Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pasta Making

Well, a few nights ago I experimented by making pasta from scratch from all local ingredients. It's a trial run to see how this whole going local thing will work into our lives for the next year. The eggs were from a farm in Granite Falls, all pastel colors and different sizes. They worked beautifully into the fresh flour from Nash's Organic Produce, and all in all created a pasta that was tender and delicious. Here is the process...

Eggs & Flour...


Knead for a lonnnnng time...

Divide accordingly...


Flatten Again...

And Again, until it starts looking a little something like this...

After all of this, you run it through the pasta cutter, and voila! Fresh Pasta.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ballard Farmer's Market

In trying to seek out the best of the best in year-round farmer's markets, today we decided to voyage out to Ballard. The market was unbelievably bustling with activity, and we had a great conversation with a local farm that sells flour (yay!). Apparently, wheat has oil in it that goes rancid really quickly, so people that have digestive issues with wheat are sometimes having issues with the rancid varieties available on the supermarket shelves. The farmer we spoke to, Emma, said that many people who have had issues with wheat in the past have had luck with their flours.

We bought a 4lb bag of pastry flour, which is finely ground and perfect for pasta. Next week, we'll probably give the rye a whirl, and bake a loaf of bread with it. Again, we are in prep stages, so we are lucky enough to have this planning time to find the best of the best before our self-imposed sabbatical.

Soybeans, Soybeans, where are you from?

So, Dan and I are on the pursuit for local tofu. At first glance, this doesn't really seem like a big deal, right? Local tofu-just pop down to the local PCC or other health food store, and pick up Island Springs Tofu tofu, which is locally made in the San Juan Islands. Oh, but wait! Where are those *soybeans* from?? Who knows. And after watching Food, Inc (also available on Netflix On Demand right now! Watch it!), we know that soybeans are one of the most controversial crops out there.

Now we are trying to figure we forgo tofu for a year? Do we need to eat a strong protein *every* day? Or will we be living on Lentil's for a year?

In other news, we (and by we, I mean my mom) found jars that are not terribly expensive, and after calling around to local farms, are planning a trip to Eastern Washington to search out tomatoes for canning. I feel like an urban homesteader!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More Guides

Here are a few more guides for what's seasonal in the fall months in Seattle. I'll do this for every season, so check back for winter months, too!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Prep, Prep, Prep!

We are starting to do the leg work for this journey, and part of that is going to the farmer's market to cost compare and begin buying some of our groceries there. Already, I'm seeing what an impact this change will be--a recipe I was going to make called for onions. Lots and lots of onions. So I put it on the list. Well, onions aren't in season yet. Already I'm starting to understand that to take this journey, we will need lots of prep time, lots of forward thinking, and lots of freezer space.

A few photos from our trip today:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Autumn - What's in Season: Fruits

It does occur to me that we are in the middle of summer, and I'm providing guides for fall season. I suppose I'm getting a jump start, as our plan begins at the start of the Autumn Equinox, or September 22nd. From now until then? Prepare, prepare, prepare!

Autumn - What's in Season: Veggies

I decided I need to create a handy little chart to track what's in season to make shopping a little easier. Here is what I came up with!

Copyright Amy Holan 2010

If you would like a printable copy, please email me and I'd be happy to send you one! It's 8.5x11, to make it easier to print!

The Plan.

We are trying to narrow down what kind of local eating we are going to do. We are starting to wonder--is this process possible for how we eat? I mean, we both expect things to change a little, but what about our stand-by recipes that we make on a weekly basis?

For instance, is it possible to get brown rice, bulgur wheat, or other grains from a local source? What about flour? And what about olive oil? Do we throw out our war stock of organic extra-virgin olive oils because it came from a truck and imported from Italy?

Our scope of what we *can* eat is narrowing, and everything now seems off-limits. The question is beginning to form--do we really WANT to do this?

In “The Locavore’s Handbook” by Leda Meredith, she suggests allowing 10 exceptions. As I read this, I let a HUGE sigh of relief. Aha! I’m not the only one who has troubles imagining living a life without olive oil and lemons.

Some of her exceptions did include olive oil and coffee (to which I wholeheartedly agree—Dan and I would dissolve fairly quickly without a cup of coffee in the morning), while her other exceptions had to do with how to handle friends and family.

For instance, she allows herself the luxury of eating out or at friend’s houses twice a month. This makes a lot of sense to me, and living in Seattle where there is fantastic food all around, I find it really hard to resist the occasional dinner out.

With that being said, I think our plan is finally taking shape.

We are going to go as local as possible.
This means:

> Produce
> Flour
> Grains
> Eggs
> Milk
> Yogurt
> Meats
> Tofu
> Butter
> Body products (goodbye make-up? Sniff, sniff)
> Wine
> Cheese
> Crackers/Snacks
> Ice Cream

We will also have a few exceptions, making us about 99% local:

> Lemons (this is one of my main cooking staples)
> Eating out will be allowed twice a month
> Olive Oil (but we will opt for Extra-Virgin and Organic)
> Balsamic Vinegar (until/IF I can find local)
> Salt (again, until we can find local)

Which really means NO:

> Diners
> Bakeries (a tear just slipped down my cheek)
> Bars (unless we go to a wine bar and drink local, Washington wine)
> Big-Box Grocery Stores (Sorry, Costco)
> Big-Chain Grocery Stores
> Candy Bars

We will try to stay within a 250 mile radius of Seattle, and provide a guide to how to eat seasonally and locally in Seattle year round (on a budget).

We'll provide recipes for what's in season, and give you the unfiltered truth as to whether or not it's a better way than just shopping at Safeway.

We'll also keep a running tally as to how much we spend each week on groceries. This way it's transparent how expensive a process like this is.

Going Local.

My husband Dan and I have been in a quandary as of late. We love food, so much in fact, it's starting to show on our waistlines, but we also realize that we have no idea where most of our food comes from.

What's worse is that we recently realized we have no concept of what is even in season in Seattle throughout the year. We both have the grocery-store mentality: anything we want is available whenever we want it, 24/7.

We cook stir-fry's and pasta dishes brimming with "fresh" spinach, tomatoes and bell peppers year round, but are starting to wonder--is that really normal?

Now, something to note: we are both cheap. This becomes abundantly clear when we are eying our selection of produce, trying to rationalize organic versus non organic. The price difference is staggering, and normally we both opt for the non organic.

Even if we had chosen the organic selection, is that necessarily better for us, or for the environment? Driving a tomato 2,000 miles to my grocery aisle isn't the most helpful for the world, I'm guessing. And when we think about eating local, it seems illogical and expensive. Doesn't that seem strange? To think of eating something from a nearby farm as illogical? We think so.

So we've decided to put ourselves through a little experiment. We are going to eat locally, seasonally and as organically as possible for the next year. We are going to start in the fall, at the beginning of "Autumn", and go from there.

Now, we realize there have been a lot of these experiments--"No Impact Man" being one of the most recent and most pervasive. But one thing that these experiments haven't factored in is this--can you do it on a budget? Can you eat locally and still save money? We plan on finding out.