I’ve been having trouble with my food shopping. I’ve been trying to make the move to eat local and healthy but I also can’t seem to figure out what’s in-season and how I should be eating it… I could ask a million questions at the Farmer’s Market but that just results in mean-mugging from the hurried Union Square shopper behind me who has an expendable income and doesn’t have to rationalize her purchases or ration serving sizes to make an eggplant constitute three meals. I’m sure that I can have a different cuisine every night if I shop smart even at Whole Foods (in the canned, bulk or frozen foods aisle)… But in addition to reducing my carbon footprint (have you seen the amount of packaging on the 365 brand goods? AND where are those canned goods coming from?) I’m trying to support local farmers and small businesses–which means higher price-points for things like eggs and meat, as well as carefully planned weekly meals. Rather than continue to line the pockets of billionaires I think we should all make the effort to help our local/small businesses flourish!

I found this nifty local foods wheel at McNally Jackson (an independent bookstore on Prince Street) and it is really helping me understand local foods.

GrowNYC is also a great sourse to locate local farmers markets around New York for each day of the week. The Union Square market is the easiest because it’s open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 8AM-6PM, year round. It is a few stops on the train in the winter and a nice walk from Battery Park (my nabe) in the warmer months. If I wasn’t so terrified to ride a bike I could be super green and peddle my way around.

Every Wednesday they have cooking demonstrations with local chefs, restaurants and Union Square Market Managers and FREE cooking advice from Josh Stokes of Grill-A-Chef (9am-12pm). His most recent blog post is a super easy pasta recipe. Pasta is my go-to dish because it’s easy to make and super cheap…and I’m Italian, we all know Italians can have pasta three meals a day and never tire of it.

Simple Pasta for Four

  • 1 lb. Pasta (fresh or dry)
  • 2 cups Chicken Stock (low sodium)
  • ½ cup Aged salty cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsps Butter, cut into little chunks
  • 2 tbsps Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1. In a deep pot bring at least a gallon of salted water to a boil over high heat. (1 tsp of salt to every qt.)

2. Once you reach a rolling boil, drop in the pasta and stir immediately, continue to stir every 30 seconds or so for the first three minutes. It’s these first minutes when the pasta will bind together, so keep it moving.

3. In a large skillet bring the chicken stock to a boil and reduce by about half. (Ideally it is reduced about the time the pasta is ready to go)

4. Once cooked to your liking, strain the pasta. Add it to the simmering stock.

5. Working over medium high heat, add the butter, olive oil, and cheese; season with salt and pepper. Moving the pan in a circular motion, use tongs to stir the pasta briskly. (you can pick the pan up and toss it if you’re comfy with that.) Good movement is imperative to mixing the stock and the fat (butter and oil) into a sauce while melting the cheese.

6. This is where the learning curve comes in. You have to taste and adjust your sauce. If it’s not saucy enough, add more stock, if it’s too saucy allow it to cook down a little longer over the flame. If it needs salt, give it a pinch or reach for some more cheese.

Josh also recommends adding in any combination of extras at the end.
Here are a few items from my local foods wheel that are available: Onions, Mushrooms, Arugula, Garlic and Brussels Sprouts.

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