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
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Day 333–Thanksgiving Lessons Learned

I know Thanksgiving was almost a week ago and we are all moving on to the winter holidays, but I’ve taken time to assess several “teachable moments” I had over the holiday and thought I would share them with you. Ready? Here goes…

Freezing and canning mountains of produce in the summer is totally worth it. While we are still making a dent in the food we put up this summer, it is so nice to just go to the freezer or to my canning shelf to grab pasta sauce, roasted pepper ketchup, jam or whatever we need instead of running to the grocery store, especially when we’re planning a big meal like Thanksgiving! And it tastes way better, too.

I need real knives. I’ve probably cooked more this year than I have in my entire adult life. You know what? I really like it! All the vegetable chopping, however, has taken a toll on my cheap-o knife set. This was brought home to me as I was hacking away at our lovely turkey. What we served didn’t look all that pretty, but my knives are shot. Thanks, mom, for being Santa Claus and making that happen.

Real food tastes better. Ok, I didn’t just realize this over Thanksgiving, but it did remind me that fresh food tastes far superior and it doesn’t get any fresher than local produce and meat. And when it tastes better, everyone’s hungry for leftovers. That = less food waste.

Why does anyone buy cranberry sauce? One pound of berries, 1 cup of orange juice and 1/2 cup of sugar. Combine, bring to a boil, stir, refrigerate. Voila. And you control the sugar. Voila-la!

I need more glass food containers. We switched from plastic to glass food containers this year and while our supply is good, it could not keep up with the level of leftovers generated by Thanksgiving! Yes, glass can break (I haven’t experienced that yet) and yes, it is heavier than plastic. Do a taste test though. Microwave something in plastic and do the same in glass. I’m highly subject to suggestion, but I do believe there is a remarkable taste difference. Worth. It.

So Santa, you’ve got the list, right? Knives and glass food containers (well, knives are taken care of 🙂 Oh, and if you can slip some Trader Joes pumpkin ice cream into my stocking, that would be appreciated, too.

 

Day 175–What’s Fresh at the Market

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My favorite tomato–German Johnson!

We are at zero hour here in NC. Two days of blissfully wonderful, spring-like weather and starting tomorrow temperatures are predicted to be over 100 degrees for the remainder of the week and weekend. If you have lived in the South, you know what that means–you can’t walk, talk or move without coating yourself in a sheen of humidity and sweat. Makeup? No way, Jose. Those cute little “summer sweaters”? Put ’em up or pack them in a suitcase and head to Maine. Like manic people before a snowstorm, everyone is scrambling around to get their “outdoor errands” done before tomorrow.

And for me, that means grocery shopping. Taking advantage of the lovely weather, I headed out to the Downtown Raleigh Farmer’s Market to finish my shopping for the week. I managed to get everything done on my lunch hour while the temperature was still in the low 80s. I’m planning to make some peach chutney, so I was especially interested in peaches and some jalapeno peppers (since the voles so kindly ate the roots of my plants). I also stocked up on raspberries because their season is just about over. Will make more jam tonight!

What’s fresh in central NC? Here’s a list of what I found!

  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries (stock up–season is almost over!)
  • Peaches
  • Summer squash
  • Patty pan squash
  • Zucchini
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Lettuce
  • Beets
  • Okra
  • Tomatoes (heirloom tomatoes are ready!!!)
  • Cucumbers (all kinds)
  • Green beans
  • Wax beans
  • Butter beans
  • Purple hull beans
  • Black eyed peas
  • Eggplant
  • Herbs (all kinds–can’t keep up)
  • Potatoes (red, white and blue!)
  • Celery
  • Green peppers

Day 139–Changing My Mind…Again

a slow cooker Oval Crock Pot

I remember an old-fashioned saying that it is a woman’s right to change her mind. Well, dang it, I’m taking that right and running with it this week. After carefully choosing a menu and working out the shopping and budget, I find that the planning gods have been laughing at my attempts to pin down our family schedule. So, for the first week, we are “winging it.”

Since our pork roast never made it out of the freezer in time for Sunday supper, I have changed my mind and we are having it as a crock pot barbecue, pulled pork dinner instead. My family won’t be around for Tuesday dinner, so I’m on my own–abandoned for math tutoring and softball. This means either scrambled eggs or oatmeal instead of whatever the heck I had planned. This week has been so chaotic I don’t even remember anymore.

Here’s the deal though. Whatever I have in the refrigerator or pantry is most likely local, healthy and delicious. So, even if we are three individuals left on our own to scrounge up something for supper this week, whatever it is will not be bad for us and it will certainly be better than anything fast food. This is one week where I am glad to have a freezer full of put up food and a crock pot full of Homestead Farm pork shoulder. The pork quesadillas may end up as burritos eaten on the run or maybe we will all eat cereal and freeze the barbecue, but we’ll all get fed and we’ll all get through this week. Thank goodness for freezers, for farmers and for upcoming holiday weekends!