ReLocavore: Redefining "local"

A locavore moves from Wisconsin to New Hampshire and rediscovers what "local" means.


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Wide Mouth Canning Jar Accessories

Thanks to Cool Tools for their recent overview of wide mouth canning  jar accessories.

They covered:

  • The Cuppow: A lid that lets you drink from your canning jar.
  • The Kraut Cap: An airlock for a canning jar for anaerobic fermenting.
  • Re-Cap: A pour spout and lid for a canning jar. This would be great for salad dressings.
  • The Holdster: A handle for a canning jar.

I would also add these other accessories that extend the usefullness of your canning jars:

  • The Bnto from Cuppow: A cup that fits inside a canning jar, giving two separate storage spaces.
  • Plastic jar lids: Dishwasher-safe and reusable lids for foods that are NOT shelf stable.
  • Shaker jar lids: Turn your jar into a spice shaker. I use this for nutritional yeast on my popcorn.


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The least local thing we eat – Japanese Foods

Sam and I have a love for Japanese food. I don’t quite know where it all came from, but we’ve incorporated a lot of key Japanese foods into our diet, and we are always exploring new Japanese dishes. Warning flag… This is NOT a post about local foods. This is actually a post about the least local thing we eat… Nonperishables imported from Japan. Claims of locavore hypocrisy are welcome in the comments!

Sunday, Sam and I took a trip to Boston to scout out the Japanese and Asian grocery stores and came home with a mess of pantry staples. There are a lot of key pantry staples that we just can’t substitute. Maki at JustHungry has a great review of what these basic foods are and how to cook with them. 

1. Yamasa soy sauce. 2.

1. Yamasa soy sauce. 2. Kombu, dried kelp used in making dashi stock. 3. Hiyashi chuka noodles: Sesame vinegar dressing with hot mustard. 4. Brown sushi rice. 5. Hon mirin. Not the shitty corn syrup stuff. 6. Fried tofu pockets for making inarizushi. 7. eggplant pickles (the only way I will eat eggplant). 8. More noodles. 9. Cucumber pickles. Totally unlike all American Kosher Dills. 10. Tonkatsu sauce. 11. Takuan, pickled daikon radish. 12. Ripping hot spicy mustard. 13. Salmon Furikake. It’s a mix of sesame, nori (seaweed sheets), and dehydrated salmon that you shake on top of rice or tofu. 14. A foam skimmer. It’s a joke. I’ll explain later. 15. Yamaimo or slippery potato or mountain yam. 16. Botan rice candy. 17. Ume plums. Pickled apricots with a minty herb called shiso. 18. Beni Shoga, or pickled ginger. Unlike the stuff at sushi bars, this has no added sweetener and is a little salty. 19. Fish cake. This is pollack that is died and pressed into shapes. I serve it in noodle dishes. 20. More noodles, but this kind is fresh instead of dried. 21. Kouya dofu, or freeze-dried tofu. I’ll use it to make mochi nuggets, like vegan chicken nuggets. 22. More fish cake, but this time extruded into a log with a pink spiral shape.

We visited two different Asian groceries:
Ebisuya Japanese Market in Medford, MA.
65 Riverside Ave Medford, MA 02155
781-391-0012
info@ebisuyamarket.com
This was a Japanese-only grocery store and where we bought about 90% of our pantry staples. They had some fresh foods, but mostly shelf-stable foods. They were operating a busy fish counter and had a sushi bar attached to the grocery. The whole store was the size of a big convenience mart. I was very impressed with the selection of foods at Ebisuya. Someone with a great love of Japanese food is making sure the Japanese of Boston metro area have access to fine-quality imported foods. They even had fresh green ume plums!

H Mart
43 Middlesex Turnpike, Burlington, MA 01803
781-221-4570
H Mart is the Big Box asian grocery. Frankly, it was very intimidating to be there on a Sunday afternoon – the whole store was PACKED with customers. There was a wait for parking. H Mart is mostly Korean goods, but they carry a lot of Japanese foods as well, due to the overlap between the cuisines. We only picked up a few items there because Sam and I were both completely overwhelmed by the size and business of the store. We’ll try to go back midweek and midday and hopefully it’s not so crazy. I think we could find everything we wanted there, and the prices were about comparable to Ebisuya. H Mart does have a large produce section, if we’re wanting produce for whatever reason.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting some videos and explanations of how I use a lot of these foods in my cooking.


