Basic Boule (Steam)

I thought you all would like to see what the basic boule from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day looked like when you used steam.

As you can see, it is nice and glossy. I even got those nifty slices in the dough too. That was very easy. I just used my serrated bread knife to cut shallow gashes, and then it poofed up and out, like so, in the oven. Didn’t even deflate the dough. Actually, the dough didn’t rise too much in the 1.6 hours it was resting.

All I did was toss a 1/2 cup of water onto the floor of my oven after putting the bread on the hot stone in the oven. All that steam created a nice and glossy exterior.

Here is a shot with my hand in it, so you can see what bakes up from what I size as a grapefruit size of dough. The dough rose more in the oven than it did while rising before being baked and out of the fridge. This made a nicely sized loaf for two people, so I was quite pleased.

So pleased, that I couldn’t resist slicing into the piping hot bread. I know it’s bad for the bread and will make it dry out more later on, but trust me, there wasn’t any left later on. Mmmm. The crust was both chewy and crisp, and nice and thin. I liked the tighter crumb (tighter than no-knead bread, at any rate) since it meant…

SLATHERINGS!!! A tighter crumb means there is more bread I can slather copious amounts of butter on to. Yummy. Whipped unsalted butter is such slatherlicious love on bread like this.

And red hawaiian sea salt is just over-the-top goodness.

Chicken & Vino

I was never much good at those “What did you do for XYZ Vacation?” reports. Inevitably, what I did was usually nothing (and it’s really hard to stretch out watching Conan the Barbarian into a multi-page essay). But here’s what I did for Memorial Day weekend.

Spent Saturday at beaches, and Sunday night grilling at my brother’s casa with basically the entire crew of family. Above is some chicken that I heard was delicious, but I filled up on burgers and Labatt’s beer (oh, update – my tounge has decided beer is palatable once again! woo hoo!), so I didn’t get to try any. We rubbed it the night before with some of the Caribbean spices Albany John’s brother gave us from his trip down there. I kind of like seeing the blue ‘vegetarian’ label on the background on the can of beans. I think it’s kind of funny or ironic or something.

Early the next morning, some of us hopped in the car and headed out for the shores of vermont. Or the ledges, or what have you. Body of water! Day three! Long day sunning ourselves on a nice warm day. (Hooray for SPF, hunh? I just discovered I slightly burned a part in the part of my hair. Not bad for all day sun exposure)

On the way home, we stopped off at some store. I can’t really remember which, since I was sun-zonked-out, but found a cheapo bottle of wine. I used my family’s rigorous method for picking out a bottle of wine, which is thus: find the coolest looking bottle and go for it. And after being rather bohemian for the day, I decided that Bohemian Way Californa Pinot Grigio was the way to go. Also, not bad at $5.99 per bottle.

Here is the back label. It wasn’t too bad. Fairly crisp and citrus-y without being too tart. Mellowed a little bit after opening. Is gasoline-y a term used in wine tasting? Either way, it wasn’t really a bad thing, but there was/were some note(s) in it that really made me think of gasoline. Some kind of high note in the nose and maybe in the back of the tongue. Overall I found it rather refreshing. I bet this would make a pretty good white wine sangria or a spritzer.

Currant Walnut Bread

Basic Boule from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, I love you. Really, I do. I’ve just got the book as a rental from the library, but I just may buy it for keeps.

So on Saturday, after walking around the farmers market, I sampled some walnut raisin bread. It was very good. And so I figured I’d try it out the basic boule recipe dough sitting in fridge with a filling. Short story? Goooooood.

For the dough, I grabbed 2 large hunks. (That’s what SHE SAID!!) I think my version of grapefruit is smaller than a normal grapefruit. I rolled it out into a rectangular type shape, and sprinkled some toasted walnuts and soaked currants (just in water to plump them up) over the loaf, leaving 1/2″ or so for edges. Really cover it so you can barely see the dough underneath.

