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!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Recipe - Chili Beef Noodles

1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
16 ounces canned tomatoes
15 ounces tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
hot pepper sauce (optional)
8 ounces egg noodles

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef, onion, and garlic.  Drain.  Stir in the chili powder; add tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, and pepper.  Add hot pepper sauce to taste, if you like your food spicy.  Simmer 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, cook a whole bag of wide egg noodles according to package directions.  Serve meat mixture over egg noodles.

Serves 6, unless you like it as much as I do, in which case you might serve 4 :)

PS - look how pretty my (home preserved) canned sauce and tomatoes looked before they went in the pot:

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Today we were touring the Hagley Museum, and I spotted an old friend in the gift shop - the Eating Local cookbook!  Way to go, gift shop!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I spent like an hour today making little fabric hats for the jam and salsa I'll be giving to my in-laws at Thanksgiving.  Way too much fun for something that's going to be thrown away before they even manage to get the jar open :)

Anyone have a good link for printable jar labels?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

So long, farmers' market

Today was the last day of the farmers' market I usually attend.  Well, they may be open next weekend, too, but we're not going to be in town to visit it, so it was the last one I could possibly attend.

I decided, for the first time since the market opened, to sleep in and skip it.

It was bliss.  But I missed The Pie Guy, and the Meat Man, and The Dude Who Thinks I Mainline Cider.  Guess I'm going to have to drag myself over to Shaker Heights once in a while for my farmer fix this winter, huh?

Oh, crap - I just noticed that it doesn't start until January!  Ack!  Withdrawal imminent!  Must comfort myself with raw-milk cheddar and a piece of Chickenzilla.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Adventures with new cuts of meat

Anyone ever heard of an English roast?  Me neither, until I needed a cut of meat for a pot roast and this was what the meat guy at the farmers' market recommended.  It had a huge bone in it, and rather more fat than I prefer to pay for, but it was really tender by the time I was done with it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Happy birthday to me

I just came home from a preschool information night where I spent three hours on my feet explaining to everyone who came by my table why their scary-smart little kid should join our school next year.  First thing I did when I got in the door - put some water on to boil up a handful of those adorable little sprouts.  Yum, comfort food!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Of candles and cauliflower

Today is not my birthday, or that of anyone in my family.  It is not a holiday, and there was no power outage.

Thank you, Moxie, for giving us an excuse to dim the lights and celebrate every night.  It makes even a relatively mediocre fennel-and-cauliflower soup seem special!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Who's a cute little sprout?

They are!

Side note: do you have any idea how long it takes to clean and prep 3 quarts of marble-sized Brussels sprouts?  Forever.  Trust me.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Getting better about this

Delayed gratification:  when you forget to buy bacon at the farmers' market and instead of breaking down and buying grocery store bacon (from non-happy pigs) you just decide to wait until you can get the good stuff next week.  And you don't complain about it (much).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Feeling distinctly guilty

You know, I try.  I recycle whatever I can, I compost much of my kitchen waste, I buy things with the minimum of packaging.  I don't even bag my grass clippings, even though that means I spend all summer sweeping them up off the floor in my house.  And yet every fall, my yard looks like this on garbage day:
That's 44 bags of leaves - this week.  Last week it was 26, the week before was 13.  And the trees are maybe 1/2 or 2/3rds of the way empty.

I don't know how to do any better.  The bags are made from recycled plastic, and I use the paper ones for everything except what we use when we bag the mower output.  I've even composted three or four bags of leaves, and tried running them over with the mower and just leaving them on the lawn.  But when your upwind neighbor has 19 mature oak trees in her backyard, the volume is just too much to deal with and still expect to have a usable yard.  I wish there were some more elegant way to handle it, but we'd literally have a compost pile the size of a barn if we tried to handle all of it ourselves - and straight oak leaves take forever to decompose, so we'd end up with a new barn-sized pile every year.

Anyone have a workable solution that doesn't involve turning my entire backyard into a compost factory (or taking a chainsaw to my neighbor's trees)?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One of the benefits of the CSA:

We have tried more new fruits, vegetables, and cuts of meats this year than we have in, oh, a decade or so.  A partial list:
- baby back ribs (never cooked at home before)
- Hubbard squash
- butternut squash
- chard
- beets
- radishes
- rutabaga
- ground cherries (which we actually got from the farmers' market, but they're weird enough I'll include them anyway)
- fresh grape juice
- red cabbage

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Recipe - Sausage and Fennel Soup with Pasta

I got this recipe from one of the stalls at the farmers' market last weekend.  It was a great excuse to use up the fennel that I didn't snarf down raw over the weekend :)

Sausage and Fennel Soup with Pasta

1 lb Sweet Italian Sausage (bulk)
1 fennel bulb
3/4 cup diced onion
1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
3 T olive oil
14.5 oz. canned diced tomatoes
14.5 oz. canned crushed tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup orzo
2 cups fresh spinach
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Saute sausage, breaking it up into small pieces, until well browned.  Drain sausage and set aside.  Cut the top off the fennel, wash and dice the white part of the bulb.  Saute the fennel, onion, and garlic in olive oil until onion is soft and transparent. Add tomatoes and chicken broth.  Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes.  Add sausage and orzo and cook until orzo is just done.  Add spinach, tearing it into small pieces, and cook 3 minutes.  Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Garnish with Asiago cheese.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Recipe - Braised Red Cabbage

This recipe is a mash-up of about four different recipes from several different cookbooks.  Guess that makes it mine, huh?  This is particularly good when served with bratwurst and Stadium Mustard.  Mmmmm, artery-clogging autumnal goodness ....

Braised Red Cabbage

4 bacon slices, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
3-4 lbs red cabbage, quartered, cored and thinly sliced crosswise
1 apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Cook bacon in a large heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring until crisp.  Remove bacon with slotted spoon and reserve it for use later.  Add butter to bacon fat, then increase heat to moderate and cook onions until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.  Stir in cabbage, apples, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, and pepper, and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender (about 1 1/4 hours).  Add bacon and serve warm.