A day in the life of my food
The drought is finally over in Nashville, but it has come a little late as many crops have withered away. The two farmer's markets I was relying on for my produce, cheese and other foods had closed up shop a month ago due to lack of produce, drought and heat. These markets began the growing season saying they would be open through October. I am at the mercy of a couple of the local farmers I have become chatty with, and I am now buying directly from them. It is a bit more work than the one-stop-shopping like I used to do at the Whites Creek Farmer's Market, but it is worth ever last minute for the fresh and organic foods.
My Saturday starts by picking up what is fresh at the Hungry Gnome Farm on the North End of town. HGF is my favorite local farm because Alicia and Bert are honest organic farmers using their land well. They are still learning about crop quantities, and methods, and I think they are having fun figuring out the science of growing heirloom crops. I picked up some heirloom tomatoes to make sauce to eat and to freeze for later, and to make ratatouille. I did see the movie, and Matt printed the recipe that made the movie famous, so I really did have to go to my kitchen and make ratatouille.
Then, on the way back to my house, I stopped by the Nashville Farmer's Market to see Smiley's for the rest of the veggies that go into ratatouille, and I picked up a couple baby eggplants, zucchini and yellow summer squash. Smiley, he keeps on smiling!
The other day, I saw a sign for a new farm stand in the 12th Ave South neighborhood. This farm stand is on Halcyon between 10th and 12th Aves. So, as I left the farmer's market, I drove to the new farm stand. This farm stand is owned by a family that sells fresh beans from at the farmer's market, and they have other produce too like squash, zucchini, and tomatoes. Scott, a young man, the grandson of the farm owner, was sitting there by himself. He was friendly and hopeful people will buy his veggies. Since I already had my ratatouille veggies, I opted for 2 ears of Amish corn they were selling, and some fruit. I know it is late in the season for corn in TN, but I am just not ready to let go of summer. This little farm stand is so convenient to the 12th Ave South neighborhood, that I hope the residents support this little farm stand. The 12th Ave South neighborhood is easily walkable, and I hope to see the neighbors walking to get fresh produce from this farm stand, just like the old world way of doing things.
I left the little farm stand, wishing Scott well and told him I would try to be back sometime in the next week or two. I hopped on over to a new pasta store, Lazzaroli shop, I heard about from another foodie in Nashville. Lazzaro, I met him twice, a couple years ago, once at a completely non-food context, and another during a meeting at a locally food specialty market. I was thrilled to be able to the possibilities of buying fresh pasta from another former Philadelphia guy, who knows what real pasta is all about, I took his card. Lazzzaro was only an email biz, and a personal delivery or pickup situation at that time. But, I never bought from him back then because, well, I am terrible with biz cards. I took it, and it got lost amongst other cards. I am thrilled he opened a shop, and I got to buy some pasta. I opted for his spinach ravioli as I thought those would go with my ratatouille.
Lazzaroil's has a bunch of other ravioli flavors like eggplant, pumpkin and cheese. There is also fresh pasta that are noodles, and there is a big wall of oils. There are a limited amount of cheeses and Italian cured meats for now. I am sure the offerings will grow as the store matures.
So, here is the recipe that made the movie famous, and the one I followed. The recipe was kind of more about a method rather than measuring, so it worked out well for me.
add eggplant and bring back to simmer
add tomatoes and bring back to simmer
cover for 15 minutes
add zucchini and squash bring back to simmer
cover for 15 minutes
(I deviated from the recipe some by adding a little of my homemade merlot wine into the stew to help the alcohol releasing flavors)
So, my plate was made with all local veggies, spices and wine, and locally made ravioli. It was a good dinner. The cost of my dinner for 2 with enough leftovers for a 2nd meal? It cost us about $12, or $3 per serving. Why am I bring up cost? Well when I stopped by to pick up my goods at Hungry Gnome, Alicia asked me if I spend more on local and local organic foods? The reality is that my weekly household budget has remained the same and has decreased compared to big box produce shopping. The benefits over big box groceries are that I have better tasting and fresher foods, I know where my food comes from and has less of a chance of being tainted (poisoned) like China imported products, and I only buy what I can use, rather than having too much pre-packaged as they do at big box stores.