Friday, October 29, 2010

Day 37: Sheep In Wolves Clothing

Since discovering the wonders of PCC as a viable option for local products, we've been relying more and more on their convenience and hours. You will still find us on a weekly basis at the farmer's markets, but the convenience of popping into PCC is hard to ignore.

Granted, we are pretty dedicated locavores. We keep to our exception list (I am proud to announce that I have not had a single piece of Halloween candy, even though we have plenty awaiting trick-or-treaters), and have completely deleted normal things like Quinoa, Rice, and Chocolate from our diet.

Still, it's starting to feel...too easy. 

But isn't that the goal? To show the world that the average urban couple can go local, and that it doesn't suck? Or that it won't bleed your bank account dry? I know I'm only a month in, but I'm surprised to say... it's not as hard as I expected.

Yes, the leg work involved to get us to this point was definitely time consuming. We spent the entire summer canning and planning and getting us ready for this exact moment. Since securing our meat, bean and tomato needs, everything else has actually been pretty easy.

I still bake any bread we consume, and I make all of our meals from scratch. But I've also discovered some shortcuts, so cooking isn't as time consuming as it was before. Lunch is always a challenge, as I'm still hard-pressed to find local shaved meat for sandwiches, but this is more of a hiccup than a road block, and with a little creativity, we're still eating lunch on a daily basis.

Once you add in the big PCC stores, it feels even easier. Now that we've found "local" products from big name companies, it not only feels easy, it feels......... WRONG.

For instance, yogurt and cheese. I love my local dairy farmers, Golden Glen being my favorite for milk and butter. However, I have yet to find a dairy that produces a yogurt that doesn't taste like... the barn.

In that vain, I have contacted nearly a half dozen big name yogurt companies that claim the Pacific Northwest as their stomping ground to find out where their dairy actually comes from. This search has led to some surprising discoveries.

For instance, "Greek Gods" yogurt gets most of their milk from Washington State, but they do get some of it from Wisconsin, and there is no way to tell what batch comes from what. "Cascade Fresh", the yogurt company that brags about being a local "Northwest" company, gets their dairy from a plant in Southern California.

When a savvy tipster (thanks Jen!) left me a comment that Yami was locally based, I was skeptical at first. And so I did what I always do--I called Yami directly. (It amazes me that all of these dairies answer on the first ring and are more than happy to tell you where their stuff comes from). My tipster was turns out their dairy comes from a co-op, all of which comes from Washington cows. Their dairy is Organic to boot, which is a nice bonus. The best part? It doesn't taste like the farm. 

This led me to start researching other big names like Tillamook (230 miles from Seattle!) . Turns out, all of their dairy comes from cows in the Tillamook Valley. In addition to being growth hormone free and getting their milk from small, family owned farms, they have stringent regulations on antibiotics. If a batch of milk shows up and has any trace of antibiotics in it, they will dispose of it, rather than put it into their product. Pretty awesome.

While I'm selfishly happy to have a few more yogurt options, I can't help but be torn. On the one hand, I really want to support big companies doing good things, especially when they are supporting small farmers. On the other hand, I feel like I'm cheating, even though these products fall within our guidelines.

And relying on PCC is both good and bad. We're still shopping at the farmer's market on a weekly basis (supporting the little guy), and getting only a few things at PCC (supporting the bigger guy). And I'm sure that my constant pestering of the PCC employees is having some impact ("where is THIS from? And this?"), because the more we demand local products, the more local products we'll see in our stores. 

Even PCC has a ways to go. There are rows and rows of tea on the shelf, and none are from Washington, even though there is a local Green Tea grower here. Thanks to another tipster (thanks, Paula!), turns out there is also local popcorn to be had. It'd be pretty awesome if this was an option at most stores.

