Saturday, August 11, 2012

Making the most out of what is in the fridge... and going to the farmer's market

Lately things have been a little tight... I know, money is usually tight. But every now and then it gets just a little bit tighter and we have to be extra careful about every penny that we spend as well as every bit of food that we have around. I'm not one to waste (obviously) but when it comes to food, sometimes it happens if I'm not paying close enough attention. You know, the veggies that start going bad before you get to use them, the leftovers that we forget to eat... it happens.

But not right now (if I can help it).

So I found that my kids were looking for more snacky things to eat and my older two kids were going to an acting camp for a few weeks and needed to have lots of food to pack. I also found that without homework to do, my kids needed some direction so as not to drive me totally crazy.

So, I rummaged through the fridge and found that we had a lot of pears that were on the edge of going bad - still good to eat but I knew the kids weren't going to eat them in the state that they were in.
I decided to make a pear crisp... with the help of my kids of course.
I didn't really follow a recipe that I can share with you - that's the best part about cleaning out the fridge... you can make it up as you go. I basically chopped up all of the pears (ok, my kids really did that part) and in a separate bowl I tossed together some flour (I used spelt), oats, sugar, lots of melted butter and some maple syrup. It's good to make sure that you have enough butter/maple syrup so that there isn't any loose flour or oats floating around - this is what makes the topping crispy. I put a little sugar on the pears and a pinch of salt and tossed them before laying them in a baking dish. Then I put the flour mixture on top of the pears and spread it out. I baked it in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until I thought the topping looked good.
And then I rummaged through my freezer and found some coconut ice cream that no one wanted to finish and I served them together, so that no one could object.
Of course no one did.


And just because I haven't blogged in forever but have lots of material I'm just waiting to share with you, I will tell you about the garlic, which will give me a reason to talk about the farmers' market.

I had a lot of garlic this morning.

I'm not sure how it happened, but suddenly, there it was. Some free garlic from work. Some garlic gifted to me from a friend who shares his farm share with us now and then when it's too much food for him to eat. A bag of garlic still covered in dirt that a friend harvested and passed on to me weeks ago that I put out of my mind.

So, I sat down and went through it and came up with a plan of action. Sometimes, a plan of action is necessary to avoid food waste. This plan of action involved making pickles, roasting lots of garlic and sharing some with dear friends that were in town for just one night. So I cleaned it all and got ready.

First thing's first though - for pickles I needed more then just garlic. So, off to the farmers' market we went. I LOVE farmer's markets. While I do get my fair share of good local produce from work for a fabulous discount, I can't but help going to farmers' markets and putting my hard earned money directly into the hands of the people who grow/make the food. It really is such a great thing that has cultivated over time. To find a farmers' market near you or near where you might be traveling, go here.
Here is some of the loot that I scored from a farmers' market trip that I took a few weeks ago. I had intended to blog about it, but time got away from me... so I'll slip it in here. Unfortunately, there are the occasional times when I can't avoid the plastic bag. In this case it was the gluten free cookies that I promised my youngest (his brother and sister where chowing down fresh, unpackaged, gluten filled baked goods) and the lettuce. We had gotten to the market too late for the unbagged heads of lettuce and I was determined to leave with some form of salad makings, so I compromised.

And yes, lobsta.
I couldn't pass up a live lobster at the farmers' market! I took him home and made some yummy lobster salad for lunch. Thank you lobster!

But I digress.

So, this morning I went to said farmers' market and bought a bunch of pickling cucumbers. Quite a deal really - I think I paid $3 for a pound and a half of pickling cucumbers, and they made 2 jars of pickles for me. Considering how much my family loves pickles, I think that's a fair deal.
I talked about making pickles before, but I didn't follow much of a recipe this time. My youngest politely asked me not to put dill in them this time (what?) so I obliged. Mainly, it is garlic, onions and cucumbers in a brine of vinegar, sugar and salt. Pretty simple and I'm sure they will be great.

And then, I roasted up some garlic.
My son has a runny nose and I'm trying to fight off an unidentifiable rash, so I figured that we can't have too much garlic... right? This is super easy if you've never done it before: chop off the garlic right at the top of the cloves (this makes it easy to get them out), coat them in some olive oil and sprinkle a little salt on top (optional). Then, bake them at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn. Let them cool and eat! Great for spreading on anything or adding to dips.


As for the rest of my fridge and freezer, it's time to dig through the back once again and eliminate anything that might have been neglected for too long. I will save anything that I can and make something from it. I've already made another crisp since making the pear crisp - an apple cherry crisp. The good thing is that getting creative helps both make use of something that might have been wasted AND makes hungry kids happy... that is, if you make something good.