Thursday, September 8, 2011

Eatin' Good

It's been a really long time since I talked about our local foods diet. I guess it's become so ingrained in just our that's-what-we-do life that it doesn't seem terribly interesting or noteworthy anymore. Perhaps it's neither of those things, but I'm going to talk about it anyway.

Because I can remember, not so very long ago, when I had to actually plan, and sometimes go out of my way, to have an all local dinner. Recently, as I was chopping stuff and frying stuff and stewing stuff for dinner, I realized, the meal I was preparing (and of which I didn't get any pictures) was local - all local - without really trying or going out of my way. It was just stuff I had on my counter, in my garden, in my cabinet, in my fridge, and in my freezer - all of which was sourced from local farmers and produced within 100 miles (or so) of where I live.

The most remarkable part of that revelation, though, was that what I was cooking was just part of our (now) usual, every day, fare.

The meal started with dried beans from this farm. I boiled them (because I didn't think to pre-soak them), and then, turned the heat down and just let them simmer. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with them, but before I could do anything, I had to cook them. And so, that's where I started.

Looking around in the freezer, I found a jar of tomato sauce from last year's tomaotes, and I put it on the counter to thaw. It was a cool-ish, rainy day, and something soup-like seemed fitting.

Later, I browned some ground beef (from the cow-share we bought in January). I added some onions from the farmer's market to the beef as it was browning and to the beans that were just about to that soft-enough-to-season stage. I also added some chopped up tomatoes from my garden and a big jalapeno pepper that one of our friends gave us.

When the beans were cooked, I divided them, filling two pint-sized canning jars for later, and to what was left in the pan I added half the browned ground beef, the thawed tomato sauce, and a bunch of spices.

Big Little Sister grated some Pineland Farm cheddar cheese, and we had chili with cheese, and, for those who wanted it, a dollop of Cabot plain yogurt.

I saved out some of the browned ground beef and asked Big Little Sister to run out to the garden and clip some of the lettuce. It's doing better now than it did in the spring, and I have a beautiful crop, at the perfect ripeness, in my garden. Sometimes I have to be a little like a cafeteria cook and offer a couple of different options for dinner. So, for those who didn't want chili, the option was "taco salad" - seasoned beef over lettuce with grated cheese and yogurt.

It was really good, and the best part was realizing how close to home the ingredients were.

If our on-demand grocery supply chain were to stop tomorrow, there would be a lot of things that I would miss: sugar, Newman's Own chocolate bars, tea; but I'm confident that we would be able to find most of what we need/want for food right here, where we are, and every time we sit down to a local meal, it's with a smile, because it's good food, and good company, and truly, the good life.


  1. Isn't it so nice to not have to think about it anymore! You know that what you have is local and safe for your family. It certainly makes me enjoy my food an awful lot more :-)

  2. Sounds wonderful! Do you have anything that absolutely need and can't buy locally? Sugar? Coffee? I think I'd die without chocolate ;)

  3. @ Tanya - there's nothing we "need" that we can't get locally.

    About the things you mention, specifically, we'd have to live without sugar, but we have local honey, and Deus Ex Machina actually have our own beehive in the backyard. We also have maple syrup, which we make every spring. So, we have sweetner.

    We'd also have to live without coffee and without tea. There'd be no chocolate :-(.

    Part of what I've done over the past several years and what I put into my book was to explore that very question - is there anything we "need" that we can't get locally? And I looked at everything I could think of. The answer is *no*. There are things we like to have and that we want, but we could survive and even live a good life, on just what's available to us, right here.

  4. Beautifully written post, Wendy. I do love this time of year, with the bountiful harvest out the back door.

    We are fortunate to have local sources of meat, though not in our own yard (yet?).

    What I liked about your post is how it lends itself to slowing down. What a lot of people don't do anymore. I find time in the kitchen, at least to me, using local food to feed my family, is some of the best meditative, most rewarding, time.

  5. Great post, Wendy. As you know, we eat very similarly in our house, sourcing most of our food from what I've put away previously in the pantry/freezer, locally raised meat and our own home-grown bounty . Reading your post, I found another similarity - I often see what's available and then pull together a meal...sometimes it's veggies that didn't sell at the market, sometimes an overabundance of zucchini ;)

    Yesterday, I ran into a friend and told him that we have been working really hard this summer,especially me with our larger gardens. To balance it, though, I realized that we have had more eating "feasts" this summer than in many years - or maybe I'm just appreciating the food more now...We have been able to sit with friends and family at a table laden with local, home cooked meals and be grateful that we live in an area where we can do that. My friend said, "Wow, you're working like a pioneer", and I guess I am, in a way. Cooking things from scratch, growing our own food, canning - all these things take alot of time, but we are self-sufficient and self sustaining, as the pioneers were.

    Keep up the wonderful writing, Wendy, it's so nice to read your insightful posts and to share.