The Challenge: Day Six

Today, another visit to the farmer’s market. This time, though, with certain requirements in mind, as Sunday will bring a larger number of people together here for sun and supper: if everyone shows up, we will have a nice-sized group of ten.

The answer: the cost to purchase items at the market that are tasty, nutritious, fit in with meal planning, and will last awhile.

The question: what is $51?

Now, $51 would get dinner for two at a midlevel restaurant around here (without drinks or tips), with an appetizer, main, and perhaps a shared dessert. What we picked up today will feed many more people for more than one meal. I kept meticulous track of each dollar spent this morning, and the tab came exactly to $51. The most expensive item was of course the shrimp ($7/pound, $20 for three pounds, head on, fresh from Mayport).

A closer look.

Cucumbers, green tomatoes, vine ripened tomatoes, lemons, grape tomatoes, shrimp, asparagus (from Colombia), pears.

Starting from the middle top, we have summer yellow squash, zucchini, spring onions, a five pound bag of Vidalia onions, carrots, giant ripe tomatoes.

Once again, from the top, we have mushrooms, plums, bicolor corn, celery, red peppers, cucumbers, avocadoes (from the last trip).

And of course, a closer look at the shrimp, which are huge.

The cost breakdown for all of this:
Red peppers – 3/$1
Cucumbers – $3*
Squash – basket for $2
Lemons – basket for $2
Grape tomatoes – pint for $1
Carrots – bag for $1
Green tomatoes – basket for $2
Plums – basket for $3
Zucchini – 3/$1
Vidalia onions – 5 pounds for $2
Ripe tomatoes (large) – 2/$1
Asparagus – bunch for $1
Celery – bunch for $1
Bicolor corn – 8/$2
Ripe tomatoes (regular) – basket for $2
Pears – basket for $3
Spring onions – 2 bunches for $1
Mushrooms – box for $2
Shrimp – 3 pounds/$20

Total shopping: $51

* A note about the cucumbers. They were priced at 6/$1. The woman then said, you can have all of them for $3. Since it’s time for some more pickling, I said sure, and took all that she had. People better be eating a lot of pickles around here in the coming weeks…

Now, having shopped for tomorrow, what on earth did we eat today?

I had formula. And ice cream. But I don’t really count here, as those are not “real” food for the purposes of this challenge. My mom and sister polished off the leftover chicken, roast, potatoes, and whatnot from the past couple of days.

Total eating cost today, two diners: 0

It doesn’t get much cheaper than that, I suppose, and is a very efficient use of the leftovers.

Now let’s turn our attention to Sunday, including a menu for ten. First up will be some swimming and sunning for those who are able. For me, swimming is of course out of the question, due to the nice sized hole in my midsection. Yours truly will once again be relegated to kitchen and grilling duties, but this is not a role to which I object.

I’m planning to make some chicken stock – hence the celery, which no one will eat but which I do use in stocks. Other items destined for the stock pot with the chicken carcasses and some roasted legs: onions, carrots, and various spices. The stock will have the fat skimmed from the top after it’s drained and cool, and then will be frozen in half cup and cup portions, ready for use in anything that requires it. I’d like to do this on Sunday, but it might be adding too much to the list, so may be reserved for Monday, when I want to try making some English muffins and perhaps get the starter going for baguettes.

The menu
Citrus grilled chicken
Grilled short ribs
Boiled shrimp with Old Bay
Grilled shrimp (marinated in lime, soy, honey, and ginger)
Grilled vegetables
Corn on the cob
Basmati rice
Fresh pickles
Fresh bread (whole grain and white/wheat)

The chicken will marinate in a mixture of fresh lemon and fresh lime juice, with a splash of orange juice and some finely grated ginger before going on the grill. The ribs will be rubbed down and grilled over direct heat – no smoking for these. I made the guacamole tonight, and if it lasts through Sunday afternoon to the gathering it will be a miracle. I’d like to do something with all those pears we got today, like make a pear tart, and I’m hoping they’ll be ripe enough for that by Sunday midday.

The beauty of this sort of menu is that it doesn’t really take a lot of prep beyond throwing together the marinades. Most of the time spent on the food preparation will be waiting: waiting for bread dough to rise, waiting to pull the meats out of their marinades, waiting for the food to be cooked.

It should be fun, and there will, as always, be plenty of food. So, if you’re in the mood for a little swimming, a little sun, some good company, and some good food, stop on by.