Planning ahead only works when life doesn't throw curve balls at you.
The first week of this project, we planned on taking it easy. We imagined quiet dinners at home with plenty of leftovers for quick lunches. We had also planned on the arrival of a very special baby September 12th, but this little boy had other plans.
Instead he came on September 23rd, meaning the first night of Seasonally Seattle we were at the hospital and watching his older sister. Plus, my dad came into town on short notice, meaning a house full of guests and lots of running around.
Going local isn't all that hard if you have time to prepare meals, but when you run out of time / entertain / run errands all day and return to a fridge full of raw ingredients, most of which are vegetables, frustration is sure to set in.
So was the case the first day of this well thought out adventure, when my dad and I returned after a morning of driving lots of miles and running a bunch of errands. I arrived home famished, with nothing to serve outside of some kale, eggs, flour and dehydrated beans.
In my desperation, I served my dad and I some large slabs of defrosted zucchini bread, then quickly moved onto my dinner plans, knowing that if this continued into dinner, our next year would begin looking really bleak.
I decided we needed something special to mark the start of this journey. And so I made my very first rack of lamb. I quickly learned that "Frenching" the lamb is an important step that you should ask your butcher to do for you. I didn't know that. And so I unwrapped the racks and found two large slabs of fat, of which I had NO idea what to do with. So after a quick search and watching a You Tube video in French , I earned my merits in Frenching.
Along with the lamb, I made yukon gold mashed potatoes and wilted rainbow chard, and the meal was paired wonderfully with some delicious wine my dad had brought from the Okanogan county.
Day one was a marginal success, but I had another plan to contend with as well...Dan's surprise birthday party on the 24th.
Friday came around, and I prepared chili from scratch, filled with fresh, local veggies, beans from our stash, tomatoes I had canned over the summer, and polenta from Bluebird Grains to thicken it up a bit. I also baked two loaves of bread, my first for this experiment, and set out cheese from local farmers.
I thought I had all my bases covered on the local front, until I remembered one key element to birthday celebrations: cake.
I ran all of the options through my head. I could make a crisp. I could make a pie. But could I make pie without sugar? What about cake? Suddenly, I felt very foolish. There is no replacement for sugar. Honey will do as a reasonable substitution in many cases, but there is no substitution for birthday cake.
And so another exception was added to the list. Sugar. Call me a chicken, call me a cheater, but I think it's pretty reasonable. I'll still use honey instead of sugar when possible, but I refuse to check out of birthdays and celebrations for a year. I'm only human. Besides, all of our core ingredients are local, and everything that you can get local, we will. We are still under our 10 exceptions we slotted for ourselves, and sugar seems pretty reasonable.
With everything that was going on with the babies arrival and my dad visiting, I decided to call on other resources. Cupcake Royale, an amazing cupcake shop, was happy to oblige, and I rested easy knowing that all of their eggs, milk, flour (!!!), and berries come from local farms.
The party went off without a hitch. I admit, I indulged on a lovely gift of whiskey from Japan, but otherwise, the night remained local and mighty delicious, if I do say so myself.