I'd heard about the 100-mile challenge: eat only what grows within 100 miles of where you eat it. But I'd never heard of the 100-yard challenge until today. Our Homeowner's Association prevents us from putting in a full backyard garden like I've always dreamed of doing, and my physical state would not allow me much participation in its upkeep, but I think the idea of a Victory Garden is worthy of consideration. The challenge is not a commitment to eat three meals a day, seven days a week from one's own garden, only one meal a week. I could eat fresh tomatoes and tea made from the mint on my patio for lunch one day a week, easily.
One of my greatest challenges in life is moderation. I am a very black-and-white, all-or-nothing kind of thinker. I don't want a small patio garden, I want to plant my whole backyard in edibles. I don't want to agree to one meal once a week, I want to go all out. I don't want to "just" grind my own wheat and bake bread at home, I want to build my own house and get off the grid.
That is just SO not happening.
And I realize it. But I have to maintain my attitude that every bite of local food on my table improves my overall health, the health of my family, the economics of my city, the ecosystem, the farmer that grew it, and the world in general. I have limitations (and a man's got to know those, per Clint) of time, finances, pain and endurance, which dictate much of my life. I'd love to embark on a utopian dream of self-sustainability, but the inevitable setbacks and failure would dash my hopes and embitter my heart. The phrase "start small" has little meaning to me, but I'm working on it!
Last night's dinner was yummy.
That's locally grown broccoli, steamed just past raw. I love the leaves, they are richer in nutrients than the florets and don't make a mess between my teeth. The stems were so tender that they didn't even need peeling. This local variety was very delicately flavored, without the strong sulfuric flavor and odor of grocery store broccoli. Hm. I wonder if the sulfuric odor comes from travel and increased storage time.
The entree was storebought black beans and corn, cilantro from my patio garden, locally grown red bell pepper and green onions mixed in with storebought couscous. I made a bit of dressing with olive oil, lime, red wine vinegar and cumin, but what really boosted the taste was the spoonful of salsa on top. It was so good I had some more for breakfast!
I have an ice cream maker that has been run daily for the last couple weeks. It's not the old fashioned crank with ice and salt kind I used as a kid, but the kind with the tub that lives in the freezer until it hooks up to the electric base on the counter. I love it. Not only have we made fresh fruit sorbets, but we used it to quick-chill some lemonade when unexpected guests dropped by.
Last night, though, I used it to make the most wonderful ice cream. I got a vanilla custard going on the stove with local half and half and local whipping cream while I beat the yolks of some local eggs with sugar. I whisked it all together and warmed it until it got thick like a thin pudding, then refrigerated it until late afternoon. Before I started dinner, I put the custard cream into the frozen tub and started the motor. Rose chopped some local cherries (where did the cherry pitter go?) and I located some organic chocolate chips that we added when the ice cream was soft-serve consistency. I could NOT wait for the ice cream to harden in the freezer, so we ate it soft and creamy after dinner. It was marvelous. It was so rich and full of flavor that four tiny ounces really was a full serving! (I always laugh at the serving sizes on cartons of Ben and Jerry's. Yeah, like I'm really going to stop after four ounces.) Next time, I need to either find some miniature chips or give them a chop before adding them. They were just about twice as large as they needed to be.