Friday, April 10, 2009

This is challenging

I wouldn't call this week the most successful week, in terms of the local food movement. We ended up eating out more than usual because my grocery purchases were so much less than normal. Sure, we could have eaten salads every night this week, but we didn't.

Not only that, so far, the most challenging meal is lunch. Jay and I usually take our lunches to work, his with sandwiches and fruit, mine is usually some type of frozen meal and fruit. We did have some fruit leftover from the previous week's shopping, as well as the bananas and mandarins I bought. It was still much less in both quantity and variety than usual, and there's just no such thing as a "local" frozen meal. I'm really stumped on how we can incorporate local food into our regular lunches. I'm sure there's a way, but I'm not sure to thinking out of the box yet.

Last night we had an almost completely local dinner though. We had a potato frittata and mixed green salad. The frittata was easy and really tasty.

I think, short term, my goal will be to just have the healthiest foods I can. This will include as much local food as possible, but in the absence of those options, I'll supplement with whole, healthy organic options as well. I'd rather eat an organic pear than none at all.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Swiss Chard and Green Garlic Creamy Pasta

I found a great use for Swiss Chard tonight. It comes together quickly, and is quite filling. So pretty and it tasted great!
  • 1 lb rainbow swiss chard, leaves and stems separated
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 whole green garlic plants
  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 10 ounces whole wheat pasta, cooked according to directions.
  1. Roughly chop chard and green garlic plants, setting chard leaves aside.
  2. Heat oil in saucepan, then saute chard stems and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, slowly heat milk and cream cheese in small pot, stirring to combine. Do not overheat!
  4. Once stems and garlic are tender, add leaves. Stir to combine, and heat until slightly wilted.
  5. Add milk mixture to pasta, stir well.
  6. Add chard and garlic, plus half the Parmesan cheese.
  7. Top with remaining Parmesan.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Today's Dinner

I managed to make partially local dinner today. We had honey-garlic grilled chicken featuring cilantro from the garden! I based it on this recipe, using olive oil and lemon pepper, and marinated for about 90 minutes. On the side was a very large salad featuring the falsely-labeled local greens from California.

I intended to take pictures, but it was eaten too quickly! The recipe was a definite hit. Very tender chicken. I'm not sure is I'll ever be able to get local limes, but otherwise, this could be a completely local meal.

It's gardening time!

I worked on the "garden" some more today. Our garden is actually a very long, narrow flower bed that sits along-side the driveway. Last year I had the hubby dig it all out, and I added a mix of compost and really rich soil. This garden space is the sunniest spot we have. The furthest part definitely doesn't get full sun, but I'm trying anyway! My mostly failure garden last year had nothing to do with lack of nutrients! (Unless you count the lack of full sun...) I'm convinced if I try hard enough I can make it produce.

The veggie seedlings I bought Friday made it into the ground. I know I should have hardened them off some more, but I'm hoping they'll be okay. This is the first time I've tried to used lettuce seedlings, and now I know why you direct seed. Their roots are too fragile, and lots of them broke. Hopefully they'll make it okay.

Half my snow pea seeds have sprouted, so I threw a few more seeds down to fill in. I'd like to get 8 vines going, since the season is so short for them. I also put 4 bush bean seeds down. It may be a little early for them, but we'll see. Those plants really out performed the pole beans last year. I dropped in a few cilantro seeds - the seedling I planted looks great, but I'd like to extend the season. The farmer I bought the plant from said the leaves will freeze well.

Ready for use already is:
  • Rosemary
  • Green garlic (I never harvested my garlic from last year, it shot up and is growing like crazy! I may leave it in for awhile to see if it'll form full bulbs this year.)
  • Chives.... so many chives
  • Tarragon
  • Cilantro
Also growing in the garden:
  • Snow peas
  • Bush beans
  • Lettuce
  • Mesclun lettuce mix
  • Strawberries
  • Curly parsley
  • Italian parsley
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Spinach
I still have some space left, though I haven't decided what else to put in. I figure I'll put a tomato plant in there, and definitely lots of basil. Not sure what else though!

We had a late breakfast of toast (not local, and not organic, but whole wheat) and eggs from the Amish Market. I added some chives into hubby's. He was a big fan!

Now to figure out dinner!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Farmer's Market Opening Day

I managed to get to the Farmer's Market (Riva Road, Saturdays 7 - Noon through Dec 20) about 10 minutes after its opening this morning. About a third of the vendors were missing, but those that were there were ready to go! I scored some REAL local things this time!

  • Large bag of kale
  • Large bag mixed lettuce
  • Small bundle of green garlic
  • Free range organic eggs from Ivy Brand. I actually pass this farm on my way to the farmer's market. 12 miles from home, although it's further if you factor in getting to the market. If only the farm was open to the public!
(Clearly, I didn't need more eggs after the 2 dozen I bought yesterday, but I was so excited to find truly local eggs - and the vendor talked me into it. She promised I wouldn't want to buy store-bought eggs ever again. I wonder what she'll suggest when the market ends for the season!)

I picked up some herb plants ready for the garden:
  • 2 oregano
  • 1 sage
  • 1 thyme
  • 1 Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 1 large bundle of cilantro plants
I grabbed a couple of orange cranberry muffins before noticing they were from the Great Harvest Bread Company. Really tasty, but not really local.

I also scored two bags of granola bars. They contain mostly organic ingredients, and the vendor stand looked like a local maker, but I didn't stop to verify.

The herbs are already snuggled into the garden. I'm also working on hardening off some plants I bought yesterday from Homestead Nursery. In addition to some flowers, I bought some packs of 6 seedlings:
  • brussel sprout
  • broccoli
  • lettuce
  • mixed greens
I tried to grow all these things from seed last year and only had moderate success with the lettuce. Here's to hoping this year goes better! I already have a head start though - my strawberry and rosemary plants are still around from last year and I've got two old herb pots my parents left me when they moved. I noticed yesterday I have a very healthy looking pot of chives and the other pot has tarragon and parsley growing.

Jay and I are headed out to the Eastern Shore today, I'm going to keep my eyes open for any early farm stands! Before we leave, I'm going to order my starter cheese-making kit!

Friday, April 3, 2009

The beginning

Today we start on this local food project. I know we'll never get to 100%, but I'm going to give it my best shot. I figured it would be relatively easy - we have an Amish Market open year-round and tons of Farmers Markets during the season. There's even one open twice a month in the Winter.

I started my day at the Amish Market in Annapolis. I was there about a year ago, and I remembered being surprised that some of the products weren't Amish. I found the same issue today. I skipped the meat counter, it was busy and I wasn't brave enough to start asking questions. I stopped at the pretzel vendor and was surprised to see the hardworking Amish girls using Pam before rolling the dough. Clearly, this wasn't going to be as easy as I thought.

I ended up with the following:
  • Golden Honey and Sugar Free Strawberry Jam, Olde Dutch Jams in Intercourse, PA. 132 miles away.
  • Apple Butter Spread, Kauffman's in Bird-in-hand, PA. 129 miles away.
  • Half Gallon 2% milk, Kreider Farms in Manheim, PA. 128 miles away.
  • Dozen Large Brown Eggs, Unknown origin.
  • White American Cheese slices, Unknown origin.
  • Smoked Cheddar, Millport Dairy in Leola, PA. (This one came with a sign exclaiming its Amish Made status.) 128 miles away.

Seeing as how we actually need to eat more than the above, I ventured over to Whole Foods.

In the non-local realm:
I already knew we'd be breaking the local buying for bananas (a staple in our house). I managed to find some organic bananas from Columbia. I also grabbed a bag of Mandarins from California, and two cans of Muir Glen organic diced tomatoes.

The most disappointing items were Organic Rainbow Chard and Green Lettuce from Lakeside Organic Gardens. Labeled as "local", these actually come from California. I guess Whole Foods and I have different definitions.

I managed to score some relatively local items though:
  • Dozen Large Brown Organic, Free Range eggs, Piney River, VA - 192 miles.
  • Cheddar with Old Bay, Hawk's Hill Creamery in Pylesville, MD - 80 miles.
  • Live Basil Plant, Shenandoah Gardens, Harrisonburg, VA - 167 miles.
  • Farm Raised Rainbow Trout from North Carolina (I haven't figured out what the goals for local fish are yet.)
Later in the day, I ran over to Homestead Nursery. They actually had some preserves from a local farm - including tomato sauce, but I didn't grab it. I might end up going back for it, if I get desperate. I'm hoping to get the garden moving quickly, because we definitely can't exist on what I'm finding now! Our first CSA share won't be until May 15th

Luckily, we're pretty well stocked up on meat and some frozen veggies, so this should get us through . Hopefully I can find more at opening day of the Annapolis Farmer's Market (Riva Rd) tomorrow.

Dinner tonight will be salad (green lettuce from above), and home-made pizza. I'm going to try to whip up a tomato sauce with the canned tomatoes and fresh basil, and use the Amish smoked cheddar, along with some fresh, but not local parmesan.

A definite start, but not as good as I'd hoped.