Monday, October 26, 2009

Eat Local Challenge: Week 4

Breakfast: sandwich of smoked salmon and a local egg white on whole wheat toast
Lunch: leftover Colasessano's pepperoni roll with some local sweet and hot peppers
Dinner: Shrimp Pesto Fettucini. The pasta and the pesto are all local.
Snacks: roasted local pumpkin seeds, hard boiled local egg, Cabot light cheddar cheese snack and a Martinsburg apple.

Breakfast: smoked salmon and egg white sandwich
Dinner: leftover shrimp pesto fettucini
Snacks: Cabot light cheddar and apple

Breakfast: smoked salmon and egg sandwich
Lunch: Roasted tomato soup (frozen made from all local ingredients) and baked potato (local)
Dinner: ehh. I had gnocchi planned with homemade marinara sauce, but the gnocchi didn't turn out--dough was too runny and I ran out of flour trying to stiffen it up. So ... we had a Bertolli frozen skillet meal. Hey, I tried.
Snacks: cabot light cheddar and an apple

THURSDAY through SUNDAY afternoon:
I was at a conference in Denver... Most of the food was provided by the conference. It was not very local. I did reach the very disturbing part of Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilema about factory farmed pork while I was on the flight out. I diligently tried to avoid eating any factory farmed meat this weekend, although having food provided presented a challenge. Luckily, I was under the influence of the book a few weeks ago when I made my conference reservation and requested vegetarian meals.

Dinner at home: Stuffed shells with white sauce. I remember making these this summer and freezing them. I was doing the "Penny Pinching Pantry Raid" and was cleaning out the pantry and fridge. I had a ridiculous amount of zucchini on hand, given to us by Jeremy's uncle. So, I cleaned out the fridge and made stuffed shells with zucchini, green peppers, spinach and basil mixed with cottage cheese and parmesean, and made a quick bechamel sauce to cover them, then froze them for an evening when I didn't want to cook--i.e. last night. We split a mini black rasberry pie that my in-laws brought back from Amish country (local, yes!) last weekend for dessert. Delicious and easy!

Now, I'm in the last week of the challenge, and I'm reflecting. It has definitely been a challenge, and there were times when I wish I'd done better or been better prepared. On the other hand, I feel like I've at least raised awarness to those around me. At the conference I went to last Friday with my mom at Tamarack, she told our table that I was doing the Eat Local Challenge. One young lady started asking me about it, and I told her about the Monroe Farm Market. I hope she found her way there on the world wide web...

Some things I've missed. (I'm really craving some chili. I use Spicy V8 to make it. It's the first thing I'm gonna make in November). Some things I'm surprised that I haven't missed. (Cereal. I used it eat it everyday. I don't even miss it.) The one thing that I've noticed, though, is, with all the travel I did, I wish there were more restaurant options for local food. We have a couple good places in Charleston, but I suspect there are more eateries around that just don't advertise that they're using local food. Hello?!? I will def give you my money if I knew you were!!!

We put a lot of emphasis on food in America. Maybe other places do, too, but food and family events always go hand in hand. Cultural observances are tied to food. Eating locally has heightened my awareness for what's in season. And another way to relate food to observances. Late summer = tomatoes. Fall = apples, pumpkins and squash. I know I'll be looking forward to early spring for the first asparagus of the year as well as spring lettuces. And, because I've put off buying the South American asparagus I saw in Sam's Club a couple weeks ago, I'm hoping the spring asparagus tastes that much more delicious!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Eat Local Challenge: Week 3

At the halfway point!!

Monday, was a state holiday, so I spent almost all day in the kitchen. I finished canning the apples I bought at the farmers market, and whipped up a couple recipes using the peppers Ike and Tiff sent a couple weeks ago. I don't like hot stuff, and am not crazy about hot peppers at all, so the fact that I would eat these creations, should say a lot. I made cheeky chili pepper chutney from my Jamie At Home cookbook. I love Jamie Oliver's recipes. They are usually very simple dishes, often seasonal and he always uses lots of fresh vegetables. The love the cookbook because it is arranged by season and ingredient and has lots of gardening tips. I also canned some green tomato and jalepeno jam, but substituted TWO habaneros for FOUR jalepenos. This stuff is hot! I was going to make hot pepper jelly, but used all my cider vinegar. Next week, maybe...

Breakfast: homemade waffles with local flour, eggs and milk. Topped with 100% pure maple syrup (I will never buy the brown-colored sugar water again... the taste is completely inferior compared to the real deal) and gingered pears. I have to hand it to my mom on this one. She made the pears and canned them. So, so, so good on waffles.
Lunch: leftover Italian Wedding Soup and some stale tortilla chips.
Dinner: Crispy and sticky chicken thighs. They weren't really either crispy or sticky, but they were very good. And it was an easy one-dish dinner.

