Sunday, July 13, 2008

Local diet update - July 13, 2008

I woke up, early as usual. My eyes tend to open with the coming of the sun, but I haven't been feeling well these days so I reached for my laptop to get my fix of morning news, blogs, and mail before my feet ever hit the floor. It was Saturday, a day I always look forward to - the spread of goodies at the farmers market, the friends and neighbors I'll see there, the smiles and laughs and hugs. Even when I'm physically worn, there's something about the market that makes the day better and I come home feeling better than when I left - the power of mind over body, I suppose. This was one of those weeks.

Thinking back, I honestly didn't do much cooking or baking last week. I managed to put together some fresh potato salad with the potatoes and onions from last week's market for next week's lunches, and of course, I whipped up some of Melinda's yummy yogurt pancakes for dinner on Friday, but otherwise, the most I accomplished in the culinary department was a workout for my toaster oven. Well, that's not entirely true. I did blanch my first vegetables for freezing. I realized early I wasn't going to be able to eat those purple hull peas from last week's market. Blanching was easy and those little peas will be great in soup in the coming months. Preserving will be what gets me though this local diet experiment. When I buy too much at the market, it gets frozen, or made into soup and frozen. And when I don't have enough, I comes right back out of the freezer for an easy meal. Of course, the freezer is only so big. I'm finally taking the plunge and splurging to buy a pressure canner - canned soup coming up!

Meals this week were light and easy. Bagels, pancakes, and toast monopolized both breakfast and dinner. Lunches were leftovers from last week - veggie and sausage soup, tomato sandwiches, spaghetti squash with pasta sauce. Somehow, even with out all the cooking I DIDN'T  do, I have a ton of food still in the fridge and freezer - gouda cheese and sausages from the dairy, more than a dozen eggs, almost an entire watermelon and a cantaloupe from last week's market, the potato salad I made this week, several jars of soup just waiting to be thawed, and lots and lots of frozen breads, bagels, polenta, and pancakes. Oh, and a friend gave us a pint of her homemade grape jelly. I'm REALLY looking forward to tasting that!

As my body struggled to start the day, even with the anticipation of visiting the market, I decided we were going to make this another easy week. I love being active - lots of long bike rides, visits with friends, dates with my hubby -  but sometimes our bodies have other plans and I was feeling the ache of those "other plans." Thankfully, I actually prefer the comfort in a slice of homemade toast with homemade butter and homemade jam. I crave the simple pleasures of a tomato sandwich - the amazing way the flavors of fresh toasted gouda and homegrown tomatoes melt together in my mouth. To me, this is comfort food. 

Obviously I didn't need much, at the market to accomplish that kind of menu, but the tomatoes were gorgeous and I stocked up - a few from each vendor. Yes, I obviously got more than I could ever eat in tomato sandwiches, but managing to spend a little time in the kitchen yesterday netted me 6 pints of homemade pasta sauce (coming soon in another post near you) - which should explain the rosemary, basil and oregano in the photo above. You see, July in Texas means the end of tomato season. It just doesn't get cool enough at night to keep them coming. Everyone keeps telling me we only have one more week before they're gone, so the time for pasta sauce in now. That other little baggie in the photo is spinach. I wasn't expecting to see spinach again until January, but there it was - a pleasant surprise just waiting for me. That'll go nicely on my tomato sandwiches, or maybe I'll feel up to making a polenta lasagna with fried spinach, my pasta sauce, and the rest of the polenta in the freezer. Hmmm. Yeah, that sounds nice.

Most of my time at the market was spent with friends and loved ones. I stopped to chat with most of the vendors, ran into several friends (some of whom I hadn't seen in ages), waved to someone I know from the office, and swapped hugs and kisses with my grandparents. Somehow, I just don't "feel the love" at the big-chain grocery store in quite the same way. Go figure.

I did, however, pick up a few supplies at two different stores this week. Let's see. At the grocery, there were the corn flakes (hubby's breakfast), two dozen mason jars, and an organic lemon (to help me can that pasta sauce). And at Brazos Natural Foods we picked up some aloe vera gel (for my tummy - oh, and this stuff is made in Texas so it's actually local) and 1 box of Pomona's Universal Pectin (a non-sugar pectin for that next batch of jam, whenever fruit manages to find its way to my front door - anymore peaches, Dad?).

