Good and Cheap

Last Thursday Market of the Season!

The mournful day is upon us this week--our last Thursday Market of 2015. Thankfully we still have the Saturday Market until Thanksgiving, but you've probably noticed several vendors are unique to our weekday Market.

One prominent one is Vashon Island's famous Sea Breeze Farm. Foodies have long known these producers of dairy and meats of all sorts, and some of you might even have enjoyed dinner at the Farm on the Island. Sea Breeze raises cows, sheep, chickens, ducks, pigs, and even sometimes geese, rotating their stock on green, green grass. They're your go-to for raw-milk dairy products and specialty sausages, as well as old standbys like bacon.

Those square little suckers piled up are duck breasts!

(I apologize for the terrible pictures, a combination of their glass display case and my phone camera.)

For the folks who've eaten everything

It was the "Lamb Merguez Crepinettes" which first drew my eye, since I'd never heard of such a thing. It turns out this creation is spiced lamb sausage wrapped in caul fat. Who knew? If you Google "Lamb Merguez Crepinettes," it turns out there's a whole subculture well-versed in their crepinettes of all sorts.

Being less daring last week, I chose the more familiar Chorizo, to use at some point in a recipe for Chorizo and White Bean Ragu.

When I do make the recipe, I'll be sure to pair it with my new favorite vegetable, the "Smoky and Spicy Roasted Cauliflower" from Good and Cheap, which I mentioned last week.

To this point we haven't had any cauliflower fans in our household, but this one won over the adults. Grab a head of cauliflower this week and give it a go. And enjoy this last Thursday!

Smoky and Spicy Roasted Cauliflower (from Good and Cheap)

1 head cauliflower, stem and florets, cut into small pieces
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp paprika
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F. Spread cauliflower and garlic in roasting pan and drizzle with butter. Sprinkle on the spices and toss. Bake 45-60 minutes till nicely (and even darkly) browned. Squeeze garlic out over cauliflower and serve.

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.