Tag Archives: farmer’s market

Local Food in Winter

Here in New England, I’ve found it’s difficult to continue to support local agriculture in winter.  The majority of farm stands (including my family’s) and farmer’s markets shut down until spring.  I’m curious to learn how others eat locally during the off-season, if you’re not fortunate enough to live in a climate where’s there’s year-round food.  Please take the survey below!

You can vote more than once, so please do if more than one option applies!

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Food Budget Update and a Quick & Easy Pantry Recipe

Today, I did my shopping for the week.  By participating in Crunchy Chicken’s Sustainable Food Budget Challenge, I’m trying to keep our food costs for the month of April to $323

We do focus on preserving foods, and so we have started with beef, pork, fish, scallops, chicken stock and lobster stock in the freezer.  I also have flour, sugar, cornmeal, yeast, jams, maple syrup, honey, and various canned items in the pantry.

I started the day’s shopping at the Dudley Farmer’s Market, which is held on the first Saturday of the month in the off-season.  I was disappointed that NOBODY there had any vegetables at all, and since I know one of the growers has a greenhouse, I was hoping for lettuce.  Oh well.  I did buy a baguette and a carrot-cake muffin for Ed, for a total of $4.25.  Since I couldn’t get much there, I had to go to the grocery store.

At the grocery store, I bought pears, carrots**, potatoes, lettuce**, lemons, onions, chicken**, sandwich bread**, milk*, eggs*, buttermilk, butter**, cream, canned tomatoes**, tomato paste, cheese, yogurt**, canola oil**, brownie mix**, coffee, canned soup, cereal**, granola bars**, rice**, and Pirate’s Booty**, enough to last us approximately a week and a half to two weeks, depending on what I decide to cook. (*=local, **=sustainably raised and/or organic and/or eco-farmed and/or natural).  I bought extras of the dry goods and canned goods to try to stock the pantry.  Unfortunately, I forgot to buy the penne that I planned to make for supper, but we were headed out anyway so I ran in and grabbed a couple boxes.  The total from the grocery store came to $132.95.

That brings me to a total of $137.20 spent on food today, which leaves only $185.80 for the rest of the month.  I really don’t think we’ll make the goal for the month, but keeping track of spending is an interesting exercise.  I’d like to try this again in the summer when our garden is producing, my family is is growing many different fruits and veggies, and Ed’s family is fishing and shellfishing.  I have a feeling our grocery budget will really drop then!

And now for the recipe promised! Last night, we were running low on food but I didn’t want to order out or go to the store.  I thawed out a pound of ground beef, and then did a food network search for Rachael Ray recipes with ground beef, since she’s so creative and often has recipes to use items from the pantry.  I was inspired by her Mexican Deep Dish Pizza with cornbread crust, and made my own version.  It was really yummy, and great comfort food.  Here’s my version.

pantry-meal-and-turkies-001

  • double batch Johnnycake cornbread batter (my recipe)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups salsa
  • 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare cornmeal batter and pour into a buttered 12″ cast iron skillet.  Bake for 20 minutes until almost cooked through.  Meanwhile, brown ground beef in a skillet, then mix in the salsa and heat through.  Take the cornbread out of the oven and pour the beef on top, spreading it evenly.  Top with cheese and bake 10-15 minutes more until the cornbread is completely cooked and cheese is melted.  Note: you can reduce the cornbread to a single batch if you don’t want it as thick.

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Sustainable Food Budget Challenge

susbudget

Crunchy Chicken has convinced me to join another challenge.  In this challenge, we’re supposed to try to buy healthy, sustainable food while limiting spending to what we would get in food stamps.  For the two people in our house, that would be $323 per month.  Currently, our weekly grocery bill this time of year has been about $150, since we eat breakfast at home, bring lunches to work, and eat most suppers at home, too.  That number goes down in the summer because all of our fruits and veggies are grown at home or at my family’s farm. 

We’re supposed to buy sustainable food, which can be local, organic, sustainably grown, etc.  I personally classify food based on my own set of sustainability requirements, in the following hierarchy:

  1. Grown, raised, caught, or made by family or friends.  We grow a lot of our own veggies in season, get fruits and veggies from my family’s farm, both our families make maple syrup, Ed’s family raises pigs and now will also be raising turkeys (more on that soon!), we have beef in the freezer from Ed’s cousin, my aunt and uncle make honey, Ed catches fish and shellfish, etc.
  2. Locally grown and family farmed.  I buy milk and eggs that are hormone and antibiotic free under the brand “Farmer’s Cow” which is a co-op of Connecticut farmers.  Their eggs are great, and until I get my own chickens, they’re the best I’ve found.  I also frequent farmer’s markets in season, to get what we don’t produce ourselves.
  3. Natural, humane, organic when available, if #1 and #2 aren’t possible.

There are a few things I avoid: food shipped long distances from other countries, expensive packaged food.  Of course there are exceptions (chocolate!!!), but I do the best I can.  I also try to make things on my own instead of buying them (like tortillas, pasta, pizza dough), since it’s healthier and saves money, too.

