Monday, August 11, 2008

Local diet update - August 11, 2008

A beautiful platter. A rainbow of sweet, juicy colors. Blueberries, grapes, cherries, raspberries, bananas, strawberries, kiwi, and peaches. Was I in Heaven? Was I dreaming? Nope. I was on vacation!

Cha-ching! Last weekend, Dave and I were visiting his Mom's side of the family in Arkansas. We stayed at his Aunt Carol's gorgeous home on a lush 10 acres about 30 minutes outside of Little Rock. On top of being a truly beautiful human being, Carol is a wonderful hostess and decorator extraordinaire. It was like staying at a fancy bed and breakfast. We awoke each morning and came downstairs to the afore mentioned fruit platter and yogurt for me; bacon, eggs, and homemade pastries for Dave. Wow! And dinner was just as fabulous! 

Of course, I was completely off my local diet for the four days we were gone and I'm paying for it now. I have to say, a completely local diet for veggies, nuts, honey, eggs, dairy, herbs, etc is wonderful and I fully plan to continue the diet after my one year experiment is complete. But, I'm going to be honest here, the fruit is killing me. Don't get me wrong. I love all those local peaches, strawberries, watermelon, blueberries, blackberries, and plums. And I've successfully abstained from non-local fruits like bananas, cherries, grapes, and mangos up to this point. But I've missed them. Yes, I can live without them, but I miss them. Enjoying them again this weekend reminded me just how much.

But not all our fruit was non-local this week. I also cut the watermelon we picked up from the Farm Patch before we left, and on Friday, I picked up more of those local Mexia peaches for next week's fruit selection. I'm back on the wagon... for now...

After stopping at the Farm Patch on Friday, we had our regular dairy pickup for Sand Creek Farm. With more gouda cheese still chilled in the freezer, all we needed was a fresh gallon of milk this week. 

But most exciting was the Saturday visit to the Farmers Market. Having missed last week, I was eager to catch up with everyone. And an hour's visit at the market turned into lots of goodies for this week. Check out that spread! 

Let's see. There's potatoes, zucchini, green beans, cucumber, and spinach in the veggie department; pears, as you can see, have hit the market (yeah!) and a small watermelon; a dozen eggs; towards the bottom right is a bag of fresh basil, since my basil plant has some growing to do before I can harvest any; and last but certainly not least, right in the middle there is a bag of cornmeal. Yep! The Vaughns has their own mill now! Lois promises that we'll have wheat flour soon, too. How exciting is that!?

More than I can eat this week? Yeah, but remember, I have that pressure canner now and soup was definitely on the menu! All I'll say for now is the pressure canner is AWESOME. More on that soon.

I didn't do any baking this week, but I accomplished a few things. First, I made homemade chocolate pudding for the first time ever. It turns out it's incredibly easy (see recipe here). Second, I made grape jelly. No, I didn't have any local grapes, but I was determined to try some grape jelly since it's Dave's favorite so I picked up a bag of sugar, some pectin, and a bottle of grape juice from the grocery for a super easy grape jelly. Two batches gave us 5-1/2 pints. Not bad! Third, I steamed a bag of green beans that we picked up at a road-side stand on our way home from Arkansas as well as the ones from the market on Saturday. I also steamed some potatoes and made a nice large batch of potato salad to go with sandwiches at lunchtime. Oh, and finally, of course, there's that veggies soup I canned, but we'll talk about that soon. I promise.

Pshew! It was hard work making all that food this weekend, but here we are. It's Monday, the sun is shining, the fridge is full of local goodies, and I'm staring down my last week of work. Something tells me it's going to be a beautiful day!

Happy (and mindful) eating!


eco 'burban mom said...

Oh, I am jealous of the pressure canner!! I am still dipping my toe in the water with the water bath method, but am thinking the pressure canner might be a good item to put on my birthday list! LOL, dontcha just know you're a grown up when you want a canner for your birthday? Make sure to tell me how you like it!!

Bobbi said...

You were a busy beaver this weekend! Nice looking food.

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

What a vacation - talk about hospitality! I wouldn't feel too bad about not eating locally, there is only so much you can do when you are away from home.