Then I rolled it up and pinched it shut on the seams so it looked like what you see above. Let rise 1.6 hours, pop into oven on pizza stone, bake. I didn’t use any steam this time, either. This means the crust was not glossy, but I liked the rough look of it.

As you can see, we brought it to the beach over Memorial Day weekend. Quite yummy! Again, a nice and evenly thin-ish crust. The currants were very yummy, nice and moist. That’s why I soaked them – So they are soft and not little chewy discs in the dough. The crumb itself was nice and tender with a soft chew. A little too easy to eat on the beach, if you catch my drift.

And here is a shot of the interior. The filling stayed mainly at the top. I’ll have to tinker more to see how to get the filling more evenly distributed.

I don’t know about you, but being able to make my own artisan bread totally rocks my socks. You know what? I am so gonna get the book. I am still waffling about getting one for my mother’s birthday next month, since I got her bread stuff for Christmas. Might have to go a different route since she hasn’t been baking as much and I don’t want to get her something redundant.

Oh, yea. Dough recipe:

6.5 C AP flour

1.5 T yeast

1.5 T salt

3 C Warm Water

Mix all. Let stand at least 2 hours to rise, up to 5 hours. (Warmer water = closer to 2 hours, less time)

Can either use as is now (howawesomeisthat?) or cover and put in fridge. If using now, shape and let rise additional 40 min, covered. If using cold from fridge, shape and let rise 1 hr 40 min.

Bake at 450 F on a pizza stone. Just stick pizza stone in oven when preheating, about 20 min before last rise time is done. If you want a glossy sheen to your crust, you can throw 1/2 – 1 C water in after you put your dough on the stone and then shut the door until done baking, about 30 min or so.

Basic Boule

I never thought I’d say this, but… The No-Knead Bread is no longer my favorite bread to make at home.

Nope – now I have a new love – this book called Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (or something like that). The basic premise is that you make a big batch of bread and have it in your fridge for around 10-14 days, and you can grab a hunk-o-dough when you want to make your bread.

Holy mama. New Hawtness, yeeessssss. If you are a bread fanatic like me, this will rock your world.

I had to use the biggest bowl I owned, a big metal one with markings up to 6 quarts on the side. A down side to this method is it takes up a lot of refrigerator real estate.

I grabbed a large handful of fresh dough and shaped it like a wheel. I thought a new shape would be neato to try out. Covered it and let it rest for 40 minutes. You let it rest longer if it’s been in the fridge, but I couldn’t wait. Artisan style bread with short proofing times? Oh, I had to check it out.

After baking, the loaf came out and looked all pretty. Brown and golden, it was crackling as it cooled. How promising!
The little slashy marks I put in the dough even came out. (I also need a sharper knife for slashing raw dough. Straight razor?)

After letting the loaf cool for a bit, I sliced in, fingers crossed that it would be tasty. Oh, how tasty it was! And look at that crumb! Phenomenal. The crust was thin and crisp-crunchy. I would liken the crust to a combination of French and Italian style. The book talked about a custardy crumb, which made a whole lot more sense after biting into this. Very moist, and more cohesive than other crumbs I’ve had.
In comparison to the no-knead bread, this crust was thinner and chewy. The crumb was denser (= better for butter slatherings) and moister. Overall, I like this recipe/method a bit better since it is less fussy. No more waiting and guaging 18 or so hours of rise times, plus the other rise time. No pre-heating pans for an hour before baking. I just baked mine on my pizza stone, which just heated up in the oven when I was pre-heating it any way.

I’ve got another bread for you I created after an inspiring trip to the Farmer’s Market up next!

Tofu & Mushroom Dumplings

Know what’s a good mood changer? Freaking dumplings. And lots of ‘em! My daily walks weren’t doing any good, and I was just not feeling like myself lately. Or at least the self I want to be.

