Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thinking about rules

I'm thinking about my rules...what constitutes a true locavore to me? Idealy, I'd like to be a 90% local foodie. The only non-local items would be stuff that just doesn't happen in the 100-mile foodshed around Newtown, Connecticut.

Those who have been reading along know that I haven't been doing this long enough to have significant stores. I got more serious about puttin' by at the beginning of the Fall. Somehow it hit me that the bounty party was about to end. You also know I never planned on puttin' by. I was hoping to be able to find what I needed as I needed it. Well, you can't get there from here.

The Farmer's Markets are done. The Brewster's Farmer's Market stayed open until the weekend before Thanksgiving, but all the other ones in my area were long closed. Holbrook's Farm Stand is winding down, and once Christmas comes, it's closed for the season.

I'm not even in the bad months yet and I can't even hold 60%. Today (fairly typical mix), I had (not in this order):
- Sliced fennell bulb (from the world)
- Beef loin steak (local, Stuart, Bridgewater)
- broccoli (worldly, California)
- chestnuts (local, Cherry Grove, Newtown)
- Macoun apple (old, falling apart, but local! Blue Jay, Bethel)
- hard-boiled egg (local, Holbrook's, Bethel)
- coffee, Kona and Sumatra (worldly)
- milk (some from who knows where and some from the CT Farmers)
- tea (worldly)
- honey (Cherry Grove, Newtown)
- leftover turkey (worldly--Butterball)
- leftover mashed potatoes (local, Holbrook's)
- sauteed red and yellow peppers (local, Cherry Grove, Newtown)
- sauteed mushrooms (worldly, California)
- wine (local, McLaughlin's, Sandy Hook)

I really don't want to drop below 50%. It's going to be an experience for sure!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

We are hosting the annual celebration of the harvest bounty.

Our guests will be my parents, my siblings, their spouses and children. All together, there are 10 of us. Our diets are an interesting mix. We have one vegetarian, one salt-free, one post-tonsilectomy, one on Weight Watchers core, one post-gastric bypass, one allergic to nuts and chocolate, one locavore and a few who will not try new things.

This year's Thanksgiving menu is a mix of local and "worldly" foods.

Appetizers include a fresh vegetable platter, hummus dip, and bread. The beets and carrots are local. The bread is from Wave Hill Bakery in Wilton, CT (thanks to Holbrook's Farm Stand). Everything else in this course is of unknown but organic origins.

The soup is pumpkin & butternut squash and includes carrots and an apple. All of these items are from local farms (Don Taylor, Kandew, Missy's Greenhouse). The herbs: sage, rosemary, and thyme, are from my back yard. The chicken broth is from the health food store and the label says organic and free-range, but the known history ends there.

The main course is of course a roasted turkey. It is (sigh) a Butterball. A fresh, not frozen specimen, but a Butterball nonetheless. My guests were not keen on a local free-range heritage turkey and I don't have any experience to make a convincing case. Bummer, but moving on...

Tom will be stuffed with a wild rice stuffing. The wild rice came from Canada--big place and the box didn't say exactly where in that big place. Curious, that they can grow rice in Canada, but not Connecticut. The long grain rice came from Carolina, so the box said. Connecticut really doesn't have much to offer in the way of grains. However, the carrots, onions, and thyme in the recipe are local. The parsley is ours, potted and brought in for the winter.

The gravy is, well, from the turkey and flour. Nuff said.

Alongside Tom will be:
- Fresh whole-berry cranberry sauce: The cranberries are from Lakeville, Massachussets. A great deal of MA is within my 100 miles, but this particular cranberry bog is a 167 mile drive from my house. (Cranberries are one of three fruits native to North America. Concord grapes and blueberries are the other two.)
- Applesauce. Made from 100% Connecticut Macouns, sauced in my own kitchen. A very pretty pink.
- Smashed Potatoes: like mashed, but with some chunks and the red skins still on. Potatoes from Holbrook's farm in Bethel, CT.
- Baked Sweet Potatoes: Also from Holbrook's.
- Artichokes: From the Big Y (a grocery chain in the northeast). Big Y got them from California.
- Herb Roasted Butternut Squash & Turnips: butternut squash from Don Taylor's farm in Danbury, CT and turnips from Cherry Grove Farm in Newtown, CT. Herbs from my back yard, either dried in my kitchen or wintering in pots by the sliding glass door.

For dessert we'll have:
- Apple Pie. Not home made this year, but made by the folks at Blue Jay Orchards in Bethel, CT.
- Pumpkin Pie. Home made with actual pumpkins acquired from Don Taylor's farm in Danbury, CT and fresh eggs from Holbrook's. The rest of the ingredients are worldly. Even the nutmeg, despite CT being the Nutmeg state.
- Ice Cream. From Ferris Acres Creamery (up the road).
- Fresh Whipped Cream. Unfortunately from the ultra pasteurized variety of heavy cream from somewhere else in the country. It turns out that my local milk source does not provide a heavy cream, and although their milk is cream line and you can separate out the cream, it won't whip.

The apple cider is local (Blue Jay Orchards). The wine is local (McLaughlin Vineyards). The water is local (my own well). The Pellegrino is from Italy (as were our ancesters.) The coffees are quite worldly, but predominantly fair trade. (The milk is from CT--both whole and raw varieties.) The teas are also worldly, but the honey is from right here!

All in all, not bad for Thanksgiving three months into my first locavore year. My hope for next year is to discover more local food sources earlier so I can put some favorites by and of course, get some experience cooking a local Tom.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. Whatever you eat, wherever it came from, may it nourish and sustain you.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Word of the Year

I heard on NPR today that the Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Year for 2007 is Locavore. Four women in San Francisco are credited with coining the phrase (

Talk about jump-starting the effort to raise people's awareness!

I find it ironic though, that this phrase came out of San Francisco. How hard can it be in California to restrict your diet to a 100 mile radius? I can eat more easily from their foodshed here in Connecticut than I can from my own--especially at this time of year. In my local Stop & Shop, the produce aisles are filled with the great California Bounty (unless they're growing avacados and pistachios in Massachussetts these days).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Edible Nutmeg

I picked up the Fall 2007 Edible Nutmeg magazine at New Morning. It's a great idea and I found it to be mostly a good read but was somewhat disappointed in the lack of follow-through in some parts. For example:
  • In their Letter from the Publishers of the Fall 2007 issue, they pointed out that people were writing in to find out where to get pasture-raised hogs in Litchfield and a CT source of true free-range chickens. While they were looking to make a certain point with their editorial, they never mentioned where one might actually fined pastured chicken and pork in CT?

  • They prominently features an ad for the BuyCTGrown Web site, which looked promising, yet the site is still not ready.

  • The entries in the Edible Events and Fall Farmer's Markets sections are about to expire. I am not sure exactly when this issue was publicly available, but I am fairly certain that it was past mid-October. I know of one nearby Farmer's market open until mid-November and one farm stand that will remain open until Christmas and that's it. Are there others? It would have been more useful to those in the market for local foods to continue these calendars into the date range of the next issue.

  • The article on wine discussed the difficulty of growing red wine grapes in the CT climate but pointed out that there are good Cab Francs here, yet they didn't say which vineyards were offering them.

Still, it's an interesting magazine and I look forward to future issues.

UPDATE: I sent an e-mail to Robert Lockhart, the publisher of Edible Nutmeg, and he personally (and quickly) responded to several of my points. I am absolutely fascinated with this!