Day 30

On the last day of the eat local adventure there was wild salmon for dinner, yogurt with honey for lunch, Tomales strawberries in between and Sebastapol figs I bought this morning for $1.50 a basket. For breakfast we had left over mashed potatoes with peppers and eggs, Blue Bottle coffee and Strauss bottled milk. I keep pinching myself and the CG at all the local good food available.

But the holiday is over. Tomorrow I face the world with no limitation to my food choices. At every turn the world will literally be at my reach.

That's when the eat local challenge will begin.

Organic and Local

I crossed a new line line and it's not pretty. Last night babysitting for a friend I went through her refrigerator. And I took notes.

Before I tell what I found let me say nearly everything was labeled organic; my friend is a good mom and organic says, I love my family, I care about the planet. Organic looks good in the check out line as every retailer is discovering. But it's only part of the story. Where food originates is equally important in terms of the amount of resources used in its packaging and delivery.

Not a part of the story that's as sexy as the cherries I found on the top shelf. They were lookers; each one of them. Canned in spiked up sugar water from Germany. Next to them was an orgy of peaches stacked one on top of the other, slick in a syrup of grape juice from Spain.

"The milk, butter and eggs are local," I yelled to the living room scribbling on a sticky stuck to the counter. It was a rerun of Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched. "Ummm, ummmm," the cute guy replied. "Why don't you come sit down." He never lifted his head from his sailing book.

I moved to the bags of fruit; lemons and oranges from Australia, apples from New Zealand. This was the shelf of fake lashes and blue eyeshadow. The sexiness was wearing off. And then there were plastic bags from the USA of albino lettuce heads and stubby facsimiles of carrots. "The plums have stickers."

"Shut the door," came the reply from the living room. I put the canola oil from New York back on the door and closed it.

"There's stickers on the potatoes too!" I picked one up from the bowl on the counter. The cute guy called my name. He snapped me out of it.

"Sit down and have a drink," he said handing me the water bottle. I opened my mouth. "I know," he said. "It's okay."

"All those planes and ships. New Zealand, Germany." I handed him my notes. He stuck them to the front of his book, Small Boat to Freedom.

"Can I read you something," he asked. "This guy was sailing from ....."

I laid down and covered my eyes.

Haiku Friday

Whole Foods

The Takeout Queen bought
South African tangelos
in a hurried rush.

Good Blog Reads

Eight months ago the only blog I read was Noodlepie written by an English guy living in Saigon. He ate street food and photographed it. Then he moved and I went back to reading books.

Now I've discovered local food blogs and the books are stacking up on the floor next to the couch. I no longer balance our bank statements or read the two magazine subscriptions I've been married to longer than the cute guy. The back yard has turned brown from neglect and my mother wonders why I don't call.

Here's some of my favorite blogs --

dirt to dish She's nearly out of salt for the month too.

Urban Hennery Pictures of Barbara Kingsolver's and Michael Pollan's recent books are right on top which make her blog feel like my cushy couch and she's a smart friend visiting.

Knitting Dahlias So many of these blogs I found at the Eat Local Challenge website list of local blogs and Knitting Dahlias is listed below mine. The visual of the name makes me smile as does the blog itself.

Life Begins at 30 This is the first blog I found about eating local and I keep going back. The author is a founder of the Lacavores and I say a silent thank you each time I visit.

Food on the Food I read this blog for the first time today after it was featured at the Eat Local Challenge website and laughed out loud. She's good.

Kona Yoga I like to think about doing yoga and this blog let's me dream and reminds me to keep an open mind. They eat local too.

Mom's Pizza Dough What can I say, I love pizza.

Fast Grow the Weeds This woman is amazing - gardening and putting up food and still finding time to encourage others. She was my mayonnaise guru.

Livin' La Vida Local This blog was also featured at the Eat Local Challenge website (what would I do without them?). She's young and on fire with eating local. It's awesome.

Green-Lemonade Another ELC featured blog with my favorite list of links to green websites.

The Herbwife's Kitchen I want a kitchen window like the photo on this blog and each time I go there I take a minute to look out the window as if it were my own.