And what always makes me feel better? Dumplings. Dumplings, dumplings, dumplings! Screw booze, pills, or whatever else it is people do for stress relief. What do I do? Dumplings.

Albany John and I have been on a budget, though. And this being the end of the month, we are nearing the end of our budget (ideal = $200/mo. This month is looking closer to $240). Dumplings, for me, generally involve ground pork. But since we didn’t have any pork in the fridge, I tried something a wee bit different and went the vegetarian route. I also took some inspiration from my wonderful Albany John who can whip meals up out of seemingly nothing.

Now, first off. Dried mushrooms? Awesome. I found this package of them at the Asian Food Market on Colvin for under $4. It was the cheapest of the dried mushroom packages, and also looked very mild, like all dried white mushrooms. No shiitakes. I dislike dried shiitake mushrooms since I think too many of them are overpowering. Some people might call them ‘meaty’, but I think they taste a little ‘butt-y’ and pungently funky. I think it’s ‘cause we O.D.’ed on them a while back. I can take it in small amounts now, like shredded. Right. Sorry. Tangent!

So I grabbed about an ounce of these mushrooms, and covered them in boiling water. I also found some dried fungus in a jar in the cabinet and tossed it in there too. Wow, how Chinese does that sound? Actually, I like it, since food is one of the ways I feel I really connect with my Chinese-ness, since I don’t speak the language or anything, or really even have other Asian friends.

Then I noticed we had some spinach. And napa cabbage. Block of silken tofu. Shallots. Ginger. Shaping up quite nicely!

So I finely chopped the cabbage. Basically, it looked like if you’d shredded it, only by cutting. Salt it and leave it to drain for around half an hour. Mince up everything else (well, I just squished the tofu with my hands and the mixed like crazy), season, and add an egg or two to bind. Oh, and get this! One of Albany John’s friends came by halfway through making them, and he brought his girlfriend. Who was half Chinese! And also didn’t speak the language! Haha, it was so cool to meet someone else with that in common!

The dumplings turned out really well! I was incredibly surprised by this, since I was more looking forward to the chewy texture of the dough than anything else. Tofu, I find, can be overwhelmingly chalky sometimes. At least the way I prepare it. Even Albany John complemented me and said this was the best version of anything I’d cooked with tofu. What a compliment! Definitely a mood booster.

So here’s what I did first:
Boiled water. Covered mushrooms and fungus with water, then covered that bowl. Let sit.

Rinse some napa cabbage leaves off. Slice finely so it resembles shredded lettuce in size. Salt and leave in a strainer in the sink to drain.

Open tofu. Remove and wrap in paper towels, then drain it with a heavy weight on top.

Go take a shower, check some gossip sites online, and 30-60 minutes later, walk back into the kitchen.

Slice the caps off of the mushrooms and place in a blender with the fungus greens. Process until fine (but not mushy).

Dry off napa cabbage. I put it in a salad spinner. Combine with mushrooms.

Unwrap tofu and squish it with your hands to make it all crumbly. Woo hoo, messiness!

Grab that spinach out of the freezer and put it in the microwave to thaw for a few minutes. Grab 2 large handfuls and squeeze as much liquid out as possible. Plop in bowl.

Mince ginger and shallots, add to bowl.

Pour in sesame oil, sprinkle white pepper and msg, and crack 2 large eggs in. Mix like heck until you’re happy with the consistency.

Make your dough. I wanted chewy boiled dumplings so I used that recipe. It’s easy. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes after combining to rest.

Roll out yer dough and make your dumplings. I put mine on a lined cookie sheet. Don’t let them touch, since the dough tends to stick to itself.

Boil in water 4 minutes to cook.

I also made a sauce to dip them in. Yummy!

They could easily have been vegan by omitting the eggs, but they were very hard to handle and crumbly, so I threw them in. They are a great binder and don’t add any flavor (or none that I can detect). Would cornstarch also work? Maybe sweet potato starch, since that is also gooey.

