hunting and gathering, week 2

I didn’t expect it to happen, but there it was—in this week’s grocery bag, a tub of cheese calmly sat between the carrots and radishes.

Granted, it wasn’t the cheese I’d written on my list (goat’s or mozzarella), but the price for the ricotta had been just right, and not one I’d expected to find. And hadn’t it somewhat seemed like kismet, just as I’d been reading the section on cheesemaking in “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” as well as Smitten Kitchen’s homemade ricotta recipe? 

At any rate, the window for groceries (AKA my lunch break) was diminishing, so there was no time to question anything. I rapidly gave the seller his three dollars, and proceeded to find zucchini and blueberries. The latter was an afterthought on my list (peaches? blueberries?) if I could afford it. I took one look at the overflowing blueberry cartons, and decided I could.

In the time since my last farmer’s market/bulk section purchasing, naming this experiment “Hunting and Gathering” felt accurate, at least to my forgotten cooking muscles. Last week, I learned that cheese is expensive, as is fruit. Even half a chicken, at $12, felt like too much, especially when I didn’t know what I’d do with it. Finger Lake wine? Better luck next time, kid. Most of my funds had to go to the essentials: vegetables, eggs, and flour for bread. If I wanted anything after those, I’d need to plan better.

But that wasn’t going to happen this week. On the second week of this challenge, faced with the prospect of empty produce drawers and a dwindling pantry, my attention was focused on finding a market. Which one was closest to me? 47th Street and 2nd Avenue. Could I get there on my lunch break? On foot? No? Fine; I’d take a Citibike. 

There had been something exhilarating about rushing out of the office to breathlessly pedal down 52nd street on a bike, dodging giant trucks, pedestrians, and—my personal pet peeve—bikers going the other way. At certain points, when the traffic cleared and I could get some momentum, I felt 18 again, escaping the tedium of the law office where I worked as a receptionist (was grateful for the job; still am) on my bike at lunch. But the feeling lasted a split second, and then I was back in NYC, with car horns and exhaust and a pantry shelf to fill. 

The Greenmarket at Dag Hannarskjold Place (aka 47th and 2nd Avenue) was much more manageable than the one at Union Square. Less vendors meant less overwhelm, and prices were actually slightly cheaper. 

This week’s haul: 

Eggs: $4.00

Ricotta cheese: $3.00

Basil: $3.00

Garlic: $1.50

Blueberries: $5.00

Radishes: $1.50

Carrots: $3.00

Swiss chard: probably somewhere around $3.50?*

Zucchini: $2.00*

6 NJ Heirloom Tomatoes: $4.50?*

3 yeast packets, oatmeal and flour: $7.57

Maple syrup: $6.00

Focaccia for lunch that I didn’t eat until dinner because my lunch hour ran out: $3.00

*all in all, these together were 12.50

Total: 49.57

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