I'm Mad and I Eat This blog came from the ELC website too and what I love is that last year she quit the challenge and let everyone know. That one blog strengthened my resolve to stick with it this month more than anything.

Back To Our Roots

One of my favorite parts of our CSA farm bag from Canvas Ranch is the newsletter that Deborah adds each week. It makes me feel as if I've had a conversation with her like I do with the farmers at the markets. This week I wish that conversation weren't one dimensional because I would like to give her a big hug and say, "Thank you!"

Deborah's headline today was, 'Getting Bored with Summer Yet?'. She wrote about the beauty of eating seasonally and noticing that our bodies actually begin to crave the food of the season with the example that we may be sick of salad and wanting more comfort food such as soup. "Yes!" I said out loud. "Yes!"For the first time this summer I tossed left over salad. It was weird. I couldn't stomach the salad even enough to replate it for someone else. But I didn't understand why until now. The season is done.

Last weekend we ate potatoes three times and only stopped because, well, I don't know why we stopped. It felt like we should, like it was wrong. But now I realize it's just the internal tides making their shift and our hunger for roots is normal. There is no need to fight this, only to enjoy it.

Good News

Today I have a few pieces of eat local good news.

First is during dinner with my friend, the Muse, she told me she hasn't had any gas guzzling bananas since the last time she saw me. "Okay!" I said, not wanting to make a huge deal but feeling my insides doing cartwheels anyway.

Second, while looking for something else I came across this news piece that Duke University was participating in the Eat Local Challenge today to show their commitment to the environment and the local economy. It was good to be reminded that the eat local movement isn't happening only in individual homes but in big venues too and even better it's happening with the young adults. Okay, I really call them kids.

Lastly I was cruising Michael Pollan's website to see what he's up too with new articles or speaking events about the farm bill and when his new book is scheduled to be released. The latter of which I couldn't find. What I did find is that he'll be part of a panel on October 30 for a sneak preview of the documentary, King Corn. And if anyone can address the ramifications of the craziness of corn in our world today it's MP. After reading the Omnivore's Dilemma I'm such a corn geek I can't wait to see this movie. I'll probably have to buy the DVD.

Eat well and be safe.

Remnant Soup

Here I am three weeks into the eat local adventure and for the first time made a pot of soup.

Sometime ago I'd gotten a wild hair to make and freeze vegetable broth with the beet greens that were heading south and the first of the zucchini deliveries. I have no idea what else got tangled in there but tonight I hauled out a bag from the brew and proceeded to empty the veggie drawers to the kitchen floor.

I felt a guilty pleasure succumbing to vegetable soup so early in the year. After all, we are still eating Frog Hollow Farm peaches! But even the cute guy liked it, after he ran it through the blender; although he was more than ready for veggies after his foray with a Safeway birthday cake yesterday.

We finally used the shell beans that came in a Canvas Ranch farm bag and threw in typical soup fare, cabbage, carrots, potatoes. I used a couple of cubes of long hot red and yellow peppers I'd slow roasted, pureed and froze. The soup was festive as a result and in spite of the pieces of skin that weren't as soft as when I'd sauteed instead of slow roasted the peppers.

I pinched purple leaves of left over basil, diced a tiny yellow scalloped squash and added a slow roasted tomato that refused to be bullied onto the cookie sheet in the freezer with the others. Lastly, there was the eye of a newt, a palm sized cauliflower head I'd bought because it was cute.

Half an hour later we had soup. Unsalted because I'm nearly out of my mermaid salt that I've been tossing around like fairy dust for weeks now and I don't want to share a crystal of it. But we topped our bowls with Springhill Cheese Co. butter made at the ranch and it was magic.


Last night I showed off the contents of my freezer to exuberant exclaims. I'd picked my audience well. "Frozen blueberries," my blue eyed friend shouted. "Strawberries!" she repeated after me. "OMG, peaches, applesauce, blackberries." I was having fun. "Pesto," was spoken in a savory hushed tone as was, "tomatillas." And then she told me her childhood fruit in the freezer story.

