Friday, August 16, 2013

Haymarket - Boston

For the poor student, Haymarket is the place that will keep you eating well without constantly asking your parents for money. There are a few of catches though:

1. Some vendors are a little rude.
2. The produce might be ripe, so you need it eat it soon.
3. It's only open on Fridays and Saturdays.

Catches #1 and #3 cannot be changed. However, if you become a regular customer, the vendors will probably eventually recognize you and share a joke with you every week. For example, the potato guy recognizes me and knows that I like the purple spuds. As for the days that haymarket is open, you'll want to go at about 4:30 or 5 p.m. to get the best prices because that's when they're trying to get rid of their inventory. However, if you want the best quality stuff, early in the day is better. Either way, you'll still get better prices than at the supermarket.

The ripeness of the produce is something that you can't really change but if you're willing to invest about $50 for a good dehydrator, you can create dried fruits and vegetables that can be stored for months in sealed plastic bags or air-tight containers. Keep your fruit in the fridge if possible. Dried fruit can be eaten as snacks or used for baking cakes. If you check the prices of dried fruit at the store, you'll see that you can create dried fruit for less with haymarket fruit. However, if you buy fruit at a regular store, it might be cheaper to buy dried fruit. For more information about this, see my blog post on dehydrating fruit.

Dehydrating your veggies is a good way to save space in your kitchen and can be rehydrated and used for soups and stews. You'll notice that the flavors are more concentrated and can make your own soup mixes to take to work. Mushrooms that are reconstituted with hot water will produce a nice flavorful and aromatic broth for cooking.

Positive things about Haymarket:
1. The food is very cheap!
This is probably the most important reason to shop here on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Even if you get one or two duds in your bag, you'll still be saving a lot of money and eating healthier than if you bought your fruits and vegetables at a regular store. A lot of the produce is perfectly good and can be preserved by either dehydrating it or putting it in the fridge. Vegetables and fish can easily be cut up and frozen in plastic bags.

2. Easy to find and convenient
Haymarket is accessible by public transit on either the orange or green line. If you go out the orange line exit, it's just outside the station. Walk past the t-shirt vendor and turn left when you get to the corner. The stalls start a few steps away and cover about a block.

3. Interesting people (who are not students)
Let's face it, if you're a student, you probably see the same people all week. It's refreshing to see a bunch of non-students once in a while, isn't it? Haymarket has a very multi-cultural mix of people and the tourists will come by to check out the place too, on their way to Faneuil Hall. Besides, where else can you see a sign like this:

4. Interesting products in the stores
In addition to the stands filled with cheap fruits and vegetables, there are a few stores with a lot of products that you probably won't find at your local grocery store. Goat meat, Middle-Eastern foods, and a great variety of spices await you in the stores down the steps. You can also get very reasonably priced fish in those stores! We're talking less than $5 a pound of tuna or salmon, depending on availability. If you need a whole salmon, they might have that at only $3.99 a pound. At the cheese place, they have a different variety of cheese each week. For the more adventurous, it's fun to try a couple of cheeses each week and it'll cost you only $5 for two chunks. The thing about cheese is that it's already aged - what's another couple of weeks gonna do?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Virtual YouTube Tour of Boston

The Poor Student has linked all of the Scootin' in Boston videos with annotations to let you see Boston in a "choose your own adventure" kind of way. Let's say you're watching the video of Hammond Street and would like to go straight on Beacon Street to see Boston College, instead of turning onto to Hammond Street. Just click on the annotation and a new window will open with the video of that ride. Of course we haven't covered all of Boston yet, so the coverage right now is limited. However, you can see quite a lot of Boston from the comfort of your desk, in case you're getting ready to visit Boston or maybe you're just nervous about driving around the non-parallel streets in Boston.
(Scroll down to see a map of some of the routes that have already been covered by The Poor Student.)

Playlist of all Scootin' in Boston videos:

Here is one of the annotated videos:

Monday, June 17, 2013

Scootin' in Boston - Scootin' around Boston area colleges

This is the playlist for the Poor Student's new series, "Boston area school tours". There are 4 parts:

  1. Schools in the Jamaica Plain area (includes Roxbury Community College, Northeastern University, Museum School, and Mass Art)
  2. MIT and Harvard (in Cambridge, MA)
  3. Boston College (Chestnut Hill)
  4. Berklee College of Music and Emerson College (art schools in Back Bay and Downtown Boston)


Friday, February 1, 2013

Twinkie alternative - "dreamies"

When Hostess went bankrupt and Twinkies flew off the shelves, people freaked out and Twinkies started becoming a rare commodity. Yeah, what a first-world problem - we no longer had these sugar and carb-filled treats to contribute to our obesity epidemic any more. However, the latest rumor is that the Twinkie might make a return to store shelves in September of 2013, at the earliest.

On my latest trip to the Save-a-lot in Roslindale (near Boston, MA), I noticed a box of treats that looked pretty close to the Twinkie: the dreamie. In case you really can't wait, look for these dreamies instead. They cost $1.99 for a box of 6 individually-wrapped treats and they're basically imitation Twinkies that taste pretty darn close to the real thing. Having said that, I'm not an expert on Twinkies because my dad never let me eat this crap when I was growing up. So, all I'm suggesting is that you spend less than $2 to try them yourself. If you don't like them, then wait until later this year.

In case you're into other types of packaged pastries too, Mrs. Freshley's also makes chocolate cupcakes with the white cream in the middle, which look very similar to the ones Hostess (or some other company) used to make. I actually like those.

If you eat this crap on a regular basis, I'm pretty sure you're not on a diet. However, in case you're wondering, one dreamie is 140 calories. You're welcome...

Friday, December 28, 2012

Making Radish Cake

Radish cake is one of those dishes that Chinese people almost always order when they are having dim sum. That and "har gow" (shrimp dumpling) and shu mai (pork dumpling) are pretty common. While it's easy to find plenty of dumplings in the freezer section of any Asian market, radish cake (or "turnip cake") is something that has to be made from scratch. There are plenty of recipes online, such as this one (, but they look like they take a ridiculous amount of time to make. So, the Poor Student has created a video to make the whole process easier. There are other videos on youtube that show you how to make radish cake, so check those out too, in case you want a second opinion...

Basically, you need 2 cups rice flour, 1.5 cups water, 6 shitake mushrooms, around 3 lbs daikon (Japanese radish), and 2 Chinese sausages (or other kind of sausage). Other things you can add are scallions and dried shrimp. The base of the recipe is rice flour, water, and radish. All of the other stuff is just for adding flavour. To make the process easier, you can use a grater to grate the daikon or a food processor (instead of dicing the daikon with a knife). Chop or process everything, cook the daikon with the flavouring ingredients, mix the water with the rice flour, and throw it all together in a loaf pan. Steam it for an hour. Cool it for several hours, slice it, and pan fry it. While you're waiting for it to cook, go do your homework and set an alarm to tell you when to do the next step. The recipe is time consuming mainly because of the time it takes to cook the daikon, steam it, and cool it. The rest of the steps are pretty quick.

Making this dish is like making polenta but perhaps with a bit more chopping involved. It's kinda time consuming but one batch will yield about 10 large slices, which can be stored in the fridge until you're ready to fry one up.