These were also very cheap to make. The most expensive ingredient was the block of tofu, which cost around $1. Albany John and I ate close to 2/3rds of this recipe for dinner. Maybe the rest tonight with side dishes.

Tofu & Mushroom Dumpling Filling

3-4 leaves napa cabbage, salted, drained and dried
1.5-2 oz dried mushrooms + some fungus, soaked, mushroom caps only cut and processed
1 package firm silken tofu (although I’ve never really noticed a difference with firm v. soft silken tofu. They’re so soft)
2 handfuls frozen spinach, squeezed dry
4-5 shallots, minced
¾” ginger, peeled and minced
1 T sesame oil
~½ t msg
6-9 good shakes white pepper
2 large eggs

Combine all ingredients, let sit to let flavors combine while making dough.

Boiled Dumpling Dough

(This produces a nice and chewy texture for boiled dumplings)
3 C flour
1 C cold water

I am not even kidding how easy this is to make. Mix and then knead for ~5 or so minutes until the dough is soft and silky. It might look rough at first, but trust me, it will get there. Let rest at least 10 minutes. The texture will continue to improve.

Roll out pinches of dough and fill. Pinch to close. Boil 4 minutes.

Dipping Sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced
Equal amount ginger
Few pinches sugar
Splash vermouth
1-2 t sesame seeds

Mix all together to get some flavor out of the seeds, garlic, and ginger, and to blend the sugar into the liquid. Top off with soy sauce (around ¼ cup, maybe a little less). Add spicy sauce or paste to your taste. I’ve been liking this one spicy chili paste lately.

Potato Curry with Shallot Pancakes

Ugly as hell, but tasty as sin. A simple curry dish (I’ve been fascinated to know that ‘curry’ is akin to ‘stir-fry’, meaning, stuff in a pan/pot with misc seasonings) of potato, eggplant, and mustard seeds.

My gluten-free designer pal has made this dish a few times, and it’s very addictive. His version has fresh spinach (blanched just before combining with everything else at the last min). Mine? I used an eggplant we had in the fridge with fairly good results. The potatoes kept sticking (so I either needed a lower flame or maybe to par-boil them).

I only used about 2 tablespoons of mustard seeds for 8 potatoes. Not nearly enough. They aren’t too spicy, and add a great popping flavor to the dish, akin to flying fish roe on sushi.

You can use scallion pancakes (recipe nyah) ripped off to grab pinches of the potato curry. Kind of a ChIndo fusion. Yummy. Also, feel free to sub shallots or other onions for scallions in the pancakes. It’s good.

Potato Curry Recipe
Potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 T or more mustard seeds
1 eggplant
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
5-6 shallots
1” ginger, peeled

Slice eggplant into long strips. Salt and let sit for 30-60 min to drain.

Puree onion, garlic, shallots, and ginger into a paste.

Put oil in a pot over low-medium flame. Add mustard and toast.

Add onion paste and cook until paste turns green. (trust me, it’s cool looking)

Add in potato cubes and ~ 1/3 C water. Cover and let cook 5 minutes.

Dry off eggplant and slice into thin strips. Add to potato cubes.

You’ll have to periodically add more water, about ¼-1/3 cup at a time, every so often if it looks like the potatoes are sticking to the pan.

Cook them both covered for ~ 20 – 30 minutes, depending on how large your potato chunks are.

No Knead Pizza

Hey all you weekend bakers! You should definitely try out the no-knead bread recipe, only use the dough as… pizza! The results are phenomenally delicious.

The dough comes out very soft and spongy, almost like ciabatta. It is much more moist than regular loaves of Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread, but it works so incredibly well with lots of cheese.

Start the night before, and mix together:
3 C flour, ¼ teaspoon yeast, 1.5 T salt.
Add a little over 1.5 C water, mix, cover and forget about it until the next day (18 or so hours).

