$2 Food Shopping from Farmers Markets

I’m a believer

Not to be confused with the Beliebers who worship Justin Bieber, the young pop star who attracted controversy by expressing hope of Anne Frank being a Belieber had she lived in the same era.  Errm…we all make mistakes, and yet…chicken karaage ramen

Anyway, here’s my point.  FITK is about things I believe in, things that fire up my fervour.  Like the Sydney Markets.  And my neighbourhood family-owned Japanese ramen shop (see Not Quite Nigella’s Momiji review).

I tell people about these places because I believe in what they have to offer.  Sometimes, as is the case for this current post, I get so inspired I end up blogging about them after what was meant to be a routine, non-blogging trip.

This is Part 2 of the blog post on Flemington Market’s winter seasonal produce, that tells you about:
~ $2 deals,
~ $10 deals (for those of you feeling rich) and
~ a tip to stop veggies rotting in your fridge.

Part 1 of the blog post is here, and it tells you about:
~ $1 deals,
~ $3 deals and
~ how to listen to your fruit.

5 things you can buy for $2

#1:  1 kg of fuzzy gourd or hairy gourd or jit gua

fuzzy melon hairy melon fuzzy squash jit gua jie gua mao gua

◊  Talk like a pro:  Unsurprisingly, this gourd has a furry skin (inedible).  Inside, the gourd has edible seeds and white flesh that becomes like squash when cooked.  It doesn’t have much taste, and is brilliant for soaking up flavours from sauces or broths.

◊  Hot tips:  Fuzzy gourd loves pairing up with salted eggs, just like Kevin Rudd loves speaking Chinese.  Here’s a video of Australia’s current Prime Minister speaking Mandarin when he was the ex-Prime Minister:

Back to the hot tips.  Stir fry skinned, sliced gourd with mince and salted eggs.  Or make a hearty, low-calorie soup by boiling skinned, cubed gourd with stock (vegetable stock, or chicken/pork bones, garlic, ginger, peppercorns, a whole carrot), and mashed salted eggs.

Hairy gourd and salted egg soup food savoury#2:  A sharks’ fin melon ($1.50/kg)

sharks' fin gourd◊  Talk like a pro:  This is the texturally more interesting cousin of the fuzzy gourd.

Sharks’ fin is now on the nose for many people, thanks to publicity about the brutal harvesting methods.  The sharks’ fin gourd is so named because its flesh comprises pale strands, like the fins of the hapless fish.

◊  Hot tips:  Like the hairy gourd, the sharks’ fin melon has no strong flavours.  Cook as you would the hairy gourd.  Or use it in a compassionate version of sharks’ fin broth, making sure you use a very flavoursome broth.

#3:  A loaf of fresh, soft Turkish bread (460g)

OK, this isn’t seasonal winter food, but seeing as some supermarkets charge more than double for a loaf 10g lighter, I can’t let this bargain go unmentioned.

◊  Hot tip:  For an easy, healthy lunch, spread tomato sauce or Vegemite on Turkish bread, and add a host of other market purchases.  Guess what is starring in my kids’ lunchboxes today?  Omelette sandwich!

omelette sandwich on turkish bread food savoury

#4:  1kg of red capsicum

capsicum vegetable market produceYou know the world is going topsy-turvy when:
♠ iPhone-wielding teenagers become multi-millionaires; and
red capsicums ($2/kg) are cheaper than green ones ($3/kg).

That’s a crazy price for capsicum!  It wasn’t so long ago when they were $7/kg at the local duopolistic supermarket.

◊  Shop like a pro:  Ditch capsicums with wrinkled skin.  And watch out for lighter-coloured spots.  These are bruises and will develop into rotten patches.   

#5:  A cauliflower

Is the cauliflower in season now?  Hmm, is Kevin Rudd the Prime Minister of Australia now?

Cauliflowers were all over the market on the weekend, like Rudd’s photo was all over the newspapers.

This means:
~ you should be able to get cheap cauliflowers in your local shops in Sydney now, and
~ the Twittersphere will be busier than ever with tweets by @KRuddMP (not far from 10,000 tweets now).

But I resisted buying cauliflower, because I was still working through the monster in my fridge that is bigger than my head.

head to head with a giant cauliflowerHey, big spender: 5 things you can buy for $10

#1:  $8 for a 10kg box of Imperial mandarins

mandarins fruit market produce

◊  Shop like a pro:  Imperial mandarins have sweet flesh and easy-peel skin/fibres.  They’re not as seedy as other varieties, but look out for dry ones that feel light for their size.

