fruits and vegetables

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!

Blink, and You Might Miss These

We were at the Mariners game last night, being alternately grieved, thrilled, annoyed, and then thrilled again by the 7-6, extra-inning triumph over the Detroit Tigers. There was mediocre pitching. There was a bag of kettle corn and a serving of garlic fries. There was a grand slam. There were Tigers fans getting on my nerves.

Thanks for the pic, MLB.com

I bring all this up for no reason, except that the Mariners don't win all that often, and we ought to savor it.

Just as we ought to savor the summer fruit season as it goes whizzing by! The strawberries are already done and the cherries soon to follow.

Get 'em while they last!

 Tell me you've tasted these offerings as well...?

FYI, a "nectarcot" is an awesome sweet-tart fruit that reminded me of a pluot. All our fruits are coming at us at an accelerated pace because of the heat wave, so we have to stay alert! My hub even spotted ripening blackberries among the monstrous weeds that threaten to overtake the Greater Puget Sound if you relax your vigilance for even a few months. Blackberries. In July.

But while we're snatching up fruit as the season flies by, don't miss other tasty things making appearances.

Did you notice the smoked tuna on offer at Fishing Vessel St. Jude's? So. Yummy.

Under a glass dome, like the treasure it is

And how about the appearance of Jujubeet, with their cold-pressed juices and wholesome snacks? More on them later because I used to work at their Bellevue store, but for now, one of their publicity shots:

I've had this exact drink at Jujubeet

And, this Saturday (7/11) and next Thursday (7/16), don't miss the reappearance of Peasant Food Manifesto, food truck of awesomeness.

Where I had this so-luscious mac and cheese with kimchi:

If any of you out there are Mariners fans, you know the valuable life lessons fandom teaches, which easily apply to eating seasonally:

  1. You can't have whatever goodness you want, whenever you want it.
  2. When the good times come, milk them for all they're worth.
A friend who accompanied us to the game happened to be up getting food and refilling water bottles when the Mariners loaded the bases and Austin Jackson hit his first career grand slam. He heard the pandemonium but got no closer to the festivities than staring up at the monitor by the concession stand. 
Sadly, that will be me, with this week's Markets. I'll be eating pool concessions at the kids' swim meets while you all have a ball. Think of me, when you're enjoying summer's walk-off victories.

Fresh, Frozen, or Canned? 10 Things to Know about Produce

In a favorite foodie book that I reviewed here, the author performed "inventories" of people's kitchens. She would root through their cabinets and refrigerators, figuring out what they really ate (or didn't eat, in the case of the refrigerator crisper drawer).

As you might expect, results were quirky, surprising, and largely grim. The author then proceeded to give the embarrassed person basic cooking lessons, and all was well. Or at least improved.

As our stupid 12-year-old refrigerator is on its last legs and has become incontinent during the cooling cycle again (and the ice maker and water dispenser haven't worked in ages), I've been researching its replacement. Farewell, hundreds and hundreds of dollars! But it did occur to me that I could do a vicious purge of the appliance's contents and start fresh.

What contents, you say? Let's say we just talk about the produce, since that's where I'm headed here. A quick scan revealed:

  • Two bunches of scallions. I forgot I still had some and purchased more.
  • Four apples, one Braeburn (icky and mushy from Fred Meyer--I have to use them in smoothies because no one will eat them) and three Cameo from QFC (a little crunchier, but it may be time to give up on apples until the Bellevue Farmers Market has them in the summer).
  • Three D'Anjou pears. Still decent and still local.
  • Half a Napa cabbage head.
  • The ancient core of a head of lettuce, fist size, as if the cartoon witch doctor got a hold of it.
  • Three bunches of celery, two partial and one whole. Note to self: stop buying celery!
  • One broccoli crown.
  • One bunch of carrots.
  • Half a cucumber.
  • One bag grapefruit.
  • One bag mandarin oranges.
  • One bunch bananas.
  • Three heirloom oranges.
  • One box frozen spinach.
  • One bag frozen green beans.
  • One bag frozen peas.
  • One bag frozen corn.
So what I wondered was, which are most nutritious? Fresh or frozen? I would throw canned in there as well, except I hardly ever have canned vegetables or fruit, besides tomatoes.
Remember what picked-that-day looked like?
If you have time, read this entire article from UC Davis on the subject. If you don't, I have boiled it down to 10 Things to Know About Produce:
  1. Fruits and veggies grown in North America may spend up to 5 days in transit before they hit the shelves. Produce grown from farther afield might spend a few days (air freight) to several weeks making the journey.
  2. Nutrient composition is affected by the timeline, mechanical harvesting, temperature, handling, and how the food is prepared.
  3. Water-soluble vitamins like C and B are degraded by processing and leach out into cooking water or the canning medium.
  4. Canning does reduce vitamins C and B content by 10-90% and 7-70%, respectively, but after that the nutrient level stabilizes. (Whew! Wouldn't want to lose that last 10-30% of the nutritional value!)
  5. Even frozen produce is blanched before freezing, with some nutrient loss, but if properly stored afterward, the C and B nutrient levels stabilize. Until you then cook them, I suppose.
  6. Good news! Canned tomatoes have higher lycopene content than fresh exactly because of the heat used in processing them.
  7. Good news, part two! Fiber content remains relatively unaffected by thermal processing or by freezing, so there's that.
  8. Good news, part three! The fat-soluble vitamins like A and E, and the carotenoids (which include lycopene) actually stay pretty stable during storage, processing, and cooking. In fact, for carrots, as they sat a couple weeks in refrigerated storage, their beta carotene levels increased. Not so for green beans.
We hang on to our lycopene, thank you very much.
What does all this mean? Two takeaways:
1. When possible, eat fresh produce that hasn't traveled long or been exposed to heat. Keep your produce cold and eat it soon after buying. When not possible, canned and frozen vegetables and fruits will do, but you probably have to eat more of them to get the same nutritional value. 
2. Those vegetables and fruits we buy at the Bellevue Farmers Market, often harvested that morning or the day before, are at their nutrient peaks. We should buy as we go (Thursday, and again on Saturday) and consume ASAP. What's the point of eating vegetables if they aren't even as good for you as you hoped?