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Betsy Block


No Good Deed ....

No Good Deed ....

How much would you pay for this soup?

"Can't we just give them a hundred bucks and be done with it?" BD asked plaintively.

We were in the middle of our second all-family fight. Nine-year-old E had gone outside to "cool off," and four-year-old P was feeling left out. I was in the kitchen making the damn cookies.

This would be the third year that E and I would sell cookies, brownies and cold drinks at a farmers market to raise money for our local food pantry. We tag along with our friend Bob, who owns Flora in Arlington, Mass. He always sells something fabulous at his summer fundraiser - this time it was gazpacho and kimchee - and we do the sweet stuff. E looks forward to it all summer.

But after two major meltdowns during baking sessions, plus the imminent threat of rain on the big day, BD was wondering if we could - you know - throw money at the problem. Donate some money to the food pantry and be done with it. I wanted to, too, of course, but I just rolled my eyes at him. He knew better.

BD said he would take the afternoon off to help us out, so we picked E  up early from camp and headed over to the market. BD told E and me that actually, as it turned out, he could probably only stay for an hour or two. I hadn't eaten yet, so the first thing I did while BD was still there was buy some delicious goat cheese in olive oil, oregano and peppercorns. I scooped up one big bite with the bread I'd wisely brought along and promptly dropped the whole thing on my new dress.

Then a man at the next table asked us for a brownie. He said he worked for the food pantry and was allowed to have free food. Not knowing what to do, I picked out one of the smallest brownies and cut it in half. (Suddenly I was glad we'd failed to cut them evenly.) E immediately asked if he could have the other half. He kept asking for more the rest of the day.

Next, the guy asked for one of our iced lemon-limeades. When we said no, that we were trying to raise money here, he started making fun of us, saying that his lemonade was better anyway. E, always delighted to engage in a pissing match, especially with someone twice his age, started giving it back. I had to intervene.

But then the mooch left and things settled down. BD said he really needed to get back to work now and that we should call him later; naturally, one car was in the shop so we would be stranded. We felt better when we started making sales; we felt worse when the guy who runs the market came over and said, "A famous chef is selling pints of gazpacho for only three dollars and you're charging a dollar and a half for a small cup of lemonade? You need to lower your prices."

E brilliantly replied, "But it's selling." We stood our ground.

Five hours later, sweat dripping down our backs and faces, we slashed our prices in half, shamelessly sold an entire pan of brownies to our beloved baby sitter, and made an emergency call to BD: Please, pick us up.

The good news? We made $250 - minus the $70 I'd added to the till, and not counting our time or the cost of the ingredients... Ah, but all those life lessons were priceless. Plus, there was Bob's gazpacho, and at only three bucks! E ate a quart. (Not to mention the cookie and second brownie he finally wheedled out of me.) I loved it, too.

Famous Bob's Delicious Gazpacho (adapted for making at home, makes about 3 quarts)

Betsy says: "I haven't had time to try this yet, but Bob's recipes have never failed me. Personally, I'd ask for at least four bucks a pint. Probably five."

Bob says: "Instead of a blender or food processor, at the restaurant we push the vegetables through a course meat grinder attachment on our big mixing machine.  It seems to cut them right for our taste.  I sometimes have a difficult time controlling the blender and processor.  The pieces are hard to get small and uniform without either too many big chunks or a homogenous mush.  That being said, the food processor is probably the best tool to chop the vegetables and separately puree tomatoes and cucumbers to mush.  Here's an approximation:"

1.Wash, trim and dice into 1" pieces:

One smallish zucchini
One small summer squash
One red pepper
One green pepper
1/2 small red onion
4 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
One small (not tiny, 16 oz.?) can whole tomatoes in juice
One large peeled cucumber
One small carrot
One clove of garlic.

  1. In a food processor, pulse the first 5 ingredients until evenly chopped as small as you'd like them to be.  Set aside in a large bowl.
  2. In the same unwashed processor, add the cucumber, tomato, carrot and garlic and process the hell out of it -- to liquid.  Add to bowl of chopped vegetables and add 1/4 cup each:  virgin olive oil and high-quality red wine vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper, as well as scallions and cilantro, if you like.  If too thick add tomato juice, ice cubes or vegetable stock as desired.