Eating Local for Urban Families. Gluten-free and Dairy-free, too!

Monday, July 23

Keep it Simple

It’s the witching hour. We’re all starving. I’ve been running all day and now it’s past 5 o’clock and who knows when my husband will be home to watch these kids. I’ve got great food in the house—oh, I had the best intentions-- but I’ve been too busy with work and playdates and the bajillion other things going on to plan out whole meals.

The baby is dribbling water from her sippy cup all over the kitchen floor and her muddy little feet are painting brown streaks that I’ll have to wipe up later. Clara is pressing my patience to the wall asking question after question jumping from idea to idea so quickly my answers come out as tongue-twisters. If I answer at all. The fact that she dances around the kitchen like a mayfly while she does this makes me wish I’d made it to yoga more often so I could do that ujjayi breathing thing.

Even the radio, tuned to NPR, is exhausted with its habitual recitation of death and destruction.

I’m pulling chicken and lettuce and carrots and broccoli out of the fridge, happy for the fresh, lovely farmers’ market finds, but frustrated because I don’t have a chunk of uninterrupted time to really concentrate on a recipe or try something new.

“Can I help?” Clara is just getting to the age where she’s interested enough in cooking that I can give her something simple to do and she’ll be entertained for 1.354 minutes. Tonight it looks like I’m just chopping things and throwing them together and I can’t think of an activity for her that doesn’t involve a sharp knife.

“No, honey, I’m just going to make something really fast.” First I can’t think of anything new to cook and now I can’t even conjure up enough imagination to find something for this poor child to do. I understand the allure of pre-made, frozen dinners.

She heads for the door to the back deck where I’ve got a few herbs growing in pots.

“Mom, how about we put some rosemary in the salad?”

Rosemary? She knows what this is? And what to do with it?

Since she was a baby I’ve been rubbing her hands in the rosemary bushes we pass on our walks and encouraging her to breath in its spicy smell. She pulls a sprig off the smallest plant, brings it up to her nose and inhales with her whole body.

“Mmmmm,” she sighs. “That smells yummy!”

The dinner is simple and fine. Moist and flavorful chicken breasts fried in a little olive oil with salt and pepper. Enough to make leftovers for lunch. Salad with romaine lettuce, broccoli and a little rosemary with a dash of balsamic (my guilty, non-local pleasure).

Maybe I’m over-thinking this food and cooking thing. Simple and improvised seems to be working just fine.

Thursday, July 5

Walla Walla Wine

I’ve been visiting Walla Walla, Washington a few times a year for the last fourteen years and this is what I think: Walla Walla is like the scrawny, tomboy girl who grew up to have shiney hair and big tits and she’s not quite sure what to do with all the attention but she’s workin’ it the best she can.

When my dad remarried and moved back to Walla Walla (where he’d lived for three years as a teenager, the longest they’d ever stayed in one place), I travelled there out of obligation. It was a charming little town with a quaint “downtown” and gorgeous, amber hills covered in wheat.

But I was a college girl from the big city and I was sure there wasn’t anything there for me.

And then I got married and had two babies. And Walla Walla started growing grapes, and then bottling wine, and now has more than 100 wineries. (And actually, this all started back in the 70s, but wine didn’t really have a big impact on the town’s culture until the last 10 years.)

And considering that this town comes built-in with grandparents who will sit with my babies while my husband and I go out and imbibe, I love this little cow-town.

Our favorite winery this trip was Isenhower Cellars. The people were casual, friendly, but absolutely knowledgeable about their wines. They buy all of their grapes from the local region. And they had cute dogs.