First of all, welcome to all the visitors from Sam Breach's Becks & Posh foodblog, who named my site as the "Bay Area Blogger of the Week" (#17).
So I'm all signed up for the August 2005 challenge that people all over are joining: to eat foods within a 100-mile radius of San Francisco. Technically, it should be "within a 100-mile radius of your home," but the group I joined, Locavores, says San Francisco. (Who am I to argue, especially if it means that the Straus Dairy 2% milk, which I just bought at Aptos Natural Foods, qualifies, even though it's from Sonoma? Hey, I tried to buy Claravale milk, but they don't make 2%, and I just can't drink whole milk anymore.) Besides, the milk is for my tea, which comes from Ceylon or Sri Lanka, and tea is one of the exemptions I am claiming for August.
Being realistic, I have been thinking about this challenge. One, I
cannot afford to lay out a bunch of money to replace anything that
isn't local (such as salt, spices, or even the loaves of bread I
currently have in the house). So I have to exempt myself also with
"items I currently have in stock." I realize that there are some people
who are completely committed to this challenge, going as far as to find
sources for locally-grown flour, etcetera. While I admire this a lot, I
just can't go to that level. However, since my commitment to farms is pretty apparent, I think I can cut myself some slack.
Besides being a self-employed person with a fluctuating workload, my income and spare time have been seriously eaten into in the last few months for a very personal challenge. Little Logan, our grandson who's eighteen months old (yesterday), has been spending an extra-lot of time with us. (That's him at the left, with Kirsten at Everett Family Farm on Wednesday.) There was one day this week when I got nothing done on a professional level at all. I missed a phone call, missed an entire workday. Gone. Gone, too, were the billable hours.
So I'm hoping to adapt the challenge to the resources at hand, with the time and money I have available. I won't be making pizza dough from scratch, but I will be making as much as possible from the fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and whatever else I can get from my local farmers. If I buy bread, I'll buy it from the farmers market (after I've used the two open loaves in the house)...and I won't ask my baker if his flour is from the Bay area.
After all, what is the first word in the dictionary? You have to use words to define words. I suppose it could be determined that symbols and signs and gestures could be used to define words, but I'm being very literal.
What does "local" mean? Does it mean that I am a sinner if I use some truffle oil someone gave me, on some of the gorgeous Carola potatoes I get from Thomas Farm? (They're my new favorites, by the way.)
I'm going to try to be creative, because Lord knows I love farms and farmers. I'm taking the positive approach, and being honest about the practicality of participating. I remember doing personal growth workshops in the Eighties, and they would require that you had no alcohol or drugs over the weekend. Certain people took this to the extreme: they wouldn't use mouthwash, for example. I understand that I am not to ingest mouthwash, and never considered that gargling with it would be breaching my agreement.
I'm blessed to live in a region with abundant seafood. I can have oysters and salmon and calamari and abalone and probably even sea salt (if I wanted to lay out the expense of obtaining local sea salt, that is, which I don't/can't). We have great wines and even an organic beer company here in Santa Cruz. (Are their hops local? Do I need to find out which vineyards produced Bonny Doon's wines, so I get the local stuff and not the stuff from way the hell down Highway 5?)
See, for me the real challenge is to remember to do this, to have fun with it, to be creative, and not to put it into the realm where it interferes with my family. With the "plate spinning music from 'The Ed Sullivan Show' " being my theme music these days, I know I'll have one more thing to pay attention to. Having a toddler around is enormous work, and so is working around the toddler.
I hope I don't sound like I'm complaining, because I am not. Logan is our sunshine, the king of the house, the Light of Zartha, the Buddha, and the funniest baby I have ever known. It dovetails beautifully to bring him around to the farms, and meanwhile I need to get creative and find ways to earn money while I sleep. Or as is often the case, sleep on the keyboard. Dang, he wakes up early!
- - - - - - - - - - -
Pictured above: farfalle with quick Tuscan tomato sauce, from
Mollie Katzen's Still Life with Menu, and I've made it dozens of times. This is the recipe, loosely.
Quickie Tomato Sauce (adapted from Mollie Katzen's Still Life with Menu)
4 or 5 perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes (I like to use mixed colors)
2 T. olive oil
1 c. red onion, minced
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. minced parsley
1 c. minced basil leaves (packed)
1 lb. linguine, fettucini, spaghetti, farfalle, or other pasta of your choice
olive oil, salt, pepper, and parmesan to taste (for the completed dish)
Start with a pot of boiling water, large enough to cook your pasta in.
Once it's boiling, core and blanch tomatoes for about 10 seconds. Remove them (obviously do not drain the pot), and rinse/peel under cold running water.
Start your pasta to cooking while you complete the rest of the steps.
Quarter the tomatoes and wring out the seeds and pulp. Chop the remaining pulp, and set aside in a bowl.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet or nonstick frying pan. Stir in the minced onion, and cook, stirring, for about two minutes. Scrape it out into the bowl of tomatoes. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, along with the parsley, basil, and salt. Grind in some fresh black pepper.
When your pasta is drained, transfer it to a large bowl and drizzle on a bit more olive oil. Add the sauce and parmesan. (Sauce can even be heated, if you prefer.) Toss and serve immediately, on heated plates.
- - - - - - - - - - -
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "The greatest dishes are the simplest dishes." —Escoffier
Thanks for tuning in.