Two Versions of Shopping

Last Sunday, my wonderful husband and I did something we don’t get to do together very often; we went grocery shopping. It was one of those down-to-bare-bones sort of trips. Our dinner the previous night was Dave’s very ingenious use of practically every already-opened bag of frozen veggies in the freezer prepared on the grill pan (there was, strangely enough, some smokiness added) and a balsamic and wine reduction to drizzle on top.

It really was inexplicably tasty. I wondered if part of the reason for its deliciousness was thanks to hubby’s practical “use what we have” thinking and absolutely infectious can-do attitude. Whatever it was, it made me want to try to use up the rest of the crap in our cupboards and fridge, much like John and Sherry over at Young House Love the weeks before they moved. But, alas, thinking of the school week ahead and crazy evening schedules starting, we were out of our all natural turkey and a plethora of other items. So, schlep to Hannaford we did.

And, y’know, it was as fun as a really good first date. We worked and talked about what we really needed. We discussed whether Campbell’s pretty-much-all-natural Homestyle soup was better than Wolfgang Puck’s organic stuff, and whether it mattered. We looked at dressings and quickly decided to put them down again — I could make this at home, and cheaper, and all natural in the process. We got exactly what we needed, and nothing that we didn’t. (I do “allow” that we can add up to 5 non-list items, just in case of sale or “gaaaaahhhh I must have that” syndrome, but we did pretty well this time as far as the 5 was concerned.)

Here’s how we did (toilet paper and all):


As you can see, we’re still doing well with our all natural/organic quest. If it’s not organic, at least it’s all natural (and no HFCS, thankyouverymuch). You may notice the word “Goya” a few times. Now, I wasn’t raised to be a beans girl, but knowing that Dave’s now interested in eating more vegetarian meals, and just that he’s verbalized that means that I need to grab it and RUN WITH IT! So, I’m looking for ways to incorporate beans more. And not be intimidated by making them the center of a meal.

Carmelized hazelnuts for salads – or snacks – or dessert. Two homemade salad dressings (my own thousand islands!!!). The Barefoot Contessa’s scallops provencal planned for dinner. It was a lovely Sunday afternoon when we got home.

Then, Saturday, we decided to schlep out to Cooperstown for their occasional winter farmers’ market. While it was a little chilly (it’s inside, but in an unheated building that they have to try to blow warm air into), I think it was one of the most enjoyable farmers’ market experiences we’d had.

Sure, the cool British guy with awesome coffee and true, homemade scones wasn’t there, but it was so much less pressured than usual. During the summer, it’s gorgeous out and there’s such an incredible variety of produce, but everyone’s thinking the same thing: “What a nice day to go to the farmers’ market” or “Gotta do my weekly shopping.” So, you get lots of Cooperstown locals (which, admittedly, is a dream of ours to become, if life could follow that direction), tourists, and folks from 50 miles in any direction. Lots. Of. People. It can get brutal if you’re not in the right mood to wait or put up with a crowd — one reason we don’t go weekly during the summer (plus, our own garden and the cost of the drive).

So, anyhoo, this visit was great. We not only were able to actually look at every vendor, compare prices, pick what we needed, and get out pretty darn fast. We had time to hunt down a cafe and enjoy a local-eggs-and-sausage breakfast sandwich before our regular town walk (although, admittedly, it was fuh-reezing). We ended up picking up some raw milk cheddar that had been soaked in hard cider, maple syrup, some whole wheat/potato bread, and our produce – gorgeous carrots, parsnips, potatoes, onions, shallots, leeks…

Do you think it’s strange that I get so excited over carrots…and, especially, parsnips? I ended up roasting some parsnips, carrots, a potato and shallots with some seasoning for 30 minutes or so and, holy cow, it was aaaaaawesome. Pair that with some all-natural chicken thighs stuffed with Vermont goat cheese (picked up during the honeymoon) and some salad with homemade dressing and, dang, were we happy! I do have to admit that this whole eating natural and organic thing has turned me into a much more adventurous cook. At times, it seems expensive (although, yesterday, every vegetable we got was $1 per pound, vs. $2-4 for others at the market), but when I think about how much a meal like this would’ve been in a restaurant (especially if it was locally-grown or organic), it would cost, conservatively, twice as much.

So, can we get a hallelujah for two weekends in a row that consist of a food AND relationship focus? Love it!

5 thoughts on “Two Versions of Shopping”

  1. I LOVE that you guys are utilizing your local farmer's market and supplementing with the grocery store! We try to do the same thing. I go to the public market with veggies in mind and depending on what is available I try to plan out what we're going to have for the week. Then, when we hit up Wegmans during the week/on the weekend, we are able to just buy other essential items for the dishes.

    I've definitely found that the quality of the fruits and vegetables at the market is so much fresher. Partnered with the fact that the market costs SIGNIFICANTLY LESS than the grocery store AND the produce is coming from local farms – we make out pretty darn good.

    Good for you guys for being adventurous and including more vegetarian items and recipes into your diet! P.S. I made an amazing black bean and sweet potato chili last night. I'll have to send you the recipe – so easy and soooo delicious!

  2. I totally agree with you that a trip to the supermarket can be a good date; Steven and I have been enjoying grocery shopping together for years.

    You should also check out Ilion's indoor farmer's market, 1 to 6 Fridays at Clapsaddle Farm. We try to make it there whenever I'm off on a Friday. Not a whole lot of vendors when we were there last, but good stuff. And you can check out some great Jim Parker artwork.

  3. Cara — YES! Please send the recipe!! 🙂 We'd love to try it. Thanks for the encouragement!

    Cindy — Gotta love a good date. 😉 I think we look at the Cooperstown trip as a bit of a tradition. While I try to hit up the Herkimer FM during the summer, it always feels weird not going with Dave. So, I've considered hitting up the Ilion one, but since Dave doesn't get out until well after 6… :- I'll keep it in mind, though.

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