PCC is still a great resource, and it's nice to know there are options for those of us who don't have the time or need something in a pinch. It's also pretty nice to know that going local can actually be quite accessible, even for those who haven't made this year long commitment. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Recipe: Pear Bread

As I mentioned in my earlier post today, we were gifted a gorgeous, giant bag of pears from our friends tree (four blocks away!). And so I made the preserves (the earlier post), but I also thought I would experiment a bit as well.

I decided to make "Pear Bread", which is something akin to "Zucchini Bread". The experiment yielded more than just heavenly smells throughout our house. The bread is soft and sweet and such a treat! This bread IS sweet, so be prepared!

What You'll Need:

1-2 Large Pears (2 cups grated)
3 eggs
1/2 cup Grapeseed Oil (or other light vegetable oil)
2 cups honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

What You'll Do:

1 > Grate pear

2 > Beat eggs until frothy in large bowl
3 > Add oil and honey to egg mixture
(Add the oil first, and use the same measuring cup. This will allow the honey to slip out easier.)
4 > Mix well, then add pear mixture, mix again
5 > Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt
6 > Mix well, pour into 2 greased loaf pans
7 > Bake at 300 degrees for 60 - 70 minutes. *Please note the lower temperature - this is because we are baking with honey. If you use sugar, bake 25 degrees hotter.


Recipe: Pear Preserves

On Sunday, our friends Karen and Moshe dropped off a giant bag of pears from their tree. Since they live 4 blocks away, this makes for some very local ingredients! The pears are giant and crisp Bartlett's, and there were so many, I wasn't quite sure what to do with all of them. So on the Seasonally Seattle Facebook fan page, I asked for everyone's favorite pear recipe.

My Aunt Anne responded immediately about making a pear preserve, using pears instead of berries in the Pectin box recipe. So today I got to work, and make my first ever "Freezer Jam". Freezer Jam is a great option for those of us without canning gear or little to no experience. It's fast, it's easy, and it keeps for a year in your freezer, or three weeks in your refrigerator.

Here's what you need:

2 1/2 cups chopped pears
5 1/2 cups (exactly - no substitutions, otherwise it will not set properly) sugar (I used Organic Cane Sugar)
2 Tbs Lemon Juice
1 Small box of Pectin
3/4 cup of water

 1 > Chop pears in a food processor, or by hand, to a point that you have 2 1/2 cups of pulp and chunks

2 > Put pear mixture into a bowl, add lemon juice, stir completely, let sit for 10 minutes
3 > Meanwhile, combine pectin and water in a small sauce pan, stir, bring to a boil, stirring constantly
4 > Boil for 1 minute, remove from heat
5 > Add to pear mixture, stir for 3 minutes until the sugar crystals have disappeared

6 > Pour into plastic containers. Let sit on the counter for 24 hours, then put into your freezer or fridge. Let it thaw in your fridge if you choose to freeze.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Day 32: Should we get chickens?

Dan and I are an urban couple. We both love the convenience of living in the city, and the eccentricities that go along with it. In our old place, we had a town-home with a nicely landscaped shared yard, leaving zero work for the people that lived there. And we liked it that way. No work, all play, the true city life. 

When we moved into our new home, we were actually excited about having a small yard...mostly for growing a garden and having a little more privacy. Ever since starting this project, we've been daydreaming about the things we can do with our yard. We pictured decks, planters, maybe even a hot tub...but the one thing we never pictured was chickens. That is, until a few weeks ago.

Before we discovered we could buy local eggs at PCC (a natural food co-op in Seattle) for $2.99 a dozen, we were buying them for $5-$6 a dozen at the farmer's market. Because of all of the baking we do, eggs are a major staple in our home. We easily burn through 2 dozen a week--that's $40 a month just in eggs! Youch. 

So our minds naturally drifted to the thought of raising backyard chickens. Think about it, we mused, we could wander into our own backyard and have a plentiful supply of fresh, VERY local eggs. 

