Friday, March 07, 2008


I have a number of wishes when I reach for food in the supermarket (rarely), natural foods market (occasionally), locally owned and operated discount food chain (bimonthly), year-round or seasonal farmers' market (weekly). In no particular order, I wish for quality, locally grown/harvested, minimal processing/packaging, freshness, fair price (that is, fair to my family's budget and fair to producers). Here's how I handle the juggling match currently:

From WinCo
  • bulk dried apricots, cranberries, apples, and raisins
  • bulk flours, sugar and cereals for baking (I believe much of these come from Bob's Red Mill)
  • Organic Valley milk
  • Tillamook cheddar cheese
  • Nancy's whole milk yogurt
  • store brand cream cheese
  • mozzarella, fontina, asiago, parmesan from who knows where
  • canned tomatoes, tomato juice
  • beef bottom round (roast for sandwich meat)
From Grower's Outlet
  • fresh, seasonal vegetables
  • fresh, seasonal fruits, plus citrus, kiwi, tropical fruit during winter
  • local nuts
  • pasta, dried legumes, sugar, salt (I think this stuff comes from Bob's Red Mill)
From New Seasons
  • Niman Ranch (northern California) ham
  • salsa verde with green olives
  • whole organic chicken
  • "natural" buffalo, beef
  • cheese
  • wine
From Bob's Red Mill
  • flour, yeast, sugar, salt for baking
  • oats and other whole grains for baking
  • local hazelnut syrup, raspberry syrup
  • lunch!
From Gartner's Meats
  • pork sausage, pork loin, pork ribs
  • beef steaks and roasts
From From Old Country Sausage (nearby family-owned German market)
  • uh, sausage
  • Fleiskasse
  • cheese
  • German potato salad
  • jarred sauerkraut, pickles
  • mustard
From Lily Market (nearby family-owned Thai market)
  • fresh Thai produce...eggplants, cilantro, lemongrass, etc.
  • canned coconut milk, canned soup
  • jarred curries
  • green tea ice cream
Changes we've made over the last few years:
  • making all our own bread, bagels, rolls, etc. (started last September)
  • buying vegetables that grow in our region
  • buying local fruit, except for the intentional exception during winter, when I buy citrus, kiwi, and occasionally other tropical fruit
  • buying organic milk, local cheese, butter, and yogurt
  • eliminating heavily processed foods (meaning: anything I can't replicate at home)
  • buying pasta, dried fruit, flours, pretzels, nuts/seeds in bulk
  • buying from locally owned businesses (even if everything they sell isn't local)
  • eating out less
Changes we're making this year:
  • growing and preserving more vegetables and fruits
  • using our food dryer for the first time since we got it six years ago!
  • planting fruit trees in the fall
  • buying local organic milk and butter (probably from Noris--I love the idea of home delivery)
  • making our own soft cheeses
  • empty freezers of all old stuff, fill with local meat, home-frozen produce
  • cooking with whole grains and legumes more
  • eating less meat, more eggs
  • eating out even less
  • learning to cook even more simply
Changes for the future:
  • rabbits, chickens, ducks, turkeys, and maybe a goat
  • putting more of our property into vegetable and fruit production
  • making hard cheeses
I can't at this moment place an exact figure on how *much* more produce we will grow and preserve this year, though it won't be hard to do more than we've done the last two years. I would like to have, at a minimum, 30 quarts of tomatoes, plus some dried tomatoes. I'd really like to have enough tomato juice to get through the year (about 50 gallons to have enough for breakfast 5 mornings a week). I want to try canning in small batches, multiple times a week, rather than spending a whole weekend making canning several dozen quarts at a time. I think small batches will suit our lifestyle and our current equipment better.

Recently, I realized that one thing that's kept me from purchasing a large amount of meat and freezing it is that our freezer is full of stuff we will never eat! While I've been decluttering throughout our home, the freezers are still quite cluttered. Also, there's a problem with the two basket-drawers that no longer hang properly, but simply collapse onto the floor of the freezer/the bottom basket. This summer, before the first bag of berries goes in there, I am tossing all the old freezer-burned junk! Same with the freezer in the kitchen. What the heck is in there, anyway?

Something else, that Mike has helped me realize, is that I overdo when it comes to dinner prep. I have this notion stuck in my head that dinner should be this elaborate combination of meat, starch, and vegetable, and despite him telling me he doesn't expect a big dinner, for a long time, I still felt like I haven't done my job if dinner didn't meet this outdated standard. I've already done some simplifying, to be sure. Generally, I roast or steam vegetables. The steamed ones we eat only with a bit of salt and butter or Bragg's Aminos. The roasted ones, I toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper before putting in the oven. Meat is usually roasted, comes from the freezer already prepared (think frozen coq au vin, bolognese sauce, etc.), but if I don't have something out of the freezer, or my feet are hurting too much for me to stand and prep dinner, we often resort to take out, because just suggesting to Mike that he make fried eggs for us all seems like I'm asking too much (which is ridiculous and Mike's generally happy to pitch in with cooking). But, I've been looking at other people's meal plans and seeing they are even simpler, with less meat, less dishes and getting inspired to make some changes. So, I'm going to use our crock pot more, concentrate on learning more one-pot meals, and more egg dishes that don't involve making pastry (frittatas are my favorite, but I've been kind of a one-trick pony, making only smoked salmon-cream cheese-asparagus frittatas).

I am glad to have taken the time to do a little inventory of where we're at and where we're going. We'll re-evaluate our goals and make some adjustments, of course. Where are you at with eating locally and seasonally? What changes do you want to make this year or further into the future?

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