Sunday, July 26, 2009

Back on the wagon

Well dear readers, I have a confession to make. After a rough week, and finding the chicken I'd hoped to cook for dinner still frozen, I ordered pizza.

I haven't given up though, and despite the fact that the pizza incident was followed yesterday morning by the OMG they have fresh made chocolate almond pastries at the bakery I must have one incident, I am back to local foods once again.

Do I feel guilty? No- and not just because it was the best tasting pizza ever (forbidden food tastes SO good!), but because frankly I am not much of an all-or-nothing kinda gal.

I think local food is always going to be a factor now even after the challenge is over, and I really don't want to go back to my eating out, or eating preservative laden prepared food now that I know how good the real thing tastes, but I can't say that I won't order pizza or chinese food every so often- I'll just be more picky about it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Strawberry Picking, Jam & Soy Sauce Cravings...

I love strawberries. In my opinion there is nothing better than these sweet tasty treats. I've always been a bit of a strawberry snob though- only the small Ontario berries for me. The larger ones from Cali have always been a disappointment- they look ok, but bite into them and they taste like water.

With this in mind, our last trip strawberry picking on Canada Day didn't yield quite enough for me to make it through until next season, especially since this summer I'd nearly psyched myself up to try making jam. So Rick and I went back to Herrle's after work on Thursday to pick some more- 10lbs more. The nice thing about Herrle's is they post on their website how the picking is (from fair-very good) and let you know when they anticipate the berries to be gone. They also grow different types of berries which are ready at different times- all taste delish, and it means the season is extended. The picking look less than 30mins, and although the prep to get them ready for the freezer took an hour, the thought of berries in January kept me going!

Friday I decided that enough was enough- although I've been wanting to can jam for over a year, I was always too scared to actually do it. It all seemed so complicated and the thought of getting botulism if I screwed up didn't make me feel any better! It turned out ok though- the book I got (Well Preserved: small batch preserving for the new cook), explained things pretty thoroughly and it actually only took a couple of hours. I'd do it again, and now that I'm fairly comfortable with the process and have figured out what head room and finger tight mean, I think I'm ready to try salsa once tomato season is in full force in a couple of weeks.

Ok- to end this post I'm going to indulge myself in a 100-mile whine: I miss soy sauce! For some reason the Starbuck's latte cravings I thought I'd have are completely missing and instead I've found myself dreaming of soy sauce. I did end up going for sushi this weekend (part of the special event clause in the 100-mile guidelines- Rick and I decided that book/meat club, all-day work retreats and weddings are our exceptions), but this won't happen again for a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed myself thinking this would be the last time I'd be able to have it until October. Sadly, I think the msg in the restaurant's sauce contributed to the wicked headache I had after, but that's one of the side effects of clean living I guess.

Then, a miracle happened! I open my e-mail this morning to find that Bailey's has found a local supplier! Woohooo! Soy sauce for me! Next week- stir fry.

Other blogs?

There certainly are a lot of us doing this 100-day, 100-mile challenge here in Waterloo Region! It seems that wherever I go, I keep running into people who are making a conscious effort to eat more locally grown food- a girl in my dance class, a friend at a bbq, a co-worker- all are taking a closer look at where their food comes from. It's so cool! Never did I think I'd be trading bread baking tips on my coffee break, or getting farmer recommendations over (local) lunch!

And the cooler thing is that I'm also learning things from folks I haven't even met. Lots of people are writing their own blogs, making comments on websites, and sharing their knowledge and experiences. I know, you think I'm gonna break out into 'it's a small world', don't you? (That's the wonder of blogging- maybe I am and you just don't know it!)