I plan to go to a monthly farmer’s market with my mom on Saturday, and we’ll see what we can get there. 

Do I think we’ll stick to the $323? Nope! But I’m going to try.  The cost of living is high here, and the number doesn’t seem to account for that.  By relying on foods we’ve frozen or preserved in season, we’ll keep costs down, and we’ll also clear out the cupboards in preparation for the new season.  No matter what, I’m sure we’ll eat well and at least save a little money this month.

Are you joining this challenge? Do you have any tips for me?

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Natural Living

This post is my contribution to the February APLS Blog Carnival, which will be hosted by the Green Raven a.k.a. The Purloined Letter and posted on February 20 at the Green Phone Booth.

Today at work, while in a workshop learning how to help our students reduce test anxiety, the presenter asked us to close our eyes and imagine the most relaxing places we could go to.  I imagined sitting in an Adirondack chair near my garden.  I could see all the flowers, watch the bees zoom around, smell the tomatoes, hear the wind chimes, and feel the warm sun on my skin. 

Nature is a big part of my life.  Growing up on my family’s farm, I spent lots of time outside with my family, working and playing.  Now, I love to get outdoors.  The time I spend in nature makes me feel more connected to the rest of the world and helps me to relax.

Here are some ways that I get outside to enjoy nature throughout the four seasons.  Some are regular occurrences, and some are things that I only do occasionally, but all of them are relaxing and enjoyable. 

  • Take a walk.  I am not into exercise for the most part, but I do really enjoy taking a nice walk.  I most enjoy walking when I’ve got someone to talk to, and most of the time that’s my mom.  We go for walks on the beach, the annual walk around our town’s reservoir, and around my parents’ farm.
  • Go swimming.  I usually swim in my parents’ pool, but I also enjoy going to the beach or lakes.  There’s nothing like jumping into the water and floating around.
  • Garden.  I’m already itching to get outside this year.  I’m counting down (literally) until St. Patrick’s Day when I can plant my snap peas outside.  Once it really warms up, I’ll be out in the garden weeding, watering, and admiring my plants everyday.
  • Read.  I love to sit outside and read a book, magazine, or even grade papers.  The change of scenery makes such a difference, and the fresh air keeps me motivated.
  • Visit parks in the off-season.  My mom and I like to rollerblade in the springtime at one of the local campgrounds at nearby state park.  When it’s closed, the paved roadways make a great spot to rollerblade.  We see people there walking dogs and riding bikes with their kids, and everyone is happy to be back outside in the first warmer days of spring.
  • Go to the farm.  We enjoy going my family’s farm to get outside.  From feeding fish in the spring to picnics in the summer and hayrides in the fall, there’s always something to do.  We love to spend time outside at Ed’s family’s home and go fishing on their boat, too.
  • Support other local farmers.  I’m a friend to farmland who loves to visit local farmer’s markets as well as local fairs
  • Sit outside with my husband.  One of our favorite things to do on summer evenings is sit outside and talk.  We sit in the cooler night air, sip iced tea or lemonade, and listen to each other and the sounds of the evening.  We’ll also share meals outside on our back deck in the summer time.  It’s a great way to de-stress after a long day at work.
  • Photography.  I love to get outside and snap photos of my gardens, the trees, even the snow.  While I may not be a great photographer, the time I spend outside taking pictures is time that I really enjoy.  Sunday Strolls have helped me to continue to get outside this winter, even when I would have been comfortable to stay in the warm house.  After a stroll, I always feel refreshed, even if my cheeks are rosy from the cold.
  • Experiential Learning.  I love taking my students outside to learn about nature and our area’s natural history.

How do you get outside to enjoy nature?

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Durham Farmer’s Market

This afternoon, my mom and I checked out the Durham Farmer’s Market.  We wanted to get some of the delicious fresh cheese from Deerfield Farm, but we hadn’t seen them at the Dudley Farmer’s Market in Guilford since the Durham one opened.  Needless to say, we were happy to see them in Durham.

One thing that I really liked about the Durham Farmer’s Market was that they had a Children’s Story Time.  Anything involving education I’ll like, but I thought it was especially sweet to see children sitting and listening to a story while their parents watched or shopped.

Overall, the market was small, which I’m assuming is partly due to the fact that it’s the first year.  Also, I’ve heard that the town of Durham wants it small so that the historic green doesn’t get wrecked.  But wait, I seem to remember a giant event that takes place on the green, oh right, the Durham Fair.  Also, as the summer progresses, I’m sure there will be more available.  The only really disappointing thing was that I didn’t find any fresh baguettes.  There was a table with baked goods, almond filled bread and multigrain bread, but I was looking for something a little more simple.  I may have to swing by the Dudley Farmer’s Market to get my bread on Saturday morning.

