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Posts Tagged ‘watermelons’

Banana melon, some 15 inches long. It tasted like a really sweet cantaloupe. I am SO tired of melons that taste like cantaloupe. What ever happened to old-fashioned watermelons that were sweet, juicy and red inside?

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I finally made it to Huntsville’s new Earth Fare location last weekend, although I failed to spend the requisite $100-plus some customers have brag-complained about.

Earth Fare is like any other grocery store in its basic layout: If you stick to the perimeter, where the produce, dairy products, meats, cheeses and breads are located, you’ll spend less money and get healthier food for your family. Head to the interior aisles, however, and you may spend more than you should on things you don’t need, like frozen waffles,  cereals, prepackaged mixes and fancy juices.

Yes, eventually you’ll have to venture to a middle aisle, if nothing else than to find Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew, seriously the only soda I waste calories on anymore. But consider another pass through the produce area instead of grabbing a couple of boxes of all natural fruit chews off the shelf, especially if you intend to grouse about prices later.

Earth Fare’s biggest draws for me, in order: the bulk bins (grains, not candy), the produce selection, the fresh peanut butter grinders (husband thing) and the olive bar. The olive bar is a tad pricey at almost $10 a pound, but it’s great when you just need a few olives of a certain type for a recipe, or you get a craving flung on you for a few spoonfuls of marinated mushrooms.

Some folks want to criticize the store for carrying non-local produce, and I admit I was momentarily disappointed to find watermelons from Honduras on display. What I forgot for a second, and what a lot of people forget when they rant about produce being shipped into their regions, is that we don’t HAVE watermelons locally in May. Local tomatoes don’t exist in March. Local citrus … uh, no.

If we want all fruits and vegetables the whole year round, we have to accept the fact that they will not come from any place close by. I do hope to see local produce in Earth Fare as the summer progresses, however, and the natural crop cycles play out.

In the meantime, my supply of steel-cut oats has taken a beating this weekend (they take a ridiculously long time to cook, but emerge from the pot chewy and creamy, subtly sweet after I add just a hint of brown sugar and a scattering of raisins), and the freshly ground peanut/dark chocolate mixture my husband requested seems to be dwindling as well. A return trip to the outer edges of Earth Fare may be in order.

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OK, I know I sound like a shill, but you should totally buy a share in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program this summer.

I had the best time last year with my weekly pickups from Dennison’s Family Farm in Elora, Tenn. It really did turn into my own version of Iron Chef, having to work with whatever ingredients showed up in the box each week. And since there are few things scarier for my husband to hear than the statement “I made something new for dinner,” it’s somewhat of a miracle that he had a blast with it, too.

It’s a lesson in the natural cycle of crops for those who aren’t used to the whims of Mother Nature. For example, last year’s rains made for a very short corn crop, so I didn’t get nearly the amount of corn I had expected, but I got tons of tomatoes, chard and peppers of all varieties. And strawberries. Not those tasteless baby-fist-sized strawberries you get at the grocery store, but juicy, delectable berries, so many that you can’t eat them all and will be forced to make the best ice cream ever with them. Darn the luck.

Some folks tell me that they just prefer to go to the farmer’s market, which is cool if you like rolling out of bed before 9 a.m. on Saturdays. Which, truthfully, I have been known to do. But what I find myself not doing at the farmer’s market is buying something I’m unfamiliar with, or buying so much of something that I have enough to freeze for later. (I’ve got two more servings of zucchini/onion/garlic soup base in the freezer, and I just ran out of frozen bell pepper slices in January.) Even if you’re not going to get into canning, you can still have a little taste of summer when it’s 30 degrees outside.

Seriously, it was the best summer food-wise that I’ve had since that summer in the early 1980s when my grandfather and I grew a huge patch of watermelons and I ate my weight in fresh tomatoes.

Head to Dennison’s page on LocalHarvest for details on its 10-week program, or search for a CSA closer to you.

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