butternut squash

Five Reasons to Hit the Market Before It's Over for the Season

Only two Markets left for the 2016 season, and they'll be held, rain or shine. In fact, the only time I can remember the Market being cancelled was that one Saturday Market with the huge gusty winds which blew canopies away, turning them into projectile missiles... As the sun and pleasant temperatures give way to that monoseason which lasts from October to July, I thought you might need a little motivating to get out there two more times:

ONE: The apple pie contest was moved to this week, October 20! It's not too late to turn out and have your mouth water while you look on.

apple_pie

TWO: It's time to stock up. Last year I experimented with "cold storage" for apples. I put a cooler outside and put a couple bags in and then just ate them at a regular rate. Worked just fine. This frees up refrigerator space for the bags of pears and Asian pears! Potatoes also keep fine in the fridge, and we let squash go all winter just sitting on the floor in the pantry.

THREE: Disaster preparedness! In our home I've been assigned gathering canned/boxed food in case of The Big One. Clearly last Saturday's storm was not The Big One, which means it's still out there. If this nameless disaster were to hit today, based on the current pantry ingredients, my family would be thrown back on lots of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, tuna, a can of coconut milk, and some strange parsley sauce that was on clearance at QFC. Our Market offers tuna, of course, in more flavors and varieties than the grocery store, as well as pickled foods in jars, beef and tuna jerky, jams and honey, and beverages. Because if the power is going to be out or you've been pinned under a fallen bookcase, you might as well live a little.

preparedness

FOUR and FIVE and FIVE-POINT-FIVE: Because walking and vegetables and wine will improve your health. Read a great book this week, which I'll write more about later, but the author's main point was that "healthy habits matter more than weight." And, according to author Sandra Aamodt, "four health habits predict much of the risk of dying over the next fourteen years, regardless of weight." These silver bullets are: (1) not smoking; (2) exercising at least twelve times a month; (3) eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day; and (4) light to moderate drinking. The Market can't help you with your smoking habit, but walking the stalls can be part of your exercising, and there are fruits, vegetables, and wine bottles galore. (FYI, "light to moderate drinking" was defined as a glass of wine per day for women and two glasses for men.)

So you see, I've turned the last couple weeks of the Market into a life-or-death situation for you. So please--choose life!

Can Cheap Food Be Delicious?

Considering the amount of money (not to mention time) my hub spends putting in and tending his garden every summer, I'm pretty sure home-grown food doesn't beat farmed in price, only in enjoyment. We also tend to eat much more of the home-grown produce because--well, you know--when the harvest arrives, it arrives.

Despite two tomato sauce batches, one tomato soup, five Caprese salads, five batches of baked tomatoes, one recipe of bruschetta, tomatoes added to other kinds of salad and soup and Spanish rice, and countless bowls of pico de gallo, we still had plenty of crop left on the vine when it was time to tear the garden out.

The dregs

Thankfully, tomatoes continue to ripen after harvest, albeit not as deliciously as on the vine in hot summer sun. So our little troops are lined up on newspaper in the garage, to extend our season into late fall.

I don't have high hopes for the little green guy

Because I hate to waste food. My kids are regularly subjected to "Clean-Out-the-Fridge" soup, and no chicken bones ever pass through the kitchen without being simmered for stock. (If you don't have enough for a stockpot or time to process them, just throw them in a freezer bag and keep collecting until you do.)

I was pretty excited to hear about this book, you might imagine:

Not only does the publisher promise affordable yumminess, but they also "donate a book to someone who needs it" for every copy purchased! Awesome idea. How it plays out in practice remains to be seen, however, because the book contains recipes that even ardent foodies might hesitate over, like "Mashed Beets" and "Broiled Eggplant Salad" and "Barley Risotto with Peas." Look--I cook my own food and I shop at a farmers market regularly, but there is no way I could get my kids to try 60% of the book's offerings. It might be better to bundle the free book with free copies of

to help "someone who needs it" find the confidence to cook at home, and then throw in

to help all of us get our kids to try more foods and flavors. This one would also work:

All that said, giving Good and Cheap away for free is a great start. Just don't expect it to change the way America eats.

Since my hub and I like vegetables, though, and since his ripping out of the garden filled our pantry with butternut squash, I tried out a recipe from Good and Cheap and found it luscious! (Our squash wasn't as ripe as I would like, so the sweeteners added were my own idea.)

As promised, this recipe was cheap and much more than good.

The main ingredients

Lightly Curried Butternut Squash Soup (adapted from Good and Cheap; Market ingredients "*")

1 butternut squash* (about 2 lbs)
1 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion*, chopped
1 bell pepper*, chopped (recipe called for green, but I would use red or orange next time, so there isn't a bitter note)
3 cloves garlic, minced*
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup brown sugar, optional
dash maple syrup, optional
salt and pepper

sour cream for garnish
chopped scallions for garnish*
chopped cilantro for garnish*

To make my life easier, I halved the squash, seeded it, and threw it in a crock pot on LOW for a few hours until it was cooked. Then I scraped out the flesh and added to the soup later.

Melt butter in soup pot over medium and saute onion through garlic until tender. Add spices and cook another 2 minutes, stirring. Add cooked squash, coconut milk, sweeteners, and 3 cups of water. Stir.

Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Blend thoroughly with immersion blender. Serve with dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of garnish.

I plan to try several more recipes in the book and will report back. In the meantime, just two more Thursday Markets, and this will be Skagit River Ranch's last Thursday. Be sure to ask about signing up for there Bellevue Buyers Club, if you still want to order meat in the off-season.