Tuesday, July 1, 2008

So What Are We Eating?

Warning: in the interest of getting this post live (and getting my daughter to the library today) I have not proofread this post! There may be typos...

It has not even been two weeks and I’ve already fallen behind in the blog… The only excuse we have is that we were out of town for a wedding this weekend (at University of Illinois, our alma mater, in Champaign) and every free moment (when I’m not wrangling kids) I have either been weeding vegetables, planting our hillside prairie, or preserving fruit for the coming winter. OK, excuse time is over… here are some updates.

We’ve been eating well these last few weeks but, as I admitted in the post I wrote last Thursday, we haven’t been able to go entirely local. I just won’t waste the food we already have (the non-perishables didn’t go to waste but won’t be used by us… see previous post).

Anyway, we’ve been enjoying salads, radishes (both raw, as greens, and sliced/chopped and sautéed in butter!), and a wide variety of other greens at just about every meal. I’ve been making a loaf of bread about every other morning for breakfasts. Yesterday Neva and I made a big batch of pancakes (made with our Kansas flour, eggs from Pine Row Farm in Roscoe, goat’s milk from Angelic Organics Learning Center, honey from Raines Honey Farm in Davis, and the last of our canola oil). We ate some for lunch (with maple syrup from southern Wisconsin) and I froze the rest for Kevin to heat and eat for breakfasts in the coming week.

Our first weekend we made Swedish pancakes for breakfast one morning using the same list of local ingredients. Kai has been eating mostly local baby food (there are still a few cubes of non-local stuff in the freezer; organic corn and peas, diced steamed carrots, etc) but I’ve been blending local broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, and spinach for him to eat as well as the leftover chunks of a roast chicken from Open Range Products in Pecatonica. As I mentioned in the previous post, Kevin made an awesome loin of goat (and I made a quart of stock for the freezer from the bones and drippings in the foil). We’ve had some fantastic egg scrambles with all manner of onions and greens and local cheeses.

I intend to create a new section in the right column of the blog with recipes we’ve used or developed but I want to get caught up on our activities first. I have added some new web links at right which link to the websites or reference sites for the local producers I have mentioned – please check them out!

Meeting Producers

I went last week to get some eggs from Pine Row Farm and I happened to be there when the four producers who make up the Tomorrow’s Harvest cooperative were packing the vegetable boxes for pick-up the next day. I was able to meet them and chat a bit about our project and what they have to offer. The area farms that are represented in Tomorrow’s Harvest are: Mighty Sprout Farm in Rockford, Freedom Organix in Harvard, Brookwood Farm in Cherry Valley, Pine Row Farm in Roscoe, and the Zarante Brothers who are called the “farmers at-large.”

We were able to get our box a day early since they had all just been packed and I’m happy to report that it was beautiful. Bags of mixed greens, baby Swiss chard, bunches of luscious radishes, and young turnips, all very clean and fresh. I can’t wait to see what we get next week! They still have shares available so if you are considering a CSA, this is a great opportunity to try it out. Their website (with photos of each of the farms) can be found in the Web Links section to the right.

Last week I also made a trip to Belvidere to pick up some Prairie Pure Cheese at the Boone County Farm Bureau office on Locust Ave. The cheese was good, although one package was out of date and I didn’t realize it so I need to take it back (if it weren’t for the mold I would otherwise eat it). The milk comes from two farms right in Belvidere and is sent the day it’s collected up to a cheesemaker (Edelweiss Town-Hall Dairy) in Monticello, Wisonsin. There it is made into four types of cheese: Butterkäse, Mild and Sharp Cheddar, and Swiss. They had all but the Sharp Cheddar at the Farm Bureau office and it was not cheap but reasonably priced. The cheese is sold at a variety of local places (including a few Whole Foods stores in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago) but some seem to have trouble keeping it in stock so you might want to call ahead for availability. The list of retailers is available on the Prairie Pure website (see web links).

With all this great green stuff, what do we miss?

We’ve been eating really well and enjoying the project so far but there are a few things we miss.

  • I miss my morning bagel and cream cheese (although I fully intend to make both of these things once I get a little free time (which will be when?)).
  • Kevin misses his rolled oats but we have an exciting update on this, check a future post.
  • We both really miss our glass of wine with dinner every night. We have had two bottles of wine from the Wollersheim Winery in Wisconsin (from a visit we made there a few years back) but for the most part it’s water with dinner!). We also have some bottles of wine from vineyards in California and Spain which we picked up during our travels (and, as such, qualify for the Travel Clause II exemption) but we don’t want to plow through those special bottles all at once. I think Woodman’s Grocery Store liquor department might carry some Wollersheim so I’ll have to stop there sometime when I am otherwise making a trip to the other side of town. Not all of their wines are made from grapes grown in Wisconsin, though so our selection is further limited. I need to locate some other options as well.
  • We miss nuts. We used to eat plain nuts (of any type) in our cereal, in our baked goods, and just by the handful... oh well, not this year.
  • I do miss some of the convenience of ready-made snack food like crackers and cereal, and we still haven’t found local butter (I may end up making it myself from cream but in the meantime we’re sparingly using up the last of what was in the fridge), and I’m spending a lot of time working to put food away for winter and working in the garden. Luckily, those two time-sinks are quite enjoyable.


VI said...

Lenae, welcome to the eat local challenge! My family and I have been doing it in the Chicago area for over 3 years. We are not, however, absolutists--how can you live without coffee, chocolate, spices!

Anyways, wine, there's a (burgoning?) wine business in Illinois. You should be able to find some stuff, no? In September there's a whole expo (http://vitalinformation.blogspot.com/2008/05/they-write-press-releases.html). You should be close enough to Iowa to get some Ammana Colony wine (or shall I say "wine) in your zone. What about beer, Templeton Rye made in Iowa, Death's Door spirts made in Middleton, WI?

Nuts, there are various local nuts to be had, especially the black walnut. If you ever make it to the Dane County Farmer's Market you can find vendors selling hickory nuts and butternuts.

Lenae said...

In response to vi:
Thanks for your words of encouragement!
I finally posted the wine-shopping story today - the problem is not locally-produced wine, it's wine produced locally from locally-grown grapes (and for the purposes of our experiment this year we will be stricter than we intend to be in our future, more sustainable local diet).

We like black walnuts and know about those, of course, but they're not ready yet this season so that doesn't help us now. I do intend to check out the Madison-area markets soon so will look for hickory and butternuts this fall when they are in season.

Thanks for the great suggestions!