Wednesday, December 5, 2007


There is still so much available at the Dane County Farmers' Market. The market is at Monona Terrace until Christmas and then moves to the Senior Center on Mifflin. Go get your spinach fix!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

In the news . . .

We were featured in a local news story last night, you can watch the whole thing here.

We haven't kept up the blog much, too busy eating! Maybe some pictures of the Dane County Winter Farmers' Market this weekend. Another Winter Market is the Northside Farmers Market.

How were your local Thanksgiving feasts?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Local eating goes super-mainstream

Here's the proof:

Yup, that's the cover story on an airline in-flight magazine (Midwest Airlines, to be specific). It's an interesting article centered mostly around a cool restaurant called Local Burger. Next time we go to visit family in Kansas, we'll be sure to stop in.

Also check out the article.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Preserving the Bounty

We had a wonderful time talking with people at the Westside Community Farmers' Market on Saturday, thank you to all of you who stopped by to chat! For those of you who couldn't make it, following is some info on the gadgets and gizmos we use and what we preserve.

First is the best book I know of for info on home preservation, Putting Food By. This book can tell you how to freeze cherries, dry apples and can shrimp--not that I would ever, ever do the latter!


We freeze tomato sauce, berries (pureed into sauce), corn, chicken stock (not exactly a produce crop but made throughout the year), bread and pesto. We have a small chest freezer that we fill to capacity and we have a friend who generously lets us use the empty half of her GIANT chest freezer. The freezers run more efficiently when full so that is a win-win situation for us both. When shopping for a freezer check the Energy Star rating and think about how full you can keep it. Freezers start around $300.


We use an old American Harvest / Nesco food dehydrator, I am not sure if they make the model we have anymore but if you follow the link you will see the current offerings. I have seen them for as little at $15 on eBay. Ours has a thermostat, fan and 5 stacking, dishwasher safe trays as well as a fruit leather insert. We dry mostly berries, tomatoes and peppers. You haven't lived until you have crunched a styrofoam feeling raspberry in your teeth in February and then jumped for joy at the explosion of taste on your tongue! When looking for a dehydrator a thermostat is not essential, a fan is. Drying times vary enormously and it is hard to mess up food drying so stick some food in, check it occasionally and take it out when you think it looks and tastes right! We store our dried food in ziploc bags in the freezer. We don't want any residual moisture causing mold over the next six months. Our peppers we store on the shelf, they never seem to go moldy.


We can tomatoes and tomato products (ketchup, chutney etc.) during a tomato-heavy year, but usually we just can applesauce. We use regular old mason jars, most purchased at thrift stores. A brand-new dozen of jars and lids is around $15 depending on where you get them. Woodmans, your local hardware store, Willy St. Co-op and Farm and Fleet are all good locations to find canning supplies. We recommend a canning funnel and a jar lifter to make life easier. You can use a standard water bath canner with rack or you can use any big ol' pot that can fit you jars plus 1 inch of water. You will need to keep your jars off the bottom of the pot, we have used triangles of aluminum flashing under each jar with good success.

The "canning" part of canning is easy, whether you do water or pressure, the previously mentioned "Putting Food By" will walk you through every step. For us, it is preparing the food to be canned where we have made the most use of gadgets! After years of using a hand-cranked food mill (with good success but tired muscles) we bought the KitchenAid Food Strainer and Grinder. It has revolutionized applesauce making in this family. It attaches to the PTO on our KitchenAid stand mixer and we can pour in cooked apples (or tomatoes) and the skins and seeds come out one side and smooth, beautiful sauce comes out the other--brilliant!

Preserving food is about thinking ahead and being the ant instead of the grasshopper. Some years we are better about it than others. Preserving the bounty is part of the work of eating locally, it is also part of the fun! Let us know what you are preserving this year!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Food preservation workshop

We'll be at the Westside Community Market on Saturday (Oct 13) to talk about food preservation and show some of the equipment and techniques we use. If you are curious about any of the processes (canning, freezing, and drying, mostly) or need some encouragement to get started, swing by and we will pump your self-confidence to previously unknown heights.

On the road again

We're in Boston visiting Scott's mother this week. Last night we went to Oleana, which is a fabulous restaurant specializing in Eastern Mediterranean food (think Greece and Turkey). No photos: taking pictures of food in a fine dining restaurant just feels tacky.

They have an awesome farm-to-table connection: the wife is the chef and the husband is the farmer, so they grow the majority of the produce themselves and source meats locally. The press clippings we saw (posted in the bathroom!) tell the tale of having to adapt the cuisine a bit to account for the differences in growing conditions between the Mediterranean and New England. Some people might be dismayed by this kind of compromise of "authentic" cuisine, but I think it is really the very best of what eating has to offer: the flavors from all over the world are the paint and the local ingredients are the canvas. The result, in the case of Oleana, is a masterpiece. If you ever find yourself hungry and in Cambridge, give the place a try.


Friday, October 5, 2007

This is a very cool idea. . .

