Saturday, October 13, 2007

Strawberries in October

Today I was on a very strict budget, and forcing myself to keep to a list. But when I had $5 left and had to choose between tomatoes (on the list; necessary for many of this week's planned dishes), and totally unexpected strawberries, I chose the latter.

I scrimped, I saved:
1 bunch kale
1 bunch chard
1 bunch beets
1 lb. green beans
2 zucchini
2 yellow onions
4 shallots
1 butternut squash
1 lb. lima beans (in shell)
1 lb. green seedless grapes
1 pt. strawberries
Total spent: $32

Because my brain is obviously not ready for fall yet, I forgot about last week's apples until Thursday, so they only made it in one lunch - plenty left to tide us through until next Saturday, especially since I can alternate with grapes.

Buying my year's first butternut squash felt a bit like a concession, but there is very little struggle left against the impending autumn, and the weather has admitted as much by becoming decidedly crisp and chilly. My plans for this harbinger are nevertheless ambitious - I want to fill ravioli with butternut squash puree, and serve them, simply and classically, with herbed butter.

I was very happy to find the limas, as I've been reading so much about the glories of fresh shell beans, and the cranberry beans we had last week were quite nice. My photo assistant loves lima beans, so I may enlist his help in the shelling.

And the strawberries? I have no idea where they came from. The organic grower I usually hit up at the tail end of my USG trip for Sungold tomatoes was putting them out as I was browsing tomatoes; though initially incredulous, I tasted one and couldn't resist their unseasonal delight. These strawberries aren't a straightforward, perfect, mid-season joy - they have a bit of an herbal, almost medicinal edge to them - but their innate strawberryness isn't troubled by this complexity. Of course, I've eaten about half of them already.

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