Day 57–Starting Week 9–Budget and Menu

English: Romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa var. ...

We had settled into a good routine for market shopping and ordering from local farmers. Until this week. With a sick child and busy work week, it was difficult to make time for the farmer’s market and I was tempted to just bag it and do my shopping at the grocery store. But, I didn’t. Can’t say I shopped with a glad heart this weekend, but I know I’ll be glad once we start cooking. We have lots of great eats this week. Our NC fishermen were catching a lot of swordfish, so we’re trying that along with NC scallops. Lettuce is making a strong comeback, so we will also be having more green salads with fresh lettuce and cucumbers. As for our budget we hit right at the mark this week, just four dollars over our $100 goal. Some items like flour will cover us for several weeks, so that’s good. Here’s how it broke out:

  • Farmhand food (meatbox pork tenderloin): $15
  • Locals Seafood (swordfish steaks and scallops): $40
  • Hillsborough Cheese Company (Greek yogurt, pimento chevre): $8.00
  • Coon Rock Farm (egg): $4.00
  • Misc. farmers market (lettuce, tomato, cucumber): $8.00
  • Trader Joes (frozen fruit, organic whole wheat flour, organic buttermilk, butter, lemons, white wine): 29.19
  • Great Harvest Bread Company (honey whole wheat): free with coupon

Total budget for week 9: $104.19

So, what are we having for all this? Here is our menu for the week:

  • Sunday: grilled swordfish with rosemary/white wine sauce, risotto, sautéed kale from garden
  • Monday: Cheese quiche with garden salad [Meatless Monday]
  • Tuesday: Grilled pimento cheese and Mae Farm bacon sandwiches, salad
  • Wednesday: Whole wheat pasta with scallops and lemon
  • Thursday: Soyaki pork tenderloin with stir fried greens and leftover veggies
  • Friday: Leftovers
  • Saturday: Out–dinner and symphony date night

I am seriously looking forward to the grilled pimento cheese and bacon sandwiches this week. That may be a blog post in itself! Here is to wishing you a happy and healthy week ahead!

Day 45–Roasted Vegetable Pasta

Ricotta cheese.

In case you missed it, Monday was national Eat Italian Food Day. I have no idea why this isn’t an entire month–I know I could do it. In spite of the Americanized version of Italian food, which tends to be very heavy on the cheese and meat, most Italian food in Italy is locally-based, impossibly fresh and creatively resourceful. I know this because I once tried to eat my way across Tuscany (I am an expert–don’t try this at home).

So in honor of Meatless Monday and Eat Italian Food Day, we celebrated with a vegetarian pasta dish that is delicious, healthy and easy to make. This recipe is actually based on a dish made by The Cake Boss (go figure!) and its simple beauty comes from using whatever fresh, seasonal vegetables are available. Roasting the vegetables brings out their natural flavor and sweetness without any additives other than olive oil and salt. That is truly Italian cooking!

You can vary this dish throughout the seasons by using what is ripe and delicious at the time. You can also vary the pasta you use. I like orecchiete (little ears) pasta because it holds the sauce well. As a mom, I think this is one of those healthy, versatile recipes that could be a regular (and by changing it up, maybe no one will notice I am basically recycling the same dish). Score!

  • 1 lb. fresh pasta (we used orecchiete pasta)
  • 1 organic onion
  • 2 organic tomatoes
  • 2 c. organic broccoli florets
  • 3 organic carrots, peeled and cut into 2-3″ planks
  • 2 c. cubed organic butternut squash
  • 2 handfuls of kale (from our garden!) or other greens–arugula is good, too!
  • About 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese (we used Hillsborough Cheese Co. garlic and chive ricotta)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pignolis (pine nuts), parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
  2. Put a stock pot of salted water on the stove to boil.
  3. Cut all vegetables except kale into bite sized chunks and toss with olive oil and a little kosher salt and pepper.
  4. Chop kale into little bite sized pieces and reserve.
  5. Put all vegetables except kale in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. Add kale to pan during last 5 minutes.
  6. While vegetables roast, add pasta to the boiling water and cook to al dente. When pasta is done, reserve 1 c. pasta water for sauce and drain pasta.
  7. In a large bowl, add cooked pasta, roasted vegetables, kale, ricotta and pasta water and mix together. The cheese should melt and make a light sauce. The pasta water is essential and will thicken the sauce and help it stick to the pasta.
  8. Serve with pignolis (pine nuts), parmesan or whatever makes you happy!

Buon appetito!

Day 29–Starting Week 5–Budget and Menu

It is hard to believe we are already beginning the second month of our family sustainability challenge. While we have made some adjustments in our lives, the overall process has not been as hard as I thought it would be. We are finding new resources all the time, eating better quality food and meeting new people. All good things! We’re also doing pretty well at not wasting food. We did have to compost a bunch of dino kale, but we’ve been pretty good about eating everything we buy during the week!

In week 4, we did pretty well with our meals, eating all meals except breakfast from locally produced sources. This puts us right at 75%. I’m not sure if we’ll always make that target, but it worked well this week! So, how is our budget for next week? Here is what we spent:

Week 5 expenses:

  • Farmhand Foods meat box (3.5 lb. mini boneless ham): $15.00
  • Water Oaks Farm (eggs): $4.00
  • Coon Rock Farm (carrots and tatsoi): $7.00
  • Locals Seafood (NC shrimp): $10.00
  • Hillsborough Cheese Company (Eno Sharp and mozzarella): $10.00
  • Heaven on Earth Organics (sweet potatoes, tomato, broccoli): $13.00
  • Bushy Farm (apples): $5.00
  • Trader Joes (Ezekiel bread, organic butter, organic tomato soup, free range chicken broth, frozen fruit, organic soy milk): $26.11
  • Great Harvest Bread Co. (honey whole wheat): FREE with coupon

Total for week 5: $90.11!! We are under our goal of $100 for the first week! Some of this is due to carryover we have (frozen ragu sauce, carryover local grits, carryover whole grain rolls) plus a coupon for free bread (!), but I still think that’s great. What are we getting for our budget?

Week 5 Menu

  • Sunday–Roast Duplin County ham from AD Jones, oven roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli with pine nuts, apple cake
  • Monday–Grilled cheese (Great Harvest bread and local Eno Sharp cheese), organic tomato soup [Meatless Monday!]
  • Tuesday–Ham and bean soup with kale, whole grain rolls
  • Wednesday–All NC shrimp and grits
  • Thursday–leftover soup
  • Friday–ham, cheese and leftover veggie fritatta
  • Saturday–whole wheat pasta with leftover ragu from freezer

Here’s to another fun and adventurous week! Next week, we’ll be planning our Super Bowl menu!