Eat from the Pantry Challenge Update

In my first Eat from the Pantry Challenge Post last week I announced our goal to spend $25 per week on groceries and use up the stores of our pantry for the majority of our meals. My biggest concern was that we might have to compromise on the quality of our produce. For both ethical and health reasons I strongly prefer to by organic fruits and vegetables. And so, I was quite pleased to find good prices on the items that I was buying and on my first two grocery runs it all worked out.

Groceries:

$17.79: 1 gallon 2% milk, apples, clementines, eggs, celery, carrots (all organic, excepting eggs)

$26.01: broccoli, bananas, red peppers, vegan cheese, eggs, bath soap for Little Boy Green (all organic)

$8.35: 6 Pack Dales Pale Ale beer for Mr. Green Me.

Total for week one and two: $52.15

At this point you may be wondering what we have been eating. Frankly, weve been eating like kings! The treasures that can be found in our freezer continue to astound me. Last Sunday we had a  most delicious meal of sauerkraut, potato dumplings and bratwurst. The entire meal was local. The sausage was from a small scale sausage maker here in town (they only produce in the summer and sell at the Farmers Market). The sauerkraut, apples, potatoes, carrots and onions all came from either Farmers Market or a CSA and were prepared and frozen by me in the fall. I cooked the meal and served it in my new cast iron skillet (thank you Santa!) and we practically licked our plates clean.

 

On Monday night we had a vegetarian pasta dish with a side of roasted acorn squash and sauteed mushrooms, garlic and onions. This meal was again quite gourmet and enjoyed by all. Little Boy Green even went so far as to say of the sauteed mushroom mix this is delicious Mommy!

On Tuesday we had a meatloaf made from frozen beef and various pantry items. This dinner was served with a side of roasted Brussel sprouts and purple mashed potatoes (the potatoes I have left are all purple).

Wednesday we finished off the meat loaf and started on a vegetable soup that Id made from canned tomato paste, CSA vegetables (carrots, beets, turnips and onions) and rice. The soup ended up too hot without a lot of flavor, so Wednesdays dinner was not so well received.

Thursday, I had the clever idea to mix sauteed garlic cloves, sliced dates and some Earth Balance in with the soup from Wednesday. Served over rice it gave it a distinctive Morrocan flavor and was quite delicious. Well be having that again for dinner tonight.

Meals for the weekend will probably included roasted sesame broccoli, brown rice and winter squash. Breakfasts will be pancakes and eggs. Lunch will likely continue to be left overs from the previous nights dinner.

The hardest part of this has been going to the grocery store. I am quite familiar with how to handle cravings for sweets and it is pretty easy for me (although not for many people) to just eat a square of chocolate and return the rest to the cupboard. However, it is amazingly difficult for me to walk by a little yellow sale tag at the grocery store and not stock up. A fact that just might explain my pantry that is bursting at the seems!

Have a wonderful weekend and may you eat well!

Longmont are you Chicken?

For the average green blog I have probably written extensively about my love of goats (and strawberries). Did you know I also love chickens? As a kid we had chickens, I helped my Dad feed them, broke the ice on their water in the Winter and I helped to eat their eggs for breakfast. All and all I never thought much about having chickens. As the years grew on our chickens grew old and eventually my Dad decided to cut back on his animal husbandry, and since their last two cats have passed on, my parents now own ZERO animals (for the first time in over 30 years).

But I digress. I love chickens. Or more specifically I love the yellow, golden, creamy yolks that are found inside eggs harvested fresh from hand raised chickens. So does my 16 month old son. When I scramble up a fresh egg from the chickens at Ollin Farms, my son gobbles up ever last bite. When I serve him up a pale grocery store egg even a cage free omega filled Nest Fresh egg he gets a little peckish. He eats a few bites and leaves the rest.

The average omnivore might think that I am imagining things, but I happen to be a taste connoisseur. I can copy recipes pretty good simply by tasting them (no recipe in hand). When I taste wine (or chocolate or coffee) I can honestly taste the spice, the bloom, the black cherry, the grapefruit. I KNEW when Cline Vineyards sold out and changed the grapes going into their Red Truck table wine, but it wasnt until over a year later that I finally got confirmation that the Red Truck of 5 years ago is not the same Red Truck vinted today. In other words, I am absolutely certain, that fresh farm eggs TASTE BETTER than factory farmed eggs, even Certified Humane, but still factory farmed eggs.

However, fresh farm (urban or country) eggs not only taste better, they are better for you. In fact any animal product that comes from an animal that eats a natural diet, getting in some greens (usually grass), some bugs or other foods from nature, has a different balance of fats and proteins than the same animal products factory farmed cousins. Wild venison, grass fed beef, and eggs from the little farm down the road are characterized by an increase in Omega 3 fats, a decrease in Saturated fats, and an increase in lean protein. This is because similar to the obese American, modern livestock were not meant to live on corn and soy. Corn and soy may fill you up and out, but growth in itself is not always good. Especially growth that involves excess fat.

