Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Getting into the groove

I'm actually surprised at how natural it already feels to be doing as much local eating as we're doing. Without any specific plan or effort, almost all of our dinners for the past two weeks were based primarily on local foods, except for ingredients that aren't available locally such as salt, pepper, oil, balsamic vinegar, and lemon. The major ingredients that weren't local were either organic (polenta, lemon), or using up the last of things that were in the freezer from before this journey began (shrimp), or our only option for a meal that we could all share that our elder granddaughter would actually eat (pasta).

It feels good. I'm not putting any effort whatsoever into losing weight, but I've lost 8 pounds. I found out firsthand what my body feels like when I stuff it too full for too long with too few veggies. I'm getting to know the people who provide my food, and the farms on which it's all produced:
  • Tim and Aspen Bell at my CSA, Community Organics, who have introduced me to more new veggies than I'd imagined possible (new today: kohlrabi, which to me looks like an alien life form and feels like a bumpy lead-heavy softball) and to the joys of pastured beef.
  • Lisa and Brooks Truitt at Swallow Acres Farm, a new CSA in my town where I get flowers (last week an all-herbal bouquet) and whatever produce "Farmer Tim" doesn't have that week, and who introduced me to the joys of shallots.
  • Carolyn Donald at The Farm where I just picked up three delicious freshly processed pastured chickens from her organic chicken farm (plus an extra helping of chicken livers --seriously YUM when they're from organic chickens!)
  • Andy Meddick of Good For You Organic Market and Farm, where I get much of my other foods including things that will never be local in Delaware (citrus, avocados, and olive oils to name just a few), and delicious prepared foods made from local organic ingredients.
  • My friend Bill Stevenson of Eggs of a Feather, who has many times gifted me with eggs, chicken-poop enriched leaf mulch for my garden, the offer to teach me how to fillet fresh regionally caught bluefish, and his friendship.
What's delightful is that I now know these people. I have had enjoyable multi-faceted conversations with most of them. I have seen their farms and farming practices. I have watched them pull foods from the ground that I'm preparing and eating just a short time later. I have petted their goats, been chased by their geese, and held their babies. There is not only no substitute for truly fresh foods, there is equally no substitute for these connections to where my foods are grown, prepared, and distributed.

What's equally wonderful to me is that I'm glorying in reconnecting with what has always been one of my favorite creative outlets: Cooking. I've always loved to cook, and started doing all the cooking for my family when I was 14; I was the only kid in college who, instead of going home for a home-cooked meal, would call to say I'd be home and hear, "Oh!! Wonderful! I've been missing good food! What do you want me to pick up from the store for you to cook?" I've always been a creative cook who finds it very difficult to follow a recipe since I have an almost obsessive need to tweak it to make it my own, not always with the best results but sometimes with spectacular results. I love cookbooks, cooking magazines, cooking website sites and forums, but they exist in my life for inspiration, not to dictate how I make things.

Anyway, with cooking as my creative outlet, it feels like I'm an artist who has been cranking out paint-by-numbers for the past several years, and that I've finally once again pulled out my oils and canvases and reconnected with my muse. I never quite imagined that I'd find so much inspiration in the season's first cherry tomatoes, in an overabundance of greens, in a bunch of radishes, or in a trout that was swimming just an hour before I picked it up.

Life is good. So's the food.

1 comment:

Verde said...

What a deep joy the simple pleasures of life bring.

It makes me wish I lived closer to a community like that. I'd like to gather up everyone from these blogs and have us all be neighbors.

It sounds as if we are the same kind of cook. I like tweeking a recipe and it is not always for the better either.