I ended up getting some fresh garlic and chive cheese and some watermelon Italian ice.  I’m not sure if the Italian ice contains corn syrup, which as you may know, I’ve decided to quit.  I didn’t ask but I think I’m going to give the folks from “80 Licks” in Durham the benefit of the doubt…

We’ll probably go back, but not every week, as it’s kind of a long drive and the selection of fruits and vegetables isn’t anything that I can’t get at our stand.  But the lure of the cheese will draw us back.

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Dudley Farmer’s Market

Today, my mom and I checked out the Dudley Farmer’s Market in Guilford.  It’s a beautiful day, and the market was nicely set up in the shade on the historic Dudley Farm.  We saw a bunch of vendors, including crafts, yarns, jewelry, baked goods, grass-fed beef, and dairy.  And of course, Melissa was there with clams and oysters, as well as some maple syrup.  Ed’s brother Chris and his wife Melissa own C.W. Shellfish, and sustainably raise clams and oysters in the sound on the coast of Branford and Guilford.  Unlike farm-raised salmon, farm-raised clams and oysters do not pollute the environment, and they help to bring back some of the natural population, since it’s not fished as heavily.  Ed loves to help out with the clam business on the weekends and sometimes on the week days, and I don’t mind when he comes home with some fresh fish they caught.  Ironically, Melissa is allergic to shellfish, and although I’m allergic to lobster and shrimp and could eat clams, I don’t really like them.  Although I do enjoy fried clam strips and stuffed clams.

Here’s Melissa at the C.W. Shellfish stand.

Melissa weighing some clams for my mom.

Little neck clams.

Oysters.

Large clams or “Stuffies,” as Ed’s Grammy calls them.

A clothes line with aprons decorates the area.  Craft vendors are set up in front of them.

Mom, me and Melissa.

The restored barn.  I took this picture from the car…

I ended up buying some fresh country bread and some fresh roasted red pepper cheese.  I’ll definately check it out again, especially for the grass-raised beef.  There was beautifully dyed hand-spun Alpaca wool, but it was too hot for me to think about knitting or crocheting!  The woman selling it said she agreed, as she sat at the loom spinning more yarn.  There was a pretty yarn that was blue, purple, and green.  I had my eye on it, but it was $48.  I guess I’d charge that if I raised the Alpacas, sheared them, cleaned and dyed the wool, then spun it by hand.  I’ll have to stop back in the fall when my mind’s back on knitting.

I also got a good tip that there’s a new farmer’s market in Durham on the green on Thursday afternoons.  Mom and I decided to check it out when we’re out of school.

All this talk about clams makes me think that I can’t end this post without a recipe.  Here’s an easy one.

Grilled Clams

Place little neck clams on a hot grill just until they open.  Serve with horseradish, cocktail sauce, hot sauce, or marinara sauce.

Green Mamma, when your family’s in CT we’re definitely going!

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Farmer’s Market

Since I grew up on a farm and spent lots of time working in our farm market (there’s a reason they nicknamed me “Abbie-on-call”), I have always been able to get fresh, local food.  Because of that, I had never felt the need to visit a farmer’s market.  But since I’ve been looking to support local farmers and buy locally grown foods, I decided to check out Madison’s farmer’s market today, rationalizing that I could buy things that our market doesn’t have right now.

Overall, it was a very pleasant experience.  After a really tough day at work, it was nice to escape to the outdoors and enjoy the warm weather.  Since my mom teaches at a close school, I met her there and we walked to the farmer’s market.  There were lots of children and dogs, and not as many vendors as I had expected.  I was in the market for some honey after using up what I had left of Aunt Wendy and Uncle Dave’s honey from last year.  I ended up finding some honey from Riverside Apiaries in Marlborough, CT.  It’s a big 32 oz. jar for only $10, which I thought was a really good price.  I also bought some “Nehantic Abbey” cheese from Beaver Brook Farms in Lyme, CT.  It’s creamy and sharp, and of course I had to buy it because of the name.  I rounded out my items with a fresh baked baguette and some beautiful Buttercrunch lettuce.  Of course once my own lettuce is ready, I won’t need to buy it.

I even spotted famous chef (and Madison resident) Jacques Pepin, but I couldn’t muster up the courage to say hi to him.  He was buying asparagus, and I imagined walking over and saying his catch phrase “Happy Cooking!” or, “Hi, my father-in-law built your stairs!” but I didn’t…  Anyway, he has a cute little black dog.

So although it was a nice atmosphere, with music, kids, and dogs, and although I got some nice items, I couldn’t help but wonder where the local farmers were.  The ones from towns close by, who didn’t have to burn a whole lot of fossil fuels to get there.  I think I need to check out the Dudley farmer’s market in Guilford.  Maybe next Saturday morning I’ll head down there to see if there’s anyone there with products from closer to me, and visit with my sister-in-law Melissa, who sells clams and oysters from her and Chris’s aquaculture business, C.W. shellfish.  That is of course unless I’m working at our own farm market.

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