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Eggs at the Norwich Farmer’s Market

Bowl of EggsAt the Norwich Farmer’s Market there are a handful of stands that sell eggs, along with other produce and meats. I talked to all of the egg vendors on May 31 and here’s the info they gave me about their eggs. This year, the average market price is $4.50. Compared to last year, the Norwich farmer’s market has more egg producers (3 in 2013, 7 in 2014) and the average price per dozen increased from $4.17 in 2013 to $4.50 in 2014. I’m going to visit the groceries the area to get a sense of the price per dozen for conventional and high-end eggs.

Farm Price per
Dozen
Laying Hens Free Range Feed
Highfields Farm $5 100 Yes Pasture
Organic Grain
Ephraim Mountain Farm $4 200 Yes Organic Grain
Thymeless Herbs $4 100 Yes Scraps from the COOP
Pasture
Minimal Grain
Hogwash Farm $5 Yes Organic Grain
Rabbit Patch Farm $2.25 sm
$3.50 large
$4 jumbo
200 yes Pull pellet
Corn
Fat Rooster Farm $4.50 30-50 Yes Mixed grains
Pasture
Scraps
Luna Bleu Farm $5 120 Yes Organic Grain
Pasture


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Canning Lids Price List

When I preserve food in glass jars (aka. “canning”) almost everything in the process is reusable from year to year. However, the one disposable element is the jar lid that comes in contact with the food.

In previous years, I’ve opted to buy lids when I need them, but this year I’ve decided to bulk order lids so I could get them as cheaply as possible. Here were the places I was able to find lids (locally and online) and the price per lid.

Online
Location Price Per lid
Regular Wide
Amazon.com $0.49 $0.44
Freshpreserving.com $0.19 $0.27
Acehardware.com $0.25 $0.33
Upper Valley Merchants
Hanover Coop $0.15
West Lebanon Feed $0.23 $0.33

Price per lid is based on the volume of lids purchased, so smaller packages might have higher per-lid prices.

Note that I couldn’t find the shipping charges for Freshpreserving.com, which may increase the cost per lid. At Amazon.com, I only used Prime merchants, so I wouldn’t have to pay shipping charges, and use the cheapest price I could find.

Big props to the Coop for having the cheapest lids. In addition, being a Coop member, I may get an additional 10% discount on my lids, lowering the price even further. I will stop by and order a case!


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No Cursing at the Caselot Sale

This year’s Caselot controversy was over Barilla pasta.  The company has been in hot water after their Chairman made some blowhard comments about “family values” and using homosexuals in their advertisements.  This led to a boycott and lots of Liberal rage (and NPR coverage). Nothing wrong with Liberal rage, mind you… But, when I dug into the order form for the Caselot sale, there was organic pasta at $1.83 per pound and Barilla pasta at $0.98 per pound. I can’t stomach the thought of buying organic pasta.* BUT, I also was conflicted about supporting a company making pretty terrible comments. More than that, I was really surprised that the COOP would purchase that much pasta from a rather controversial company-must have been a timing issue.

If you remember, last year I had quite a time at the COOP Caselot Sale. Thankfully, as you’ve been reading, I was able to put food by this season, so I didn’t have to buy tomatoes, green beans and the like at the Caselot sale. Instead, we took advantage of the Caselot sale to stock up on canned black, pinto and garbanzo beans, frozen peas and cleaning products. Plus, Clif Bars at $0.90/ea and olive oil for $30/gallon. In fact, we went Thursday morning at 9am before Sam went to work, and were in and out in under 30 minutes. Success!

*As a sidenote, in the organic v local debate, I’m firmly on the Local side. I often don’t spend extra on organic foods when conventional foods are available. Local+Organic > Local+Conventional > Remote+Conventional > Remote+Organic

2013-10-10 09.12.51

The guys that fulfilled my caselot order. (Note the thick fog at 9:25am…)