Sunday, October 21, 2007

local food shopping in the fall

Yesterday was market day, and as it was the 20th of October, I think we can all agree that it is autumn. The weather is still unseasonably warm, though there have been some cold nights (no frost yet.) Three of my farmer's markets are ending this week (one more will continue until the vendors run out of produce; two other markets will have winter and/or a thanksgiving market day option.)

I went a little crazy at the market this week. It started out innocently enough - late strawberries, late red and golden raspberries, some bacon and cottage ham. The weekly split chicken breast. Four servings of locally-made fresh pasta. Some pumpkin ice cream. The the "getting carried away" part began.

I bought end-of-the-season roma tomatoes (ugly, but they made a wonderful pasta sauce for dinner tonight. It was wonderful! There's enough left to have our favorite local pasta meal for dinner again (local greens with helios radishes; marinara sauce over angel hair pasta; Amish-made wheat bread liberally doused with local butter and garlic.) I did unbend enough to use imported Parmesan (we've eaten all our pasta this summer with shredded local Gouda, which is surprisingly good.)

Oh yes, the marketing. Braising greens, salad greens, leeks, and lovely little heirloom turnips. Chestnuts for roasting. The largest carrots I've ever seen. Broccoli, eggplant, apple cider, green beans. And that's just the first market!

On to the next two markets! I procured 5 butternut squash, a pumpkin and 3 acorn squash (it was the farmer's last day, so I helped buy out her remaining produce.) Two pasture-raised chickens (also the farmer's last day at market; I have four of her birds in the freezer now.) A pound of grass-fed beef. Some lovely red-skinned potatoes with the whitest flesh you can imagine. A giant sunflower head (we may eat the seeds ourselves instead of feeding them to the squirrels.) Pullet eggs! I didn't really need eggs, but I have a weakness for pullet eggs. (They are the first layings of young hens. Very small, very pale yellow yolks, and a wonderful taste.) I also bought the aforementioned Amish-made wheat bread, and a bunch of peppers for the local food bank/community center (they were doing a produce drive at the market.) I also stopped for some local milk.

It will be a busy week in the kitchen - tonight I am blanching and freezing broccoli. Tomorrow I need to make yoghurt and a soup or two; I have ingredients for vegetable soup, potage bonne femme (a leek and potato soup with carrot) and hot-and-sour soup. The latter is the only non-local one, but it will still use local shiitake and scallions. Later in the week I need to parcook all of the butternut for soup and freezing. I should probably blanch and freeze some acorn squash too. And some onion/carrot mixtures for soup and stews. Whew! At least I know that wintertime local meals will be a snap!

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