Before heading down to the lumber yard to build ourselves a coop, I thought it might be a good idea to know what we were getting ourselves in to. I turned to Seattle Tilth, the local go-to for any kind of gardening or urban livestock class. I signed up for "City Chicken's 101", and headed to north seattle to wrap my head around raising chickens.

I feel very lucky that I live in a city that I can take a class on raising chickens. Judging by the size of the class, I guess I'm not the only one. From grandparents to bike messengers, urban couples to empty nesters, the class was filled with 30 plus people, all anxiously taking notes about how to raise chickens properly. It seems that chickens are very en vogue.

The first part of the class covered the genus of the chicken, history and natural habitat, which was used throughout the rest of the class to explain modern day chicken behavior. Fascinating, yes, but by the time we got through the "how" of raising chickens, I realized it was not for us. 

Here's why:

First, you need 3-6 feet of space per hen, which quickly covers the span of our backyard. Second, that space needs be completely contained with wire to protect them from predators (raccoons, etc). It also needs to be covered to protect them from the rain. Then there are the other things to consider, like rats, vermin and lice. And the kicker? Each bird lays an average of 300 eggs per year. After the first year, the egg production drops by about half. Then what?

Yes, they are cute, and such a great conversation piece for guests! If we had twice the space, I would probably consider it. Considering the cost of the start up involved (covered pen, wire, lumber, feeders, food, etc.), I'm thinking that $2.99 a dozen at PCC is a pretty good deal.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 25: Farm Day!

When we first started this project, Dan and I both had a grocery store mentality about our year ahead. Because we live so close to so many farms and year round farmer's markets, we assumed meat would be at our fingertips and very easy to get. We quickly learned that this is not the case.

While we do have many farms in the state of Washington, we were surprised to learn that even meat has a season. Chicken is available in the spring and the fall, lamb in the late summer, and beef in November. You have to order well in advance, and if you don't order enough, well, you are just out of luck until next season.

Of course, grocery stores breed us to think that we can get whatever we want, whenever we want. We consume and consume without even a second thought to the unnatural state of our food. We are so disconnected that we see meat as a protein source, rather than a functioning, seasonal part of our eco-system. At least, we did.

So we got with it, and quick, knowing that the year ahead would feel long and bleak without a good variety at our fingertips.

Beef was an easy thing to find for us, as I'm fortunate enough to have a brother and sister-in-law who raise grass fed beef in Eastern Washington. Lamb was fairly easy, as well, only because we realized the season and ordered in time. Chicken, on the other hand, was consistently hard to find. At least, at a good price.

Anywhere from $7 a pound to $11 a pound at the farmer's markets, and local farms didn't seem to be much of a savings. We found one place up north that was a great deal - $3 a pound - but we would have to slaughter and pluck our own chickens, and neither of us were up for that quite yet. Maybe next year.

By the time I found Fraction Farms in Eatonville, I was at my wits end. We ordered just in time, and at $4 a pound, we couldn't complain. After some consideration, we decided 5 chickens would be enough, given all the lamb and beef we were about to come into. A few months passed and soon we had an email--you're chickens are ready! So this weekend we piled into the car and made the voyage south to pick up our bounty.

Fraction Farms, upon arrival, immediately struck me as the type of farm I would want to have, if I were to become a farmer. A quaint, flat piece of land, a place to call home, and a diverse array of animals. Among them? Sheep, which not only act as a food supply, but also a wool supply that Inger, the owner, spins and then turns into custom knits. Dogs, whose sole purpose is to protect the animals from predators. The result? Less fencing and zero chickens lost to predators. Chickens, who are growing now to lay eggs, and soon, to mother the next batch of chickens she raises for slaughter. A more organic solution than raising them herself, which, one might guess, would result in happier birds. And a moving chicken coop, which gets moved daily, to allow the chickens fresh pecking ground and helping the pasture regenerate organically. And let's not forget about the cuteness in the form of a mini-horse, used to acclimatize her two young daughters to horses, while teaching them the value of saving up for something they want.

