okra
  • Melons–cantaloupe, watermelon, sprite

 

 

Day 176–Starting Week 27–Budget and Menu

Summer is most definitely here. This next week is expected to be very hot and humid, with temperatures over 100 just about every day. That is officially hot. I don’t know about you, when I hear about temperatures over 100, I think 2 things:

  1. Mama’s not cooking
  2. Find me at the pool

One of my favorite summer dinners is tomato sandwiches. Or ‘mater sandwiches. However you say it, I think they are summer perfection. I do make a tarted up version of the ‘mater sandwich, which is supposed to consist of soft white bread, tomato slices, mayonnaise and salt/pepper. We don’t eat white bread and I can’t handle the thought of a tomato sandwich on wheat (that is just wrong, people), so my compromise is fresh sourdough, regular (not low-fat) mayo, fresh, heirloom tomatoes, salt and pepper, some chopped rosemary from the garden and a slice of provolone cheese. I could eat these sandwiches every day. I LOVE them and consider them a staple of summer. As a matter of fact, I ate tomato sandwiches (yes, plural) just before going into labor with Ellie, so maybe they have a special place in my heart.

Heather at Sugar Dish Me did remind me that some people actually like their tomatoes as part of a “real sandwich”. Those people include the two other people in our  house. Tom and Ellie agree that tomatoes are a “food accessory” not the main event. Maybe Ellie came racing into the world to get AWAY from tomato sandwich because she clearly doesn’t share my passion for them. So, we’ll be having BLTs instead. I think my family will be happier with that change, and Heather thank you for sparing me from rolled eyes and “This is IT??” I owe you some peach salsa 🙂

I came in a little under budget this week at $96.42. I have to say honestly, we could probably eat for much less than that, but I cannot control myself when I see all the good stuff at the farmer’s market. I want to eat it all, which is impossible, especially if it’s too hot to cook. This week I’m making a new refrigerated savory jam called Bacon Onion Marmalade. Sounds amazing, no? I’ll be posting the recipe at some point this week. I’m also making some spicy peach salsa and canning that so we can enjoy our peaches later. So, here is how we spent $96:

Budget

  • Trader Joes (soy milk, oatmeal, frozen fruit, Ezekiel bread, sandwich bread, lemonade): $21.92
  • Produce Box (watermelon, peaches, grape tomatoes, pepper mix, sweet corn, raspberries, cucumbers, garlic, plums): $23.00
  • Locals Seafood (fresh swordfish steaks): $28.00
  • Mae Farm (bacon, pork tenderloin): $13.00
  • Melina’s Pasta (black pepper fettucine): $6.00
  • Other market vendors (green beans, onions, heirloom tomatoes): $4.50

What are we eating for that amount? Well, in typical fashion, we are NOT starving. Not by a long shot! Here’s the menu:

Menu

  • Wednesday–Melina’s peppercorn fettucine with checca sauce (not so much basil this time!)
  • Thursday–Grilled swordfish steaks with bacon-onion jam, roasted okra, cucumber salad
  • Friday–Egg salad sandwiches, homemade pickles
  • Saturday–Ellie cooks; BLT sandwiches with leftover bacon-onion jam, homemade pickles, roasted beets (cold)
  • Sunday–Grilled pork tenderloin with spicy peach chutney, green beans, corn on the cob
  • Monday–Flounder, buttermilk cornbread, leftover vegetables
  • Tuesday–Leftover buffet

Have a healthy and happy week!