By the numbers: July 2008

July numbers:

Three month comparison:

At the start of this whole thing, I suspected that while we may find ourselves spending more on produce than we normally do – our diets on the whole would improve without a substantial overall increase in food spending. After three months, the numbers support this conclusion. We’re spending about the same amounts as we were before starting to shop at the market – but we’re getting gorgeous fresh things, meat and cheeses straight from the producers, wonderful baked goods made from local ingredients instead of overly processed snacks or produce with a ridiculous amount of packaging that can’t be reused. Our milk, chicken, and the odd packaged meal (for those nights when cooking is just not going to happen) still come from the store, as do staples like olive oil, kitty litter, and sandwich bags – but on the whole I think we’re doing quite well!

Eating and Growing Locally: Week 13

Eating:

  • In an attempt to like cauliflower, I roasted a head of the purple stuff.  It was pretty tasty, but I’m still not convinced.
  • A LOT of blueberry pancakes last weekend when Erin Fae was here.
  • Peach ice cream and peach turnovers to use up the last of the peaches and the last of the puff pastry.
  • Spaghetti and meatballs with both the sauce and the meatballs from scratch.
  • Two all-local frittatas with garlic scapes (local for Erin Fae, who brought them as a gift), zucchini, onion, and tomato.  OMG so good.  I think we’ve mastered the frittata – now we just have to master getting it out of the pan:

Frittata attack!

Growing:

The first of the Amish Paste tomatoes committed tomato suicide, but I’ve been steadily picking little Beam’s Pear tomatoes throughout the week, as well as beans and the basil, which has now stayed alive for THREE months.  We also got our first red chili this week = hooray!

Eating and growing locally: week 12

Eating:

We caved and bought chicken at the store.  We eat a lot of chicken, and while we would love to buy it locally, it’s prohibitively expensive for not much meat.  We’re not perfect.

What we DID do this week was make 1 lb of ground pork into two awesome meatball-filled meals: spaghetti and meatballs on Saturday with a homemade sauce, and meatball sandwiches on chili-cheddar bread from Atwater’s along with leftover cole slaw on Sunday.  We also stretched 1 lb of pork sausage into 4+ meals – crustless quiche with local eggs, sausage, zucchini, and onions Monday night (with leftovers for lunches), sausage, zucchini, and onions tossed with pasta and homemade roasted tomatoes on Tuesday (with leftovers for lunch), and sausage patties with assorted other meals throughout the week.  Without even really trying, we had a couple of totally local meals, and a bunch of mainly local meals.  Hooray!

Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the melon as big as my head that I’m still working on:

Literally bigger than my head

Growing:

We’ve hit the heat of mid-summer, and the plants look tired.  I keep hoping that we’ll have a bumper crop of tomatoes, and then I eat all of them whenever any are ripe.  There are beans ready to be picked, and the lettuce and herbs persevere.

Today we’re signing a lease on a new apartment in Alexandria.  We’re excited about the place, but one drawback is that there’s no outside space for our garden.  With a crazy Miss Mina (who is currently running around pouncing and meowing for no ostensible good reason) and a Basil who likes to bite plants, we’re not sure what we’re going to do – I think the bigger things will go to friends, and I hope to rig up something for the herbs in the kitchen window.  (Did I mention that there are windows in every room?!)

By the Numbers: June 2008

Our total grocery spending was down this month, but that’s likely because our eating-out spending was up as a result of Bonnaroo.  Beginning July 1, we started tracking our eatings-out in order to provide us with better budgetary numbers going forward.  We’ll be moving to a new place in the fall, and being able to accurately calculate our expenditures will be important for our fiscal well being.

I’m really proud that this month we neared 50-50 on our market/non-market spending!

Eating and growing locally: week 11

Growing:

Morning Harvest

Eating:

Local meal #7
Steamed crabs from the Dupont Circle market with red, white, and blue potatoes boiled in a whole lot of salt. The crabs were a hilarious misadventure, and we were definitely still hungry when we were done.

Day 346 - 7/8/08
Bonus local breakfast: tomatoes, roasted overnight, with local aged cheddar and rosemary Italian bread for toast.

Our meals this week were somewhat half-assed, but when we did eat at home, they were mostly local. I think this week we definitely noticed the lack of individually packaged chicken breasts, so we’re going to look for chicken at the market this morning (that is, if SB ever wakes up).

Eating and growing locally: week 10

I kind of can’t believe it’s been 10 weeks since I got really pissed off at the state of our food industry and told SB that I wanted to make an effort to eat more locally.  I feel like I talk about this stuff all the time, and I apologize if you’re sick of hearing about it, but the last 10 weeks have really changed the way that we think about food and the way that we eat.  It’s kind of fantastic.

Eating:
Local meal #6

Tiny pork burgers with ground pork from Cibola Farms, herbs and greens from our garden, slices of onion, tomato, and aged cheddar from the market, and rosemary Italian rolls from Atwater’s.  Please ignore the ketchup and the totally unnecessary mayo.  These were sooooo flavorful that we didn’t need other condiments at all.  Maybe some homemade pickles that, as of yet, exist only in my head.

Sweet potato fries

Along with the burgers, we had sweet potato fries, using up the last of the sweet potatoes that had started to sprout while we were at Bonnaroo.  I tossed the potatoes with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, cinnamon, and cumin, then baked them long enough that they were soft, but not long enough to get crispy.  Better luck next time.

