Sunday, April 29, 2007

Penny-Wise Eat Local Challenge: Day 7

Today wraps up the Penny-Wise Eat Local Challenge, and I bet you're wondering how I rounded out the week, right?

One of the benefits to this week's Challenge has been that not only has it encouraged me both to plan my meals better while also being more open to experimentation in order to use up what I've opened or thawed, but it also has meant less waste. For example, I thawed a bag of frozen local corn at the beginning of the week. There were maybe 2 cups of corn kernels in the bag, but I stretched that corn through stew with dumplings and vegetable patties before using the rest up this morning in corn pancakes.

I feel like I've eaten an awful lot of corn this week, so it's a good thing I like it... a LOT. But really, I think a lot of people would be hard pressed to pass up homemade corn pancakes, made with local egg, milk, butter, cornmeal, spelt flour, and, of course, corn. It's even harder to say no to these pancakes when they're topped with a dab of local butter and some homemade blueberry-ginger chutney.

I finished off the quart of grape juice I'd pulled for the week and followed up breakfast with a cup of Midsummer Dream Blend herbal tea with local honey. A refreshing way to start a bright and sunny day!

After a lovely walk in the park, followed by a morning of letter writing and other such leisurely activities, I decided to devour the remaining two vegetable patties (with more of the Archivist's fantastic sweet pepper relish, of course) for a light lunch before heading out to the Hungarian pastry shop for my usual Sunday writing retreat. I admit it, I splurged on decidedly un-local stuff -- coffee and a slice of gerbaud, a pastry with thin layers of cake interspersed with raspberry preserves and topped with a thin layer of dark chocolate -- but since I also believe in supporting local small businesses, I didn't feel as though I was "cheating" on the Challenge all that much.

I spent the afternoon with a friend, which included a stroll to the county fairgrounds to visit the home and garden show, and while there, we enjoyed scoops of locally-made old-fashioned ice cream that reminded me of small-town summer days long ago. What a treat!

By the time I got around to making dinner, I wasn't up for making much. I had thought about making another pizza in order to have food for the coming week's lunches, but I decided instead to enjoy some more homemade pasta. After cooking the bowties, I sauteed a couple cloves of local garlic, some chopped pecans (not local to me, but local to my friend Sojourner, who sent them late last year), fresh rosemary from my herb "garden," and a few chopped carrots (from the freezer), then tossed the pasta back in and added a little olive oil for a simple, fragrant, and delicious dinner.

After dinner, I sat down and added up the day's food expenses. Thanks to two treats out, it came to $12.50, which really isn't too bad, all things considered. That meant my total for the week came to just over $59, well under the 1-person budget limit of $68. Yippee!

To celebrate, I pulled out the bottle of Vignoles I'd had chilling in the refrigerator and enjoyed a glass (about $3 worth, if I'm still keeping track!) of sweet white wine made by a local winery. Why not? I'm feeling pretty good that I manage to store enough food this past year in order to make it this far into the spring with enough local food to meet this Challenge. And I look forward to this year's farmers' market... and more food preservation for next year.

Tomorrow, I'm sure I'll tuck into some of my non-local foods again, simply because I already have them around and don't want them to go to waste. But a week's worth of eating locally on a budget has definitely raised my awareness, and I'm sure I'll be incorporating the things I've learned and the attitudes I've developed more and more into my way of eating.

For those of you who hope or plan to try this Challenge at a later time, when you have more local foods available to you, I encourage you to do it and enjoy it. I think you'll find that even though it might result in more kitchen work over the week, you'll appreciate the connection to your food even more, and you may even find yourself feeling a little bit changed for the better. Let me know how it works for you!

Thanks to the folks at Eat Local Challenge for inspiring this week! And thanks to all my Dear Readers for their support!


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