My mother sent me this from Massachusetts.

Wouldn't it be great if we all had the option? We can get University of Wisconsin Alumni and the Green Bay Packers. Why can't we get a license plate that supports family farms in some way?

Had a great dinner tonight (conhinita pibil, or yucatan-style pit barbeque) with yummy Willow Creek pork. Pictures are in the camera that is packed away for a trip starting tomorrow. We'll update it in a day or so.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fall Food

Jessica Weiss of Oregon, WI created the winning recipe for the Food for Thought recipe contest. We made it last night--yummy! You really need to watch the time and check them often, our next batch we will use a spicy salt. Try 'em yourself!

Kale Crisps

Kale (any kind)
Olive Oil
Cayenne (optional)

Take thick stem out of kale, tear into bite-sized pieces. Arrange in one layer on baking sheet, drizzle with oil and seasonings, mix with hands to throughly coat. 425 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until thin and crispy. Eat quickly and check your teeth for specks before going out!

There may be a run on kale next Saturday!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Local Night Out

If you are in the Madison area go out to eat today at one of the following restaurants. Ask your server "what's local?" And make sure to tell them that you are there because of their commitment to local food. Enjoy!

The Weary Traveler
The Greenbush Bar
The Old Fashioned
Fork and Spoon Cafe
The Dardanelles
Captain Bill’s
Ian’s Pizza
The Edgewater
Manna Cafe
Osteria Papavero
Washington Hotel Coffee Room

For more details click here!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lettuce Confess

I have been in a sour mood lately--I have been wanting salad. I could have grown my own (I did in the spring) but September is not know for being lettuce season. So, I have been eating brassicas. But, I REALLY wanted salad. So, last night we went to an ordinary grocery store and I bought lettuce--from Delaware (they grow lettuce in Delaware?) Why am I confessing this non-local transgression? Because I want people to remember that there are always choices. Maybe I didn't make a responsible one (think how many gallons of gas that lettuce has consumed), but I did choose. Eating locally, using alternative power, recycling--none of it need be an "all or nothing" undertaking. During August we heard "Oh I could never do that!" about a million times. Well, you don't have to make a strict 100 mile limit to your food, you can simply make a choice to eat as locally as works for you. Every little bit helps, in all things that will change the world. As the old saying goes, "Just because you cantaloupe doesn't mean you shouldn't get married!"

Sunday, September 23, 2007

If you have trouble sleeping . . .make applesauce!

I made 31 more quarts of applesauce Saturday using Paula Reds from Eplegaarden. That brings our grand total to 48 (plus one in the fridge that I didn't process because we were going to eat it). I think I am done for the year (with applesauce). I used 12 dish towels and wiped the floor approximately 1,624,312 times yesterday. I also slept better than I have in weeks--making applesauce is good therpay for whatever ails you and is a heck of a workout!

September Bounty

We can't get enough Romanesco. I have been sauteeing it in butter and then cooking (covered) until tender, but not mushy, in garlic, chicken broth and salt--heavenly! From the looks of these pictures we are hungry for dairy this week! Blue Marble Micro Dairy had a sale on chocolate milk that was close to expiration date--$1! It will never even reach that date!

Amanda Cooks Martha

We received a lovely email today from Amanda who was inspired, in part by our blog, to eat more locally. She also plans to teach herself to cook with the help of the The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook. It sounds like an ambitious, fun and worthwhile project, we wish her the best and urge you all to check our her blog! (Just click on her name.)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Marco. . . .Polo!

If you've been reading a while, you'll recognize Marco Polo rules as eating local foods with "imported" seasonings. Here is what a recent meal looked like:

So what we have here is Willow Creek Farm pork chops with a really tasty glaze—maple/ketchup/soy/ginger and a semi-local ingredient, Gin from Death's Door Spirits (made from many Wisconsin ingredients, but greater than 100 miles), green beans from somebody local (don't remember who) and corn bread made with the corn ground by all the kids (and a few of the adults) who came to chat with us at the food for thought festival. We did use commercial flour, but instead of buttermilk we made it with clabbered milk (local milk soured with our homemade vinegar), bartered eggs, and everybody's favorite, bacon fat. If you are still not convinced of the merits of adding bacon fat to your diet, stop punishing yourself. You're a good person, you deserve it.

This is now a pretty typical meal for us. The overwhelming bulk of it was purchased in person from the person who grew it, and a few extras (all of which would fit into a coffee mug, I suspect) were added to give it some character. And after the way we operated in August, it almost feels as convenient as a TV dinner!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Applesauce Season

I made my first 17 quarts of applesauce this morning, all Paula Reds. The kitchen is warm and sticky and the house smells like hard cider. Autumn is truly upon us now and I feel the pull to put up more and more food!

Local Night Out

On Thursday, September 17th make sure you plan to eat out! The following is the press release from REAP regarding the 3rd annual Local Night Out--an evening when local restaurants showcase local food producers:

From pizza with the kids to an exquisite meal celebrating a special
occasion, treat yourself to a night of local foods at restaurants across
Dane County during REAP's third annual Local Night Out.

