Monday, July 15, 2013

Eating Omily: Stocking Your Pantry, and Your Playlist

 Nom noms at the Farmer's Market!  The bad news is, after an unusually long season (I know, didn't seem that way to me, either...) cherries are on their way out!  The good news is, blueberries are IN IN IN!  Today I grabbed some for just $3.75 a pint!  I'm seeing raspberries, too, but still for a pretty penny, and no blackberries yet.  But don't worry, they'll be along.  If you want to enjoy blueberries all year and not just for a few fleeting weeks, you'd better start buying them up now while they're in full flush.  They freeze really well: just spread them out in one layer on a baking sheet!

I'm seeing peaches, too, and tomatoes are right around the corner, with squash and green beans already rolling in.  Garlic is popping out of the ground, and into markets everywhere, so get it while the gettin's good!

Extra interesting treats I spotted today: fava beans (yes, THOSE fava beans, but don't worry, they're just as delicious with crusty bread as with liver!), and fresh chick peas (these only need to cook for five minutes, and will probably give you the best hummus of your life.) 

You can still get sugar snap peas, and shelling peas, which are my favourite spring treat, steamed and served with butter and salt.  Garlic scapes are still out, too, and you don't want to miss those grassy-garlicky treats.

Today, I thought it'd be interesting to list all the items needed for a well-stocked stocked pantry, and then I wanted to show you just how much of that stuff can be found throughout the week at the Union Square Farmer's Market.  If you don't live in NYC, you still probably live near a Farmer's Market, but may not be so lucky as to have such a huge selection.  That's ok.  Just do the best you can, and don't make assumptions about what 'definitely' won't be there.  I saw freeze-dried salted veggies (the perfect snack) for sale at a four hours, once a week Farmer's Market in a tiny town off the Hudson in upstate New York this season, along with Belgian waffles, fruits and veggies, goat cheeses, honey, and more!

Now, everyone's well-stocked pantry is going to differ somewhat based on personal preferences and dietary restrictions, but if you give some of these items a shot, I'll bet you'll be surprised to find you can't live without them anymore!  My list is based off of the one in The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters, a cookbook I can't recommend highly enough.

Pantry Supplies (dry goods):

whole wheat flour
cornmeal
sugar
honey
baking soda
baking powder
cocoa powder
olive oil for cooking
olive oil for eating (you can cook with olive oil that's good enough to eat raw, but odds are you'll want to stock a cheaper option for that since the wonderful flavors will be lost)
coconut oil (you can use this in lieu of cooking olive oil, but again, you may find it price-prohibitive to do so)
sardines (just try them!)
oatmeal
canned tomatoes
nuts
dried fruit
dried beans
dried herbs and spices
salt

Refrigerator Supplies (fresh goods; these need used up regularly, so be judicious about the amounts you buy. Some of them don't need refrigerated depending on how long they hang around)

milk (cow, goat, coconut, almond, soy, whatever floats your boat)
butter
yogurt
cheese
jam or preserves
seltzer water
fresh fruit when in season
fresh herbs
meats (fish, pork, beef, chicken, shellfish, ostrich, bison, rabbit...whatever!  Freeze as necessary to keep fresh)
eggs
pickles and/or capers
mustard
maple syrup
soy sauce
dark sesame oil
bread
tofu

I can't promise I've thought of every little thing, but if you have this stuff, you can pull together a meal any day of the week.

So, which of these things CAN'T be found at the Union Square Farmers' Market?

Dried Goods:

oatmeal
olive oil for cooking
olive oil for eating
coconut oil
sugar
cocoa powder
baking soda
baking powder
dried fruit
nuts
dried herbs and spices

Fresh Goods:

soy sauce
dark sesame oil
mustard
seltzer water

So out of thirty-five items total, sixteen can't be found at the Union Square Farmer's Market.  Realistically, there are other items we might like to have around: ravioli in the freezer for the night when we just can't even think about dinner, cereal for breakfast (though actually that stuff is is nutritionally void and should be avoided at all costs), tortilla chips (there's the one I can't resist), etc.
AND, I'm kind of giving you nuts as a freebee.  You can get peanuts, and sunflower seeds at the Farmer's Market, but I don't like to live without occasional walnuts and pecans, so I won't ask you to.

So now I ask you, could you be doing more of your shopping at your Farmers' Market?

And don't worry: I'm being asked the hard questions lately, too, thanks to a program on the Heritage Radio Network called Lets Get Real.  The Heritage Radio Network is a progressive food radio network that broadcasts out of a re-purposed shipping container in the backyard of Roberta's in Bushwick, Brooklyn which makes it, yes, the nexus of the hipster universe, but if that's not your thing, don't let it deter you!  If you're into food, you'll be hooked.  You can tune in live via www.heritageradionetwork.org, or you can take your pick from thousands of programs: every episode of every program that has ever aired is archived on their website.  I won't be using my rdio subscription this month...which is a shame since I'm paying for it.

In the particular program I'm currently obsessed with, Erica Wides explores the relationship between real food, and what she calls 'foodiness': the creepy processed crap that we're told is food, and that even tastes like food (in a creepy way), but has been so altered from its origins that it's not food.  She's funny, and a smart ass, and affirms stuff I already believe while teaching me new stuff about it, so I can't get enough.  You should check it out, and find your own favourite from Heritage Radio's impressive stable of programming.  You can subscribe to programs via podcasts, so you can have them downloaded and ready to go when you are, or you can be lazy like me and just go through the browser on your phone to listen.  Listening to Lets Get Real will definitely help you sift through the madness at your grocery store as you try to stock your pantry with the best options available.

Enjoy!

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