We’re on Day 4 of the Eat Local Challenge and we’re doing pretty well. Much of what we ate this weekend was from our local region, if not our metro area. When we sat down to dinner last night—pork loin with plum sauce, beet and cucumber salad, and Oregon Jewel wild rice-- we realized that all the food was local, save for the salt, pepper and vinegar. In fact, most of our meals this weekend were farmers’ market veggies, friends' gardens and locally-grown meats.
The part that feels like it’s not going as well as I hoped is the fact that Clara is really missing her favorite foods, like freezer waffles and our usual pancakes. Quick treats are a problem, too. I’m hurting for a replacement for our gluten-free rice bars, the snack of choice in our household. And she is still hating tomatoes (gah!!!why???) and turned her nose up at my lovely, chunky salsa fresca. That is, until I pureed the hell out of it. Then it looked normal to her. Normal as in mushy and runny like the pre-made salsa you buy in the grocery store.
I made gluten-free baking mix one of our exceptions but we ran out last week and I wanted to see if I could find a way to work around it. I haven’t. And with all the jam I’ve been making (plum jam recipe to come soon!) I’m missing something to put it on. I did find a loaf of rice bread in the freezer, allowed under our exceptions, and this morning I made French toast for the girls using local eggs. It had been so long since I’d made French toast Clara had forgotten what it was. She loved it and all was right with the world again.
And that leads me to our biggest success so far this week: Finding farm-fresh eggs. I checked in at the Alberta Cooperative Grocery and it turns out they get fresh eggs Fridays and Mondays, each day from one of two farms. The girls and I made an adventure of it and we took the bus to the co-op and picked up two dozen eggs from Tipping Tree Country Eggs (they don’t appear to have a web presence). They weren’t as fabulous as the rich and filling eggs we got on Orcas Island but these eggs had tons of flavor. I think we’ll put these on the regular menu.
The literature posted at the market says the hens are free ranging and lay wherever (I guess this is where the idea of an egg hunt comes from!). And they obviously have several different types of hens because the eggs were all different colors and sizes. Clara especially loved the tiny green eggs.
At the co-op we also found honey from a neighborhood beekeeper, bulk granola-like cereal from an Olympia company (forgot to write the name down), and some varieties of apples not usually found in our regular grocery store.
What wasn’t fun about this whole outing: schlepping an impossibly heavy grocery bag, including fragile eggs, with a sleeping baby on my back and an understandably worn-out Clara on the bus. Nor did I appreciate the boys peddling weed at the bus stop in front of the co-op. I’ve got to put a little more planning into our bus trips.
Another big success is the lunch I made for Aaron to take to work this morning. The fact that I made lunch for him at all is a success. Last night I roasted an organic chicken from Coastal Range Organics and cut up the breast meat this morning. I mixed the chunks of chicken with some canola mayo, a little pickled relish, some chopped up blanched almonds and a little dried thyme then spread it on some organic flaxseed bead (the store was out of the local brand I like). I threw in a chicken leg for a snack, leftover beet-cucumber salad, a handful of backyard tomatoes and a few plums from Neighbor Joe. Aaron, who claimed this was the first time in fourteen years I’d made him lunch (not true) just IM’d me and said it was all delicious.
I’ve never bought from this Coastal Range Organics before, and I need to do a little more research on them, but I was pleased to find this option at the giant chain grocer. Time was tight this weekend with gardening projects and since I had to go there to buy cat food I checked out their meat section to get a head start on dinners for the week. It wasn’t cheap—over $10 for a four-and-a-half pound chicken, three times the price of the conventionally produced chickens right next to them, though those were also local. It was one of those moments when my values and my budget were in conflict. This time, values won. We’ll see if I regret that choice when I add up our expenditures tonight.
Things I put in our exceptions but I’m trying to live without:
-Kettle corn tortilla chips (a local company)
Things I’m missing:
-sparkling water (I’m eyeing seltzer bottles)
Items I’m trying to source:
-local vinegar in quantities for pickling
-affordable local goat cheddar cheese
What I’m loving about this:
-finding inspiration in the quirky recipes in my 1975 edition of Joy of Cooking, as well as useful techniques
-the excitement of finding new local food resources, especially Alberta Co-op