And for once I was SuperMom

Friday, October 1, 2010

Tomato Fire

Grocery shopping in Kenya, as one would expect, was a completely different experience from shopping in the states. For produce we had three options, a green grocer shop called Zucchini’s, our local produce stand, and the grocery store, Nakumatt. Zucchini’s was usually the best deal, they had the best selection, it was pretty fresh, and it wasn’t that expensive. The local produce stand was by far the cheapest and it always felt really good to support the ladies who ran it, Miriam and Lucy, they knew our car and watched my belly grow and cooed over Emma when she was born. But, they didn’t have a large selection and they were out of the way. Nakumatt was the worst, it was older, and much more expensive. So you think problem solved, right? Yes and no. The same vegetables and fruit were available all the time, it never changed. I could never get a handle on what was in season and you had no idea where any of it came from. Most likely it all came from local farms which is good and most likely it was pretty close to organic. There was that one apple that tasted like paint, though…
I was looking forward to coming home and eating seasonally and being able to buy produce with an informed attitude. Scott got me a copy of the cookbook Simply in Season for my birthday, so that I could actually know what is in season right now. As the leaves have started to change I have eagerly dived into the Autumn section planning my meals around pumpkin, squash, chard, and apples. I have been uber-pleased to see that our local grocery store offers Colorado grown produce and at cheaper prices than the imported produce.
Knowing that the winter is long here and that the quality of produce will actually drop I have been trying to purchase large quantities of produce and ‘put them up’ for the winter. That’s right, like the good farm wife that I am. It’s a tricky process because it’s really only worth the time and work if you get a really good deal on the produce. So far I have bought a 25lb box of peaches for $12, a 25lb box of tomatoes for $15, and a box of roasted green chiles for $15. The peaches became jam and peach ginger chutney, the tomatoes got skinned and are frozen, and the chiles got skinned, chopped and frozen. I would say that the peaches were by far the best deal, I now have Christmas presents for quite a few people. I have chiles coming out of my eyeballs, because you really only use about 4 ounces per recipe (if you are reading this and you have green chile recipes, please send them my way). The tomatoes may not have been the best deal, but I have ‘canned’ tomatoes that will probably last me through the winter and after doing the math I think it will actually save money.
Earlier this week I was at the grocery store and realized that enchilada sauce costs $3.59 a can. I sat there and thought that I had most of the components at home that needed to be used up, tomatoes, garlic, onions, chiles, etc. So I thought, hey I can do that. I threw 36oz of my frozen tomatoes, an onion, four cloves of garlic, cumin, oregano, and four chipotle chilies packed in adobo in the crock pot and let her rip. Okay, those chipotle suckers are not kidding around. I made a vat of hot sauce. I added a sweet bell pepper, hoping that sugar and more bulk would break up the heat. Still fire. I added some fire roasted bell pepper, hoping to keep the chipotle flavor but soak up beat. Still fire. I added a can of fire-roasted tomatoes. Still fire. I added another precious freezer jar of my tomatoes. Well, it didn’t burn my esophagus this time around…
I tell myself that it’s still worth it because I am controlling the amount of processed foods that we are eating. Less preservatives and fake sugars and fats are always good, right? I didn’t do the math to see how much I ended up plunking into the crock pot to make three 16 oz freezer jars of enchilada fire. Pretty sure it cost more than $3.59…

No comments: