16 Top Tips For Shopping a Farmers Market

by Anne Maxfield on June 18, 2018

Accidental Locavore Farmers Market Produce As we start to get into peak farmers’ market season, here are my top tips for making the most of your market trip:

accidental-locavore-farmers-market-haul16 Top Tips For Shopping Your Farmers’ Market:

  1. If you want something special or the best selection, shop early
  2. When you find a farmer or stand you like, ask for a card. That way you’ll always know who has the perfect tomatoes.
  3. Bring bags, both big and small. A plastic box is always handy for carrying precious berries
  4. Bring cash, small bills and change
  5. Leave kids and dogs at home if at all possible
  6. Park bikes
  7. Give yourself time to cruise the market and then go back to make purchases
  8. Ask the farmers for advice and don’t forget to admire all their hard work!
  9. Even if you’re in a hurry, hand money directly to the person behind the counter. Don’t leave it on the counter or wave it in their face.
  10. Don’t shuck corn. Corn in the husk stays fresher, gives you more cooking options and is actually easier to shuck once it’s cooked.
  11. As tempting as it is to squeeze the tomatoes, if you don’t buy it, it will end up like a water balloon by the end of the day.
  12. Ask to taste something, but take the box you tasted it from if you’re going to buy it.
  13. Try something different. If you’re not sure what to do with it, ask the farmer.
  14. Be clean. Don’t leave trash or coffee cups on the counters.
  15. Wash everything when you get home. Store in clear containers or bags so you’ll see it and use it.
  16. Enjoy! There’s nothing better than food straight from the farm.

accidental-locavore-farmers-market-lettuceAny tips you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments below.

If you’d like a sheet to print out, click here. Accidental Locavore Farmers Market Tomatoes

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Kitchen Arts & Letters

by Anne Maxfield on June 11, 2018

Accidental Locavore Cookbooks for Kitchen Arts & LettersKitchen Arts & Letters is a throwback to the days of bookstores where you could easily while away hours browsing and come out with armfuls of books, in this case, cookbooks, both usual and rare.

One of my friends believed you always had to buy more than one pair of shoes at a time and I always felt the same way about books.

Back in the day, you’d wander into a bookstore and before you were done, there was always more than one book in the bag.

If you apply that logic, Kitchen Arts & Letters is a very dangerous place. They specialize in cookbooks and have been around for decades, so it’s exactly that fantasy cookbook store of your imagination, come to life (and ready to accept any forms of payment). Packed to the rafters with any sort of cookbook you need, or suddenly discover you can’t live without.

Recently I got to know the owner, Nach Wachman through a series of emails, while I was trying to downsize miles of cookbooks before a move.

Accidental Locavore Cookbooks for Kitchen Arts & LettersI snapped some photos of the books I have and sent them to him. He wasn’t interested in most of them, which I figured, but in subsequent emails, he thought he might have interest in 3 others. I dropped them off in the store (and was incredibly well restrained—no dawdling, no browsing).

A few days later, I got what has to have been the nicest letter of rejection—or in this 21st century case, an email, saying that sadly Kitchen Arts & Letters found my books to be of little monetary value.
Please understand that I didn’t think a handful of books would be funding our move to France—paying for a coffee and croissant or two was more what I was hoping for.

Accidental Locavore Cookbooks for Kitchen Arts & LettersHere with some edits is the email he sent me:

“Oh, dear, I feel awful about this. Usually a back-and-forth of the sort we’ve been carrying on works out pretty well. You send a list, we pick some likely prospects, we see the books, and we send you a check. I’m afraid that in this case it simply didn’t much work out.
First, the Fannie Farmer: It turns out that what you had was not, in fact, the Boston Cooking-School Cookbook but another book Farmer published in 1912 entitled The New Book of Cookery, which she referred to as “a sequel” to the Boston. That one, available only until a last printing in 1917, was kind of a bust and has practically no market even now.
And the Bugialli, while in very nice condition, is not signed but what is known as “inscribed,” that is written to a particular individual. Inscriptions can be lovely and personal, but to a collector they are of relatively little value–unless the inscription itself had special appeal–say Julia Child sending a copy of one of her books to James Beard. Yours is sweet and quirky, but unless we could find a customer named “Anne,” not too salable.
This is dreadful–books you have owned, books you like, and someone comes along and stomps on them the way they might kick a puppy. I think that under the circumstances, I should simply return the books to you with genuine regret and no small portion of embarrassment. I am dreadfully sorry that I put you through all that bother and sorry, too, that that we couldn’t find books we could use. I surely wish it were otherwise.”

Now if there are any cookbooks to be added to my (pared to the bare bones) inventory, I’m bypassing “Buy now with 1 click” and supporting a small business with a big heart.

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RealEats

by Anne Maxfield on June 4, 2018

Accidental Locavore RealEats SalmonIf “cooking” a meal from Blue Apron is too much work for you, or you’re challenged for good take out or delivery, RealEats might be just what you need.