Breakfast: waffles with pears and syrup. I made a pile of waffles yesterday to eat on all week. Did you know that you can freeze them and make them in the toaster just like store-bought waffles? No need to buy the store-bought ones ever again. My recipe makes 14 waffles, which is more than enough.
Lunch: leftover roasted tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. I put the chili pepper chutney on the grilled cheese, for some heat. I don't like this stuff plain, but with gooey melted American cheese, it was pretty good.
Dinner: Venison pot roast with local potatoes and carrots, and pan of Mexican cornbread with local hot peppers, eggs and milk. I am not happy about having pot roast two weeks in a row, but I thought it was a wild turkey breast when I took it out of the freezer. I was planning on making turkey pot pie, but no. It was a venison ham roast, I think. I didn't have the time or energy to find a recipe using a hunk of deer meat. The quick search I did only gave me pot roast recipes. I braised it in about a cup of red wine and chicken stock, so we'll see how it is...
Snacks: leftover granola and a hard boiled egg (free-range and local, of course), apple and cabot cheddar cheese snack.

Breakfast: waffles
Lunch: leftover pot roast and cornbread.
Dinner: BBQ Ribs, baked beans, baked potatoes, deviled eggs and hot rolls at my in-laws. Not local, but I ate way too much really GOOD food.
Snacks: granola, egg, apple, cheese

Breakfast: oats
Lunch: roasted tomato soup and leftover cornbread
Dinner: navy beans and cornbread at my Mom's.
Snacks: granola, apple and cheese

Breakfast: some kind of cornflakes with berries and nut clusters at my Mom's.
Lunch: I was at a conference with my Mom in Beckley. Lunch was provided. It was typical of conference fare... too salty and generic. Garden salad and rolls. Grilled chicken with green beans and new potatoes. Pound cake with peaches.
Dinner: headed up 1-79 to Morgantown for the game. Got a Colasessano's Everything Pizza at the recommendation of a co-worker from Fairmont. DELICIOUS. Thick crust with pepperoni, swee and hot peppers and LOTS of mozzarella (not the generic frozen shredded cheese either. I wouldn't be surprised if it was "real," if not fresh mozzarella.)
Snacks: fresh fruit and granola bar at the conference

SATURDAY (Game Day!!!)
Breakfast: leftover pepperoni roll from Colasessano's
Lunch: Oktoberfest Spread: smoked sausages, kraut, German potato salad and Yuengling. Lot's of Yuengling. Also, soft pretzels, chocolate chip cookies and some horseradish dip Christy made. Hey, it was game day... I'm going on the assumption that Yuengling is within 250 miles of Morgantown... I can't get either Google maps or Yahoo maps to tell me.
Dinner: leftovers

Breakfast: bacon and local eggs (White Oak Ridge Farm in Philippi. This is where I ordered my Thanksgiving turkey from. The eggs and bacon are awesome. We didn't have their bacon today, but Erinn has fixed it for us before. If the quality of turkey is anything like the eggs and bacon are, this Thanksgiving meal will be awesome!)
Dinner: Manicotti at my Mom's. She used the spaghetti sauce we made this summer, which was local. Also, garden salad and broccoli slaw. For dessert, she made pear cobbler with local pears. I'm rubbing off on people!!! Yay!
Snacks: we stopped by my in-laws who had gone to Amish Country in Ohio this weekend. They brought us back some goodies, which incidently were all from within 250 miles. Smoked pepper jack cheese, blackberry cinnamon roll and a slice pumpkin roll. It was all yummy, but I'm on calorie overload from this weekend...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Literally. Some food for thought.

I just read this article. It is quite long, but if you have some time, it's worth a read. You can even skip to the third page or so. Very thoughtfully written, and not like those annoying, in-your-face, vegetarian vigilantes.

That being said, I'm not saying "don't eat meat." God knows, I do love meat. But while I've been on a locavore kick since the spring, and have started buying organinc foods whenever possible, the one thing related to all of the above, that I think is the most important, and makes my heart hurt more than anything, is factory farming. Don't worry, I'm not including any visual evidence why it makes my heart hurt. It's one of those situations like when pro-life advocates show people the photos of aborted fetuses (I detest that tactic, so I'll spare you guys the farm photos... But if you're curious, I'd encourage you to do a google search. I ain't sayin', I'm just sayin'. )

I've been involved with womens' issues, and I work in politics every day. I consider myself a socially aware person (whether or not I generally act or my awareness...) but I swear, there's never been an issue hit me so hard before. The whole situation just seems so desperate, mostly because so many of us are unaware of it. But, I don't wanna be one of those annoying, in-your-face vigilantes. In the book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, the co-author, Camille Kingsolver, writes she learned the hard way that's not how you win people over to not eating factory-farmed meat. Nobody wants to be told what to do, or that they are eating the wrong things. Look at the healthcare crisis, for example. Doctors have been telling people for years to avoid bad foods, and it doesn't look like anybody is listening. There are more links between the healthcare crisis and not eating local than you can even imagine, but that's for another post. Ever notice how the prevalence of chronic disease follows the expansion of commercial agriculture???

