We're an ordinary family, complete with picky eaters, budget concerns, and time management issues. But to prove that "eating local" works - even for busy families in cooler climates - we're trading Chick-Fil-A and goldfish crackers for grassfed meat and local produce. Join our adventure in learning to eat (sort of) sustainably for the summer!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Argh, my brain hurts

So far, my main difficulty with the whole "eating local" thing is the logistics of trying to plan meals around ingredients which may or may not be available on the days I have mapped out to shop, and which may or may not keep for a few days once I get them.  Some of that could be solved by me shopping more frequently and buying fewer things each time, but really, who wants to add extra time and trips to an already-full schedule?

Things I learned this past week include:
-  fresh spinach goes all wilty if left in the refrigerator overnight in an open plastic bag, or if it's left to sit on the counter between lunch and dinner.  So much for that spinach soup recipe I had bookmarked.
-  cleaned radishes shouldn't be stored in water in the fridge because it apparently concentrates their flavor, which I don't like that much to begin with.  So much for that pickled radish recipe I had bookmarked.
-  soggy broccoli can be revived by chopping the end off of the stalk, sticking it in a mug of water like a bouquet of flowers, and putting it back in the fridge for a few hours.
-  beet greens do not disappear by themselves, no matter how much I wish they would.
-  cooked beets apparently last forever without changing (or improving).
-  the plastic bag of baby spinach that Jason bought two weeks ago is still "good," which alarms me no end.

In addition to puzzling over menus and recipes to try to use up as much stuff as I can before it goes gooshy, I'm also burning brainpower trying to figure out the calculus of "indulgences," the weekly treat of otherwise forbidden food that each of us is allowed.  The first week we all chose ingredients which could be used in multiple meals, but this week Liza and I have taken a different approach.  She decided that she absolutely had to have breakfast at Chick-Fil-A, which I decided was allowable if she treated that one meal as her entire indulgence for the week.  I didn't want to use mine at the same time, so I ate beforehand and just sat there with a travel cup of tea I brought from home while she snarfed down her little chicken biscuits and HFCS-containing chocolate milk.

Since then I've been trying to decide what to use my indulgence for - a six-pack of Diet Coke?  Eating out at a non-local restaurant?  If I eat out, what do I do about Liza - let her eat out too even though she's already used up her indulgence, or maybe get the food to go so that I can make her a meal at home while I enjoy my Giant Burrito of Doom with a Giant Soda**, a Side of Guacamole and Enough Chips to Sink a Rowboat?  Do I even want a burrito that much, or is there someplace I'd actually prefer?  Can I skip the indulgence this week and save it for a week when I really, really need help?

It's all a bit confusing, but I know it's nothing I should be stressing over.  After all, I could just skip the indulgences altogether, and Liza and I could sit around and mope together, pining away for peanut butter cups and carbonated beverages.  But who wants to read about that?

**As I was driving around running errands today I was really close to giving in and buying a Diet Coke, and I was trying to figure out which nearby restaurant had the largest to-go cups so I'd get the most mileage out of my indulgence.  My plan was to go to Target, buy a drink at the snack bar, drink as much of it as I could while I shopped, and then refill it on my way out the door.  It reminded me of when we lived in Kentucky - one of Jason's coworkers had been told by her doctor that she could only have one Diet Coke a day while she was pregnant.  So whenever possible, she went out to lunch at Sonny's Barbecue, which has takeout drink cups that are - no joke - basically industrial dumpsters with the wheels cut off and a straw sticking out the top.  She was very smug that technically the gallon and a half of soda qualified as following the doctor's orders.

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