Ours is a community with a voracious appetite. But food comes at a cost. My goal here is to go on a food safari, setting my sights on the delicious and delectable options often overlooked around town. As a single dad of two growing boys, I consider myself a frugal foodie. I like to maximize my investment to get the most out of a dollar. Ten dollars will be my tipping point. The days of the $5 lunch are long gone but I believe there’s still affordable food—be it a sandwich or late night tapas—available to us. Outside of setting my sights on what’s out on the range, I also hope to tap into our other side. The gatherer. Armed with little more than a five-dollar bill, I will visit the area’s farmer’s markets scouring the booths for earthen bounty. I am not a trained chef; every thing I have learned is through observation and experimentation. But I have a will and a way and a limited budget, so let’s go hunting…

Greg BarberaOn a recent rain-drenched Saturday morning I made my way over to the farmers market in the University Mall parking lot, set up between K & W Cafeteria and A Southern Season. I purchased Yukon gold potatoes, a Creole garlic bulb, a squash, a zucchini and a vine-ripened tomato — all for $5.

I made a German-style potato salad, summer seasonal veggie quesadillas and a caprese bruschetta. The important thing to take into consideration when tackling a farmers market is knowing what you have in your kitchen or cupboards. A little bit of planning and preparation goes a long way in this case.

Potato Salad

I cook to taste. In other words, I tend to wing it. A lot of recipes are based on volume (serves 4, 6, 10 etc.), so sometimes I have to adjust them to fit my needs. Am I cooking for one? Three? Seven? The following is my recipe for the Yukon gold potatoes. I bought mine by portion (not weight) in a pulp paper berry till.

-Boil potatoes in (salted) water until you can easily poke them with a fork (about 15-20 minutes)

-As potatoes are boiling, mix white vinegar, sugar, diced red onion and Dijon mustard in a bowl. I like mustard.

-1/6 cup white vinegar

-1/8 cup sugar

-Tablespoon red onion

-Three good squeezes out of a Dijon mustard container

-Sea salt & pepper

When potatoes are done, cut into cubes and toss with your dressing. Wanna get crazy? Top with chives, bacon bits or Fritos. Seriously, Fritos go with everything.

Greg Barbera