There are lots of places I check out for ideas- foodlink, the healing path blog, and the food network's 100-mile microsite to name a few. Here's another that is pretty good written by someone in the area: I mean really- anyone who thinks that kohlrabi looks like sputnik has gotta be cool!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

100 Mile Side Effects

Over the last 2 weeks of the challenge, a couple of unexpected 100-mile related things have been happening. The first is that we're both finding our food tastes more. It's better for us for the most part certainly, but it's more than that- I'll give you an example: tonight Rick and I had mushroom, onion and cheese omelettes with toast and butter. Pretty basic meal, right? But it tasted AMAZING! Is it that the eggs and vegs were fresher? We were using butter instead of margerine? Our taste buds are springing to life after being preservative free for a while? I have no idea, but it's great!

Another thing I noticed was that we have virtually no garbage to throw out. I thought we were pretty good about not creating a lot of trash, but since the challenge started we've only had 1 kitchen bag of garbage and 1 full blue box- for 2 weeks! Our green bin is fuller, but even that isn't stuffed since I've been trying to save veg bits for stock. No pre-packaged food means a lot less boxes and packaging I guess!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Breadmaking Success & Zoo Food!

I just had to share that I finally managed to make edible bread! Mind you, one other loaf was decent (there have been 3) but the dinner rolls I made last night blew all other attempts out of the water. The difference? I only made the dough in the breadmaker, then finished it off by hand, and baked it in the oven. I'm hoping that if this works for buns, it'll help the loaves as well.

I can't believe we're coming to the close of Day 7! It's already starting to become an automatic thing of planning things in advance. Today we went to the zoo with friends, so we packed a lunch (normally we'd make a Tim run on the way there and buy lunch at the park). An added bonus was instead of feeling awful for eating junk all day, we had a steady supply of healthy treats with us.

Our Zoo Lunch/Snacks:

Carrot Sticks
Ham & Cheese Bunwiches (on my lovely rolls!)
Bread with Creamed Honey

Oh, and by the way- when was the last time you had air popped popcorn with real melted butter and salt? You gotta try it- it's SO good! It made me wonder why on earth anyone would want to eat that microwave bag stuff! Challenge or no challenge, I'm not going back:)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day 5- we're really doing this!

I can't believe that we're really doing this! Already it's been nearly 5 days of eating at least 95% local food. Already we're discovering that some things are easier, and others harder than we thought!

Things we thought would be harder:
Variety- we're eating a lot of different things which I was kind of worried about before. A lot of this is probably the crazy prep work we did in advance. We've scoured the region and our pantry and freezer are full, the garden is starting to provide us with some things (herbs so far, but the peppers & cherry tomatoes are coming).

Things I didn't expect:
1) It takes a lot of time to make all your meals from scratch! LOTS of time! A simple sandwich now involves everything from baking the bread to slicing cheese. I think I'm going to try and make a giant pot of soup this weekend to at least give us some quick lunch options. Also, I think I'm going to make some bread in advance and freeze it.
2) I miss weird little things like gum & mints. Oh, and I never thought I'd be researching where the water in the water cooler at work comes from.

It's been a fun experience so far, but then we still have 95 days to go!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Field Trip to Heidelberg

I'm thinking Rick should be writing this post as a meat-club correspondent but I'll do my best;)

Today was the last of the prep-trips for the challenge (see previous posts about our trip to Oak Manor), and I have to say that this store was a great find. This afternoon we took a jaunt out to Stemmler's Meats & Cheese to pick up our 50lb freezer meat order which Rick'd ordered for us. Yep, 50lbs of meat are now in our freezer-- a mix of beef, chicken & pork which'll last us quite some time! Suddenly I'm feeling pretty carnavorific (if that's not a word, I'm making it one now).

If anyone feels like a drive, this place is worth checking out- not only do they do freezer orders, but they have a huge variety of meaty things at their fresh counter, plus oodles of local veggies, baked goods, and canned things.

Since today is Day 1 for all the challengers across Waterloo, there's a 100-Mile Challenge pot-luck to kick things off tomorrow for everyone at Oakridges Farm. I'm bringing this:

Bean Salad:

2 cups kidney beans (1 cup dried- rehydrated & cooked beforehand)
2 chopped green onions
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
pinch of salt
some chopped basil

All local!