"We didn't know what we had. There were raspberry bushes gone wild down each side of the yard." She waved her arms wide. "We couldn't eat them fast enough. The freezer would be full and they would go bad in the fridge. And then my Mom would make us - Make Us," she repeated. My Mom would make us pick tiny wild blueberries alongside the road. We hated it but then we would have blueberry pies at Christmas."

She stopped there and smiled. We were quiet. I was sure she was remembering the taste of those holiday pies. I was remembering buying the now frozen blueberries at the Fairfax market on a Wednesday night with another blue eyed friend and how heavy they had been; how we'd eaten hand fulls of them winding through quiet side streets, an easy friendship.

I don't know what it was that brought us back to the open door of the freezer but she said, "I'd can with you." I hadn't said a word about canning. We both looked startled; her as she realized what she was saying and me as she wasn't the first person that day to offer.

"I'm not sure I'm ready though," I repeated at the same time thinking of MFK Fisher and how pretty those canned tomatoes would be on my pantry shelf.

"Let me know," she said. "I'd love to."

Today I started thinking about making room on those pantry shelves. After all, the freezer is nearly full.

Berkeley Peace Wall

I found this at the Berkeley Farmer's Market this morning.

I love Berkeley.

Haiku Friday


Watermelons fly.
Ten tons, eight men, eighty bucks.
How does that add up?

Things I Have Learned Eating Local

1. Freezer bags work better than regular sandwich bags in the freezer. (Where have I been?)

2. Apples stored in the towel drawer are forgotten.

3. Garlic should never be stored in plastic in the cute guys lunch bag. It too will be forgotten and the mold is not pretty.

4. More garlic is not always better than a little garlic.

5. I think slow roasted tomatoes are supposed to be skinned before going in the freezer. (Post note: I talked to the farmer and they don't need to be skinned! "Peasant food," he said. "Eat them with the skins.")

6. Ella Bella Farm has the best blackberries I've tasted since picking them from the sides of my great grandmothers chicken houses while she baked Saturday morning bread.

7. I learned how to cook fresh shell beans I found in Portland. Ask me if you want to know and even better tell me where I can buy some here.

8. That even though it feels like I'm spending my last penny on food at the farmer's market, it's only because I'm using cash and not invisible money on my card.

9. The cute guy does not like beets.

10. Sharing your extra food is a lot of fun. Especially when your extra food has comedic character.

11. This is a good one! Freezing fresh herbs into ice cubes that can be dropped into soup later, which comes from a comment on the Livin' La Vida Local blog.

12. There are grapes and then there are Grapes and they all need to be tasted.

13. Strawberries are grown in Tomales Bay! (I've know I've said this before but it's worth repeating.)

14. Chicken is better if bought with the head still on. And the feet for that matter.

15. That my Grandma knew what the heck she was doing; gardening, canning and keeping it simple.

16, That Petaluma is still the egg capital when it comes to taste.

17. I learned what kind of root the picture above is and I'll donate $10 to the Sophia Project if anyone else knows.

Sophia Project

At dinner tonight with my friend, the Renaissance Woman, I confirmed the beneficiary for the proceeds of my eat local challenge.

Since I first met RW she's volunteered at the Sophia Project, which serves, and I'm quoting here, children and families who are at risk of recurring homelessness and its effects. In my own words, they have two houses, interns and a bunch of young kids they feed, entertain, educate and love all day while their parent(s) work. After the last kid goes home on Friday they provide respite care for the weekend for another group of children. And I'm not doing justice to all the support they provide. Inspired people, I think.

RW showed me and the cute guy the quilts she finished for the respite program, "Tv blankets," she said wrapping one around herself in a mock demonstration. I was ready to turn on the set and make popcorn.

And then we talked about the Sophia Project gardens. There are raised beds for vegetables, apple and pear trees and sweet peas on the fence along the sidewalk. A young girl asked, "How do you get all those flowers on there?"

There are also sunflower giants growing in front of the houses. "The kids think they are impressive," RW said.

