Thursday, May 26, 2011

Go Farmer?

No, that isn't some hesitant farmers' market cheer - it's what my baby brother says every Saturday, before we go to the market.  He walks up holding his little sneakers in his pudgy baby hands, looks up at my mom with his big, blue eyes, and asks, "Go farmer?"

Last week, after the market, I went outside and took pictures of the produce we had bought for our family of six.  I put the veggies in a big basket to take a couple pictures, and then played with the camera - one of my favorite things to do.  Then I started wondering - do we save money by shopping locally, or do we just like the benefits of market-fresh food?  My mom and I went to our all-natural grocery store (I won't name names here) to compare the prices.

2 pints of local strawberries: $7.00 - Market price
2 pints of certified organic strawberries: $6.98 - Store price

2 local red peppers (1.5 lb. total): $3.75 - Market price
2 organic red peppers (1.5 lb. total): $7.48 - Store price
One local yellow pepper (~1/2 lb.): $1.25 - Market price
One organic yellow pepper (1/2 lb.): $2.99 - Store price

Two heads of local lettuce: $4.00 - Market price
2 bags (they didn't have fresh heads of lettuce at the store) of organic lettuce: $4.98 - Store price

One bunch of radishes from the market: $1.50 - Market price
One bunch of organic radishes from CA: $2.49 - Store price

Oh, and the broccoli hiding under the radishes: $4.00 - Market price
Organic broccoli from California: $7.00 - Store price

1 bunch of six small beets (plus greens!) from the market: $2.00 - Market price
6 loose beets from CA (no greens): $1.99 - Store price

2 1/2 lb. of local squash and zucchini: $3.75 - Market price
2 1/2 lb. of organic squash and zucchini: $7.49 - Store price
Market total: $27.25
Store total: $41.40

It costs almost fifteen dollars more to buy all these veggies (yes, I know that strawberries are fruits, but cut me some slack) at the grocery store, and don't even get me started on food miles.  Sure, the veggies from the store are certified organic, but I've been to the local farms and I know they're pesticide-free. So I'll keep my fifteen dollars, thank you.  I have a movie I want to go see.

One basket of farm-fresh veggies: Priceless.  :D

Monday, May 16, 2011

Guest Blogger!!! Alert! Alert! Guest Blogger!!!

Hey, everybody!  Today, I have a guest blogger.  Yay!

Hi, my name is Eliana John and I am Kaynan's friend from Florida and today I would like to share with you some recipes.

1. Chicken Waldorf Salad Sandwiches
Very good and good for you. This recipe is from the Mayo Clinic I didn't make it up.
4 6-ounce (180 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Chicken broth to cover
1\4 cup (60 ml) mayonnaise
1\4 cup (60 ml) sour cream
2 teaspoons (10 ml) grated orange zest
3 teaspoons (45 ml) fresh orange juice
1 medium Granny Smith apple,peeled, cored and diced
2 ribs celery, cut into 1\4-inch dice
12 slices artisan-style whole wheat bread,sliced thin
6 Boston lettuce leaves
1. Place the chicken breasts in a pan and cover with broth. Bring to a simmer and cook until done, about 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool in the broth, then cut into small dice.
2. In a small bowl mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, orange zest, and juice. Add the dressing to the chicken. Stir in the apple and celery.
3. Place a leaf of lettuce on each of the 6 slices of bread. Top with chicken salad and top with a second piece of bread. Refrigerate wrapped in plastic wrap, until ready to serve. Cut each sandwich in half.

2. Shrimp Dip
A great dish! And very easy!
1 small cream cheese
1\2 c. mayonnaise
1 1\2 T. lemon juice
1\4 c. green onion, chopped
1\2 c. celery, chopped
3 oz. baby shrimp
Mix and refrigerate.

3. Mediterranean Pasta Salad
I got this one from Gooseberry Patch.
12-oz. pkg. bowtie pasta, cooked
12-oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2-1\4 oz. can sliced black olives, drained
1 cucumber, chopped
1 pt. cherry tomatoes
3 T. sweet onion,chopped
8-oz. bottle balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
6-oz pkg. crumbled feta cheese
Rinse pasta with cold water; drain well. Toss together artichoke hearts and next 5 ingredients with pasta. Chill 2 to 3 hours. Toss with cheese before serving. Serves 8 to 10.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cuckoo For Coconut! Part 1

Is this some strange alien tiki hut?
Coconut.  Just say it.  It’s a fun word.  It’s also an interesting one.  The origin of the word "coconut” comes from the Spanish word “coco,” meaning “monkey face.”  Apparently, somebody thought that the three holes in the coconut looked like a monkey’s face.  Personally, I think they look more like bowling balls.  Go figure.

Anyway, coconuts are really good for you.  Or rather, the things you can make with coconuts are really good for you.  I don’t recommend eating a plain coconut.  At least, not the outside.  The white bit inside, known as the coconut meat, is actually pretty tasty.  Some other good things you get out of coconuts are coconut water (the clear liquid inside), coconut milk (made with the meat), and, my personal favorite, coconut oil.  We’ll get to all of these guys, but today, I’m going to talk about coconut water.

Coconut water is a clear liquid found in unripe, a.k.a. “green,” a.k.a. “young” coconuts.  The reason it isn’t found in mature coconuts is that as a coconut ripens, the liquid in it hardens, turning into the white meat inside.  The meat that’s in young coconuts is more like jelly, all soft and squishy.  Coconut water is becoming a pretty big thing in the food world - it’s refreshing and it tastes tropical.  However, that’s not the reason that natural grocery stores are stocking their shelves with bottled coconut water.  The real reason is that it’s so good for you.  (Why else would I blog about it?)  It’s a great all-natural sports drink.  It’s full of electrolytes, which are kind of like electricity for your cells.  When you exercise, you sweat, and when you sweat, you lose electrolytes.  This is bad, because then your cells don’t have the juice they need to run.  That’s why Gatorade makes a big deal about their high electrolyte count.  Coconut water has roughly the same amount of electrolytes, with an extra bonus: no gross chemicals!  So if you’re a big fan of sports drinks, you might want to try coconut water instead.  Another great thing is that, fresh out of the coconut, it’s one of the purest drinks on the planet.  It’s even been used in emergencies during WWII as IV fluid for dehydration, although hopefully you’ll never have to use it like that.

Where can you get coconut water?  Well, if you don’t have your own coconut trees (our friends in Florida actually do have a few in their backyard), you can go to your natural grocery store and find some young coconuts.  They’re in the produce section - you can’t miss ‘em.  They look like a cross between a UFO and a tiki hut.  They cost around $2, and yes, they aren’t local.  Coconuts, and all coconut products, are in that group of things we don’t get from the farmers’ market.   When you buy a young coconut, you take it home and cut a hole in it.  This can be done many different ways, from banging it monkey-style on a rock (crude, but effective) to drilling a hole in it with a power tool.  We usually use a hammer and nail.  When your coconut has a hole in it, you just pour the liquid out.

If you don’t have the time (or willingness) to go through all that trouble, you can buy packaged coconut water.  It’s sold at most natural grocery stores, and in some supermarkets.  It comes in glass or plastic bottles, or Tetrapaks.  There are lots of different brands, so try a bunch and see which kind you like best.  (Click here  for a good overview of the most popular brands.)  A single serving can cost $1-$3, and you can also buy a box of about 12 containers at the store.  Some brands even have different flavors, from pineapple to chocolate.

Coconut water is great.  It’s healthy, it’s refreshing, and it’s pretty delicious.  So go out and try some, if you haven’t already, and tell everyone what you recommend!