United States Chef
Trying to grow, buy, cook and eat local (most of the time)
Barbara Kingsolver, Barbara Kingsolver, what have you done?
In the fall of 2009, we listened to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (read by the author) as we drove to Colorado. We were intrigued and began planning our own experiment with eating local. We started by visiting the Longmont Farmers’ Market while we were on our trip. What a find. We stocked up on heirloom potatoes, garlic and radishes. (We also bought some dried pasta that, while it wasn’t really local, was delicious.)
When to begin? It was October and our growing season was over. I had heard about the couple who wrote Plenty and was somewhat aware of the 100-mile diet. I certainly did not want to begin like them—eating beets until the first thaw. So, we discussed, planned, and formulated our plan of attack for eating local. But, not until the spring!
I felt like we were on the right track. We generally bought our beef and pork from a local farm family. (I had gown up on a cattle ranch and I was used to grass-fed beef. I could hardly stand to buy beef at the grocery store.) I could get eggs at times from a friend at work. We had planned to build a greenhouse and already had the slab poured for it. Obviously, we felt, we were on our way to living “off the fat o’ the land.” But, not until the spring!
This did become the impetus for actually getting the green house underway. By February, we were planting flats of lettuce, spinach, carrots, and radishes in the green house. Soon we were eating fresh salads.
So, we are gearing up for our own adventure in trying to eat local AND healthier. Since we are not starting until spring, these are the initial ground rules that we have created:
*Staples don’t count: We will still frequent our grocery store to buy what we consider staples: sugar, spices, flour, etc. (I am looking for a local flour source though.)
* Luxury items do count: Kingsolver and her family each picked a luxury item. We decided that we would not go that hard core. We would just use moderation.
*Can and freeze and put-by: I was going to pull out the antique cookbooks and revisit the extension service on ways to “put food by.”
*Grow what we can: We have more than doubled our garden size and built a greenhouse.
*Buy the rest: We are fortunate to live in an area that has a large and fabulous Farmers’ Market plus a smaller and more local midweek market. We also live within 100 miles of a vegetable growing mecca.
(I am sure that we will modify these rules as we go along!)
So, many apologies to Kingsolver and the couple who wrote Plenty. I have no illusions that we will be able to be as dedicated as they. But, hopefully this will be a project we can enjoy together (i.e. gardening and green housing) as well as an experiment in eating healthy. (I also maintain we can live cheaper, but my husband has his doubts.)
This all being said, I think that more information about the ultimate purpose of our blog would be helpful to the reader. Yes, while Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was the catalyst for this blog, we want to include other things as well.
Please be aware that you might find tales about our travels, cooking and recipes (including nostalgic family recipes), restaurants we visit, experiences with our new green house, the tribulations of mastering new hobbies, and many other (hopefully) entertaining anecdotes. (And, did I mention I was OCD about recipe contests?) Hope you enjoy.
It seems like I have always been in the kitchen with Grandmother, Grandma or Mom. Mom was a home economics teacher so my sister and I started learning to cook early. We entered breads and cookies through 4-H in the county fairs and participated in such esteemed events as the "Cake and Egg Show" and the "Sausage and Cheese Festival."
- Gourmet Cookbook (The Yellow One) (Ruth Reichl)
Chefs I recommend
- Michael Smith (Kansas City, MO)
- One of the best meals I have ever had!
- Stephanie Izard (Chicago, IL)
- Love her chickpea fritters!
Restaurants I Recommend
- Michael Smith (Kansas City, MO)
- Jim Gould (Champaign, IL)
- Fine, relaxed, casual dining. Great calamari!
- Big Truck Tacos (Oklahoma City, OK)
- Fun find! Look for it on FoodNetwork's next season of Great Food Truck Race.
- The Canebrake (Wagoner, OK)
- Extra Virgin (Kansas City, MO, MO)
- Michael Smith's small place casual restaurant. Food was great. Service was only adequate. (Did get to see Chef Smith sitting at the bar conducting interviews, though!) And, there is a definite story behind this picture.
- Girl and the Goat (Chicago, IL)
- Despite the pub from "Top Chef," this is the genuine article. Chef Izard was cooking on the line for all to see. Great small plates. Love the roasted cauliflower. http://eliotseats.com/?p=4140
- Full Circle Bookstore Cafe (Oklahoma City, OK)
- Love this independent bookstore and adjacent cafe (even though when I asked for only one pump of hazelnut in my skinny latte I got an eye roll). Their cookies and gelato are great! Recently went to serving wine and beer.
- El Meson (Santa Fe, NM)
- Great tapas place!
- Harry's Roadhouse (Santa Fe, NM)
- Great little place! We sat at the bar and had great service. Food was excellent!
- Tavern on Brady (Tulsa, OK)
- Herbed olives, deviled eggs, Tavern burger, Bengali gimlet...these are must haves.
- Go West (Tulsa, OK)
- Upscale cowboy cuisine.