"I think they're impressive!" I replied and then said I wanted to make a donation specifically for the vegetable and sunflower gardens.

"O-kay." RW said because that's what I always say and it makes her smile.

There's a story that Barbara Kingsolver's husband Steven Hopps writes in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle about a teenager that couldn't believe a carrot grew in the ground and then wouldn't eat it because it had been in the dirt.

That's not going to be the case for the kids that spend time at the Sophia Project. Kids, dirt, carrots, education and some sunflowers thrown in for good measure; it's food that matters.

Eat Local Challenge Proceeds to Date are $95.

Alan Greenspan

As a general rule I don't read the business section of the Chronicle but this morning something caught my eye and it was Alan Greenspan. He's cute in a wood gnome kind of way, so I read the article and didn't retain a bit of it except this one sentence which I copied from sfgate: Greenspan said the United States must look at ways to reduce gasoline use both as a matter of national security and to protect the environment.

This isn't new news and yet when I talk about protecting the environment by eating local and seasonal foods people look at me like I need remedial education. My auntie says the cockroaches will take over the world. Great.

But I got excited about Alan Greenspan mentioning our fuel consumption and the environment. He's not a crank or a kook or a former vice president in a scissor lift. He's Alan Greenspan, a complete numbers guy. Maybe folks will listen; take action.

Which leads me back to eating local foods as an easy way to reduce gasoline use with a bonus that the food tastes better. I know that eating every meal local is overboard for nearly everyone; it's overboard for me. But a small step like eating seasonal fruit from the US and not Mexico, New Zealand, Israel or Chile would be a delicious way to be part of the solution. Alan Greenspan would smile.

Think of the gasoline use we could reduce if we limited the obvious gas guzzling fruits such as bananas, pineapples, papayas and foreign mangoes from our fruit bowls. You don't have to be a corporation or the head of the Federal Reserve to calculate the benefit. A lot. And maybe those benefits could be added to Medicare. According to Mr. Greenspan we are going to need them.

Eating Local

I've never been one to tightly follow a recipe but I love to look at the pictures in a good cookbook or read the sidebars where an author describes her first taste or first mistakes preparing a dish. From there I read ingredients, tasting each one in my imagination. And then I close the book and do something else.

When I cook it's freeform or hit or miss depending on how you look at it. Which is another thing I love about eating local this month; it's about being creative.

Last night we savored pear and delicate dessert cheese at the kitchen counter, the quickest food I could find and the antithesis to plane peanuts we'd declined earlier.

Tonight there wasn't much in the house; the bottom scrapings of a pot of rice, a bit of a roasted chicken from the store and an old zucchini. I tossed out the zucchini and then diced up slow roasted peppers I'd stored in olive oil last week, only sorry I hadn't roasted more serranos.

And all last week we ate fresh basil in our salads, yellow carrots, sprouted pumpkin seeds and greens that were ridiculous with flavor. No radishes? I diced up an apple. Craving avocados, I added leftover roasted potatoes, ripe figs, a slice of cheese. Leftover garlic beans? Instant garnish for the salad. No dressing? I added a teaspoon of honey to the bottom of our bowls and tossed a palm full of backyard herbs into the mix.

I'm finding that eating local is not about doing without; it's an adventure of appreciating the ingredients available or leftovers as the case may be. Not much different than not eating local as I think about it but as the cute guy says, "It just tastes better."

(Thanks to the Eat Local Challenge blog for the nice compliment!)

MFK Fisher On Canning

I want to share the following paragraph from MFK Fisher's book, The Gastronomical Me, because it speaks to my current longing to buy jars and gold rings and is all about eating local as she did from her garden in Switzerland.

I canned often, too. We had three cellars, and I filled one of them with beautiful gleaming jars for the winter. It was simple enough to do it in little bits instead of in great harried rushes as my grandmother used to, and when I went down into the coolness and saw all the things sitting there so richly quiet on the shelves, I had a special feeling of contentment. It was a reassurance of safety against hunger, very primitive and satisfying.

It's good to be back home and to know where my food comes from once again.

