Yesterday morning, I took the bus downtown to shop at the winter farmers' market. Because we're sticking to a food stamp budget, I brought only $25 in cash. If you limit yourself to produce, this can actually go pretty far. (Smoked salmon, locally-made cheese, and chorizo were all outside our budget).
Here's what I got:
1 bunch organic kale
1 head organic purple broccoli
2 organic parsnips (for roasting)
6 no-spray apples* ($1.50 a pound!)
huge head of organic cabbage (for coleslaw and braised cabbage)
big bunch of organic watercress (for salads)
3 leeks (for a leek tart)
Supplemented with some oranges, avocados, carrots, and green lettuce (which we'll get at New Seasons Market), I think this will actually get us through the week. All of Portland's farmers' markets accept food stamps—and, as I mentioned in a previous post, three of them also have matching programs that lure SNAP recipients in large numbers.
I must confess, though, that I made my first (intentional) flub at the market. I had $2.50 and change left and was wondering if that'd be enough for a bunch of organic carrots when I smelled the Tastebud bakery cart. (Rule #1: don't go to the farmers' market with an empty stomach.) I went over and peered at their Montreal-style bagels, noting the price ($1.25) each. I suspected they weren't organic but we both love bagels and how odd that I should have exact change!
Anyway, Don had violated our all-organic rule earlier in the week when he bought a donut at Safeway (he justified it because he needed to get cash back to pay for his shoe repair), so with that in mind I went up to the counter and ordered two bagels. After I paid I asked if they used organic flour. "No, but we get our flour from a local cooperative called Shepherd's Grain," the lady said. (Shepherd's Grain farmers practice no-till agriculture, which reduces soil erosion, and crop rotation, which reduces pests and disease—but they're not certified organic. Organic wheat, though it is available, is so much more expensive than conventionally-farmed wheat, that many bakers choose not to use it because they'd have to raise their prices quite a bit.)
When I got home and announced that I'd gotten bagels for lunch, Don's immediate response was not "thank-you sweetie, what a treat!" but "Are they organic?" Some squabbling ensued about why he felt it was OK to eat a non-organic donut (he was eating it on the fly and used his own money, not our grocery account) but yet frowned upon my buying two non-organic bagels and bringing them home to consume. Ultimately, we decided that we'd both messed up and that we should try harder to avoid non-organic food items.
For lunch, I sheepishly ate the non-organic bagel, toasted, with butter and some scrambled eggs on top. I also made a simple watercress salad, topped with parmesan and candied pecans. Don, grumbling, ate the poppy-seed bagel with some cream cheese he found in the fridge and a few bits of smoked salmon leftover from a previous meal.
Don's brother and his boyfriend are visiting us this weekend, so this morning, Don made organic multi-grain waffles (served with maple syrup, honey, or jam) for us and their two friends. Typically we have leftover waffles, which we freeze in a tupperware container and defrost for breakfasts throughout the week. But this time, with six adults total, we easily ate them all. (We stepped outside the food stamp budget last night to celebrate a friend's birthday at a restaurant, so to make up for that meal not eaten at home we figure it's only fair that we make brunch for four guests.)
Today's lunch, which we ate around 3:00, was a big salad for me (made of romaine lettuce leftover from Thursday night's dinner plus some watercress, chopped cucumbers, shredded carrots, avocado slices, and more candied pecans) plus a piece of whole wheat toast, and (for Don) a cheese sandwich on a leftover Dave's Killer Bread hamburger bun.
Alice Waters' Whole-Grain Waffles (from The Art of Simple Food)
In a large bowl, measure and mix together:
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (we use organic flour, obviously)
1 cup mixed whole-grain flours (such as whole wheat, cornmeal, rye, spelt, or buckwheat)
11/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
In a large measuring cup, measure: 2 cups buttermilk
whisk in thoroughly 3 eggs
Pour the buttermilk and egg mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed
Pour in: 8 tablespoons butter, melted
and stir until well mixed. If necessary, thin with more buttermilk: the batter should pour off the spoon. Cook in a preheated waffle iron until crisp and golden.
* While not certified organic, these apples, from a small family-farm in Hood River, Oregon are no-spray. Like many small farms, this family farms organically but opts out of organic certification because it's costly and time-consuming. As a result, the apples are less expensive than certified organic apples. (More on this subject, I hope, in a later post.)