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Archive for September, 2012

Friends and Farms

Hi hi. I promised an update on our new Friends and Farms service. We’ve gotten three baskets of food, and I can happily report that I love it!  Our first week’s basket included:

  • milk,
  • cheddar cheese (from NY… I was actually a little disappointed by that fact, but the cheese was tasty anyway),
  • corn,
  • tomatoes,
  • onions,
  • plums,
  • green beans,
  • green peppers,
  • a cubanelle pepper (?? I think that’s what it was),
  • “sandwich steaks” (thin cuts… we cooked them in a pan and had cheesesteaks),
  • chicken breasts
  • a loaf of bread
  • a watermelon
  • two humongous carrots

It all comes in two reusable shopping bags and one insulated bag packed into a big, plastic crate. Here’s the bounty, out of the bags and about to go in the fridge:

As mentioned, we used the beef for cheesesteaks, followed up by cold sandwiches for lunch the next day. We chopped up some of the tomatoes and onions for bruschetta (whipped up by Paula while she was here), and used the chicken for piccata (I like this simple recipe) and a quick stir-fry using more onion and the green peppers (served with a side of rice). I cooked the green beans in butter and olive oil with a shallot, two cloves of garlic and some chicken broth (similar to the recipe found here) – DELICIOUS.

I muddled some fresh mint and watermelon with a packet of Splenda and added ice and Leblon Cachaca (a liquor similar to rum) and called it a watermelon mojito. Totally amazing. I ripped off the idea from Ina Garten. If you wanted a less hardcore version, you could add some soda water. Or maybe lemon-lime soda? That might be good too.

Here’s the second basket:

There’s a whole chicken in there. With giblets – ew! I was intimidated, but I’ve cooked a whole turkey before, so it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. Plus, a great feature of the F&F website is that they provide recipes using some of the ingredients each week. I followed their “garlic chicken in a pot” recipe, and it turned out really well. And garlicky. It calls for four heads of garlic. Heads! Not cloves! I smelled like garlic for days.

In addition to the chicken, the basket included:

  • milk,
  • a loaf of bread,
  • beef short ribs (I braised them, recipe here but I didn’t use any pancetta),
  • grape tomatoes,
  • jalapenos (tomatoes plus jalapenos equals fresh salsa in this house),
  • peaches,
  • lettuce,
  • cucumbers,
  • zucchini,
  • yellow squash,
  • potatoes,
  • a honeydew melon,
  • a dozen eggs
  • breakfast sausage.

By this Friday’s basket, I figured out that we can see the items better if I put them on the counter. Duh.

This week’s haul is:

  • milk,
  • a loaf of bread,
  • chicken pieces,
  • pepper & onion sausage (I plan to use it in F&F’s risotto recipe),
  • grape tomatoes,
  • apples,
  • mustard greens,
  • corn,
  • green beans,
  • whole milk yogurt (REALLY good – like melty ice cream),
  • cantaloupe,
  • the biggest eggplant I’ve ever seen.

I’d be interested to price out a similar list of groceries at our Safeway to see how it compares; I’m thinking it would probably be cheaper than the $51/week we’re spending, but shopping at the Safeway would take away two of the main benefits. For one, we’re eating way more fresh produce now, even though we always had access to it. And secondly, we have a jumping-off point for meals. So instead of wandering aimlessly through the grocery store, we have to come up with ways to use the ingredients in the baskets (it makes us eat more varied meals, too).

Oh, also, the tomatoes are SO GOOD. Those food people are absolutely right when they complain about the tomatoes from the grocery store tasting like “nothing.” Our F&F tomatoes have been notably sweet and tomato-y.

I would whole-heartedly recommend F&F to others, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. It’s best for people who eat most of their meals at home, enjoy cooking and are willing to experiment with new foods. I, for one, have never cooked with mustard greens. I don’t know what they taste like. I never would have put them in my shopping cart at Safeway. I’m guessing they taste like mustard? Guess we’re about to find out.

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