This year's Local Night Out launches the next phase of Buy Fresh Buy Local
Southern Wisconsin. Buy Fresh Buy Local Partners are a diverse group of
restaurants and cafes from casual to ethnic to upscale, each committed to
expanding their local purchasing from area farmers.

"We'll have great burgers made with beef from Fountain Prairie Farm for
Local Night Out," said Chef Bill Horzuesky of Bluephies. "We are excited to
introduce customers to Fountain Prairie and our other farmer partners."
Long-time supporters of the local food concept, L'Etoile is keeping things
fresh with a prix fixe tasting menu for $35 on Local Night Out. "We wanted
to do something special for Local Night Out and encourage diners to give us
a try" says Chef Tory Miller of L'Etoile.

This season's new partners will have their first opportunity to introduce
diners to the program as they serve up the freshest meals in town, all in
celebration of Wisconsin farmers. In the pilot phase, Buy Fresh Buy Local
worked with select Madison restaurants and retailers this summer to develop
their commitment to buying locally and telling stories of the farms they
work with to their customers. Developing networking tools, events and
marketing resources, the Buy Fresh Buy Local program will continue to foster
strong farmer-chef relationships this fall as the program opens up to a
broader range of establishments.

Local Night Out is an evening for Buy Fresh Buy Local Partner restaurants to
shine-really showing off what they can do with fresh local ingredients.

And it's our night to say loud and clear with our dining dollars, that we
appreciate their efforts to support local farms!

Participating Local Night Out restaurants this year are:

The Weary Traveler
The Greenbush Bar
The Old Fashioned
Fork and Spoon Cafe
The Dardanelles
Captain Bill's
Ian's Pizza
Cafe Montmartre
The Edgewater
Manna Cafe
Osteria Papavero
Washington Hotel Coffee Room

Click here for delicious details of
what each restaurant is planning.

Afterwards, send us an email and let us know where you went and how it was.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Changing Seasons

Wow! What an incredible day it was at the Food for Thought Festival yesterday. Scott and Evie and I were blown away by how many people came over to talk, ask questions and share their own stories. I don't think we stopped talking for 5 1/2 hours! Most people wanted to know what surprises we encountered, how we are eating now and our plans for the winter.

We said that the time it took to process food was the biggest things we noticed, along with the lack of cooking oil (not difficult, just noticeable) and the lovely surprise of peanuts. Our August diet was not much different from the way we normally eat. I have my coffee back and we are all enjoying chocolate again. Scott is using flour from North Dakota. Other than that, our eating is much the same as in August. September is such a month of bounty that we are eating well! As for winter, I am trying to preserve more than ever this year, I will be curious to see how local we will be eating in February!

Also at the Festival, Scott was interviewed for a documentary commissioned by the Animal Welfare Institute and I was interviewed by a journalism student from NYU. Evie got her face painted and ground A LOT of corn!

Our haul from market this week illustrated the changing seasons. Instead of green being the predominate color, the oranges and reds were making themselves known. Red peppers are in their full glory and the winter squashes are starting to make themselves know. We will make our first apple pies of the season this week--can't wait for that!

At the end of the day yesterday we sat down to eat as a family (at my parents' house). Family is definitely the best part of Eating In Place!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Food For Thought Festival

Join us at the Food for Thought Festival today down off the capitol square. It is a staggering confluence of amazing people and ideas.

Also, check out this article from the Capital Times newspaper--great info about where to get local food!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Saturday Fun!

We spent the morning at the Westside Community Farmers' Market serving free trade coffee from Barriques Market and Crossroads Coffeehouse, thanks to Cam Ramsey from Madison Sourdough Bread Company for schlepping it to the market! It was wonderful to speak to so many people who had seen our story in the various papers. Of course our friends knew all about our 100 mile month, but to know that our story struck a chord with people we DON'T know was fabulous! If you are one of those people please leave a comment with your thoughts and stories!

We purchased our groceries at market yesterday, as usual. More apple varieties are in and the corn is dwindling. Red peppers are in full force and winter squash are beginning to make their appearance.

Saturday night we had a rollicking party to thank those who got themselves thoroughly muddy to help us build our mud oven. We made six pizzas in rapid succession and enjoyed the local cheese, meats and produce that made them so delicious.

We have added coffee and chocolate and "distant" wheat back into our diets, we even bought some crackers the other day. Really though, not much has changed since August--it is a yummy and busy time of year!

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Tomorrow morning (Friday 9/7) between 6 and 8 am on AM 620 WTMJ you can hear Scott in an interview he taped today talking about our month of 100 mile eating. I will post a direct link when it is up. The program is called Wisconsin's Morning News. This station is out of Milwaukee! We are happy that our story is hitting the airwaves! Tune in!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Upcoming Events

We will be at the Westside Community Farmers' Market this Saturday (9/8) from 9:00-10:00 serving coffee at the info booth. Stop by and tell us your local eating adventures or surprise us with one of your discoveries.

