Farmers Market Challenge: Week 9 Summer 2017

Apologies! A tech glitch caused this post to stay in the draft queue forever. Whooops! 

We eat a lot of chicken.

In fact, our grocery shopping is often dictated by the store that has the best price on boneless and skinless chicken breasts that week.

Until last week we had shunned Rockweld Farm chicken truck at the market. Too expensive we thought.

We are of no illusion about the chicken we consume. Sure, the food chains may promote their chicken as “grain-fed,” or “free-range,” but anyone who’s ever watched 60 Minutes or W5 knows those terms are often interpreted very loosely.

At Rockweld Farm we’re assured it’s the real deal.

But is it worth the premium price?

Two decent-sized frozen breasts cost us almost $19. Each was individually wrapped and they were placed in a zip-top plastic freezer bag.

When they thawed, the difference from grocery store chicken was immediately apparent; there was no pool of gross, slimy pink liquid pooled in the plate.

For comparison, we also decided to grill a chicken breast from the grocery store.

Each was prepared identically for our peasant’s dinner of chicken and grilled vegetables — a little olive oil, sea salt, garlic powder, sesame seeds and fresh rosemary.

On the plate, the difference between the Rockweld breasts and grocery store breast was still apparent; the Rockweld breasts looked just a little tighter. Cutting into the meat, the grocery store breast flopped around while the Rockweld chicken retained its shape.

But it’s when the chicken hit the mouth it would really count.

The Rockweld chicken had a bit more flavour, but the meat was also drier.

The latter could probably be remedied by adjusting the time on the grill. But, in our opinion, the former wasn’t significant enough to justify the bigger expense, especially considering how much chicken we eat.

I guess it comes down to what you value the most; if you want to know the farmer and have a level of assurance that the chicken you’re eating lived decent lives before they ended up on your plate, the premium price for Rockweld’s chicken is worth it. But in our household at least, we’re going to keep checking those grocery store flyers for the best deals.

A peasant-style meal featuring Rockweld Farm chicken, Ripple Creek German butter potatoes, and Fresh Quality Produce green and yellow beans leftover from last week.

Market Loot:

• Rockweld Farm:

– 2 large chicken breasts $18.35

• Zaklan Heritage Farm:

– 1 head specialty bred salanova green spiky lettuce $2.50

– 1 head purple coloured lettuce $2.50

• Ripple Creek Organic Farm:

– 2+ pounds German butter potatoes $5

– 1 cucumber $1

• Ossome Acres:

– 1 bunch of collard greens $3

• A Bread Affair:

– 1 butter croissant $3.50

• Fresh Quality Produce:

– 4 yellow zucchinis $3

My mom and my sister accompanied me to the last market. When my sister picked up a few green zucchinis and told me she was going to bake no-noodle lasagna with them, I decided to give it a go too.

But instead of green, I got yellow.

So much zucchini!

Jeff at Harvest Direct told me yellow was believed to be sweeter than green, but looked somewhat skeptical at the theory. After tasting the cooked zucchinis, I, too, fell on the skeptical side. To me, they seemed more bitter than the green zuchinnis I’d had of late.

The lasagna was a mess.

I had tracked down a recipe that had advised me to either grill or sweat the lasagna ahead of time due to its water content. I tried grilling a few batches of the thin slices, but they kept sticking to the pan or falling apart. So then I opted to sprinkle the remainder with salt and laid them flat over a colander for 20-30 minutes to try and suck as much of the water out as I could.

It didn’t work.

The lasagna was more a mish-mashed soup than a put-together, clean-looking meal. Albeit, a super tasty, mish-mashed soup though 🙂

My regrets with this meal was the timing. It’s not exactly soup season, nor is it a time to be turning the oven on – did you see the forecasted temperature for the week??? This was a meal suited more to winter than summer. But the problem is, we have all this super fresh zucchini, right. Well, why not slice it up, freeze it (according to this website, squash freezes well up to 10-12 months: http://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/18393) and then a couple months down the road, throw it all together, and voila, a belly-warming soupish dish!

The delight of the shop, hands down, was the cucumber and the German butter potatoes. While the chicken, in my opinion, didn’t serve up enough flavour for the price point, the cucumbers and potatoes most certainly did.

The potatoes grilled were like butter in your mouth! They were caramelized crisp on the outside, and soft, flaky, warm on the inside. It was like eating French fries the way French fries were meant to be!

And the cucumber, my first bite was taken absentmindedly. I had been chopping up various vegetables for the dinner salad, and as is habit, I tasted each of them. When I took that first cucumber bite, the burst of flavour that filled my mouth, was incredible.

It didn’t taste like water, it had a firm texture along the skin, and every subsequent bite was super crisp.

The Ripple Creek cucumber cost $1. A long English cucumber at the local vegetable stand is $1.49, and I can tell you it does not have those same beautiful attributes.

Savings in price. Earnings in flavour. Win. Win.

In total, I spent $38.85 giving me a $1.15 extra to spend this week. The greens lasted 5 days (we eat a LOT of salads). We got two meals out of the potatoes. The collards gave us six individual wraps, that were used for both lunches and dinners. The chicken was one meal between the three of us. The cucumber lasted two days – it was that good! And the zucchinis gave our family about three meals, plus a couple of side dishes. There would have been more zucchini, but the grill catastrophe ate up one of them.

Scenes from the market