July Odds and Ends

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I have many things I’ve been thinking of writing about, all of which seem like they will take more time and energy than I have right now for writing. But I hate to leave this with nothing new for so long so here’s a quick update.

Marion Cunningham, my favorite cookbook author, passed away last week at age 90.

I still have hopes of writing a nice post in her honor, and my first thought was that I need to select a favorite recipe to highlight, but then I got hung up on picking a single recipe of hers, there are so many that I love, I don’t see how I could pick just one. Also I realized I’m in the middle of 18 different things and I don’t have more than half an hour for anything and I can’t do justice to Marion Cunningham in half an hour so that will have to wait.

In the meantime, I did want to mention her passing, and express my sorrow at our collective loss, and my gratitude for everything she did for cooking in America. She was a real treasure.

Also, for local readers, I would like to talk up my new favorite place, the Green Market on Pettigrew Street.

It is the place to be for cheap produce, holy cow, it’s amazing. It’s basically a flea market with produce stands and food vendors — and the kind of food vendors where there is no menu because they’re just selling one thing, the only thing you have to figure out is how much you want. (It’s like the Chinese food place I used to go to when I lived in Princeton, where all the Chinese grad students would go, you would order a small or a large of whatever they cooked that day.)

It has a distinctly Third World vibe. And I mean that in the best possible sense.

Usually when I go, I just go and get produce but the last time I went I was hungry and was unable to resist the lure of the stall in back with a man chopping pork for tacos. I didn’t see any prices and I wasn’t sure how to order, so I asked for two and hoped for the best. They were delicious. (I think they were $1.50 each; I got two tacos and a Coke and it was $4. Or maybe that’s just the gringo price, I don’t know.)

I’m not sure how the pork was cooked, it didn’t seem to have much spice or flavoring in it but there were big chunks of pork fat mixed in with the meat, and it just really hit the spot. In addition to the pork, the tacos were made with fresh corn tortillas and topped with chopped onion and cilantro, and the tables had bottles of hot sauce on them. And the man across the table gave up his chair and handed it across for me so I could sit while I ate. It was very sweet.

My friend Ann usually gets the flavored ice, like a Mexican sno-cone, but those don’t tempt me, she’s never able to talk me into getting one with her. Maybe next time.

My first visit this year, at the end of May, I bought 5 oranges, 3 small red peppers, 5 roma tomatoes, 3 red potatoes, 2 avocados, 2 limes, a mango, a cucumber, 3 nectarines, and 4 plums for $9.75. It immediately became my new favorite place.

Last week I bought ingredients for gazpacho, which I made and am still eating, and which, along with peach pie, is a big highlight of the summer for me. Everyone should make a big batch of gazpacho soon, if you haven’t already this year.

And, for those of you in the area, you should go to King’s on Club Boulevard and get a watermelon — they have seeded ones, which feel like an endangered species to me — for $6. The one I bought last week for a party was so big I almost couldn’t carry it, it was giant. (I like the seeded ones because I think you get more for your money and I think they have more flavor than the seedless ones, but I am apparently in the minority on that because the seeded ones are really hard to find.) And I meant to cut part off before I went to the party so I could process it and freeze it for watermelon sorbet but I forgot, so I think I’m going to have to go and get another one.

Enjoy the summer food while it’s here, it’ll be gone before you know it.

Over and out.

8 Responses to “July Odds and Ends”

  1. liz adams Says:

    I love to read your blog — follow it by email — and I would also love it if once in a while you would tell us what town you’re referring to! heck, even what state!

  2. lessisenough Says:

    So sorry! I try to forget that people who don’t know me read this. I’m in Durham, North Carolina.

  3. Valerie Says:

    Sounds like a wonderful place! We used to live in Harrisburg, PA, and there were some wonderful spots there for shopping, but you really had to look for them. Nothing much like you describe up here in the far north, we have to travel rather far afield to find things like you describe, but it is so worth it when we do.

    I look forward to your Marion Cunningham post. She has been one of my favorites as well, and two of her dishes that remain part of our “regulars” are her Last Word in Nutmeg Muffins (The Breakfast Book) and her American Meat Loaf (The Supper Book). There are many others I use, but these top the list. I am a nutmegaholic, which explains the frequency of the muffins.

    Thanks again for your continuing posts…by the way, I just boiled my dishcloths and towels this past weekend, and washed them according to your instructions. Thank you! The odors are completely gone, the colors are bright and the whites are white. There were a few hold-outs,but even they look much better.

  4. lessisenough Says:

    I honestly can’t think of any Marion Cunningham recipe I made that wasn’t good. I don’t have the Breakfast Book, but I have the Supper Book (and recently found a hardcover copy of it in a used bookstore that I snapped up) and I love it.

    Glad the dishcloth cleaning worked! I did a round last week when it got a little cooler (the thought of having a simmering pot of anything on the stove for half an hour was more than I could bear when it was 100+ degrees outside) and they weren’t quite as stunning as the ones I did in the spring, I think I might have done multiple rounds for those while I was testing to figure out how things were working. But they’re definitely better than they were.

  5. fivecats Says:

    “My friend Ann usually gets the flavored ice, like a Mexican sno-cone, but those don’t tempt me, she’s never able to talk me into getting one with her. Maybe next time.”

    ice shavings covered with artificial coloring, artificial flavoring, and high fructose corn syrup haven’t appealed to me in decades. we pass by a truck set up off the road on our way down to fuquay on sundays and i’m always amazed when there are people there.

    “a watermelon — they have seeded ones, which feel like an endangered species to me”

    the seedless ones, being unseeded, have always seemed to be more endangered to me.

    count me as one of your legion of fans looking forward to your marion cunningham post.

  6. lessisenough Says:

    Well in their defense, the flavorings for the flavored ice at the Green Market have big chunks of fruit in them, it looks way better than your average sno-cone. Though I’m sure it also has plenty of artificiallness to it. Maybe next time I’ll at least try hers. She’s not a meat eater so she was not at all tempted by my delicious pork taco, so it will have to be a one-way share.

    It’s hard to find seeded watermelons in a grocery store. I don’t know what they have at the Farmer’s Market, I haven’t made it there all summer, but usually you need to get one from a truck or a farm stand. Or King’s. Or the Green Market.

    They usually start at $7 and sometimes get down to $5, especially the guys in the trucks. If I buy a whole one, I usually split it with someone, so it’s $2.50 or $3 and I can eat it all before it spoils. Still a few more weeks for watermelon, I think. I’ve been eating a ton of it but am not sick of it yet.

    Marion Cunningham post coming soon.

  7. megan Says:

    Thanks for posting about the Green Market. We went this past weekend and got: 2 large cukes, 1 large summer squash, 2 avacados, 5 limes, and 6 romas for 8 bucks. great deals. However the cucumbers (well, really only one, haven’t had the other yet) was super duper bitter (I’ve read that they get bitter when grown in too-hot climates). Hopefully the other one will be good.

  8. lessisenough Says:

    Hey Megan, glad you made it to the Green Market, though sorry about the cucumber. I don’t think I’ve had problems with anything I bought there, but definitely the heat might have gotten to it.


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