Plan to attend the ninth annual Food for Thought Festival. There is so much going on, please follow the link and see for yourself! We will be at booth #43 talking about our local eating adventure and we will be right next to the folks from the Wisconsin Eat Local Challenge. Come on down to hear great speakers, learn about what is available here and meet folks who are as interesting as you are!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Saturday, September 1: What is different?

We went to our two markets this morning as usual. The bright sun lit up the vegetables and we had several wonderful conversations with people who have been following our story. What was different about this Saturday? Well, I had already had a pot of coffee by the time we arrived at 7:30 am! We also stopped in at Cafe Soleil for croissants (oh how we've missed you!) Other than that is was business as usual. We bought a quart of chocolate milk today and some prepared pasta from Peter Pasta himself. We also bought cheese and yogurt and milk and apples and pork and bok choi and carrots and jicama and much more. The bounty continues . . .

Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday, August 31: Day 31

Wow! A whole month has gone by! In case you missed the Wisconsin State Journal article, we were also featured in the Isthmus this week. Check out this wonderful interview by Terese Allen.

This marks the official end of the experiment, but we all feel like we've only begun to learn about the food we eat. The question we've been asked (and have been asking ourselves) is. . .

What's next?

We will continue to update the blog—we'll aim for a minimum of twice weekly. In addition to any meaningful discoveries regarding what we're able to find locally, we'll keep our eyes open for references to the topic in the media—news stories or interesting new research. We'll also be sure to post on any events we hear about, hopefully in advance, but after the fact if that's the way it works out. And we will post producer profiles from farms we visit in the coming months.

In that spirit, here are a few upcoming events where we will be participating:
Food for Thought Festival, September 14 & 15. Look for our booth on MLK!
Westside Community Farmers' Market, September 8th at the info booth


From day one this has been a project about trying to spark interest in local eating in as many people as possible. With that in mind, we invite all readers to submit comments with experiences of their own—triumph or tragedy, success or failure. If you have something big to say, email us and maybe we can dedicate a whole post to it.

Was it worth it?

Heck yeah! It wasn't always fun, but it was fascinating, not only for what we learned about our food supply, but also what we learned about ourselves. The biggest thing, though, is what we learned about other people. The number of people who took an interest in this project was far greater than we anticipated, and most of them expressed some interest in local eating themselves. So we'd like to wind up the project with a challenge of sorts: if you have been reading this blog, take stock of where your food comes from and challenge yourself to find a little bit more of it from local sources. Going 100% local isn't for everyone, but you can always do just a little more. So give it a try, and let us know how it goes.

As Ming Tsai says, Peace and good eating.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thursday, August 30—Day 30

Day 30? Can that be? Well, we knew that the month was nearing its end when we were presented with the following gifts:

Yep, we're right back where we started: coffee and chocolate. Many thanks to Laurie, who correctly discerned all of our preferences (dark roast for Jen, dark chocolate for Scott, and milk chocolate for Evie). We are starting to get questions from people about what we're going to eat on Saturday. Tune in and find out. . .

Our menu today:

Breakfast: Pancakes with butter and maple syrup, plus bacon and cider.

Lunch: The normal mid-day miscellany, a combo of Jen's tortilla creations featuring whatever vegetables she could find, plus salsa and cheese, hot dogs, and cut up fruits and veggies (finally finished that watermelon).

Dinner: Cheese pizza. We polished off the last of the 100 mile flour. Homemade tomato sauce with garlic (Harmony Valley Farm) and basil (grown in a bucket in our driveway). Topped with Farmer John's Provonello, which is a wonderful cheese that melts smoothly like mozzarella but has a little bit more assertive flavor. We've all agreed that we've fallen in love with his cheeses all over again.

I predict tomorrow will be an anticlimax--as a practical matter we will be ending the project early because there is a cookout to celebrate the end of Evie's logrolling class. As usual for a Friday, we'll all be in different places for lunch, which will be the last real meal of the experiment. We'll all try to have some deep thoughts for tomorrow.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Wednesday, August 29: Day 29

Who is on your team?

Your doctor? Your accountant? Your lawyer? Your kids’ teachers? Maybe even your mechanic? Your team is those people who understand your needs and take them into account when they provide services to you. You trust your team to look out for you.

Are your food producers on your team? I think they should be. Food producers are the only people whose service you use every single day—the rest of your team you see when something goes wrong (sickness, audit, cracked radiator) or for preventative maintenance.

Throughout this project, we’ve campaigned for people to ask questions of their food suppliers. We've come to accept that we should ask questions of our doctors, to be active participants rather than passive consumers of health care. Are we willing to educate ourselves and become active participants in our food procurement system?

Fine, you say, but what questions do you ask?

It depends what you care about. I'll throw out what I see as some of the issues I have heard people express, just to stir the pot, and I'll also add some questions that have come up in discussions about this with consumers and with producers.

