Breakdown (Go Ahead and Cry): First Quarter Review

No really, don’t cry. Most of the news is good. But in the spirit of full disclosure, there were two major (albeit brief) breakdowns in the first three months of our Year of Eating Locally.

Corresponding with midterms. And finals.

Yes, if there is anything I’ve learned about eating local it’s that you do need to plan.  Not every single day, but regularly.

Mushroom shopping at the Winter Farmer's Market
Mushroom shopping at the Milwaukee Winter Farmer’s Market

The Routine

Now my typical planning routine goes something like this:  One day each month is devoted to making soup which goes (mostly) into bag lunches.  Then there is weekly bread making, and producing and freezing sandwich meat like slow-cooked chuck roast.

Homemade bread, local preserves and butter
Homemade bread, local preserves and butter

Dinner tends to require a little more forethought—a chicken or large roast needs time to thaw!  But as a last-minute improvise, frozen ground beef (or small packages of pork chops, etc) will thaw in a tub of water. We are well supplied with meat, having bought chickens and a quarter of beef from local farmers this fall and lamb & pork earlier in the year.

On the vegetable front, there are plenty of CSA leftovers (for now) stocked in the cool basement or basement refrigerator.  This includes cabbage, winter squash and root vegetables, plus miscellaneous frozen vegetables.  And there is a respectable supply of home canned items like marinated red peppers from summer.  The latest winter farmer’s market visit provided us with fresh lettuce & spinach (greenhouse grown), mushrooms, cauliflower, cheese, yogurt along with flour and oatmeal.

Romanseco Cauliflower from the Farmer's Market
Romanseco Cauliflower from the Farmer’s Market

Fruit is down to apples for fresh eating, but we have frozen berries (raspberries, strawberries, mulberries, blueberries, cranberries), cherries, peaches, apples and apple cider.  Then there are over 60 individual serving jars of canned applesauce for lunches–it made my day last fall when my cider farmer mentioned they sold applesauce by the gallon! Any ideas (besides pies & crisps) on how to use the frozen fruit would be most appreciated!

Grocery store trips are once/week for milk, butter & sour cream and are really fast. Not much point browsing!

Fresh pasta - some made from local flour
Fresh pasta – some made from local flour

And now for the breakdown…

So all-in-all we seem to have a workable routine for now.  But hit a week-long energy crisis and times get tough.

When faced with two large projects due on the same day as a midterm, I crumbled and texted a classmate, “I need pizza.”  “You should have pizza,” she texted back.  My husband was out of town, so I called for delivery. Then besides not eating local, I ate an entire pizza.  Double guilt!

The other transgression, which I may make permanent, is Pam cooking spray.  When we used the last of the old can, I tried oiling the pans I use for bread.  When done, the loaves stuck so badly, I had to pry them out.  At some point, I will try oiling and flouring the pan, but given the extra effort that involves, Pam may be a keeper.

Finally, it’s been fun to have an occasional sponsored post (yeah, cookies!) on my main blog, or to have to photograph a fresh veggie for a school assignment.  But those “exceptions” are few and far between and I miss most things far less than expected.

50 lbs of local four!!
50 lbs of local four!!

 A discovery… and a flour coup

Sometimes, it’s the little things…

Our local coop had bulk local flour on sale at half off! After filling up many, many small bulk bags, I was losing patience–and wasting too much plastic. I figured they probably got it in 25 or 50 lb bags, which is what would work for me too.    On my third trip, they sent me to talk to the bulk guy who happened to have just received a 50 lb bag. He agreed to sell that to me—yeah, a victory for common sense!

run and vodka
Local vodka–and rum from Minnesota donated by my Minneapolis daughter

I also discovered local vodka.  Did you know that vodka is distilled so pure, that it can be made from almost anything?  Great Lakes Distillery makes it from local wheat and there is now a bottle in my liquor cabinet!

Life is good.

Upcoming

 I am hosting Christmas Eve.  My sister is bringing mashed potatoes, which will be local from her CSA.  Haven’t talked to my brother, though he will quality for the everyone else doesn’t need to cook local exemption if he chooses.  My rice grower came through with more rice just in time for Greek Meatballs, and I also have a local ham.  Stay tuned for the full menu!

Christmas rice!
Christmas rice!

6 Comments

  • Mary Jo McDonald

    December 22, 2017

    Additional update on sugar. Al just rechecked sugar. He now says that Domino uses sugar from all over but Crystal sugar only processes sugar beets and it is processed in Minnesota.

    Reply
    • Inger

      December 23, 2017

      Awesome Mary Jo! That was going to be my next question/research project–how to tell where the specific sugar came from. My Betty Crocker French Apple pie especially thanks you!

      Reply
  • Mary Jo McDonald

    December 22, 2017

    Dear Inger,
    I am in Cleveland and was telling my son-in-law about your eating local. He said that the Minnesota sugar beets are processed to sugar in a plant in Michigan. I think that is in the 400 mile range. He is from Minnesota and lived in Michigan. Hope this helps.

    The cranberry pie recipe
    2 crust pastry
    4 cups of fresh cranberries cut in 1/2 and rinsed to remove seeds
    2/3 cup of cream
    1/3 cup of sugar ( or equivalent honey I don’t know the right amount
    2 T. Flour
    Stir these ingredients together (it will seem very runny)
    Put in pie crust. Top with 2 d crust. Sprinkle with cinnamon (and maybe first brush a little diluted honey?)
    Bake 375 for 45 minutes. I usually put a pie sheet underneath in case it cooks over) If you use a glass pie pan, bake at 350.
    Merry Christmas

    Reply
    • Inger

      December 23, 2017

      Thanks Mary Jo. Honey, maple syrup, etc work great for some things, but for others, not so much! I am testing some mini-pies, so I’ll see if I can work this in! Have a wonderful Christmas!

      Reply
  • Jean

    December 22, 2017

    Love reading about this project, Inger! Keep it up!!!

    Reply
    • Inger

      December 23, 2017

      Thanks for the encouragement Jean! And have a wonderful Christmas!

      Reply

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