Portland Farmer's Market

I didn't plan to have pizza again but I found this wood fired slice at the Portland Farmer's Market this morning. It was even better than it looks. I gasped on the sidewalk when I took the first bite and spent the rest of the day talking about it. Why don't we have this at the markets in the bay area?

The Portland Farmer's Market is hands together the prettiest I've been to anywhere. It's held beneath a canopy of huge trees that I may have thought to identify if I hadn't been awestruck at the displays of stain glass colored peppers, ears of corn that clearly never harbored a worm, eggplant that shone like gems and fifteen kinds of squash set amid hundreds of monochromatic buckets of dahlias so perfect they became cliche'. These weren't only farmers, they were masters. There were generations of families, scrubbed up hippies, dirt farmers and college students who all created a peice of a temporary mandala using produce as intricately as if they were Tibetan monks using colored sand.

Like the Pt. Reyes farmer's market there was a starting bell and the buying began. I was the first customer for the last of the season blueberries which I shared at the finish line of my darling sister-in-law's marathon (she came in smiling!) and people were still talking about them at dinner tonight; childhood stories, recipes. I would have liked to have bought gnarly celadon squash and long crooked cucumbers but settled for three perfect apples for the road and a bag of green figs for the cute guys Dad.

And I would have liked to have bought another peice of pizza or three!

Haiku Friday

Hot Lips Pizza

Hot (red) lips pizza
Garlic, tomato, blue cheese
Three slices to the wind

Eating On The Road

The cute guy's sister turned sixty yesterday and on Saturday she's running a marathon. In Portland. The threat of industrial, plastic wrapped or microwaved food is not going to keep us away. We are heading out in the morning with a bag of almonds and a couple of they-really-taste-like-nectarines, nectarines. But from there I have to let go of my 100% committment until our return. I am comforted however by the fact that Portland is happening in the eat local scene.

I want to say I won't go out first thing and have pizza but the truth is I think we will. I've been looking at restaurants in the area and the one that comes up repeatedly for using local ingredients is Hot Lips Pizza. Damn. And we have reservations for tomorrow night at Terroir that serves small plates of regional and seasonal foods. I think we are going to eat our way through this town.

Saturday morning before we run (in our rental car) to the finish line to whoop it up wildly when my darling sister-in-law crosses the finish line, we'll head to the Portland Farmer's market to get snacks for the day and I'll snoop for local items I can't get at home.

Other than a celebratory dinner after the race, we don't have eating plans but some time ago while cruising the Eat Local Challenge webiste I found this entry, with the following guidelines that we'll use as our road map:

If not LOCALLY PRODUCED, then Organic.
If not ORGANIC, then Family farm.
If not FAMILY FARM, then Local business.
If not a LOCAL BUSINESS, then Fair Trade.

I can't wait to see what we find.

Oh, and to eat pizza!

(As an aside, per my challenge commitment to pledge $5 to an organization, yet to be determined, for every day I successfully eat local this month, I add that for every day I don't eat fully local, which will be the case while traveling, I pledge $10 a day. And that includes last Saturday when there was no excuse at the Pt. Reyes farmer's market when I had a warm ginger scone from the Tomales Bakery because I am weak in the face of a good scone.)

Local Stories and Lists

I love stories as much as I love lists. One of the good things about stories is I can make them up but even better is getting to read or hear other people's. I found a half dozen vignettes on Barbara Kingsolvers website for Animal Vegetable Miracle from people who are eating local. The stories are succinct and sincere. Maybe there's one woman who is a little over enthusiastic - but in a good way.

And because I love lists here's one of those too from the kids who wrote Plenty.

Here's my half story, half list for today. The cute guy and I are leaving town Friday and picked up our farm bag tonight which had me wild as a hurricane in the kitchen so nothing would go bad over the weekend. I cooked and froze tomatillas with jalapenos and garlic. I froze the remainder of last nights applesauce so we could eat the Canvas Ranch it-really-tastes-like-a nectarine, nectarines.

The new zucchinis are going with me to work. The new apples have gone into cold storage in the kitchen towel drawer.