What are the issues? Everybody has their own, but here are some common ones:

1. Chemicals/Toxicity in food
2. Ecosystems and wildlife
3. Genetic diversity/heritage breeds/genetically modified organisms
4. Food miles (distance traveled) and other energy inputs (fertilizer, etc).
5. Small business versus agribusiness
6. Food safety and security
7. Humane treatment of animals
8. Human rights/treatment of workers/immigration

Without trying to create a list of questions specific to each point (because there are certain to be more that I have not thought of), here are some ideas for questions. And I should add that I recommend asking relatively open-ended questions both to avoid suggesting the answer you want to hear, and also to give the farmer the chance to demonstrate how much thought he/she has put into the process.

How do you choose what varieties to grow?

How do you promote soil fertility? (fertilizer, cover crops, rotation, etc).

What are your major pest/disease challenges and how do you deal with them?

Do you participate in any certification programs, such as Certified Organic or Integrated Pest Management?

If products contain other ingredients (such as sausages, jelly, or cheese, for example), what are they and where do they come from? Are any ingredients required by law to be in the product?

Who does the work of harvesting?

Where is your operation located?

Here are a few that are more specific to animals, and these are a bit less open-ended:

Are your animals able to move outdoors? Do they have access to shade and shelter in case of bad weather?

What type of bedding/nesting material do they have?

Are antibiotics or hormones routinely added to feed? If so, for what purpose?

What are the animals fed? Does the feed contain any animal by-products? Where does the feed come from?

How far must the animals travel for slaughter?

Kay Jensen of JenEhr Farm offered me the following recommendation: Write it down. There is bound to be more information than you can remember, and even if you can, you may not know what it all means. So go home and look it up.

On a busy market day, a farmer may be busy and have a hard time getting into specifics with you—please respect that. Maybe you can come at a different time next week, or perhaps you can email your questions (check web sites, many such questions are already answered there). But also realize that if you feel farmers are less than forthcoming with you or are being evasive, you can always find someone else who will shoot straight with you. I recommend finding team members who have sound reasons for doing what they do, and who don't mind telling you about it because they are proud of the work they do. And well they should be—they have chosen to use their work to nourish us, which is the greatest give we could ask of them. And to the farmers out there, my deepest apologies if you are bombarded by a zillion questions as a result of this!

What we ate:

Breakfast: "the usual", toast with butter (running out of peanut butter, yikes!), maple yogurt, cider.

Lunch: Jen had tortillas with Farmer John's cheese and homemade taco sauce and sauteed red onions. Evie and I had hot dogs. We shared watermelon and red pepper.

Dinner: We were invited over to enjoy a 100 mile meal at the home of friends: Summer vegetable ragout, sauteed Jordandal Farm pork, and yummy whole wheat rolls with Brantmeier Farm wheat flour. For dessert, homemade yogurt with Gentle Breeze honey.

Those of you who saw the newspaper article about our project will recall that we said that if we went to a birthday party we would have a piece of cake. Well, happy birthday, Maddie!


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tuesday, August 28: Day 28

Lots of activity today. The biggest thing is probably that the Wisconsin State Journal ran a front page article about our experiment. They came to the house to chat about what we've learned and to take some pictures of us working in the kitchen. The article includes many of the resources that inspired or informed us, and we're hoping some more people will give this a try in whatever way makes sense for them.

Jen made tortillas this morning. In a very uncharacteristic move, she read the instructions carefully, and it was well worth it--by far the best tortillas we've made so far. I am officially fired as tortilla maker. Here she rinses the corn after it has soaked overnight in the lye bath to dissolve the seed coats and soften the kernels.

Later in the morning we went raspberry picking at Blue Skies Berry Farm. We learned from the owner that, "if you take care of your soil, your soil will take care of you." What she meant was that thanks to the many improvements they have made to the quality of their soil and their drainage, they were able to withstand 16 inches of rain in 2 weeks and lose nothing more than a few rows of beets and carrots.
We got a mix of orange and red berries. We're drying some, eating some fresh, and putting up some puree to fight off scurvy in the dark of winter.

In the afternoon, Jen and Evie, along with some neighborhood friends, stomped the grapes we gleaned from the neighborhood. Jen then made them into delicious grape jelly—for consumption after the experiment due to its refined sugar content.

Today's menu:

Breakfast: Toast and cider.

Lunch: Tortillas with cheese and a red chile sauce I threw together with tomato, jalapeno, onion, garlic, herbs, and vinegar.

Gnocchi with italian sausuage and swiss chard. The gnocchi were a bit dense due to the fact that I have not found any starchy potatoes yet--mostly still seeing waxy boiling/roasting potatoes. And the whole wheat flour probably contributed, too. But we did have real-live sheep's milk ricotta to make them with. Dessert was (what else?) raspberries and whipped cream.

