Eating the Decorations

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I don’t decorate for Thanksgiving* but I add a few autumnal touches close to Halloween. My friend Sissy gave me a silly squirrel tea towel last year, joined this year by her hand-made matching pillowcase for a travel-pillow. My favorite decoration is a bowl or two of squashes and small pumpkins from local farmers.**

Then I cook and eat them.

Last week I enjoyed butternut and acorn squashes. This week it was delicata, which I’d never had before. Verdict: very pretty and delicious. All that remains are a pumpkin and a spaghetti squash.

I highly recommend decorating with regional edibles. It’s a twofer: Nothing goes to waste and it supports local growers.


*Halloween decorations consist of a felt skeleton for the door and a fancy candy bowl for the trick-or-treaters.

**Note: Unlike suburban farm markets, rural markets really are cheaper than grocery stores. And the produce sometimes comes in odd shapes.

The Veggie Jar

Between garden supply runs and appointments, I’ve been driving around quite a bit. Last week I found myself looking for someplace to have a quick-and-cheap bite to eat. Of course, my budget doesn’t allow for fast food.

So I cheated without cheating.

I often drove by a grocery store between two fast food joints. Neiman’s Family Market has an in-store cafe that allows you (or me in this case!) to nosh on goodies in between grocery shopping.*

One delicious offering was sliced raw vegetables – not just carrots and cucumbers, but radish medallions and brightly-colored pepper slices. The produce sections of most grocery stores carry large plastic bowls of prepared vegetables or fruits, particularly in the summer. Nothing beats the heat like refrigerated snacks.

It occurred to me that the appeal of these bowls – besides the avoidance of cleaning, peeling, and slicing everything oneself – is their beauty.  The variety of colors attract the eye like a jar of hard candies on the counter of a sweets shop. It’s much more tempting to “eat your vegetables” when they’re enticingly pretty.

And the convenience of popping the lid and reaching in for a handful of snacks can’t be beat. Unfortunately, the price of convenience can be steep.

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My version of a vegetable medley with the freezer container of “odds and ends.”

I decided to make my own version using the Anchor Hocking 7-cup container. I used celery, carrots, radishes, and two bell peppers. Not counting the amount I didn’t use, the cost is less than $5. I could have made it cheaper by using cucumbers and eliminating the celery, which is more than $3 a bunch.**

Not only is it less expense than the store-bought version, it had the added benefit of using all the “ugly” parts like the thick, whitish sections of bell peppers. I threw oddly-shaped pieces into a freezer container for vegetable soup in the autumn. A separate glass container holds sliced celery leaves ready to toss with salad.

Related

This celery soup recipe by The American Moms is easy and delicious, and they give an nice overview of how Michigan farmers created the US celery industry.


*Grocery shopping while hungry can destroy a budget. However, some people become hungry after handling or smelling food. An independent grocer offers free coffee or tea for adults and free fruit to children. Putting food shops inside a store is a genius idea; just ask Michigan old-timers about the Purple Cow.

**Not heart of celery, the tender and leafy center, which is even more expensive. Michigan has had a late start this year in many crops due to cool rainy weather. I haven’t seen any local celery, just California produce. This doesn’t bode well for the price offrozen mirepoix packets, a winter staple.

Tochos…or notochos. That is the question.

I have noticed that several new blog-followers have been attracted by my entries about food. In the spirit of adventure, I dedicate this post to you, gentle readers.

Consider it a shakedown cruise to toughen your spirits.

As work winds down for another fiscal year,  the cafeteria at The Young Human Factory makes do with ingredients on hand. And whatever appeals to the collective tastebuds of developing hominids who have weird tastes.

They like Chicken Bowl and bags of Doritos filled with spiced hamburger, salsa casera, and cheese. They have been known to eat their boogers. (Thankfully, the latter have yet to appear on the menú del día.)

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Behold the cuisine of the Young Humans and tremble!

So what the heck is that thing? I’m sure it has a name, like the Blob or the Thing You Eat Because It Smells Good.  The menu christens it “Totchos,” which is the eccentric child of Nacho and Tater Tot Dos-Cervezas.

The YHF version has four layers: a base of tater tots, seasoned beef, refríed beans (which spellcheck insists are “refereed beans” because it knows things), sour cream, and a garnish of cherry tomatoes.

“Did you eat that?” you may ask.

“Heck, yeah!” I may answer, using the lingo of the Middle School Mafia. I don’t think I will again, though.

Recommended Reading

The family history of Totchos.