And our chickens? We walked away with 5 of the prettiest, plumpest and cleanest chickens I've ever seen. I'm looking forward to making roast chicken, and even more excited about ordering again from Inger next year.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Day 24 : Dining Out

Our commitment to eating locally and seasonally has been steadfast. Each week, we prepare, freeze, bake or dehydrate for the days ahead, and frankly, I've been cooking up a storm.

When we laid out the ground rules for this project, we first turned to other locavores, to see how they handled "exceptions". There were the obvious exceptions, such as olive oil, salt and spices, and the not so obvious, like "junk food".

Our year long experiment meant that we could live without a lot for just one year. So while olive oil, salt and spices made the cut, things like chocolate simply did not. But one exception by Leda Meredith, an author on the subject, really grabbed our attention, and we clung to it like barnacles: dining out.

We LOVE to dine out. We have taken vacations that revolve around nothing more than food. We would finish one meal, only to look at each other and say "well, we've got a few hours to kill until our next meal, what should we do?"

It seemed like a natural exception, then, to allow ourselves the little luxury of eating out a few times a month. But when we decided that we wanted to cash in on our exception, something peculiar happened. Nothing sounded good. Delicious Italian? Yeah, but where does all that flour come from? Japanese? Hmmm, that fish might be questionable. As we become closer to our food sources, we find that the questionable sources sound less and less appetizing.

So on Thursday night, we braved the rain and found ourselves in Upper Queen Anne, at the darling and delicious restaurant Emmer & Rye, a locally focused restaurant that specializes in serving food that is regional and seasonal.

This place is LEGIT. While enjoying the cheese plate and a Vodka Soda (the Vodka was from Dry Fly, made from Washington Wheat), I drilled our waitress with questions.

How long have you been in business? (Since January) How local is local? (90-95%) Oh yeah? What about these crackers? (I thought I busted her, turns out, they are made by their pastry chef from Bluebird emmer flour. Wow.) I continued asking questions about every morsel of food brought to our table, to which our waitress graciously answered where it was from. The night continued with plate after plate of locally raised meats, locally grown vegetables, and of course, wine from local vines.  It was a fabulous evening, and a great way to eat without any of the guilt.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tip: Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit...

While picking up my loot from Central Bean, they gave me a great flier from the US Dry Bean Council (in the shape of a large bean, no less!) which had some great facts about beans. Not only can we get beans locally in Washington, they are actually a fantastic meat substitute. Check it out:
  • A 1/2-cup serving of beans contains key nutrients, including protein, folate, manganese, magnesium, fiber, potassium, and iron.
  • Beans are cholesterol and fat-free.
  • A diet including beans may reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
  • Beans are comparable to meat when it comes to protein.
  • One cup of beans has about 12 grams of fiber - about half of a woman's daily intake (meat has none)
  • Beans are high in phytochemicals, compounds only found in vegetables. These antioxidants incapacitate cell damaging free radicals. 
  • White beans contain 19 grams of protein per cup.

Since beginning this eating locally experiment, I've discovered preparation is the key to survival. With dried beans, you not only need to soak beans before using them, you also need to cook them before adding them to any recipe. (Trust me on this, I had a tragic hummus experiment that resulted in a near dead blender).

While it can be time consuming preparing beans, there are some short cuts I've stumbled upon:

 1 ) Quick Soak Beans
(1 cup of dried beans is more than enough for a dinner for four, and 1 cup of dried garbanzos is perfect for a weeks supply of hummus)
In a large pot, add 3 cups of water to each cup of beans. Bring to a boil, and cook at medium heat for 2 minutes. Turn off heat, cover and let stand for one hour. RINSE. 

Little known fact: Most of the compounds that cause flatulence are found in the soaking water. Beans are much more digestible if you rinse them after soaking.

2 ) Cook
Add enough fresh water to cover the beans, and simmer them until tender, approx. 1-2 hours.