We made a great new friend while berry picking at Blue Skies:

Frogs are considered excellent indicators of toxicity in the environment because they absorb everything through their skins. This guy was perched way up near the top of the foliage in a shady spot—I can't imagine how he got all the way up those prickly canes without getting cut to ribbons. But I will take him to be a sign of good things happening at Blue Skies. We nestled into the rows along with so many honeybees and bumblebees that the buzzing was constant (and soothing). With happy wildlife, robust and resilient soil, and a plentiful and delicious crop, I'd say they are onto something.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Monday, August 27: Day 27

Today the blueberries were finished drying so the poblano peppers went in. We boiled more corn for masa and are letting it soak overnight. I plucked the grapes off the stems in preparation for stomping tomorrow, sewed a jelly bag and made peanut butter. NOTE: The jelly will require non-100 mile sugar so it won't be eaten until after Sept. 1 but I am preparing some things for winter.

Breakfast was toasted baguette with peanut butter and cider. Lunch was a variation on my usual tortilla lunch. This time it was cheese curds, hot hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, jalapenos and onions. We were invited to dinner at the home of friends, they were excited to try cooking a local meal. We had wonderful chicken from Ken Ruegsegger courtesy of the Paoli Local Foods shop. We also had potatoes, corn and bread with yummy chevre cheese. We had local wine from Weggy Winery and watermelon for dessert. We also had whole milk and black raspberry smoothie from Blue Marble Micro Dairy . It was a wonderful evening and we so appreciate those who have invited us over and taken the time to think about food and buy it locally.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday, August 26: Day 26

Lots of delicious happenings here today. With our neighbors' permission we gleaned both apples and grapes from our neighborhood today. We may have an old fashioned grape stomp here tomorrow! I am drying blueberries (thank you Ruth!), when those are done the poblano peppers will go in. There are peanuts waiting to be shelled and smashed. Evie came up with a brilliant way of collecting the seeds off of some dill plants given to us by friends. I think some sauerkraut is in our future! I heard geese honking this morning in that "south flying" sort of way, I have made my list of foods I still need to preserve--it is long and this week will involve canning and freezing to be sure.

was fresh wheat bran muffins with raspberries and whipped cream on the side (it is Sunday after all). For lunch I baked some of our older corn tortillas in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes (having already cut them into wedges) and we made nachos! Delicious! For dinner we have the answer to "what do I do with all this summer squash?" It is a Japanese dish that was introduced to us by friends many years ago amidst another zucchini tidal wave. Okonomiyaki means, basically, "things you like, cooked the way you like." Or the way our friends used to explain it, "things you like, fried!" Tonight our okonomiyaki has red onions, zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, bacon and cheese, bound together with egg and flour and fried up with bacon fat. Lovely green beans on the side.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saturday, August 25: Day 25

The markets were a bit subdued today as farmers figure out how much has been lost to the floods. Several of the usual folks were not there, maybe that was on their schedule, maybe not. Richard de Wilde of Harmony Valley Farm looked haggard and sad, other farmers were expressing their relief that their crops and animals were okay.

I found out today that our wonderful peanuts are being grown by Silvan and Avis Disch THANK YOU!!!!

We purchased a wonderful array of things today, the apples are really starting to come in while corn is beginning to wane. Fall raspberries are showing up, we are hoping to go pick at our favorite raspberry farm on Monday.

Breakfast was the last of our bread (Scott comes home tomorrow, thank goodness) with cider and milk. Lunch was eggs with cheese curds, salsa, carrots and the first of the season's pears. Dinner was a thrown together number by me that was fabulous! I made a cheesy flatbread with some leftover dough and then I made broccoli romanesco. The crazy crucifer is delicious raw but tonight I sauteed it in butter, garlic, chicken stock and salt. Evie kept exclaiming, "MMMMM! This bite was even better than the last one!!" She and I both dearly love anything from the cruciferous family. The whole meal took maybe 15 minutes to make (having preheated the oven) that's a keeper!

Last day of remote posts from Massachusetts. . .

. . . and it was a good one. As is the case in so many places, Saturday means Farmers' Market in Maynard, MA. There is no question that by our usual standards it is tiny—just a few vendors. But those who do show up can have so much impact on what you eat. Here is an overview:

We were there more for research than to shop, but we did get a few things. Balance Rock Farm has a wide selection of meat and dairy: beef, pork, chicken, milk, cheese (cow's milk and goat), plus eggs and butter. A real find! We bought some bacon, sausage, and eggs. We also visited Applefield Farm for some veggies and fruit: tomatoes, melon, and onion. They have a great selection of produce, including these:

I was thrilled that the Maynard Farmers' market, small though it is, could provide so much. And it is interesting to note that both of the vendors we bought from employ organic methods but don't feel they can justify the cost of organic certification.

We brought that goodness back home and made up some pizzas. Here are two:

The foreground is a pizza caprese: olive oil (not local, of course) with heirloom tomatoes, mozzerella, and basil. The background is local potatoes, local caramelized onions, local rosemary, and imported proscuitto (it was left over from something else) and parmesan cheese. Not shown was a tomato and cheese pie with the local sausage we bought at the market.