By mid-day Saturday, having shopped at the farmers market, enjoyed a nice lunch with my hubby, run a few errands, and chopped all those pasta sauce veggies, I had to lay down again. My body was telling me it had reached the limit. You know, sometimes it's hard to accept the fact that I physically can't do what others can do, but if I've learned nothing else in the last couple years, it's this: Life isn't about how much I can or can't accomplish in a day. It's about the pleasure, the satisfaction that I derive from every moment. It's savoring that tomato sandwich. It's the smell of that freshly baked bread. It's the bike ride that for a little while, made me feel really good. Eating locally and slowing the pace of my life because of my illness have worked hand in hand, teaching me lessons about how to find comfort in friends, how to savor good food, and how to truly enjoy life. Really, it just doesn't get any better than that!

Happy (and mindful) eating!


Green Bean said...

There is nothing like a farmers market and other "simple" pleasures to bring beauty and happiness into our lives. It sounds like a wonderful day - despite the fact that it outlasted your body. :)

fearlesschef said...

I adore going to the market... you're right, there is a sense of family there. I like to be able to ask how the barn cats are doing and comment on last week's beets to the specific farmer. And by switching pantry over as we go to local and homemade only has been such a fulfilling experience.

Glenda said...

I'm sorry your body is having a time of it.

Hubby pulled up our tomato plants this morning -- we've only gotten one tomato in the last week and the plants are burned up. Last summer was unseasonably cool and wet here and we had tomatoes for a long time -- missing that this year!

eco 'burban mom said...

It sure sounds like you did a lot in spite of not feeling your best. The pasta sauce just didn't go an cook itself! And, there isn't any better way to give yourself a little kick in the pants to get going than the local market! When I am not on top of my game, I treat myself to a fresh squeezed lemonade at the market. That always helps!! Feel better soon!

Heather @ SGF said...

green bean - it was a nice day. I recouped over the afternoon hours and we were able to attend my friend's son's birthday party. I wasn't feeling my best, but we sure did have a really nice time.

fearlesschef - I love the look of my pantry too. The homemade canned fruits, pasta sauces, and jam are taking over where the store bought items used to be. It's a good feeling.

glenda - I'm surely going to miss the tomatoes when they are all gone :( It must have been sad to pull up those plants. Hopefully next year will be a better one.

eco 'burban mom - ooh, fresh lemonade sounds nice. One of the guys at our market always brings donuts. I don't normally eat that kind of thing but I consider it a rare treat. I just sit and talk to him and nibble. You know what would be nice at the market... fresh smoothies. Mmmmm.

Lisa Sharp said...

I wish we had a big farmers market, ours is very small. :( Also glad you like the gift bow idea! It's so much fun, you won't want to stop.

Lisa Sharp said...

Yes it's me and thanks! May I ask what illnesses you have?

Heather @ SGF said...

Lisa - I just love our market. It's a nice size in the summer with tons of vendors. It's pretty teeny in the winter (2 egg vendors and 1 veggie vendor), but I managed to feed myself all winter from the farmers market foods. I wouldn't have it any other way! What's your market like?

Beany said...

Sorry about the physical ailments. :(

You're right about the pleasures of food though. I had such a good, relaxing time today cooking listening to music. It felt like I was in love for the first time. Except it was with food.

Heather @ SGF said...

Lisa- the worst of what I'm dealing with right now is my colon. I've had trouble for the last 17 years, but a little over 2 years ago, it just quit on me. After almost a year of being told they couldn't do anything for me, I finally found a doctor that could help. He says it make take years, but eventually I will get better. There's that light at the end of the tunnel, but it's still a day to day struggle.

Beany - yeah, I know exactly what you mean. I've had a lifelong struggle with food, but eating locally, finding fresh and new foods at the farmers market have opened up a whole new world for me. I have this amazing relationship with food now that didn't exist before. I'm not exactly Super Chef now, but I have a healthier attitude about eating. Oh, and thanks for the tip! I'll have to remember to turn on some music next time I'm in the kitchen. What a great idea!

fearlesschef said...

I would like to agree with Beany... music in the kitchen! I flip on the ipod and dance/sing while I chop, stir and plate! And my neighbors get a free dance recital every night! (We have a bay window that faces their driveway and living room.) And with canning season upon me, I know that I have some more songs to add to my current lists!

Heather @ SGF said...

fearlesschef - I'll bet it's a great show! I think the only one who watches me in the kitchen is Kelsey (our dog). And that's only because she's hoping I'll drop something!