All local breakfast!

Shane made a really fantastic all-local breakfast – farmers market eggs scrambled with zucchini, onion, and garlic (also from the market), a fruit salad of peaches and the last of the strawberries, and toasted rosemary Italian rolls from Atwater’s.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Did I say we ate the last of the strawberries for breakfast?  I lied.  The last of the strawberries actually went into a strawberry rhubarb crumble (recipe from Smitten Kitchen), which we ate with ice cream throughout the week.

On Friday, we ate the last of our store-bought chicken, so this week we’ll be making our first foray into entirely local meat.  We also bought (omg) crabs (!!!!) at the market this morning.  Stay tuned for much excitement and exclamation points about that.  It’s also worth noting that I made an incredible cole slaw that we’re hoping to repeat this week.

Growing:

  • The chilis still are not red.  C’mon, chilis!  You can do it!
  • Everything else continues at the previously documented rates of growth.  I’m not sure if the worm poop is helping or not – or if we’ve just hit that hot part of the summer where some things are going to grow, and others are going to die.

Thursday Morning Cuteness

The most ardent supporter of our local eating efforts?

What are you eating, Mom?

Miss Mina, who is very interested in everything that we eat, but especially local meats and veggies.  If the local food movement needs a spokescat, I’d happily volunteer her services, as it’s really time she earns her keep.

Eating and growing locally: week nine

Eating:

Local meal #5

Our OLS meal for the week was salad with lettuce, tomatoes, and carrots from the farmers’ market, a Meritage from Rappahannock Cellars (67 mi.), and local pasta with homemade spaghetti sauce from local seconds tomatoes, ground buffalo, and herbs from our garden.  The spaghetti sauce was a big disappointment, but we froze a jar of it, which will be excellent later in the year reconstituted with some goat cheese.

Making Spaghetti Sauce

Tuesday night was a different story.

Day 332 - 6/24/08

We got a big hunk of prosciutto from Cheesetique for 99c, so I cubed about half of it, then sauteed it with local onion, garlic scapes, and peas, then tossed it all together with local aged cheddar and non-local macaroni.  So, so, so, so good.   I also roasted little local carrots with some maple syrup – they were like candy.  Too bad SB wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t enjoy it when it was hot.  😦

Our farmers’ market haul this week: pork sausage, ground pork, a little poussin, eggs, chocolate milk, squash blossoms, tomatoes, nectarines, onions, dinner rolls, carrots, green beans, and garlic.  Very exciting!

Growing:

  • Our tomatoes look sad and droopy, so yesterday we bought a big just of Terracycle and are hoping they’ll perk up with the introduction of quality worm poop.
  • I thinned the lettuce again, resulting in big salads for both of us.
  • We have OMG peppers growing!  I’m trying to resist the urge to pick them small so that they have a chance to turn red.
  • We have kept basil alive for two months.  This is kind of a big deal.

By the numbers: May 2008

Look! I can use Google to make charts and graphs!

Am I sure how we spent $428.43 on groceries and other household-y stuff last month? Not really. I mean, we have the numbers, but I’m not sure what they mean, exactly. There were a few splurges on alcohol, lots of cheese and meats for a fancy picnic, and things like that which put us over our budget for the month. On the whole, though, I think we’re coming out about the same as we were previously – we’re just buying better things, and eating better meals at home. Last night I was trying to remember exactly what it was that we ate prior to two months ago. I think a lot more frozen things.

Eating and growing locally: week eight

I missed the farmers’ market so much when we were at Bonnaroo.  It seems like a weird thing to miss, but that’s what I got.  After two months of doing most of our shopping at the market or individual stores, going to the grocery store just seems weird.

Growing:

Day 326 - 6/18/08

Eating:

Local meal #4
Pork and Broccoli Stir-fry

  • Pork from Cibola Farms, sliced to 1/4″ thickness
  • Broccoli from the FB market, roughly cut up
  • A whole head of green garlic from the Courthouse market, roughly chopped
  • Soy sauce and peanut oil (non-local)

Combine the pork, garlic, and enough soy sauce to marinate in a bowl.  Set aside.  Heat some oil in your wok or non-stick skillet.  Saute the broccoli stems until soft-ish, then add the pork, garlic, and soy sauce.  If you have other veggies, great.  I was going to include zucchini, but there wasn’t enough room.  Saute until everything’s delicious and tender – I think I left it all in too long, but I was waiting for SB to get home.  It was delicious nonetheless.  It would be fantastic on top of rice, but rice doesn’t grow in the DC metro area, so that’ll have to wait for a non-local meal.

Bonus local meal!

Grilled Zucchini Salad – bonus meal!

  • One small eight-ball zucchini, sliced about 1/4″ thick (but any summer squash will work)
  • Fresh tomato, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • Mixed greens
  • Olive oil (non-local) for drizzling, salt & pepper to taste

Using our trusty grill pan, I dry-grilled the slices of zucchini quickly until tender, then tossed them on top of the tomato and other salad fixings.  One eight-ball zucchini made enough for two salads, or for me to have a salad AND a bowl of yummy zucchini.  Drizzle with a little olive oil before serving to really bring out the buttery awesomeness of the zucchini.