I’ve been experimenting with using more yeast and less rise times, but the flavor doesn’t develop nearly as well. The last loaf I made in this manner tasted blander to me than normal, which I blame on not letting it sit long enough to get some good funky fermentation going on in there to develop flavor. This pizza? I let it sit around 20 hours, and it had a nice funky tang once I lifted the cover off. I think the fermentation might be speeding up in this warm weather. I am very excited for this. More fermentation = more flavor! So if you can, don’t change the yeast or rise time. It’s a flavor sacrifice.

Here’s what I did after I let it rise:
Flour a large cutting board.
Turn bowl upside down onto board and let most of the dough come out.
Use a rubber/silicone spatula to scrape the stuff left on the side and put it in the big pile of dough.
Sprinkle a little flour (or cornmeal) on top.
Fold it over once or twice (depending on how much it spread out when flopping out of the bowl).
Now here’s where things change for pizza. Cut the dough into thirds (or quarters). Place onto a floured cotton cloth, cover, and let rise 1-2 hours.

I actually forgot to put the dough onto the cloth, and did so after 15 or so minutes. I have problems with this wet dough sticking to the cloth (and ruining the cloth), but this time I ended up putting the cloth on top of the flour cutting board after having the dough on top of it. It worked well! No dough sticking. Cool.

FYI: you don’t need to be as supremely delicate with this dough as you think. It handled well to an extra fold, or some gentle pinching and lifting.

Doesn’t the first pizza look gorgeous? (It might look a little light/pale, but it is really good)

Luckily I had some cheese kicking around. And kicking is right. I’ve mentioned we don’t eat as much cheese as we used to. Mr Month-Old Mozzarella was still on his last legs, as was Ms. Who-Know-How-Long Parmesan wedge. Match made in heaven. Salty, buttery flavors. The melted mozzarella was nice and light, while the parmesan was very salty. Together they made a nice pizza with punchy bites of tangy umami.

After the pizza doughs have waited around a bit, grab a sheet of parchment paper. Tip: if you use parchment paper underneath your pizza, you can just transfer it like that onto the pizza stone/whatever you’re cooking on. It makes handling this very wet and sticky dough miles easier.

Once you’ve plopped a ball onto the parchment paper, wet your fingers. Then gently pull the dough out flat into a circle. Or rectangle. Or star (bonus points). Cover with toppings and you are all set! (I also like to brush some olive oil around the crust, but that’s just me)

I baked both pizzas in a 450 F degree oven for ~10 minutes on a pizza stone. (And reused the parchment paper) Albany John, my darling husbear, and I ate the first smaller, circular pizza while we were waiting for the second one to cook. He even loved the crusts, when normally he’ll either toss them or give them to the dog. Whoops, I mean garbage disposal. Whoops, I mean me.

I was really impressed by how well the dough held up after baking. The bread itself was very springy. I let the pizzas cool off for a few minutes (very difficult to do with the first pizza), and then sliced into them with my pizza cutter. Sometimes the dough will stay smooshed, at least to some degree. There was very minimal smooshiness/sogginess to this dough. It puffed right back up.

Ah, the piece de resistance! Here’s that sexy crumb, where you can see exactly what I’m talking about with the lovely airiness and chew!

You know, while the dough stayed more on the pale side, I loved the lesser-cooked dough. It was chewy, moist, and full of air pockets. A puffy flatbread, almost. At any rate, I think I’d like to give this recipe a go just as a flat bread, baked on the pizza stone. I loved it with the cheese, but I think this would be a great alternative to the crusty, dark no-knead bread. The light, flatter cousin!

The Veggie Cart Cometh!

It’s like when you stop looking for something, it just falls into your lap. Wonderful! He only had a little bit of cash monies on him, but he grabbed a bag of spinach, carrots, 3 zucchini, 3 braeburn apples, a lime, and this lovely perfectly ripe melon. Mmmm. Honeydew melon.