#2:  $10 for 2 x 500g punnets of strawberries

strawberries fruit market produceI don’t care that strawberries are a summer fruit.  These are vibrant, ripe and so fragrant you can smell them through the cling wrap.  I can’t believe I’m getting Australian-grown strawberries of this quality in winter!

◊  Shop like a pro:  If anything is sold in a punnet (eg berries and mini tomatoes), always look through the base of the punnet.  Anything rotten is likely to lurk below (eg furry strawberries or leaky tomatoes).

◊  Hot tip:  Make an all-natural, low-fat smoothie.  Whiz strawberries, unsweetened yoghurt, honey (or substitute with a ripe pear) and water.  Drink straightaway, or freeze for the most wholesome ice-cream in the world.

strawberries in punnets fruit market producestrawberry smoothie Strawberry smoothie blended Strawberry smoothies to be frozen

#3:  $10 for 1kg of fresh pecans

You’ve heard me wax lyrical about Australian-grown fresh walnuts, and how they have ruined imported shelled walnuts for me forever.  Guess what, Australian-grown fresh pecans are naturally sweeter and taste even better than those walnuts.

The catch is, pecans are harder to peel.  Not a job for the resident child labourer pictured below, skilful as he may be with walnuts.

pecans in shell nuts market produce cracking walnuts

#4:  30 large free-range eggs

These are the same size as eggs in the 850g/dozen cartons.  They were so fresh that when hard-boiled on the night they were bought, they were horrendously difficult to peel.

free range eggs market produce◊  Hot tip:  Bring your own 12-egg cartons and use them to transport the eggs.  3 advantages:
1. Sustainability.
2. This makes it easier to store your eggs in the fridge.
3. Transferring eggs while at the stall gives you a chance to tactfully check for broken ones.

Below: I transferred my eggs into 700g/dozen cartons.  See how they’ve completely filled up the spaces!

free range eggs sydney markets#5:  1 kg top-quality oyster mushrooms

oyster mushrooms vegetable market produce◊  Shop like a pro:  Look for uniform off-white oyster mushrooms, with no discolourations.  Mine were squeaky to touch.  Their edges were mostly intact.  Run away from:
~ slimy mushrooms
~ mushrooms with many torn or broken edges.

◊  Hot tips:  Tear up the mushrooms to fry with teriyaki sauce, grated ginger, chopped green onions and a little sugar.  Use high heat to caramelise the mushrooms and keep them from turning into a wet stew.

oyster mushrooms how to cook produce savoury food cooked oyster mushrooms produce food market savoury

A parting present – My top kitchen tip – How to keep track of your food

Do you sometimes discover shrivelled, slippery zucchini cowering at the back of the fridge?  Was it all shiny and fresh when you first bought it and had grand plans for it?

Stop losing things in your fridge.  Here’s a simple and low-tech way to do that.  Write a list of perishable foods in your fridge, and cross them off once you’ve used them.

List maniacs can have some fun here – order them alphabetically if you must, or put the most perishable items at the top of the list.

Here is my list sharing fridge-door real estate with:
~ Aussie rules football teams (arranged by the kids, and not randomly),
~ traditional Korean art, and
~ tourist attractions in Singapore and Japan:

food shopping list

Are you a morning person?

Have a happy start to your weekend!  Book an early-Saturday-morning private tour of the Sydney markets.

This will be followed by a delicious, home-cooked, hot Asian brunch, washed down with my heart-starting 2122 tea.  More details here.

Italian selling olives at Flemington market farmers markets produce purple figs flemington market paddy's market farmers markets

A sheepish apology for my mistake (though not as glaring as Bieber’s):  To the faithful followers who received an incoherent blog post entitled “$2 deals” this week, please ignore it.  That was just a draft but I accidentally clicked “publish” (which is as irretrievable as clicking “send” for emails).

Related posts

5 incredible $1 deals from the best Sydney farmers market

Bargain!!  A$105 for quality fruit for my family…for 1 month!  (that’s on summer fruit and vegetables, whereas today’s post covers winter produce)

3 Local Secrets about the Sydney Markets

If you liked this post…

leave me a comment, or share using the buttons below so your friends can also shop like pros.  Or vote on this one-second poll to hopefully assuage my guilt:

For interested parties, at the time of publishing this, 100% of voters had correctly guessed the secret sound from Part 1.

3 guys at Sydney Markets

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