Anyway, I figured if I could get one more person to be more contientious about what he or she eats, I will have accomplished something that means a lot to me. And, let's face it. The hubs is the likely target, since I do the grocery shopping and cooking. He doesn't have a lot of input in what we eat at home... But, I did have show him the movie "Fast Food Nation" so he'd quit getting fast food for lunch. So far, we're commerical ground beef-free!

I'm not saying I'll never eat factory-farmed meat again. That's impossible. People invite us over for dinner, and I try to be gracious. Sometimes you're just really hungry and can't be choosy if you're away from home. As the article points out, that factory-farmed meat is 99% of the meat consumed in the U.S. But, I do recall each time that I have eaten it since the beginning of September. These days, I'm thinking about where all the food I eat comes from. There is a saying "You're thinking about this way too much." I say that's never a bad thing.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Eat Local Challenge: Week 2

Week 2 and I'm on a roll... This is fun!

Breakfast: homemade granola (I substituted local black walnuts for all the nuts and local honey for the maple syrup)
Lunch: leftover white pizza from Sunday night and a local salad with feta cheese and homemade balsalmic vinegarette
Dinner: grass-fed beef pot roast with carrots from my garden, potatos from my father-in-law's garden and farmer's market onions. Braised in 12 oz. of Mountaineer Brewing Company Stout Ale (okay for drinking, but better for cooking) and 2 cups Wolfgang Puck organic veg broth. Throw in a bay leaf, salt and pepper. Voila!
Snacks: homemade carrot cake muffin (local carrots and applesauce), string cheese, local Rome apple and local free-range hard boiled egg

Breakfast: homemade granola, milk
Lunch: leftover pot roast and a side salad from the cafeteria
Dinner: Calzones made with local flour, onions, spinach, all-local homemade red sauce, hot peppers, and not local goat cheese.
Snacks: carrot cake muffin, egg, string cheese, apple ... do we see a pattern here??

Breakfast: granola and milk
Lunch: Roasted tomato soup
Dinner: Open-face roast beef sandwiches with leftover pot roast and gravy, local mashed potatoes, and homemade hamburger buns made with local flour
Snacks: apple muffin (local flour, apples, eggs--I left the pecans out), egg, Cabot snack cheese and apple

Breakfast: granola
Lunch: leftover open-faced roast beef sandwich
Dinner: Italian wedding soup with venison meatballs, carrots from my garden and local spinach. I hate to admit, but I used store-bougtht chicken broth, but it was Wolfgang Puck organic free-range chicken stock.
Snacks: same as every day...

Breakfast: granola
Lunch: the best BLT I've had in a while from Bluegrass Kitchen. I love this place cause the food is awesome, and guess what? The bacon was from Jackson County. I also had their blue cheese coleslaw, which I highly recommend.
Dinner: Graziano's Pizza. Booo! But it was good and I was busy handing out 5K packets to pre-registered runners for the 5K on Saturday. Convenience food. I also bought some Starr Hill Brewery Red Ale on my way home. The brewery is in Charlottesville, VA. 241 miles away. I checked...

Breakfast: granola
Lunch: Pork BBQ from the food vendor at Pumpkins in the Park. Not even sure the name of them.
Dinner: Fettucini with Meatballs made from venison and homemade sauce. Almost 100% of this meal was local. The breadcrumbs in the meatballs weren't. Everything else was local or is on my list of exceptions. This is getting easier the more I do it.

Breakfast: two eggs and whole wheat toast with peach jam I made last year.
Lunch Roasted Tomato Soup. I am wearing out this recipe. I made a double batch and froze most of it. Wish I had this recipe when tomatoes were in high season.
Dinner: Stouffer's Vegetable Lasagna. Hey, when Mom offers to make dinner, you can't turn it down.
We also drank a bottle of Fisher Ridge Pork Barrel Red. This is my new favorite red wine. Sorta spicy. And, its from Putnam County. Good stuff for $14 a bottle.