He was also informed by one of the kind folx there (who also plays in Sgt Dunbar, so = super awesome) that lime juice squeezed on honeydew was delicious.

Dudes, it SO IS. The tartness of the juice really brought out the sweetness of the honeydew. I wolfed down half of melon when Albany John brought it out. After we’d been snacking on some earlier. He looked at me and said “Wow”, to which I replied “Why did you put this in front of me and not eat any?”. It was so fresh and tasty. Yum!

Fingers crossed I find them again on Saturday. Somewhere!

Recent Food Shopping Patterns

This is long and rambling, but whatevs. Here are some things I’ve been doing lately to try and save even more money at the grocery store:

I’ve found the Co-Op usually has good prices on the basics, like potatoes $4.99 for 10 lb bag, onions $1.29 for 3 lb bag, herbs (bring your own little Ziplocs), beans, hard to find flours. Have coupons and sale combinations that can be quite good (last one was a big container of Brown Cow yogurt for $2 after sale and coupon. Just as cheap as grocery store brand, but tastes much better)

Lee’s Market on Central Ave sometimes has discount produce in bags. The last 2 times I went, there were bruised Japanese eggplants, but inside they were fine (and who can tell after you cook them any way?) The Asian Food Market’s discount produce always looks half rotten, and not worth purchasing.
Lee’s Market for: Napa Cabbage @ $0.49 /lb, possible bags of discount veggies, consistent supply of bean sprouts. Quality for vegetable produce can be iffy at times.

Asian Food Market for: Silken tofu $0.99/box, scallions $0.40/bunch, condiments, seafood (can be iffy, so look carefully), shallots $1.49/lb, frozen squid with tentacles for $3.99. Better overall quality and selection (high turnover) for produce, but more expensive (napa cabbage @ $0.69/lb). Excellent selection on a variety of tasty, inexpensive noodles. My top choice for condiments and most other Asian goods.

Save-A-Lot for: $0.50 per large bunch of cilantro, 5 lb bag masa harina for $2.69, Hunt’s sugar-free tomato sauce for $0.99/can, frozen shrimp $6.99 / 1.5 lb bag, Mexican goods, dried fish.

BJ’s for: King Arthur Flour $6.99/ 10 lb bag, 5 lb can diced tomatoes for $2.49, bulk nuts, sunscreen, peanut oil. I only have this membership because I got it for supplies for when Albany John and I got married last year. I will probably not continue it since I don’t buy much to warrant the $45/year membership fee.

I peruse Hannaford’s flyer for sales, but on the whole I don’t buy as much from there as I used to. There are just cheaper places to buy similar things. That said: Pasta, tuna in olive oil, butter, large tin buckets of olive oil, cheese, broth. I’ll also buy things there if we do need them but can’t get out to the other stores we normally choose (like canned tomatoes, etc). I don’t buy produce there because it is overpriced, and generally of lesser quality than the other options I have in the area. Still, I got a great deal on cabbage around St Patty’s day.

Stewart’s: Milk & Eggs.
I used to shop at Aldi more, but they are currently very far from my normal travel routes. They also do not accept credit cards (debit ok), which is only a minor hindrance, but I like to track monthly spending on the credit cards.

Ok, so my shopping patterns are done. On the whole, I haven’t really been buying as many fresh veggies as I’d like and we’ve been a bit heavier on starches and carbs. The last time we were on a tight budget I ended up gaining a good bit of weight through eating calorie-dense foods and eating whatever anyone gave me for free. While basics are cheap, processed crap is also relatively affordable to buy too.