So as my trip comes to an end, I am in a position to draw some conclusions. Local food is available, even here in the east-coast suburbs. Maybe not quite as many things as we've been accustomed to in the bountiful midwest, but if you want to, you really can buy a considerable portion of your food from local producers, which is pretty cool. Most of the farms in these areas are being coveted by real estate developers and are potentially worth millions of dollars as building lots. So if you like looking at farms near where you live, find out what you can buy to help support them and keep those farmers on the land. Otherwise you may find that beautiful pasture will someday soon contain a crop of McMansions.

Fresco Restaurant Farm Dinner Benefit

Click on the image to read the details or check out Fresco's website. Then go eat!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday, August 24: Day 24

I never get tired of the taste of freshness. For breakfast this morning I made tortillas with cheese, eggs, jalepenos, onions and tomatoes--again. Always delicious, always satisfying. For lunch I was working so I made a lunch I could eat on the run. I cut up half a head of napa cabbage (thanks Vermont Valley Community Farm) and some red peppers Then I made a dressing from peanut butter (big surprise), cider vinegar, honey, hot peppers and garlic--very yummy. I drank a blueberry smoothie (yogurt and blueberries) and ate an apple.

Dinner was at The Roman Candle a Buy fresh, Buy Local participant. We talked to the owner, Brewer (his name not his title). He said reliability and availability are the biggest obstacles for restaurant owners when it comes to buying local. They do go over to the Eastside Farmer's Market to buy tomatoes for their caprese salald, and they are trying to source all local basil for their pesto. They currently buy fruits and veggies from a local purveyor but not all the food is grown locally.

It seems the connections are not yet easy enough for restaurant owners to take advantage of what is grown here. Here's an idea right from the Farmers Diner Scott posted about a few days ago: How about a central commissary where fresh, local food can be processed and then delivered to local restaurants in the same form they can get from Sysco or other big providers? The chicken can be broken up the same way line cooks are used to, cheese can be shredded, veggies prepped--an idea like this would provide jobs and make local food a viable and reliable option for local restaurants. Something to pursue?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thursday, August 23: Day 23

We are still reporting on our eating adventures from two locations. Scott's Massachusetts musings follow my Madison meanderings.

Today life conspired to make our day a busy one. The rain that has devastated farmers also crept into my parents' basement so we worked to get that cleaned up and ate was at hand for lunch (yummy french toast by the way). Breakfast had been dryish bread because our electricity was out and we couldn't toast. Dinner was wonderful calzones made with dough I actually made! (Scott's recipe of course.) They came out really well. Mine had broccoli inside, Evie has her broccoli on the side. Tomorrow will be our one "eating out" adventure this month, Fridays are always crazy and tomorrow will be no exception. We will be picking a restaurant from the Buy Fresh, Buy Local list. Not all the ingredients in our meal will be from within 100 miles but we will be making a choice to support a local business who is buying local food. None of this is about 100% compliance to a dogma 100% of the time. It is about thinking about where your food comes from and keeping it close to home.

Eating locally: hard to start, but easy to do.

As we’ve noted elsewhere, once you track down your sources and get into a routine, getting even a large proportion of your food locally is not that difficult. For the past week I’ve been out of town, visiting my mother in Massachusetts. It’s been a struggle to locate many local resources in the short period of time I’ve been here. There are several farmstands nearby that have fruits and vegetables, but eggs, meat, and dairy are more difficult. The state department of agriculture does maintain a website to help locate local products, but most of the providers are in a different part of the state. If we lived here, it would not be a difficult decision to make a trip a couple of times a year and stock up on things that will keep. And there is a local chicken producer, but they are sold out for the year. To me, that demonstrates that the interest is there.

Yesterday I went to an outpost of a large national chain specializing in natural and organic foods, hoping they might have some local meat. Despite the fact that our checkout cashier was sporting a “buy local” pin, most of the veggies were from California and all of the meat came from “the middle of the country”, and to top it off, the beef was corn-fed. Very disappointing.

New England is a small region. A 100 mile radius from where I am could blast you right through New Hampshire and deep into Maine, so boundaries are not a good tool for determining what is local. And while eastern Massachusetts is getting very urban, there is still a lot of agriculture in the western part of the state, and plenty to choose from in the northern part of the region. If you do your homework and are willing to learn where the stuff is, there is a lot to choose from.

But the fact remains that if you breeze in for a short while, it is hard to just slip into local eating. It takes a good amount of research and a fair bit of legwork to track it all down in a new place. Our way of life (that's the big "our") is just not set up to make this easy. And you don't want to spend all your travel time chasing down food. Or maybe you do—could this be a new kind of tourism?