Again, this may seem time consuming, but this is something you can do ahead! If you do a big pot of beans for quick use throughout the week, you can FREEZE them and use for quick meals later.

We tend to make enough for a week and refrigerate them in a tupperware. I then make one batch of hummus for sandwiches, and one batch for a quick vegetarian stir-fry later in the week.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Recipe : Hubbard Squash Soup

I have never used Hubbard Squash before, but I found a great recipe online that I modified slightly. The result? A delicious, creamy fall soup.

What You'll Need:

1 Large Hubbard Squash
5 Cups Vegetable or Chicken Broth
2 Cups Heavy Cream
1 Cup Milk
1 Yellow Onion
4 Cloves of Garlic
2 Ribs of Celery
Fresh Thyme
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

What You'll Do:

 Get your squash.
Cut the squash in half.
Drizzle with honey, dice butter in the hollows, add cloves of garlic and thyme sprigs.
Take out of the oven.

 Scoop 5 cups of pulp into a bowl.
On the stove...
Add diced onion, celery ribs and olive oil into the pan and saute until soft, then add the pulp, stirring to prevent burning.
Vegetable broth and more thyme into the mixture, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer for 45 minutes.

Add cream and milk to mixture, bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Puree in a blender until smooth. 


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Day 18 - Why are we doing this again?

It's been over two weeks since this project officially began.

Some days, this seems like nothing. On other days, I worry about doing this a whole year. Sometimes I get into a groove, and the simplicity of my patterns make me wonder why more people don't do this. And other days, ohhh... the other days.

Sunday I was in the kitchen all day preparing for the week ahead. This included baking bread (2 loaves), as well as whipping up a quick zucchini bread for fast breakfasts (1 loaf). Let's not forget about making hummus from scratch, for sandwiches throughout the week.

Some wise people, at this point, might say to themselves "stop while you are ahead". Wise I am not, and after all of that, I decided it would be a good idea to make pasta from scratch. Perhaps it was the exhaustion, perhaps it was too little flour. Still, the pasta ended up a sticky mess, which, after a long day in the kitchen, made me crumble into a pile on the couch, defeated.

Curled up on the couch, frustrated, my mind began to wonder why I started doing this in the first place. Who cares if we eat locally for a year? Why are we doing this? 

The question remained on my mind all week, especially since we found ourselves extremely busy.

After a lengthy meeting on Tuesday night, a large event on Wednesday night, and fighting a cold all the while, left me on Thursday thinking that all I wanted was to order in.

No dishes, no pots and pans, just a quick phone call and steamy piles of Thai food delivered to our doorstep.

Living locally, and our commitment to this project, meant that this wasn't really an option. Noodles filled with things from who knows where is pretty much the opposite of what we are trying to do. Again, I asked myself "why we were doing this?", then pushed the question aside. Despite my sore throat and body aches, my husband and I threw on our aprons and got to work.

I began by making tortillas from scratch, while Dan worked on making Pico de Gallo from a giant yellow Heirloom tomato. For the filling, I used the beans and emmer I had pre-cooked earlier in the week, along with some diced bell pepper and a can of our beloved tomatoes.

We topped our burritos with grated cheddar cheese from Golden Glen Creamery and a salad mixture from one of our favorite stands at the market.

Once we started the process, something shifted. Instead of feeling resentful that we had to get to work, it wasn't long before we were both laughing, chatting about our days, and having a pretty nice time preparing everything. And the remarkable part?

We put everything on the table in less than a half hour. It was faster than ordering food, after all.

Why are we doing this? Well, the technical answer is that we are acting as guinea pigs to see it's logical and inexpensive to eat as locally as possible for a year. But there is a deeper undertone I'm picking up on. We want to feel connected not only to our food, but to each other. And the moments I share with my husband in the kitchen definitely outweigh any that we share in front of the television, and the flavors are far more delicious than dialing a phone number.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

DIY : Freezing Tomatoes

After burning through a significant amount of our canned tomatoes, we started to worry again that we wouldn't get through the winter without running out. Not wanting to can another round without my mom's supervision, I decided to try freezing them. It was actually really easy, and if you are in Seattle, we found a 20lb box of #2 heirloom tomatoes for $25, which is a steal. I would highly recommend this to people short on time--what a great way to enjoy fresh, local and organic tomatoes throughout the winter without canning!

