Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

My counter in January

No, I don’t mean to talk about the crumbs, the rubber bands, the empty lunch containers, or even the assorted bits of plastic associated with having a baby who has required his mom to produce some of his food with a breast pump. We’re not so great at keeping our kitchen clean and uncluttered. (Did I mention the baby? Who also requires some additional and time consuming help getting his food into him?)

but this bit of clutter has been staying on the counter in the past 2 weeks on purpose:
the salad spinner living on the counter

That’s because I keep getting the opportunity to buy *this* fresh salad. In January. Grown in a greenhouse in Westport, MA.

Northstar farm salad

Thank you, Northstar Farms and Somerville Winter Farmer’s Market!


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After breakfast, May and I schlepped around the town, running random errands and spending some time outside. It’s a raw blustery day — one of my favorite types of weather — and we stopped at ‘Bucks after shopping. I figure I should ‘fess up to this, since Bucks is neither local nor organic. We didn’t even remember to bring our own cups.

But I got a giant cup of hot black tea and was happy.

Shopping is a big part of my food philosophy so I should say that I picked up tea (green, black, and blueberry) while I was out at Shaw’s, as well as 2 lb. of butter. Cabot, which is local-ish. I also went to Kick-Ass Cupcakes’s Dairy Bar and bought local cheddar, and hit my own garden to pick a mess o’ greens for dinner.

By the time we arrived home, I was chilled and tired and immediately nixed my original lunch plans for the perfect blustery-day lunch: soup.

(BTW, the chicken stock is still bubbling away. I know I ought not leave stock on the simmer while I’m out, but I like stock and I can’t spend 8 hours at home tending it. If you’re less blase about fire risks than I am, you can get out your stock pot and do it that way.)

Soup was simple enough: 20 minutes of washing and chopping leeks, carrots, celery, and potatoes, (from Drumlin Farm and our CSA), saute the aromatics in olive oil, add the last bit of my last batch of stock, toss in potatoes, soem herbs, and sit down to read a book for 20 minutes.

May and I had leek and potato soup with apples and slices of honey-wheat bread. I made the bread yesterday.

After we ate our fill, I ladled the leftover soup into mason jars — three pint jars and on quart jar — and put them in the fridge. There’s lunch taken care of for all of us until Wednesday or Thursday, at least.

Now I’m taking a break to do other non-cooking things and contemplate just how long I need to brine a frigging 6 lb. chicken?

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The Penzey’s exception

I have never intended to live a 100 percent locavore life. I’m dedicated to the idea of being as locavore as possible, but I’ve always held in my mind what I think of as “the Penzey’s exception.” And that exception is spices.

I’m not the first person willing to throw over things for some cinnamon and nutmeg. The current geopolitical makeup of the world could be said to have been drawn by spices. (If you don’t believe me, check out Nathanial’s Nutmeg, by Giles Milton.) Armies and navies, entire empires, have been raised and felled in the pursuit of pepper, mace, vanilla, saffron. And now we keep shaker jars of the stuff on the bar at Starbucks and sprinkle them over our drinks.

Don’t get me started on on the world-order effects of salt, chocolate, and sugar, which I know aren’t spices, but work with me here. They still fall under my Penzey’s exception.

Today was my annual holiday Penzey’s run and it was so non locavore that you’d have to be mining salt on the moon to get more extreme. It was the usual suspects, all available at your local megamart: ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, vanilla, dutched cocoa, mustard seeds, horseradish powder, caraway, juniper berries (I’m making sauerkraut!), and a couple of herbs. I also got some file powder, because my daughter wanted it and I might get around to making gumbo one of these days.

Most of those things could not be grown in New England.

In all, it ran me about $90 and fit inside a tiny handled bag. Spices are still damned expensive. The vanilla alone ran about $20, and I got the medium bottle — a price reminiscent of the great vanilla shortage of a few years ago. (Did it effect your world the way it did mine? My baking was devastated.) But it’s a lot of bang for your buck. A $20 steak will last for one dinner but a bottle of Tahitian vanilla will last me until after Valentine’s Day.

The cinnamon is other big-ticket item in the Penzey’s world: $14 for 8 oz. But what’s apple pie without cinnamon? Or pumpkin pie? Or snickerdoodles? Or my almost-famous cinnamon buns? And the Penzey’s extra-fancy Vietnamese stuff is so potent that you can cut way back on the amount and still get extra flavor without that chalkiness that happens with too much cinnamon sometimes.

Of course, Penzey’s sells spices in bags rather than bottles, which is good: less waste, less expense, etc. And I can easily transfer them to little 1/4 pint mason jars. But I think I’m going to need a label maker….




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