Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Penny-Wise Eat Local Challenge: Day 3

As the week progresses, I'm finding it's both easier and more difficult to eat completely locally and to stay on a budget. I've got plenty of food stashed away, which means I'm not hurting for my usual veggie fix, but convenience food is scarce, so I'm spending a little more time in the kitchen making things from scratch. And yet, it's all working out wonderfully.

This morning I had some extra time before work to make a batch of cornmeal-maple biscuits from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook. Because I'm out of whole wheat flour that was milled locally, I substituted spelt flour to go along with the cornmeal (both local). Baking powder and salt, as with some other basic baking ingredients, I didn't expect to find locally, but the butter, egg, milk, and maple syrup included in the batch all came from nearby. I think I may have been too sleepy to be allowed to bake, as I seemed to have gotten the proportions off a bit, ending up with flat spreading biscuits, but they tasted just fine topped with more of that local butter and a dollop of homemade "Grand Old Jam" (blueberry, strawberry, and Grand Marnier).


They're simple and homely little biscuits, capable of taking on sweet toppings or savory, and they filled the need for starchy food that I missed in yesterday's breakfast. Along with the biscuits, I also enjoyed a glass of local grape juice and a cup of herbal tea that included some dried raspberry leaves from my old garden.

For lunch, I packed a couple slices of that delectable broccoli pizza to take with me to work, enjoying them over a good book instead of walking out in the pouring rain for my lunchtime exercise. (Sigh.)

By dinner time, the day had turned dreary, damp, and chilly, and I was really craving pasta. But since I had no locally produced pasta in the cupboard, nor did I think I had time to try and make pasta before my dance class, I was stumped. I had plenty of thawed vegetables in the refrigerator waiting to be used, and I briefly considered repeating the morning's biscuits along with a vegetable salad or stew.

And then it occurred to me: dumplings! If I made a stew from the vegetables, I could make dumpling dough and drop it into the pot of simmering vegetables to let everything cook together and make a hearty meal. Genius!

So I quickly sauteed garlic and shallots, adding in some fresh thyme and oregano, and then I dumped in edamame, corn, small whole carrots, and a jar of canned tomatoes, bringing the mixture to a boil before turning it down to a simmer.

Then I made the dumpling dough from a mixture of spelt and whole wheat flours, a touch of baking powder and salt, more fresh herbs, a local egg yolk, and local milk. When the stew had simmered long enough, I dropped small spoonfuls into the liquid and let them cook away.

At last, I had a bowl full of all that good local produce!


It's not glamorous, but boy! did that hit the spot! I followed it up with a cup of hot chocolate made from scratch, and though of course the chocolate wasn't local, the milk sure was!

All in all, it turned out to be a very good day for making good local meals, and I even managed to avoid the pitfall of quick-fix snacks that would definitely not have fit my criteria for the week. (I don't expect to escape them all week, but I'm going to try.)

Today's meals turned out to be very inexpensive, too: based on servings, I'd say I spent about $4.25 on food today, if you can believe it! If you're keeping track, that means I've spent just under $13.50 on food (not including the $15 for lunch out yesterday), so I'm doing really well with the budget this week.

And with plenty of leftovers so far, I think I'll be able to stretch it out even further!

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