Here is my recipe for venison meatballs. Last year, we must've put up 15 pounds of ground venison in the freezer. The problem with deer meat is that it has a wild taste, which limits you on using it in place of ground beef in some recipes. I found this meatball recipe from Simply In Season, which I've checked out from the library a handful of times. It's a pretty nice cookbook, as it is organized by season, and has a section for all-year things like breads and sauces. The recipe is specifically for venison, but I'm sure you could substitute lean beef.


1 lb. ground venison
1 egg beaten
1/2 c. bread crumbs
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. diced onion
1/2 tsp. garlic
1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. chili powder

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and form 1 inch balls. Bake on a greased baking sheet at 350 for 30 minutes.

These freeze very well, too, BTW.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Eat Local Challenge: Week 1

Well, I've made it 4 days...

Breakfast: omlet with 1/4 cup egg beaters and 2 free-range local eggs, filled with all local potatoes, onions and red bell pepper, and goat cheese.
Lunch: Tricky Fish!! (Thumbs up and perfect score on "Behind the Kitchen Door" on WCHS news) I like to eat here because a lot of their food is organic, free-range and most of the meat is from local farms. I had 2 crispy chicken tacos with red beans and rice. Too bad Charleston doesn't have more places like this to eat.
Dinner: I had the salad (all local) and PB/J sandwich I packed for my lunch and didn't eat. BTW... peanut butter is my "10th" exception. I also made a homemade balsalmic vinegarette that is better than Kraft's.

Breakfast: Got up early and made biscuits and tomato gravy. I thought I'd never had tomato gravy before. (My mom told me I had.) To be honest, I'd never even heard of it until a few years ago. It's a "country thing." Basically, you make gravy and add diced tomatoes and crush them with the back of your spoon a little bit. My mom said that she made it a few times when I was little, but she'd never heard it called "tomato gravy," just creamed tomatoes. At any rate, Jeremy said his Mawmaw Jones used to make the best tomato gravy. She would brown some bacon and use the bacon fat for the roux for making gravy. Then when she was finished, she'd put the crumbled bacon back in the gravy. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Here's the recipe I used and it was pretty darn good. Next time, I'm using bacon, though.
Lunch: we took Sandy to the Olive Garden for her birthday. I had Grilled Shrimp Caprese and gratuitous amounts of bread sticks and salad.
Dinner: Okay, here's where I messed up. I wasn't planning on eating dinner. Big lunch at the OG. Well, Jeremy bought some wings at Sam's Club that afternoon, and took them up to my mom's to make while we sat around a fire pit drinking non-local wine. (She had some opened she wanted to finish...) And I had some wings.

Breakfast: oats with milk, coffee and creamer
Lunch: Roasted tomato soup (all local)  and Olive Garden leftovers
Dinner: a local salad with feta cheese and homemade balsalmic vinegarette and the best white pizza I've ever made. Made the crust with local flour. Topped the pizza with some homemade bechamel sauce with local basil, and topped the pizza with tomato, roasted garlic, a diced cherry pepper, carmelized onions, spinach (all local) and goat cheese.

The good news is that Thursday, when Jeremy went to the WVU game, he stopped by Ike and Tiff's to see their new baby boy. And he left their house with this:

Bell, hot banana, habanero, red chili, and cherry peppers. I don't even know what to do with them, but I couldn't be happier. I am def going to make some red chili chutney and some hot pepper jelly. Does anyone have any ideas what to do with a half a kroger bag full of habaneros?

They also sent a gallon zip lock bag full of basil, which I just finished turning into pesto. Yum.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It couldn't be more timely.

Eating local is becoming mainstream. "Locavore" was actually the 2007 Word of the Year in the Oxford English Dictionary.

And, today, this was the featured post on the Hungry for Change Blog. Robert Bates puts it best by saying we've heard a lot about the evils of our industrialized food system, but not a lot about the small farmers producing the foods we are seeking out.

How nice!

Also, today is the first day of the Eat Local Challenge. And, I'm not starting strong... The problem is, I am trying to clean out my fridge of the non-local stuff. I don't think it makes much sense (especially in this economy) to throw out perfectly good food.

Breakfast: omlet with two free-range egg whites (local) and 1/2 cup of egg beaters (cleaning out my fridge), diced potatoes, onions and red peppers (all local), and mozzarella cheese (not local).
Lunch: Roasted tomato soup (all local ingredients, from previous blog entry), baked potato and carrot cake muffin (local ingredients: all purpose flour, eggs, carrots, and applesauce in place of pineapple.)
Dinner: left-over spaghetti. Not local. Ragu and Barilla. Like I said, I am cleaning out the fridge...

Not too shabby, but I know I can do better.