It’s a weekly meal delivery service, with a rotating menu of about 18 entrée choices. They’re all single portions, which is great if you’ve got a family that has mixed food preferences. You can feed them all something they’ll enjoy at the same time and only have one pot to deal with.

If you can boil water, you can cook everything RealEats has.

All the food is based on a sous-vide technique, or for those of us old enough to remember—boil-in bags.

You plop the vacuum sealed bags in a pot of boiling water for up to 6 minutes. Open the packets, plate them, et voilà, dinner.

All the ingredients are responsibly sourced and non-GMO.

Accidental Locavore RealEats UnpackedThey offered me my choice of 4 meals to try. Since everything on that week’s menu looked pretty good, I left it up to them to pick.

I got a cute box on my doorstep a couple of days later, with a bunch of plastic pouches nestled in an insulated pouch surrounded by ice packs. They’re very conscious about their packaging, keeping it to a minimum and everything is either recycled or recyclable.

RealEats sent us Beef Bourguignon, Honey Soy Salmon, Harissa Chicken Bowl and Farrotto. Each meal consisted of about 3 separate pouches (about a dozen pouches total) all labeled with what they were and how long they needed to cook (if at all).

I was surprised that someone hadn’t thought to color-code all the labels (think Garanimals) so you could put the ingredients for each dish together without having to read the label. And you have to have refrigerator space (which if you don’t cook, you probably would have) for all the packets.

Accidental Locavore RealEats BeefBeef Bourguignon was tasty, flavorful but with no real taste of wine. The beef was nicely cooked and went well with the roasted Cipollini onions. The only disappointing note was the mashed cauliflower and white beans. It was a great accompaniment for soaking up the sauce from the beef and onions, but there was a flavor in there that neither of us were crazy about.

Next up was the Honey Soy Salmon. The ginger carrots that accompanied the fish and brown rice were nicely undercooked, with a little crunch to them and a lot of flavor. The salmon was cooked all the way through, which left it a little dry. I’ve gotten used to salmon being served slightly undercooked so that might just be my personal preference. The brown rice with it was flavorful, but also a bit dry.

Accidental Locavore RealEats FarrottoWe were both surprised by the Farrotto. It was one of the new vegetarian options made with farro cooked in the style of risotto with spring vegetables and topped with a mixture of Parmesan cheese with some red pepper flakes tossed in. It was by far our favorite dish, and one we would definitely order again!

The last dish was the Harissa Chicken Bowl. It was one I was hoping they would send because it sounded great—grilled chicken with harissa is always good by me. The chicken was perfectly cooked—hard with chicken breasts, but there was no spice or hint of harissa. The roasted sweet potatoes were sadly undercooked—okay for carrots but not potatoes, except for one morsel that was nice and tender. The brown rice was dry, but greens were good.

Accidental Locavore RealEats ChickenI’m thrilled to know about RealEats because it’s a great option for when you know you’ve got a tough week coming up and don’t/won’t feel like cooking. It’s also good for families where everyone eats something different, people who for whatever reason can’t cook, anyone looking for portion control, it’s a fun way to add variety and unfamiliar ingredients to your repertoire and maybe the most important? You’ll have an immediate answer to “what’s for dinner?”

 

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Grilled Artichokes With Remoulade

by Anne Maxfield on May 28, 2018

Accidental Locavore Grilled ArtichokeOK, your first thought, like the Accidental Locavore’s, is probably – artichokes are time-consuming enough to cook, why would I want to grill them, but trust me, you do.

And, you want to grill them on charcoal. I’m only slightly a charcoal snob, because there are many times when time is at a premium and it’s faster to toss something on a gas grill. For this, the smoky taste from the charcoal is really the reason you’re grilling them in the first place, so go light some charcoal!

While you’re waiting for the grill to be ready, wash and trim the artichokes. I had two big ones; figure on at least 1/2 per person depending on the size and what role they’re playing in your meal (appetizer, main course, side dish). You can save a lot of time, by wrapping them in either Saran Wrap or parchment paper, and steaming them in the microwave for about 8 minutes (again depending on size and microwave strength) until the stem end is tender and gives when you touch it.

Once they’re cool enough to work with, cut them in half. Using a small spoon, carefully remove the choke and the smallest inner leaves (if you want to, the choke can be removed before you cook them, but it’s easier this way). Brush the artichokes with either a little melted butter, some of the remoulade you’re going to eat with them or a little good olive oil.

Grill them, cut side down, for about 5 minutes, then flip and grill the other side for about 5 more minutes. Serve with the remoulade sauce below, or your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!

My verdict: These were great! Absolutely worth doing over charcoal, and definitely worth grilling! This may sound silly, but it’s awfully nice to have the chokes already removed so you can just zip though them. My quick version of a remoulade may or may not be terribly authentic, but it sure tasted good! I think it’s one of those things that takes well to improvisation. Probably having some homemade mayo helped too, but by this point I hope I’ve convinced you ages ago that it’s the only way to go.
Accidental Locavore RemouladeRemoulade 

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise (preferably homemade)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
  • 3 anchovy filets, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon chives, finely minced (or scallions)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Mix everything together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust to suit your palette.

 

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