Thursday, April 23, 2009


Post-Lenten reflections on this year's experience:

Fewer greens this year, more goat. Discovered frozen veggies from Oregon (yay!) but they're not organic (boo!). Baker County honey is easy to come by. Oregon dairy products are prolific, Oregon milk is not. I'm a damn good little baker. It's hard to live without spices. The thyme in our back yard was a God-send. I'm still sad that there is no local producer for olive oil. Or sea salt. We consumed enough butter in 40 days that I'm scared for our heart health. We need to grow more herbs. And freeze more produce. And can more vegetables. And fully appreciate the bounty of summer.

See you next year.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Goat Milk?

Two weeks since my last post and so much has happened. Should I tell you about running out of tortillas, cinnamon, ketchup, sugar? Or about Charlie's quest for locally grown chilies on his trip to L.A.? Or about finding a local dairy when visiting my in-laws in Bend, Oregon? Or my newest recipe for fruit crumble (better than crisp and WAY better than cobbler) easily made from all local ingredients? Or should I describe my attempt to get goat milk out here in rural America? Yes, that's it. I'll tell you about the goat milk. Here goes:

We were out of milk which really isn't such a big deal for us because we don't drink much milk. But I'd heard of a couple of people around here that have goats for milking and we've been on the goat milk circuit before and really liked it. I made cheese from the milk and Charlie has an affinity for goat milk lattes. He has this belief, based on nothing in particular, that they will soon catch on and thier popularity will sweep the nation. In Charlie's world you will be able to walk into any Starbuck's in the country and order a venti goaty mocha, hold the whip. But I digress...

We were out of milk and I had asked about goat milk sellers at the local food co-op and found two names. I called the first and she said she didn't have any to spare. Too many buyers for her little herd to supply any more. Who knew goat milk was so popular? Maybe Charlie is on to something. So I called the second number and an elderly woman answered the phone. Her name is Kay. She tells me that she does in fact have some milk to spare ("Honey, I milk twice a day. Of course I have some to spare,"). Great. So where does she live? How can I get out to where the milk lives? "We're up Sutton Creek." OK, and where is that? "Hon, we're near the dump." OK, and where is that? "Well, you know where the land fill is? Instead of going right, you go left. There are some pine trees, but you can't see the house from the road. The dogs will let me know when you're here and I'll just walk out to meet you." I asked a few more question that ellicited the same basic information so I just stopped asking. I figured Charlie knew where the land fill was. He's been there before. So I just left it at that.

Charlie was able to tell me where Sutton Creek Road is, and how to get to the land fill. I was sure that I could make it from there. (I was wrong.) I drove out of town dangerously close to Luke's nap time with just a little bit of gas but how far could she be, really? Thirty minutes later I'd located the dump, driven up and down Sutton Creek Road twice, coaxed Luke back from dream land by handing him an entire apple and burned through more gas than I was comfortable with. So I turned around and headed home. I still don't have any goat milk to show for the adventure. We're coasting on the last of a gallon of milk from a Central Oregon dairy that we found the next weekend. I'm too embarrased to call Kay back. She had such faith in my ability to find her house. She'd be so disappointed if I told her how miserably I'd failed.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Charlie's Rightness

I've been feeling like I don't have much to write when it comes to describing this year's local eating lenten experience. It seems (knock on wood) too easy this time around. We've found a source for wheat, which took up a lot of time and effort last year. We have plenty of salt, thank goodness. Last year we took a trip to the ocean to make our own but this year I don't think we'll need to worry because we're all stocked up. And if we did run out, I think we'd purchase from a Utah source (that's the closest salt seller I've found) without any guilt. It's a toss-up, evironmentally speaking, between driving across Oregon to get salt for one family versus purchasing Utah salt that likely came on a truck carrying salt for a hundred or more families (plus all sorts of other things). We have frozen fruits and veggies from Stahlbush Farms (from Corvallis) which we can purchase from Bella Main Street Market. Plenty of frozen meat, a good supply of honey, and some random bits of things that we've saved throughout the year. So it really doesn't seem too difficult this time around.

I was lamenting my lack of hard-core-ed-ness to Charlie, and how wretched it is that I can't find much in the way of "trials and tribulations" to share with y'all when he so wisely said, "well, isn't that the point of all of this?" He pointed out that the whole purpose of this lenten exercise (and last year's exercise, too) is to get to a point where we've done our homework and it all comes pretty easy. To get to a place where eating locally isn't one hardship after another, but rather just the way we do things and no big deal doing it.

He's right, of course. And he'll be thrilled that I've admitted his rightness. Right here. And in public.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Home Again, Home Again

We were traveling again last weekend. So the travel exception was the rule, again. So I'm feeling kind of like a lame-o as far as the local eats are concerned. And we were visiting my in-laws in Bend who are the sort of very considerate people who find out that you like dark chocolate and good port and greet you at the door with both. What's a girl to do? I had to be gracious. The port was from the U.S. and the chocolate was...well, chocolate is never from the U.S. And we indulged in big mugs of coffee every morning, with lumps of sugar just because we could. So I can't even pretend that we did our best to stay local while we were away. The best I can do is to say that I was very conscious of the fact that I was eating far-flung foods and vowed to honestly get back on the bandwagon as soon as we rolled back into our home town.

