There was a time last spring or early summer when I thought my tomato plants were all going to succumb to blight, and I bought some store-bought canned tomatoes at Aldi's and Walmart. I'm fairly certain I paid around seventy-five cents a can for those. As it happened, my blighted tomato vines continued to produce flawed-but-tasty tomatoes up until the first frost; there were plenty for me to can, as it turned out. I still have twenty quarts and two pints of tomatoes left; I'm not sure if that will last until the 2011 crop starts bearing, but it should come close. I have a lot of recipes that use tomatoes.
When we were last at Walmart, I looked at the canned tomatoes and almost keeled over from shock: They are now ninety-nine cents per can. How are people going to be able to afford to eat, with prices rising so fast? I certainly hope our tomato crop does well this year. I realize gasoline prices are the cause of this exorbitant inflation, but whatever the cause, it's scary.
While I'm talking about food, I'm very happy to announce that the two bushels of number-two-grade Fuji apples bought in October have lasted nicely, without withering or rotting. If you're looking for an apple that's a good winter keeper, Fuji is your best bet. If you haven't tried them, I suggest you do so: they're sweet and juicy, bursting with flavor. They've become our favorite for eating out of hand. Each year we buy a half-bushel or so of Galas early on in the season, since they're the first ones ready; when those are gone, we return to the orchard and purchase some early Fujis. While we're there, I ask the orchard owners when they think they'll be closing for the year, and we return just before they close to buy a couple of bushels of the late Fujis, which seem to keep much better than the early variety. There are six apples left, out of what we bought in October. From here on out, we'll be paying over a dollar a pound for our apples. That will hurt. In fact, I'll only buy enough for Cliff to take one each day in his lunch to work; I only eat cheap apples. The one flaw with Fuji apples is that they're huge, so you'd better be pretty hungry when you eat one, or else get your husband to share one with you.
The one fruit I buy year around on a fairly regular basis is bananas, because they do such a good job of dressing up our cereal or oatmeal. The only time I don't buy them is when we have home-grown strawberries or peaches to take their place.
I saw ground turkey at Price Chopper this week for ninety-nine cents a pound, but I couldn't justify buying it when we have so much ground beef in the freezer from Bonnie's calf last year. Her present son is growing nicely, and will probably fill up the freezer this summer just like his half-brother did last year.
One way or another, we will continue our struggles to keep the wolf from the door. Thank God I have a lot of bean-and-rice recipes to use as a last resort.