Albany John will totally verify my hoarding tendencies, but this time around I am trying to have a different perspective and eating as healthfully as possible. Our eating habits have changed as well. We don’t eat much dairy any more, we have grown accustomed to eating more vegetables and foods with minimal processing (or making food from scratch), and overall I try not to think “OH MY GOSH. WE HAVE NOOOO FOOD. EAT WHATEVER YOU CAN GET” and instead think more “Hey, it might be looking slim, but Albany John can make magic happen in the blink of an eye. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE MORE FOOD. NO PIGGY, NO”

Total food enjoyment deprivation is not necessary. On this budget there are few frills, but there is still enough moo-lah to buy the occasional piece of fish, or pound of shrimp. Or those mussels at the top of the page. And for some reason, like I said, I have a crapton of butter in my fridge, so there’s plenty of baked goods, too. For me, I like that. I like being able to bake something up if I feel stressed out. (And then, oh no, if I freak out thinking there’s *no* food to eat, then hey, look – a cookie)

Vegetable Withdrawal

I’ve just spent the past few minutes staring/drooling at the list of veggies my CSA farm is growing this season.
We have been erring more on the frugal side with our food budget. Keeping it down to around $200 per month for our food budget has been the goal. Some months are closer than others to this ideal.

By keeping a tight eye on the finances, I can save up a little every month. This is good in case of any unforeseen non-food related problems. This is also good for when there are birthdays/holidays; like mother’s day, Albany John’s recent birthday we spent out, and my friend’s birthday at Bombers. Seems like now a-days it is popular to meet friends out for your birthday at a restaurant, as opposed to celebrating it at home. Maybe this year I will just opt for a night in. Then again I have notoriously awful turnouts for my fetes, so it might just be me and a few carafes of mixed drinks, and tonsa food. Actually, that doesn’t sound too terrible either.

Right. Sorry. Tangent!

So with a tight food budget, there isn’t a whole lot of wiggle room for tasty beverages every night. Also surprisingly small is the amount of fresh vegetables you can buy. We’d been going to the Veggie Cart fairly regularly, but after a while, we noticed they stopped servicing on Saturdays. I called up and they said that it was because folks had quit and they didn’t have enough manpower to do all the stops. So Albany John would go on weekdays when he had space in his schedule. But for the past two months the stop he’s been able to make has been leaving early. When we’d call and ask about it, they’d say “oh, I guess they just left early if it wasn’t busy”. I absolutely love the Veggie Cart and CDCG folks, and trust me when I say that being involved with a non-profit is extraordinarily difficult at times. There are always a million things to do, so I can see why they’d leave early. Still, those weeks were rather sad for us since we thought they’d be there and missed our supply of fresh veggies. Also, they have great produce. Generally better than the grocery store’s produce. We did luck out once within 2 months and got veggies. Oh, they were so wonderful!
I see they’ve started Saturday service again (actually, since April. Whoops on me!), so I am excited to go back. I am seriously about to go into veggie withdrawal. I also never would have thought I’d say something like that 10 years ago. Nope.

So since the Veggie Cart has been sporadic, and I haven’t had much in the way of veggies for the past month or so, (or at least the crap ton of veggies I’d gotten used to eating) I can’t wait for these local farm fresh goodies:

Brussels sprouts
Garlic (ooooh, fingers crossed it is fresh garlic at the beginning. So tender and delicious)
Green beans
Lettuces (yes, even the month that will probably be *just* lettuce)

It can be very hard to be on a tight budget and buy the ‘right’ foods. I’ve never been one to buy organic just for the sake of organics, but I like the theory of eating foods that are good for you, others, and the environment. That said, I still buy the big fistful sized bunches of cilantro at Save-A-Lot for $0.50, even though I really don’t know where they come from, or how they were treated. Provided the squirrels don’t treat Albany John’s garden as an All-You-Can-Eat seed buffet, we will have our own fresh cilantro this year (yaaaay!).

I am still very thankful I can find cabbages of all sort for under $1 per pound, the potatoes in the 5 kilo bags ($4.99) and 3 lb onion bags ($1.29) at the Co-Op, carrots, canned tomatoes, shallots for $1.49/lb at the Asian Food Market, and masa harina.