This Week’s Secret Ingredients

As if there isn’t enough happening in the garden, what with tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers,  pattypan squash and herbs ready for harvest, I decided to finally check out a nearby produce auction. The Tri-County Cooperative Auction Market has been around for nearly 80 years, selling Jersey Fresh produce to, I guess, mostly restaurants and smaller stores during that time. They’ve recently made it easier for the public to buy, but we are talking quantities that outdo Costco (pretty much a box at a time).

The Brit and I went Friday to scope it out in anticipation of can-o-rama, my late-August canning weekend with friends. I got there before the auction, which starts at 7 p.m. The public can buy before the auction at set prices or take their chances on a better deal at auction (but have to pay a buyer’s fee of $5 per evening that auction purchases top $10).

It took a while to figure out the system and to get my courage up to deal with the quantities. But I plunked down $10  for a box of beets. It contained 12 bunches of beets, each with four to five beets. Definitely a bargain compared to the supermarket. But what a lot of beets! My plan is to can them so that we have beet relish during the winter. I can’t find my favorite canning book, so I have scoured my other cookbooks and am roasting a bunch of beets right now. But that’s only half of them so far — lots more roasting to go!

Half of the stash

The Brit made a salad using some beetroot leaves and used leaves to make an Indian rice dish that someone demonstrated at our local farmer’s market using chard. Yum! I think I know what my lunch is early next week.

Salad with beetroot greens

The prospect of all those beets should have made anyone stop shopping. But I had come close to buying zucchini, given that all we seem to have is pattypan. Only the box was loaded on the truck and headed to the auction before I could.

Rather than go home, though, the Brit and I stuck around to see how the auction works. Boxes of tomatoes go for $6, maybe a bit more, but also less. And that is before the glut really strikes!

Zucchini came up. I bid. I stopped. Turned out there were five boxes available and the buyer only wanted two. I took one. $4. It contained 11 big zucchini. Two were enough for three batches of zucchini bread (each enough for one regular pan and some minis). We grilled two. We used part of another on pizza, but have enough thin slices for quite a few more. We gave away one. We still have five to use up. Time to buy more eggs and keep baking, and to look for more recipes.

Zucchini pizza, with tomatoes from the garden and mixed basil from friends
Off the grill

So just like Iron Chef, I challenge you to suggest other recipes in which beets and zucchini are stars. And no, they don’t have to be used in the same recipe. I might even give you a beet or zucchini as a prize. Or take you with me next time.

Lots left. Creativity (or lots of baking) required.
Advertisements