Step 1.
Buy your tomatoes! Now is a great time to find them at your local farmer's market on the sure to ask if they have #2's!

Step 2.
Set up two pots. Boil one, put ice in the other.

Step 3.

Set up your work space for after the tomatoes come out of the water.

Step 4.

Once the water is boiling, drop the tomatoes in for 2 minutes. For larger tomatoes or heirlooms with quite a few rough patches on them, I'd leave them in for 4 minutes. You can tell they are ready to come out of the water when the skins crack or start to peel off.

 Step 5.

With a slotted spoon, transfer them into the pan with ice water. This makes the skins come off easier, and makes them easier to handle as well.

Step 6.

Put the iced tomatoes in a bowl, move them to your work space. For tough stems, I simply cut off the tops of the tomatoes and peel from there. Some stems will come right off. Cut off rough patches, and the rest of the skin should slip right off.

Step 7. 

After peeling, dice into large chunks, and transfer into freezer quality ziploc bags.

FREEZE! They will keep in your freezer for up to a year.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Recipe : Italian Meatloaf with Spaghetti Squash

This is a very quick and easy dinner, and while you can make it with non-local ingredients, everything in this meal was from within 250 miles of our doorstep. Find a farmer's market near you to get the freshest, best ingredients! It definitely makes a difference.

Spaghetti Squash Side:

What You'll Need:
(serves 4)

1 Spaghetti Squash
1 Cube of Butter
1/8 c. fresh sage
1/4 c. white wine
Salt & Pepper to taste

What You'll Do:

1 > Halve the squash
2 > scrape out the seeds and innards 

3 > Place hollow side down on oiled baking sheet
4 > Place in 375 degree oven for 45 minutes (put in at the same time as the meatloaf)

While it's baking, combine butter and sage in a medium sized sauce pan over med-low or low heat. Once the butter is melted, add the wine, bring to a simmer, and then turn the heat to low and cover, stirring occasionally.

10 Minutes before the meatloaf comes out of the oven, take the squash out of the oven. With oven mitts, turn the squash over, and with a fork, start scraping lengthwise, creating "spaghetti". Toss the spaghetti into the butter mixture, stir to coat and cover until ready to serve.

Italian Meatloaf:

What You'll Need:
(serves 4-6)

2lbs of ground beef
2 small carrots, chopped
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/2 c fresh basil, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
4 tbs thyme, chopped
2 eggs, beat
8 oz stewed tomatoes, chopped
3 tbs fresh chopped rosemary
1/8 c "porridge" from Bluebird Grains (you can substitute this for oatmeal)
1-2 tsp of salt
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Inside of the pan, I like to add:
1/2 of a large eggplant, diced
2-3 diced yukon gold potatoes
3 small carrots

What You'll Do:

1 > Combine all of the above ingredients, adding a little of the olive oil and balsamic for flavor and texture
2 > Shape the mound into a loaf in a large, long pan that has been coated in olive oil and salt
3 > Add diced vegetables around the sides, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic
4 > Sprinkle with salt and pepper, olive oil and balsamic, and fresh rosemary
5 > Bake in a 375 degree oven for an hour

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Day 9 - Home from Arizona

When we arrived home from Arizona, and it was the late afternoon and we were excited to be back in Seattle, which we now dubbed "the land of plenty". Not being able to eat locally in Scottsdale was eye opening. Dan’s family is very healthy in their eating habits, but local-to-Arizona it was not.

