My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.


Archive for the ‘thrifty eating in btv’

What To Do with that Tasteless Canteloupe 3

Posted on August 25, 2011 by crankycheryl

We were standing around the melon bin at last week’s CSA pick-up, and I was explaining to my mom what I knew about picking out a good canteloupe.

  1. It should feel heavy for its size.
  2. Its blossom end should have some give.  (Which end is the blossom end?  One side will be where the fruit broke from the thick vine, and you’ll be able to see the outline of where the vine was.  The other end is where the fruit grew from the flower, and that’s where you’ll want to press to see if it’s a little soft.)
  3. It should smell like you want it to taste – fruity and a little sweet.

So people started gathering around, looking at me and looking down at the melons in their hands.  I kept repeating myself, and soon there was a small group of us standing around sniffing and hefting and poking and nodding and shrugging.

Though my 3-point list let me pretend to be a candidate for mayor of Melonville, as often as not, I end up with a tasteless melon from our CSA share.  At the store, I ask for a taste of melons before I buy them, and if I can’t have a taste and end up with a dud then I’ll return it for a refund.  But you can’t do that at the farm, and that’s why I’ve been working on ways to use those less-than-perfect ones.  Here are a couple of my latest favorites.

Spicy Honeyed Canteloupe
Serves ~10 (adjust as necessary – we were having a dinner party and so wanted a big platter)

  • 1 whole canteloupe, seeds removed, sliced
  • 3 T. honey
  • 1 t. hot pepper (I used Aleppo, which has a great texture and is mildly hot.  You could sort of fake it with 1/2 t. sweet paprika and 1/2 t. hot pepper flakes)
  • sprinkle of kosher salt
To prepare:
  1. Put melon on platter, drizzle honey over, then sprinkle pepper and salt.
  2. Serve either cold or at room temperature.
Canteloupe Lemonade
6-8 servings
  • cubed flesh from one canteloupe, pureed in blender with 2-3 T. water
  • 2 c. lemon juice
  • 3/4 – 1 c. sugar, depending on whether the melon is at all sweet
  • water as needed
To make:
  1. For a smooth lemonade, strain the canteloupe through a mesh strainer, add water as needed to get to 6 cups total liquid.  If you don’t mind some texture, you can skip the straining and just add water as necessary to get to 6 cups.
  2. Mix together canteloupe, lemon juice and 3/4 c. sugar.  Stir well to dissolve sugar, then chill and serve.
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Good Finds at Cheese Traders 2

Posted on July 26, 2011 by crankycheryl

What is it about a discount that makes us go crazy?   Have you noticed what happens when a price is reduced, how we start thinking,

Well, why isn’t it reduced more?  It’s 20% off?  Who cares?  Why not cheaper?  Why isn’t it free?  Why don’t they just give it to me, plus one for my mom and a free cookie too?  And a pony!  I want a pony!

Seriously, sales make people lose their minds.   And this has led to a sad realization for me, the perennially thrifty mom.  I was forced to notice that I myself have this trait, and it’s especially evident during bargain-hunting trips to Cheese Traders.

If you’re not familiar with them, consider stopping in to check out what interesting finds they’ve got in their cheese cases and on the grocery shelves.  Besides really good prices on many local cheeses (I overheard a staffer saying to another, “We have a very low mark-up on the Vermont cheeses, but tend to have a higher profit on everything else,” which may be true in general but they definitely can have great deals on cheeses and other items from farther away too.  If you’re hunting down the serious bargains, you just need to know general retail prices so you can evaluate the deals for yourself).

I found myself walking by the display of boxes of organic dehydrated mashed potatoes during my visits.  They’re a great secret weapon to have on the shelf, convenient for all sorts of things, especially if you’re a gluten-free cook:  breading for fried or baked chicken or fish or tofu, a thickener for soup or sauces, or even – yes – can just become mashed potatoes for a quick side dish.  Plus they’re organic, and since potatoes grown with modern conventional practices continually earn their place on the “dirty dozen list” of pesticide-contaminated vegetables, organic is the way to go when it comes to spuds.

(By the way: here in Vermont, even the allegedly conventional growers tend to use pretty great practices.  Ask your farmer what treatments they use if they’re not certified organic, as you may well find that they’re practically organic anyway.)

But back to these little pre-fab boxes with 6 or so servings that had been priced at something like a whole dollar each.  Somehow the amount just scrambled my thrift-hungry brain.  So I didn’t buy any again and again, even though they retail for $3.  But guess what?  Now they’re THREE for that dollar, and it’s time to stock up.  No matter how crazy your inner bargain-hunter may be.

So if you’re local and agree with me that this is something that could make a happy home in your pantry, get yourself over there and buy a few.  Oh, and they’ve got a cooler full of organic Liberte Kefir from our Canadian neighbors too.

And if you’re as wacky as I am, we can get together for a big yogurt and potato dinner and boast about the good deal we got on them.

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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