A highlight: we did have dinner at a great restaurant called Stone Hearth Pizza. The menu is mostly pizzas, both classics and interesting new combinations. They take a lot of pride in sourcing ingredients locally, and in fact have a sheet that names their key suppliers and even spotlights one on a rotating basis. There are lots of local beers to choose from, but it looked to me like most of the wines were from elsewhere. All in all, it was a great experience: good local food prepared well and enjoyed in the company of friends.

Tasty pizza:

And a view of the open prep area and the gas-fired oven:

If you find yourself in the Boston area, give Stone Hearth Pizza a try: they have 3 locations to choose from. And either way, visit them on the web to learn about what they are doing. Producer profiles are under the "Community" tab.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wednesday, August 22: Day 22

I wish we had a fabulous new recipe to post or exciting news about a recent find. Instead it continues to rain here and we are just sick about the farms that are now under water. It is interesting to note that little attention is being paid to food with Scott away, Evie and I are fairly easy to please and would rather play than cook. I am sure we will both be craving some more elaborate dishes by the time he gets home, but for know we are back to the old standbys: Breakfast of peanut butter toast, lunch was grilled cheese and dinner was noodles and broccoli. Nothin' fancy but all delicious. I am amazed at how easy this month has been. Of course there are things we have missed, but eating 100% local has become routine. I know we will shop differently after this month is over. I know I will preserve more food this year and I am more grateful than ever to the farmers who live and work here, allowing us to eat in place.


It has been raining off and on in Wisconsin for almost a week now. There is heavy flooding closer to MN and further south from Madison. Many farmers are hard hit, some will never recover and the farms will be gone. Harmony Valley has had 17 inches. Click here to read more.

Please continue to use your dollars to support local farmers, if you have the time and proximity pull on a pair of boots and help out.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tuesday, August 21—Day 21

A short order revolution. . .

That's what it says above the counter at The Farmer's Diner in Queechee, Vermont, which is where I had lunch today. It is a real live diner—it's even in an old railcar, see?

Still not convinced? Here's the inside:

What's so revolutionary about a diner? This one happens to source all of its bulk ingredients (meat, dairy, produce in season, and baked goods) from within a 60 mile radius. That's big. They had to make a lot of special arrangements to get this to work, but it's working. They are putting finishing touches on a second location.

As I've noted elsewhere, I am not so much a fancy-food kind of guy. So a place that dishes up diner classics done very well that are also local to their area is perfect for me.

You have to love a place that that has Wendell Berry's The Mad Farmer Liberation Front reprinted on the front of the menu!

The food? I'm pleased to say that it is everything you would hope for in diner food: quality and taste were great and portions were generous but not insane. Here is what I ate:

That's half of a bacon cheesburger and half of a pulled pork sandwich, with fries on the side. When you can't decide what to eat, you go halfsies with your dining companion (thanks, Mom). Not shown is the milkshake that came a bit later.

Here is how this stacks up relative to our dietary guidelines: All the meat and dairy are fully compliant. The bun (which was one of the best sandwich buns I've ever had) was baked locally using some imported ingredients. The fries were from local potatoes, and the shake was made from local milk and cream but contained some non-local ingredients (sugar and—gasp—chocolate. Really, what would you have done?). The garnish is local, but we forgot to ask about the pickle.

The pulled pork rocked: succulent and tender, it just melted in your mouth. The burger was also first class—really as good as you can do without going to open-flame grilling (it's a diner, so that means it is constitutionally required to cook burgers on a flat-top grill). 100% grassfed beef, of course.

In the entryway they have a map that identifies where it all comes from, and the back of the menu proudly identifies their key suppliers:

They didn't have a T-shirt to buy, but we did get the bumper sticker:

'Nuff said!

Not much to report from the WI front. Food is no longer utmost in our minds since Scott left us with plenty of bread and sifted flour. Breakfast was peanut butter toast and cider. Lunch was tortillas, eggs and toppings for Jen, hot dog and carrots for Evie, blueberries for both.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Monday, August 20: Day 20

Today we went to Troy Gardens on the north side of Madison.

"On 31-acres of urban property, Troy Gardens integrates mixed-income green-built housing, community gardens, an organic farm, and restored prairie and woodlands."
It was glorious! A friend has three plots there but we hadn't been in over two years. We visited the kid's garden, picked tomatoes, gathered eggs, walked the prairie and took in the smells and sounds.

This is the chicken

that gave us these eggs

to make this sandwich.

We were forwarded an interesting report regarding the US Food Supply Chain, please read through it if you have the time. It is an analysis of the question of Local vs. Organic From Far Away. It is quantitative and looks at individual food products not just broad generalizations about all foods taken together.

Breakfast was peanut butter toast and cider.
Lunch was egg sandwiches, carrots and apples.
Dinner was JenEhr chicken, edamame and roasted potatoes with herbs we got from Troy Gardens.

We also made mint tea today from Chocolate Mint we are growing in our driveway. We made peanut butter and honey cookies too. I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me to make peanut butter cookies before, they adapt to our mileage requirements perfectly. They are delicious! We added a little whipped cream tonight because whipped cream makes everything better.