This whole trip was pre-cursored with "if we can find local foods in AZ, we'll buy local foods in AZ, but I refuse to be that demanding daughter-in-law that turns her nose up at her in-laws generosity". And so on our trip, we ate healthy, we ate well, but we did not eat locally. It was impossible.

We had arrived in the peak of their "winter" time, when it is too hot for food growth. We attempted to find a farmer's market (most start in October), but none had opened yet. Only one bragged about it's year round bounty, and was touted online of being a great farmer's market with plenty of "vendors". We couldn't find it at first, because we kept passing this small, cement building that looked like a medical clinic. But that was it. Once inside, it was more along the lines of a health food store, though smaller and run-down. A tray full of peaches featured moldy, wrinkled orbs (but Organic!), the greens were wilted and everything else pretty much looked its age. In this single visit, our resolve to eat locally in Arizona was squashed.

After our 5 day hiatus, we were ready to be back to our local ways, and by the time we parked at home in Seattle, it was nearly 3pm, and I knew I would have to figure out dinner for us immediately. Before, on a night like this, I would simply call in our order at our local Thai restaurant and poof! Dinner would appear. Now, this is no longer the case. Everything takes time and thought, and a fridge full of nothing isn’t the most exciting palette to work with.

The meat part was easy to figure out, as we have almost a whole lamb in our freezer and several packages of very local beef. I decided to make lamb stew, something easy and fairly quick. I defrosted the lamb broth I had made also, and along with some of the fresh thyme from our small garden, it was the start of a delicious local meal.

Still, no meal in our home is complete without vegetables, and we were completely out. It's a Friday, I thought, I could go to the one Farmer's Market I know is the Central District. Hmmm. That doesn't leave enough time to run my other errands, and it's right in the thick of traffic. So I found myself in a conundrum. How do you shop local when you are running out of time and need to grab something on the go?

There is an alternative that has been weighing on my mind. PCC, our local food co-op. I've sent Dan there on a mission for greek yogurt, which he proudly returned with. He reported back about other local groceries readily available, but it felt too easy to me. And since starting this journey, I've stopped trusting grocery stores as a whole.

But when I walked into the produce section at PCC, a lot of familiar names greeted me. Nash’s Organics. Rent’s Due Ranch. And in the bulk aisle, there was a bin full of Bluebird Grains, which is our go-to for a rice alternative.

In the dairy section, there were plenty of local options as well. Yogurt. Butter. Even local milk in a large, glass jar. Then something jumped out at me. Local eggs, for $2.99 a dozen. Organic. Local. Huh?

We’ve been spending $5 to $6 a dozen at the farmer’s market, treasuring each egg as if it was our last. In our desperation for finding a cheap, local egg resource, we have even considered getting a few hens for our backyard. Our very small backyard. In Ravenna. But why would we do that, or spend $5 a dozen each week, if we could just buy them each week at a store that is less than a mile from our home?

I'm still sorting this one out. After some research on Stiebrs Farms, I have found that they are, in fact, legit. They are located in Yelm, Washington, and proudly serve up dozens of Organic, Cage Free, Local eggs.

And PCC, I've got to hand it to you. You're doing a pretty amazing job at staying local.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Recipe : Fresh Kale Salad

I pulled this recipe out of a magazine, and gave it a trial run last night. I never thought I would enjoy it as much as I did! It was a great (new) way to eat Kale, which is full of beta carotene, vitamins K & C, lutein, and calcium. It was a great accompaniment to the lamb stew I threw together last night, a recipe on that to follow!

What You'll Need:

1 Bunch purple kale (the long stemmed kind)
1 or 2 large lemons
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Hard cheese to shave on top

How You'll Do It:

1. Cut the leaves cross-wise into thin strips
2. Coat with olive oil
3. Squeeze lemon juice on top
4. Toss with a little salt and pepper
5. Shave a hard cheese on top

It's so simple, but truly delicious.

Kale is very easy to find at farmer's markets year round in the Seattle area, as are hard cheeses. Click Here To find a farmer's market near you!