I know how you feel about the fruit and I'm not even participating in the One Local Summer challenge! But I LOVE bananas and haven't had them for almost a year. My damn principles get in the way, I saw a news piece about co-op produced Fair Trade organic bananas (banana producers has a history of human rights violations) and I wrote my local grocers asking them to carry them and saying I wouldn't buy any more bananas until they did. Well obviously I still don't have bananas. I've never had anything really exotic like fresh mango or papaya - I KNOW I would love them which is precisely why I won't get them. 'Cause then I would have a dilemma.

I with eco 'burban, I'm jealous of your pressure canner too. But on a fun note, I got a water bath canner this weekend for my birthday, the Ball Blue Book, and I am taking a three day weekend next weekend to try it out!

greeen sheeep said...

I'm looking forward to hearing more about your pressure canner!

I put in my first garden this year and am looking forward to putting up some veggies for winter. I know nothing about canning. So far I'm just dipping my toes into freezing. Made a batch of freezer jam out of strawberries we picked next door. I live right next to a large produce farm that has a roadside veggie stand. (not organic, bummer) Actually, I live right next to a bakery, the farm is on the other side of that. Fresh local bread and produce. Mmmm...goood.

My freezer has blackberries we found in the woods behind our house and the fridge has green beans from the garden awaiting some preservation method. I recently purchased Ball's complete book of home preserving. I am not sure which method to choose, water bath or pressure canner? Any thoughts?

If you are looking for recipes let me know. The book has 400. I would be happy to email them to you. There is a recipe for honey-spiced peaches that you might like.

Green Bean said...

Yum! Chocolate pudding. I'll be right over. ;-)

Heather @ SGF said...

eco 'burban mom - definitely worth it to ask for the pressure canner for your bday. I'm working on a post about it on Wednesday so stay tuned. It was AWESOME :)

bobbi - it definitely was a busy Saturday, but at least I won't have to prep much this week. More reheating than anything. Just the way I like it!

jennifer - I'm surprised the grocery wouldn't work with you. Surely, there must be others who were prefer the Fair Trade bananas and would be willing to pay more for them. How do you know if they are fair trade? Does it say on the sticker? I'll have to keep my eyes open.

greeen sheeep - seriously? You're next to a bakery and a veggie stand? When can I move in? That's awesome! So what do you have growing in your garden? As far as water bath canner vs. pressure canner -that's an easy one. For tomato products and jams, you're good with a water bath canner, but if you are putting up the low acid veggies like corn, greens, beans, soup, anything with meat, etc you have to use a pressure canner. And the recipes sound great! I'd love to try a few of your favorites!

green bean - it was really good and way too easy. Come on over. I'll make a fresh batch!

ib mommy said...

When you're not working anymore you're going to turn into the crazy canning lady! I have fresh picked peaches calling my name from the kitchen today and my sister discovered she has grapes growing like crazy across the street from her house. She also has a couple of persimmon trees that are loaded. I've never tried persimmon jam but I'm up for giving it a try this year.

sharli said...

Cornmeal and wheat flour?? At OUR farmer's market?? Whooo hooo!!! I can't wait till Saturday!

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

Heather - I'm not entirely sure if they say on the label or not, I am assuming probably so. I first heard about fair trade bananas on the alternative news program Democracy Now! You can read more about them here too:

Emily said...

wow, so jealous of the canner. i am having a problem right now, visiting my relatives and eating foods which we generally don't consider eating with all the fresh produce and goodness from our local farms. Dunkin Doughnuts, immitation cheese spread and the like...I thought I could make it, but I'm going to break down and go get myself some kale, and other goodies this afternoon!!

Heather @ SGF said...

ib mommy - ooh! You're about to have a ton of fun. Will you be canning together with your sister? I find that it's more fun that way.

sharli - No joke! I haven't tried the cornmeal yet, but I've been thinking about making a small batch of polenta. And Lois mentioned picking up some wheat this Thursday. They were really excited about getting the mill and quite a few people bought their cornmeal and grits last week.

jennifer - thanks so much for the link. I'll check it out.

emily - fake cheese is the ultimate in yuk. Blah. Those individually wrapped slices are just awful. It's just gotta be the real stuff. The only thing worse are the fat free versions. I don't even think it should be legal to CALL it cheese. :) Good luck finding some goodies while you're on holiday! I'm sure your bodies will thank you :)