June 16, 2009

First CSA Pickup

I had my first CSA pickup over the weekend! Basically, a few months ago I wrote a check to Hearty Roots Farm (in Tivoli, NY) and now I pick up whatever they're growing every other Saturday morning. This week was a lot of leafy greens: arugula, spinach, kale and butter lettuce, along with green garlic, radishes and broccoli. I cooked up the broccoli last night with some of the garlic, and on Sunday I took my first stab at making kale chips.

Unfortunately, I misread two teaspoons of olive oil as two tablespoons, and they were quite the greasy bunch. Tasty, but not too crunchy. They kale was pretty plentiful though and I should have a chance to take another shot at it, so I'll post the recipe when I have it down.

On the financial front, the CSA membership breaks down to about $23-24 per pickup, which seems pricey when I think about it that way. So I decided to check out the prices of the same items at my local natural foods market, and I was pretty surprised to see that I would be paying more if I bought them all there (assuming I bought organic, the conventional produce was cheaper.)

1 bag of spinach: $3.99
2 bags of kale: $2.99 each
1 box of arugula: $4.99
1 head of lettuce: $2.49
2 heads of broccoli: $3.99 each (sheesh!)
1 bunch of radishes: $.99 (non-organic)
They didn't have green garlic, but scallions were $.50/bunch (non-organic)

Total: $26.92

Ok, so the difference isn't that huge, and granted, I probably wouldn't buy this much leafy greenery in one trip to the store, but it's also interesting to get it all home and be forced to try seasonal things I wouldn't ordinarily buy, plus there's the whole supporting local farms aspect. And the whole idea is that there will be more actual vegetables later in the summer when they're in season. Mmm...vegetables.

June 10, 2009

Basil Project - Part 2

It's growing!

For some reason I didn't really believe deep down that something I planted, let alone seeds and soil bought at Jack's 99 Cent store, would actually grow. I was also really surprised just to see the tiny little sprouts; I can't remember the last time I saw something grow start to grow, unless you count that lima bean/paper towel project from third grade.

One snag - I left it outside overnight the other day when it stormed so loudly I thought Noah was back with a vengeance, and woke up to some slushy dirt/basil/rainwater stew. I drained the extra water out, but the wee little sprouts got jostled around quite a bit in the process. Again, fingers crossed!

June 8, 2009

"Microwave" Popcorn

Apparently there is such a thing a popcorn workers' lung - people who worked in microwave popcorn factories ended up needing lung transplants because constant exposure to a chemical used in the artificial butter flavoring (diacetyl) causes an incurable form of bronchitis. But one guy who ate microwave popcorn every day ended up with it two years ago, which is when I stumbled on this recipe for the easiest microwave popcorn ever. It's so incredibly easy and cheap that I can't believe anyone actually ever managed to get people to buy the store bought kind in the first place.

-Paper bag (leftover from takeout or you can buy a pack from the grocery story)
-2 tbsp. popcorn kernels (usually available at the store next to the microwave popcorn)
-1-2 tbsp. butter (melted) or olive oil
-Salt and any other seasonings you like (I like Old Bay or chili powder)

Are you ready for these incredibly detailed instructions? Ok, here goes: Put two tablespoons of kernels in the paper bag (fold it like you would for a school lunch) and put it in the microwave for two minutes.

That's pretty much it! I like to use olive oil to season it because it doesn't immediately soak into the kernels like hot butter would, leaving you with some butter drenched kernels and some plain. Put the oil in the bottom of a big bowl, dump in the popcorn and toss around along with your salt and seasonings if you like. This makes about what I would consider one serving; if you want to make a big ol' batch, I would suggest doing it two tablespoons at a time to avoid burning.

Most of the major popcorn manufacturers have dropped the chemical linked to the lung disease, but I'm still not too keen on some of the other ingredients, particularly partially hydrogenated oils, aka trans fats. And diacetyl isn't necessarily listed on the ingredient list anyway, it's a component of the ingredient listed as natural and/or artificial flavor. According to Fast Food Nation, it's also been used in the flavoring for Burger King strawberry milkshakes. Hmm...

Anyway, I'll take the kernels+oil+salt version, thanks!

Flavoring Suspected in Illness, The Washington Post, 5/7/07
FDA to probe popcorn link in man's lung disease, USA Today, 9/5/2007
Labor Dept. Plans New Safety Regulations, ABC News, 4/27/09

June 5, 2009

Basil Project - Part 1

One of the things that had me the most excited about moving into our apartment in Brooklyn is the front patio...outdoor space to grow things! Now mind you, I've never actually grown anything, but the concept of not having something in a pot and then sunlight, water, boom, bang, produce (or so I hear) is fascinating to me.

While I'm still planning a larger(ish) expedition to a garden center, I happened upon this all-in -one basil kit - at Jack's 99 Cent store in Midtown of all places - and for $5, (I've been hard pressed to find a single item for 99 cents in that store) and considering $5 is about what I'd pay for a pre-grown basil plant at a farmer's market and it came with the nifty-spifty bucket, I figured I'd give it a go.

Fingers crossed!

June 4, 2009


Hello friends, and welcome to my blog! As food in all capacities (eating, cooking, buying, reading about, thinking about, growing, etc) is one of my strongest interests, and since the cost of food alongside issues such as local eating, healthy eating and eating fewer processed foods are all the buzz these days, I really wanted to create a blog dedicated to this range of topics.

In particular, I'm interested in exploring these issues as they relate to living in an urban environment, since everything is more expensive here and it's not like we can exactly grow produce in the backyard or easily load up cars with bulk supplies from Costco. I plan on posting relevant articles, inexpensive recipes, and topics unique to eating responsibly, healthfully and inexpensively in the city. Thanks for visiting and I hope you like it here!