For dinner I cooked eggplant with ladles of tomatilla juice, onions, garlic, infant yellow squash and a few green beans. I put Bodega Bay goat cheese on top and diced tomatoes mixed with backyard basil and the mermaid's salt over that. We are eating local!

The half of the farm bag tomatoes we didn't eat are slow roasting in the oven along with all the peppers, quartered and deseeded. My plan is to put the roasted peppers into a jar with olive oil and keep them in the fridge to use for pizza nights. Stay tuned.

And eat well.

The next day -- The peppers were a success.


Lately the cute guy shakes his head on the way to bed leaving me in the kitchen with my camera, laptop or a sink full of dirty dishes. More times than not, all three. He has quit reminding me I have to get up in the morning. But Blue Bottle Coffee, my Eat Local Challenge exemption, has been saving my days and I could stay up all night playing with my local food.

Tonight I popped raspberries into the freezer that I bought from Rose at the Ferry Building Tuesday market. As I placed each raspberry finger-puppet side down on a cookie sheet I thought of her. She's like chicken soup with an apron. Her smiles are an anyday remedy and I want to fill the freezer with them. Staying up late is a small price.

Then there is a bag of gifted green apples that were left at my door today by my friend, the Renaissance Woman, which I photographed as soon I walked in. I will encourage them into applesauce tonight adding Ella Bella blackberries that I also picked up at the Tuesday market. The sauce will be friendship in a pot and I want to celebrate every bite.

My Auntie does the same thing with her garden. "The bitch red rhododendron was from Dolores's yard," she'll say. "The azalea from when Mother died. You gave us the tulip bulbs." Her garden is a living narrative. Like my kitchen has become.

There are jalapenos from J.Pine, a neighborhood rebel legend; a melon from the woman with the artisan (I love that word) honey; strawberries from Tomales. "Religion," the Takeout Queen calls them.

Harvest time will be over soon and I'll cut back on the coffee, but in the meantime I have stories to digest and narrative to preserve.

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

The tomatoes should have been done long before we went to bed. But at 9:30 I realized the oven had turned off with the 6:00 PM power outage. Not a problem, I thought. What would McIver do? And I did it.

What Ms. McIver didn't consider was when the oven timer came to zero it would beep loudly until turned off. At 3:00 AM. And she would be the only one to hear it. I left the tomatoes where they were. Honestly, I couldn't have cared less.

The Petaluma Italian potato farmer who sold me the dry farmed tomatoes was succinct in what to do when asked how to freeze them. "I slow roast them shoulder to shoulder at 150 to 200 all night and forget about them." I kept trying to guess how long he slept.

What he didn't tell me was how fragrant the house would be with garlic and tomatoes in the oven all day but then I guess he slept through that part.

At 6:30 AM this morning I opened the oven again. The tomatoes were nearly too bright to look at, each bowl of skin a miniature sun, the edges puckered around placid seas of juice. I wanted to squeeze off a skin and taste but with minutes to the bus I covered the cookie sheet with a flour sack and jimmied it into the freezer.

Tonight I wedged the frozen tomatoes into ziploc bags. Next week I'll cook up a test batch. The cute guy's vote is roasted salsa with gifted jalapenos.

So far they're a success but next time I'm putting them in the oven before I go to bed just like the farmer suggested.

