Sunday, July 6, 2008

Local diet update - July 06, 2008

With my kamikaze schedule, I didn't have a chance to cook for most of last week (unless you count the egg whites I whipped up for dinner on Monday (I had used the yolks for the ice cream we made last weekend). There was no time for baking, roasting, frying, sauteing, or simmering, so it was a week of quick breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Thankfully, I keep my freezer stocked for these occasions and a "meal" was never more than 5 minutes away - lots of pancakes, toast, potato salad, and fruit. But it was all homemade and just about everything I ate (other than my homemade bread, of course) was local. In my book, that's still fine dining!

When Friday finally arrived, I planned to curl up on the couch, pull out my latest mystery, and relax. Right - that's the way it happened. I did get plenty of time to read, but it was done in between trips to the kitchen to make a loaf of bread, bake those two spaghetti squash that I bought at the market last week and never got around to, cook up some homemade pasta sauce (tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, and basil) and saute a few leftover veggies that will be split between a rice dish and a crustless quiche (mushroom, onion, zucchini, basil, egg and gouda) for next week's meals. Let's just say the house smells REALLY good and all I need to do for meals next week is reheat!

It was a big week for the dairy pickup on Friday. We're finding that we need more than 1 gallon of milk each week, so we ordered an extra. We also picked up 2 pounds of gouda (most of this will freeze until we need it), 2 pounds of polish sausage, 2 pounds of summer sausage, 1 package of bologna (I'm told it's more like salami), and this week, the dairy had some heavy cream. Do you see another batch of butter in my future? Of course, we won't be eating all this in the coming week. Most everything will be frozen and thawed as needed.

With so much good food still in the house just waiting to be eaten, I didn't need much at Saturday's farmers market, but it was hard to resist and as always, I came back with more than I needed. I hit the market earlier than usual. I definitely needed eggs this week so that I could make that quiche and wanted to get there before all the egg vendors ran out. I also picked up more tomatoes, which I'll slice for tomato sandwiches, a cucumber and some cherry tomatoes to nibble on with the tomato sandwiches, onions and potatoes in case I feel like whipping up another batch of potato salad, and a little something I've never tried before - purple hull peas. Everyone says to boil them with onion, and bacon. I don't have bacon, but some of those sausages we have from the dairy might substitute nicely.  I also picked up an additional watermelon and 2 cantaloupes. I still have plenty of watermelon at home, but not knowing how long they will continue to be at the market on Saturdays, I'm trying to take advantage of them as long as I can. They'll last for a week on the counter and another week in the fridge. They are both so incredibly juicy. How can you pass that up? Not to mention, I didn't have to cart them home on my bike. One of our neighbors saw me at the market, stopped to talk, and offered to give my produce a ride home. Uh, that would be a yes (thanks Kim)!

I only picked up a few things from the grocery this week: sugar, toothpicks (I made some toothpick flags for a friend's son's birthday cupcakes), whole wheat bread (for my hubby - I'm still working on a good homemade wheat recipe), organic corn flakes (hubby is moving away from Kellogg's because of HFCS), and mushrooms (although store-bought, these are locally grown). 

I was reflecting yesterday morning about things I might incorporate back into my diet once I've reached a full year of the experiment (Oct for veggies; March for fruit). As far as veggies go, I don't think I'll change a thing. I love the selection that the farmers market supplies, I can buy vegetables year-round, and locally grown produce just plain tastes better. As for fruit, I suppose I'm going to have to make it through my first local-only winter before I can know for sure, but I'm guessing with all those fresh local fruits tucked away in the freezer, I'll be just fine. I suppose the only thing I miss in all this is my cereal. I've made my own granola during this experiment, but miss those organic millet-rice flakes that only come in a box. I anticipate that at the end of the year, the cereal will make a re-appearance. Until then, those delicious local pancakes and homemade bagels remain at center stage and I wonder - would I ever have even tried to make bagels had I not given up cereal for the year? Would I have tried spaghetti squash, collard greens, brussels sprouts or purple hull peas? Would I have learned to bake breads and can jams? How many things would I have missed had I never taken that first step into eating locally? How many wonderful things would I never have learned to do?

Have a great week, everyone! Happy (and mindful) eating!


Student Doctor Green said...

I was really impressed by your local food listing for the BCS area. I used to live in College Station and miss the Farm Patch a lot.

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

It seems like you are doing really well with the experiment. And I also think it's served it's purpose, I don't think the idea is to NEVER buy or consume non-local things, but to not do it very often, and to be mindful when you do. This is something I know you will do at the culmination of this challenge, so don't feel guilty when you buy your cereal.

And you are so right, all that variety, the superior taste of fresh food that so many people miss by shopping at the grocery instead of the farmer's market, such a shame!

timeus said...

timeus is hooked on Kashi's Go Lean Crunch cereal. He knows that doesn't fit into your experiment, but once your year is up and you start eating cereals again, he recommends trying it if you haven't already.

Heather @ SGF said...

student doctor green - you know, that's the one place I haven't been in probably 6 months. I keep talking about going to the Farm Patch and just never head that way. I really miss pecans and I know they have local ones there. I'll just have to drop in one of these days. Were you going to school here?

jennnifer - you are absolutely right about not being permanently on local foods. It's an experiment. More than anything else, I want to learn how to do so many of the things that have been lost with my generation (how to bake bread, how to make butter, growing our own food, etc). In the process, I've learned that these foods just taste better, but sometimes you just need to fill that craving. For me it's cereal and as much as I am trying to make it through the year, seriously, its not like I'm craving fruit loops or anything. It's organic millet rice flakes. I'm such a healthy food freak :)

timeus - thanks for the recommendation! I've tried Kashi before but not that one. I'll have to give it a shot later this fall.

Melissa said...

thank goodness for freezer stocks, huh? I like knowing that there's a safety net in there!

Heather @ SGF said...

Melissa - no doubt! The freezer is playing a huge part in my being able to eat locally. It's also a real mental struggle to figure out what the right thing to do. We're stuggling with this one as we were over the purchase of the Prius.

For instanace, our freezer is completely full and there are lots of things I'd like to stock up on but can't because we don't have the room. I'd like to have more soup stocked and I'd like to have more fruit for winter (I dont think I have nearly enough) and I'd like to make some pasta sauce to have for winter months. From what I understand - soup should never be done without a pressure canner and pasta sauce is iffy depending on the acidity of the sauce. And fruit can be canned, but what about all the water and energy put into boiling the water to make them seal?

Do we get a second freezer? But then we have all that electricity use. What really is the best thing to do? We're still thinking about it. One step we'll be taking is I'm going to go ahead and get a pressure canner. It'll open up a lot more options as far as soups and pasta sauce, and next year, maybe corn too.

It's so hard to do the right thing, but I read somewhere that just the fact that we're thinking so much about means we're on the right track, regardless of the true result. Just the fact that we are being mindful of our decisions makes us part of the solution. I just wish the answer was more obvious :)

Melissa said...

heather, I think you're totally right, the thinking is the first (most important!) step. I'm inclined to say that the pressure canner is a much better option than the freezer...although it uses energy to boil the water and stuff, you're only using it when you're actually canning something, versus a freezer which would have to be running all the time. If you do decide to get a second freezer, you might check out this option: - they also have the solar oven I want!

Heather @ SGF said...

Well, how cool is that! Thanks, Melissa, we'll look into that!