From the Market Manager
I made a salad for a party on Sunday, and was so happy that I could use all local greens. Every week the market gets better and better. I find that I’m not in the grocery store much during farmers’ market season, and I know that that is so for many others also because they tell me that.
A few years ago I gave as a bridal shower gift items from our market, all non-perishables. Honey, maple syrup, goat’s milk soap, some sauces, pickles and more. It was an unusual gift because it wasn’t anything for the couple to furnish their new home with, but I know that they enjoyed the gift. You can do the same thing yourself. If you like to give your children’s teachers an end of year gift, I bet they’d like a gift basket of market items.
Most of us have everything we need in terms of “stuff.” I know that I surely do. As tempting as it may be to purchase more stuff, I don’t do it. Many people my age are in the process of giving things away. There have been several articles in recent years about older parents who are downsizing whose children don’t want their things. I know that most of what I own won’t be wanted by my children. Their taste is different than mine, and where I have some fancy things (china, crystal, sterling silver) that I use regularly because I like to entertain, they don’t, so they have no need for what I have.
One of my sisters in law volunteers at the Hospice shop in Northampton, and she told me that they have several sets of china there for sale. Evidently fine china is not a fast seller.
An agency that can use household items is Jewish Family Service. They help with refugee resettlement. Their number is 737-2601. Before you bring anything to them, call them and ask what they need.
We have a new supply of t-shirts in all sizes, even some children’s. They are only $10, just a dollar more than what they cost us. When you wear one, you are a walking advertisement for us.
It’s back. Those of you who receive SNAP benefits should have received a phone call telling you that. Our legislature allocated some money in the supplemental budget to reinstate it until July 1st, and money in the annual budget that begins July 1st.
Remember to keep some money in your EBT account because the farmer can’t take money out of it if there is nothing in it. Keep at least $10 available for when you want to use HIP. It goes back into your account once your transaction is completed.
Remember that it goes from the first of the month to the last of the month; it doesn’t matter when you get your benefits. And, remember that if you don’t use all of your HIP benefits, they don’t carry over to the next month like your regular SNAP benefits do.
HIP benefits are automatic; they are in your account at the first of each month, but you don’t see that amount in there if you check your balance. It’s there.
$40 for a family up to 2, $60 for a family of 3-5, and $80 for a family over 5. Per month.
You can purchase herbs and plants that will grow food with HIP benefits. Massachusetts is the only state that has HIP; it was implemented with grant money.
I think that some people think that financial planning is only for people who have lots of money. Not so. People with lots of money have to do some things that those of us with less don’t have to do, but having your financial house in order is important for everyone.
First of all, if you are married, or sharing expenses with someone, it’s important for each person to know how to take care of the finances. Don’t assume that if you’re not available, they’ll know what to do. The time to start learning is not when there is a crisis because that’s when mistakes can happen.
I often see in an obituary where contributions to an education fund are asked for for minor children. Unless it was a well-known person who died, the reality is that very little will be collected for the fund. If the parent who died had had life insurance, much more money would be available. Life insurance has gotten much less expensive in recent years due to some medical conditions not being rated anymore, and people living longer.
Since none of us has any guarantee about how long we will live, it makes sense to buy this insurance. If your family doesn’t have to worry about money while they are grieving, you will have given them a gift.
Everyone should have a will also. If you die without a will, you are saying that the state knows more about what to do with your assets than you do. Really? Is that what you want?
Then, review what you have done every so often because our lives change. Some children have special needs and you have to make provisions for them.
Children grow up, needs change. Don’t procrastinate.
Strawberries are in Season!
It seems a little early for these berries, but maybe not. If you want to make jam, buy some Ball pectin. Follow the directions exactly. Sometimes I double or triple the recipe for the cooked jam and it is fine. Then you can either can it or if you have enough freezer space, freeze it.
If you don’t pick your own berries, ask if there are any jam berries that you can buy. Those are often a little imperfect, or maybe are from the day before. They are fine for jam. I sometimes freeze them without the hulls and even though they soften when defrosted, they’re still delicious especially in February or March when you really want local fruit.
A very easy dessert is this: Wash berries, leave hulls on. Put some brown sugar in a dish, put some plain yogurt or sour cream in another dish. Dip the berry in the yogurt or sour cream and then in the brown sugar. Delicious.
If you make strawberry shortcake, make the biscuits for it. Biscuits are very easy to make. And, buy the heavy cream from Trinity Farm. A simple dessert will be fabulous with such good ingredients.
Every year the Forest Park Civic Association has a special evening in June—Illumination Night.
This year it will be held on June 23rd on Bronson Terrace which is between Dickinson St., and Trafton Road.
• Schedule: 6:30 PM—Children’s Parade. Wear a costume, decorate your bike, wagon, trike, or scooter and join the parade. Fun and prizes.
• 7 PM—Social time. Spend time with neighbors and enjoy the festivities. Bring your own chair.
• 7-10PM Live music—listen, dance, or just sit back and relax to live music.
You can purchase lemonade or strawberry shortcake and/or buy glow sticks and raffle tickets. Rain or shine.
Stanley Park Concert Series
Every Sunday evening from early June to mid-August at 6PM, a free concert will be given in the Beveridge Pavilion. You can bring your own food, or purchase something there. Chairs are provided. Go to stanleypark.org for other events happening there.
Zucchini with Mint
1 pound young zucchini, olive oil as needed, 2 garlic cloves (or use some green garlic), 12 whole fresh mint leaves, mild white wine vinegar
Place the zucchini between layers of paper towels and let dry for 2 hours.
Working in batches, quickly fry the zucchini in olive oil.
Place the first batch in a serving dish, sprinkle with some garlic, mint and a dash of vinegar. Top with another layer of fried zucchini, then more garlic, mint and vinegar.
Repeat until all ingredients have been used. Let sit a room temperature for about one hour stirring from time to time before serving.
Gai Lan (Chinese Broccoli) with Rice Wine and Oyster Sauce
2 T. oyster sauce, 2 T. chicken stock, 1 T. white wine or dry sherry, ½ tsp. sugar, ½ tsp. Asian sesame oil 1 to 1 ½ pounds gai lan, 1 tsp. salt , 1 T. peanut, or vegetable oil
Combine the oyster sauce, chicken stock, wine, sugar and sesame oil in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until the sauce thickens; set aside
Wash the gai lan in cold water, trim off and discard the tough bottoms. Peel the stalks if they are thick and tough. Leave it whole, or cut into thirds. Bring 3-4 quarts of water to a boil, add the salt and oil. Add the greens and bring back to a boil. Turn off the heat and let the greens stay in the water for a minute or two. When the green stalks brighten, test one for doneness. It should be tender and crisp. Drain and shake off the excess water.
Transfer to a platter and drizzle with the dressing.