Sunday Food Fun

1. Bought pears at the farmer's market.

2. Made mayonnaise.

3. Froze seedless champagne grapes.

4. Threw out old zucchini.

5. Ate Tomales Bay strawberries I'd planned to preserve.

6. Delivered farm fresh fruits and vegetables to the coughing, sniffling, runny nose Takeout Queen.

7. Made pesto with basil, cilantro and walnuts for freezing.

8. Oohed and aaahed loudly over Russian fingerling mashed potatoes.

9. Stepped onto ye olde soap box with my mother when she mentioned eating bananas and pineapple.

10. Cooked honey applesauce with the heirloom collection I'd been gathering as a centerpiece.

11. Slow roasted six pounds of tomatoes all day, shoulder to shoulder for freezing.

12. Searched the kitchen for garlic I bought and stored but can't remember where.

13. Answered two calls from the Takeout Queen about how good her food tasted even with a wicked cold.

14. Ate mayonnaise with brussel sprouts, salad, salmon, green beans, mashed potatoes and alone with a spoon.

15. Photographed pears.


The last three weeks we've received a variety of zucchini in our Canvas Ranch farm bag that have taken up long term residency in the bottom of the fridge. I rearrange them with each new addition; curly bunches of lettuce, pink radishes. I move them from one drawer to the other, stacking them one time, making a floor of them the next for red carrots, cilantro, bite sized brussell sprouts, a gift of jalapenos. I threw a bruised one away and secretly felt relief.

Not that I don't like zucchini; I do. But I like new zucchini, picked with the flower still on. And these zucchini are too big. Get over it, I tell myself; but I'm not. I'm stalling.

I took this weeks subscription of squash to work. I heard a squeach across the office, "Who brought these in?"

I walked to my office door. A co-worker held up a bocce ball sized zucchini as if it were Bond's latest home run. She was moving fast to the center of the office. "Who brought this in?"

I raised my hand.

"Can I have it?" She squeached again.

I shook my head.

"I've never seen anything like it. This is so cool," she continued still holding it high, looking up. The Olympics came to mind. The other person in the office peered above a cubicle wall. I saw her sit down again, quietly.

"Enjoy it," I said.

The next morning she told me her son loved it too. "We set it on the tv as an ornament. He said, we can never eat it."

Smart kid, I thought.

I rearranged the zucchini again today looking for ornaments. There weren't any. I'm back to stalling.

Post script - Rearranging the vegetable drawers again today I found the heart tattoed zucchini above. I will never eat it! In fact I'm going to take it to work to show it off. Thank you, Canvas Ranch.

Haiku Friday

What I ate when I
Left my lunch at home on the
white kitchen table

Boulette's sauteed greens
And honey yogurt mid-day.
Summer still a bloom.

Eating Out Locally

I didn't think it was possible but I was wrong. I've just returned from my first local, 100 mile diet meal out. A friend, my enviromental muse, and I went to Ava's in San Anselmo, three blocks from my home.

What I can't wait to say is they had Sonoma salt on the menu. I'd never even heard of Sonoma salt. Unfortunately the waitress had never heard of it either and fluffed over where you get it but I was too blissed out on the house pulled mozzarella and heirloom melon salad laid on thin rounds of yellow beets, all of which was topped with Sonoma salt, to shake her down for more information.

We sat streetside under heaters and a light pink sunset. The muse ate a salad of sliced peaches, frisee and little gem greens scattered with ricotta and I think a bit of honey. It could have used Sonoma salt for my taste and would have been better appreciated at the end of a hotter day. Okay; it paled in comparison to my salad.

Earlier in the day I'd checked out the menu on Ava's website and decided then to have a Marin Sun Farms burger. It was like Grandma's beef was; from cows with names. It was even a little better. The burger is generally served on a kaiser roll, which I declined and the thimble of house ketchup served on the side was too much with the rich meat taste that I scraped it off but I could have eaten the house pickles with every bite. I could have sold those pickles by the case to the people on the street.

As a side I ordered carrots from a west Marin grower I recognized but can't remember. They were cut into long quarters and sauteed in brown butter with thyme that I shamelessly ate with my fingers, discretely licking them afterwards.

My meal was such a good time I didn't taste the muse's bowl of potato gnocchi with chanterelle mushrooms. When the hostess cleared her plate though I practically saw her reflection in it.

A week ago I'd surrendered to not eating out at all for the month given that I'd proclaimed I would eat only food produced within 100 miles, meaning every spec of salt and dollop of oil; meaning everything in capital letters and no restaurant could live up to that. But I was wrong. Deliciously and satisfyingly wrong.