But again, I digress, so back to chickens. I love farm chickens (urban or country) for their quirky personality, the beauty of their plumage and their ability to bond with small children. In fact, 4-H recommends that kids who want to get involved in livestock, but who have little experience raise poultry. We are what we eat (literally) and yet our culture is frighteningly disconnected from our food. Many today cant cook from scratch or think that cooking from scratch means opening a boxed mix and adding eggs and oil. Others dont even bother to use their kitchen allowing strangers to feed them 3 square (or not so square) meals per day.

And thus, perhaps I should not be in total shock that my city (Longmont, CO) is coming upon strong resistance when it comes to approving an ordinance to allow urban chickens. And yet, surrounding cities, which are arguably MORE urban than Longmont (Boulder, Denver & Fort Collins) already allow urban chickens. As does the great city of New York (seriously), as well as, other hip towns like Portland and Seattle.

For some reason, a good number of probably nice folks in Longmont, think that the approval of the urban hen will send Longmont to the dogs. Others are afraid that chickens will attract predators like fox and coyotes, which already happen to live in good numbers in our city (I see a fox and coyote on a regular basis in Longmont). Others think chickens smell (they dont) or that they are noisy (roosters are, but not chickens). Whats more they are concerned about the mess.

Cooped chickens dont poop in their neighbors yard and they dont bark at raccoons after midnight; however, they do provide those yummy, golden yolks that my family genuinely appreciates. Now given all this, I am not sure that I personally am prepared to start my own little brood of laying hens, but I do think that I should have the legal right to do so. If the ordinance is not approved, I will mark it down as another strike in my book against Longmont. (Badly maintained bike paths and sidewalks, lack of safe bike routes for families, lack of good public transportation, and no alcohol at city sponsored events are other strikes in my book.) In other words, when it comes time for my son to start Kindergarten in a few years and we come up on our familys deadline to reassess whether we stay or movethe ability to raise chickens will weigh in more heavily than you might assume.

If I can have chickens in Lafayette, Boulder, Niwot, Erie, Denver, Loveland or Fort Collins why should I not be able to keep them in Longmont? And if most of these cities also have better public transportation, bikeways and pedestrian ways, then we will likely move. Honestly, Longmont, by not supporting this ordinance, you are being a stick in the mud!

What can we do?

Well, the Crunchy Domestic Goddess has started a Chicken Crusade and I am happily going a long for the ride. In a few days we should have a site up (Longmont Urban Hens) and we are working to organize anyone and everyone who supports urban hens in Longmont to show up at the City Council meeting in December. In addition, if you live in Longmont and support urban hens, please dont delay in writing our city council members and tell them why they need to approve the urban hen ordinance. You can find Longmont City Council contact info (includin email addresses) behind this link. In general we are looking to be as POSITIVE about chickens as possible. We also want to educate folks about the realities of raising chickens (the good and the bad), while acknowledging that urban hens are as much pets as they are providers of yummy eggs.

We love the Farmers Market!

When we bought our home two years ago we didn’t realize that we were just down the road from the local Farmers Market, which sets up on Saturdays at the County Fair Grounds. However, since we discovered the market and have gotten into the habit of visiting, it is our favorite Saturday activity. We did not buy much in the way of greens or any eggs for two reasons. First we have a bunch of green lettuce, spinach and arugula in our very own yard. And second, we wanted to save some room in the crisper for eggs and whatever else that we find at the Ollin Farms grand opening this afternoon!

This week we were fortunate to have a few extra stands in town that decided to try out the Longmont Farmers. Normally, these stands visit the lucrative Boulder Market, which is home to the Boulder Creek Festival over Memorial Day weekend. We were also very thankful to see Hazel Del Mushrooms and the Windsor Dairy cheese folks, since they were both in the line of the huge tornado that came through the area on Thursday. The cheese folks are actually still assessing the damage, but Hazel Del came out fine.

This week our food basket is filled with:

Applesauce and pear-apple butter from Ela Family Farms on the Western Slope

Pea Sprouts from an unidentified local seller

Bok Choy from Ollin Farms

Horseradish from Mountain Valley Canning

Tomatoes (green house) from Honeyacre Farms

Aged Colona cheese (organic, raw from 100% grass fed cows) from Windsor Dairy

Organic Multigrain Bread from Styria Bakery

Mixed Mushrooms from Hazel Del

Red popcorn from Boulder Popcorn (grown on Munson Farm nearby)

Dinner tonight? I thought Id saute up some mushrooms and serve it with seared bok choy, as that was a big hit last weekend. And, perhaps I will also make an asparagus quiche with some aged colona and eggs that we plan to pick up from the Ollin Farms Farmstand grand opening later this afternoon!!! For lunch we already had some of the bread, tomatoes and pea sprouts on chicken salad sandwiches.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend and come back on Tuesday for the conclusion to my Asparagus Adventure!