The Real Deal

Yesterday was the first day of our experimental diet but I felt a bit like a cheater because we used one of our exceptions right off the bat by eating dinner at Local 360.

Today, though, aha!

Breakfast was fine–a fresh fruit smoothie and some toast from “the pantry.” Yeah, OK, another loophole. :/

Lunch, however…Ian and I were both at work downtown and had failed to prepare/bring sack lunches. Thursdays we typically get together for a lunch date anyhow, so met up and headed to Pike Place without much of a plan beyond I wanted to find nuts.

The market is FULL of delicious local foods, but we learned today that it’s pretty slim on prepared local foods. There’s produce a-plenty and butchers and cheese stands, but none of the restaurants specialize in putting it all together, at least not with non-local staples thrown into the mix.

Well, we found some nuts! So we had cashews from some nut stand and smoothies from Tiny’s for lunch, not bad at all. Salty protein and sweet energy had me feeling pretty good all the way to dinnertime (which was full of Beecher’s cheesy goodness). However, lesson learned–tomorrow I’ll remember to brown-bag it.

An Experimental August

Last autumn I read the book The 100 Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating. Written by a couple living in an apartment in Vancouver (BC), it felt very relevant to me, a city-dwelling wannabe farmer with weird obsessions with the idea of amassing what I call “pioneer skills” and the pursuit of experiencing The Laaaand in as many ways as possible. They wrote a lot about the difficulty of finding specific ingredients and some emotional stuff, but the parts that were by far the most interesting to me were the stretches of natural history of the surrounding area. An area that is both close and similar to The Laaaaand and sea around Seattle.

“The Laaaaand,” by the way, must be said in a purposefully funny, exaggerated voice every time. How else to reference–mostly to myself–a whole philosophy that I hold with complete sincerity while also being aware that it’s pretty ridiculous, mostly unrelate-able, and ultimately pointless. I like the stories mountains tell, the history in soil, the amazing influence of small streams and rivers. Animal population ebb and flow and how humans effect all of that is all just amazing to me. I like smelling the different smells and eating anything I can right off of a bush or a tree, and tasting the difference between things grown in different climates. I like feeling a nice breeze while eye-ballin’ a big rock that’s been gradually carved away by just such breezes. You could put a hippie-dippy spin on it being about connecting to shit but that’s sadly not it at all. It’s just, you know, life. It’s not inherently a good thing, but it feels important to take pause all the same.

SO! The Laaaaand. That’s what it’s all about.

At any rate, I was pretty jazzed about the idea of trying a local diet. Not for a full year like they did, and most likely not restricted to 100 miles, but still, I was pretty confident that the Puget Sound would have even more plentiful food sources than they had up in the Salish Sea. However, since it was fall, I tabled the idea after warning Ian that I was likely to propose a-somethin’ something in the spring or summertime. And here we are!

This month we’re doing a 200 mile diet, with a few life-easing caveats.

1) Because Ian works a lot of unexpected overtime these days it’s OK for him to eat whatever his work feeds him when he stays late.
2) The idea of not eating avocados while local tomatoes are in season made me too sad, so I get to eat those from California.
3) The Pantry Rule lets us eat anything we already have in the kitchen so it doesn’t go to waste.
4) We can scrap the rules when we go over to friends’ and family’s places and get fed so we don’t have to ungracious.
5) And we don’t have to be entirely hermetic because we have a 1 restaurant green light for Local 360, which doesn’t fit our 200 mile radius but does source everything from the Pacific Northwest.

The main rule is we can’t buy any food that comes from outside a 200 mile radius.

I’m most excited to see what my home tastes like and experience the summer season in a new and complete way. EXTREME TERROIR! Hehe!

Summer Garden Salad

Salad Fixins
1 cup mixed salad greens, rinsed and revitalized
1 large zucchini, shaved into ribbons on a mandelin, torn into bite size pieces
1 ear of husked corn, broken in half
1/2 pound green beans, cut into 2″ pieces
1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 slice of Field Roast’s “celebration roast,” diced

2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoons stone-ground mustard
1 shallot, diced
A drizzle honey
A few grinds black pepper
Dash sea salt

Set water in a fairly deep but not necessarily large steamer over high heat. Once it’s reached a rolling boil, add the 2 corn on the cob halves to the water. Place the steamer basket on top and plop the green beans in, cover and steam for 5-8 minutes. Remove the green beans and transfer to a cold bowl. After a few more minutes remove the corn and set on a cutting board to cool.

Add a dash of olive oil to a frying pan and place over medium heat. In goes the celebration roast! Toss to coat and keep an eye on it. Stir occasionally and cook until golden brown with some crisp edges. Remove from heat.

Make the dressing in a small mixing bowl. Add orange juice, balsamic vinegar, mustard, shallots, honey, salt and pepper, and whisk together. Continue whisking while you add EVOO in a slow stream.

Add all ingredients–except the dressing–to a large salad bowl. At this point the salad can be transported or refridgerated for later. Add dressing and toss to combine and coat thoroughly right before serving.


Spring Risotto

Whipped together a pretty yumtastic spring meal tonight, using mostly cupboard and fridge staples but wih some delicious fresh seasonal goodies. Warning–these measurements are super approximate!

Spring Risotto
3+ cups veggie broth
2+ cups milk
1 cup pre-made pesto
1-2 cups (unpacked/loose) Parmesan-Reggiano
1-2 lbs fresh asparagus, ends snapped off (1/3 tips removed, 2/3 chop into 1-2″ pieces)
1-2 cups frozen peas
1/2 cup quinoa
2 cups arborio rice

Heat some EVOO over medium heat, tadd rice and quinoa, and toss to coat. Toast for about 2 minutes. Add a cup veggie broth and stir fairly continuously. Bring the broth to a simmer and add remaining broth and milk a cup at a time as it gets absorbed into the rice (don’t cover). Continue to add liquid until rice is cooked through and consistency is creamy and thick. This will take a good while–give it good attention.

Meanwhile, boil a medium sized lot of water. Blanch the stems of 1/3 of the asparagus, scoop out of the water, and purée in Magic Bullet or food processor (add some pesto if moisture would ease the process). Plop the purée into the now-coming-together risotto, along with all the pesto. Return water to boiling and blanch the rest of the asparagus. Add peas and asparagus to risotto. Add Parmesan and incorporate well. Heck YES dudes!

I served this with a green salad (Butterhead and some red variety) with paper-thin radishes, almond slices, diced fresh chives, and this delightful dressing: 1 lemon’s zest, 1 lemon’s juice, a good dollop of stoneground mustard, drizzle honey, EVOO, salt & pepper. Very light and bright and the perfect accompaniment to rich risotto!