Sustainable Fairfax

This is from the Wednesday evening Fairfax farmer's market, which was described on one bumper sticker as Mulberry on Acid. It's true. And not true. Whatever your picture, that's Fairfax and not Fairfax. We like to call it diverse and go there every chance we get. Tonight I went there to get my tire fixed after the most effortless flat I've ever had and cruised the farmers market while I waited.

I found a lemon from the Bolinas woman who makes backyard jams that make me want to eat toast every day. I pressed the lemon to my nose, closed my eyes, inhaled and imagined making fresh mayonnaise this weekend. It was the main ingredient I'd been missing but now I can give it a try. If the mayonnaise turns out I'll use the zafu shaped cabbage we got last week in the Canvas Ranch farm bag to make coleslaw. And I'll use the bunch of scallions I bought tonight too that are really two parts art and one part scallion. They're tall and slender, forest green, a zen garden in a bunch.

"From Sebastapol," the young man said counting out my change.

"Beautiful," I said.

He nodded, "Yeah," drawing it out.

Yeah. The eat local challenge is going good.

Locavores Are Everywhere!

I think it was the huge amount of food I saw on Sunday in Chinatown and North Beach that overwhelmed me. "Where does it all come from," I kept asking myself. I think I even said it outloud.

"What?" The cute guy asked.

"Nothing," I mumbled refocusing on the girls, my little chickadees, I called them.

Tonight while I ate my little orange bowl of beans cooked entirely with local products (Rancho Gordo's and delicious!), I thought about the mass quanities of food we eat as a nation, a city, just a neighborhood and started sinking deeper and deeper into the couch. The banana devil sensing my weakness started whispering, "You can quit the challenge anytime. It won't matter."

To quiet him up, I went looking for other people taking the challenge and they are everywhere. There's Cookin in the 'Cuse, in Syracuse, New York. The name alone makes me smile. There's Mom's Pizza Dough in the east bay. The folks at Cookthink in western Mass are eating local and expecting a baby any day. And there's a local food story I can't wait to tell the cute guy at The Valley's (Chippewa) Eat Local Challenge. In a quiet college town somewhere else the Baklava Queen is canning and rolling in the dough. And then there's An Urban Sustainability Project and the three women at RFD to NYC. They are all eating local, talking and writing about it.

There are more locavores at the Eat Local Challenge. They're everywhere and I bet if we were put all together we could fill Chinatown AND Northbeach with local food! And that gives me all the hope I need for today.

Labor Day

The day got away from me but not the Eat Local Challenge. Other than my current obcession with wanting ice cream, which I rarely eat anyway, eating local is being a pleasure.


Okay, tres apples but day two of the Eat Local Challenge.

I passed on Golden Boy Pizza, my very favorite, with the cute guy and granddaughters and instead ate strawberries and figs walking down Green Street back to the car and then almonds once I got there. This morning there was St. Benoit honey yogurt, Jackie's brown eggs, last night's left over salsa. It's nearly dinner and I'm not even hungry after all my local eating.

And I have to admit that I haven't gone 100% local with feeding the girls. They love the strawberries and tomatoes we bought, were enthusiastic about getting melon this morning and asked for seconds on the scrambled eggs and I think that's all success. They even asked for a pink pearl apple just because it was pretty and then ate the whole thing.

I'm happy.

Day One

Other than becoming dehydrated on the boat because I didn't have my glasses to read the source on 35 different types of bottled water except for the square Fuji, which I knew I didn't want, the first day of eating local was good and I swear I won't forget to fill my water bottle before I leave the house again.

Even the cute guy liked the potato salad without the mayo I made for our picnic with a group of the kids and while I wanted to eat blue chips with his oldest granddaughter's, the Katrina kids as I call them, after we made local salsa, I settled for mixed greens with arugula and it was delicious.

The daughter-in-law with the most kids offered me her cookbook from the Little House On The Prairie and I accepted. Those people had to know what they were doing.

A friend has nearly committed to eating only local fruit for the month - read no bananas.

EL has inspired me to make mayo and I cried at the last song of High School Musical watching the girls dance along and singing, "We are all in this together."

Eating local or not, tap water or bottled, on dry land or on the bay, they're right, we Are all in this together.