We're back now and here's what we've had for dinner: a curry (of sorts, using spices from the cupboard) made of local turnips, potatoes, and onions. I made some oat groats in a way that sort of resembled brown rice (one cup groats to 1 1/4 cup water, simmered until H2O is absorbed) and served the vegetables over it. Very local. And pretty humble. But pretty good, really. And we have yet to truly suffer any discomfort during this Lenten season. When the dried chili peppers are gone, that will be a different story.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Exceptions to the Rule

Sorry for the delay in posting. We were out of town last weekend and as I type these words I'm remembering that I forgot to mention a couple of exceptions to our All-Oregon rule. "Oh, sure." you're thinking, "they sound so hard-core and then come the exceptions." Maybe you're right, but at least we're trying. I firmly believe that if we each simply try to be better (about anything, but especially the environment), the imperfect group effort will have tremendous results. So we make our efforts just hard-core enough to make us feel like we're making a difference, but not so exhausting that we give up. A delicate balance.

We have an exception for travel. If you've ever driven between Baker City and Portland and found yourself in Biggs having forgotten to eat lunch in Pendleton, you'll know the uncomfortable position of having to decide between another two (plus) hours of hunger or a meal of tater tots and iceberg salad. This exception allows us the unenviable choice. And the ability to enjoy a meal with family when we're visiting.

We have also decided that we each get an excpetion of our choice. Both Charlie and I are closely guarding our personal exceptions at this point. I know that Charlie is considering cabbage as his exception because St. Patrick's Day is coming up and he wants to be true to his Irish roots. I also know that he is very nearly terrified of running out of tortillas and not being able to make them himself (he has had at least one burrito every day since I have known him), so maybe he'll go for store-bought tortillas. I'm still weighing my options. Last year I went with flax oil from Washington state and Charlie's exception was Tillamook ice cream.
The milk in the ice cream was local, but the chocolate and peanut butter swirled around in there, not-so-much.

But anyway, here's to just (imperfectly) doing it!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Supplies Dwindle

Charlie ran out of dry cereal today. And flatly stated, "the adventure begins" in a less-than-adventurous tone. We still have some far-flung foods that we're using up and really haven't had to sacrifice much yet. We have some tea and a little coffee that won't last long. You might want to steer clear of our house in about a week and a half, when the caffeine runs out. And we still have bits of herbs and spices. Not much sugar, which is concerning. We have a solid honey supplier, though and while it's not as easy to bake with as sugar but it's completely local. I have a real affinity for baked goods (a real problem on many levels) so I'll either have to figure out how to make the honey work in recipes or learn to live without muffins, scones, and cookies (horror!).

I've done a bit of research on where to get some Oregon grown necessities. I'll post my resources on this page, as they come up. Last year I searched and searched and searched for Oregon grown wheat and/or flour. I know what you Oregonians are thinking. Exactly what I was thinking: "Wheat is grown all over this state, so what's the big deal. Go down the road and buy some." Well most of Oregon's wheat farmers grow a particular type of wheat that is more tasty to foreign consumers so most of it gets shipped overseas. Bob's Red Mill is an Oregon company that sells all sorts of flours and grains, but it gets it's stuff from Montana and elsewhere. We suffered several bread-less weeks until I discovered Azure Farms. They are a dry land farm/ranch outside of Dufur, Oregon (just south of the Columbia River Gorge) that grows, mills and sells local wheat. They also traffic lots of other local and non-local natural foods. I highly recommend checking these guys out. I think they're fab.

I also need to mention a Baker City grocery that will be invaluable to us over the next 39 days. Bella Main Street Market (Beverly Calder, purveyor) is the best wine shop/gift shop/gourmet grocery in the Pacific Northwest. And that's not just loyal hyperbole. If you you're traveling on I-84 it's worth a stop into downtown Baker City to check out Bella's selection of ports, Italian pastas, local meats, and high-end bakeware. Bella also stocks produce from local farms and more Oregon products than anywhere else in town. And Beverly e-mailed me personally to let me know that she now is carrying canned Oregon peaches. I love this place.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lent starts with something-less-than a bang.

Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent and our 40 days without olive oil, or raisins, or sugar, or coffee, or tea, or oranges, or bananas, or kiwi, or berries, or, or, or...But at this point I don't really care. I spent a long wakeful night next to our sad little Luke who was throwing up pancakes and ham, all night long. This kid is a puker. He has never had an ear infection, has never been prescribed antibiotics, but tummy troubles are a regular occurrence. So I'm off to the grocery store for juice (not local) and Pedialite (definitely not local).
Luke will try again tomorrow.

For today, I'll let y'all know a bit about what's in our pantry. Our starting point. We did this last year so we've tried to use that experience to help us get a little better prepared. We froze every spare vegetable from last summer's farmers' markets. So there are a few bags of frozen tomatoes, blue berries, and peaches. We also have some frozen apricots from various neighborhood trees (everyone seems to have a forgotten apricot tree around here). I also have to mention that we have a whole goat (formerly named Bullseye) in our freezer. I was vegetarian for a long long time, but I've recently come to believe that being a meat-eater and a responsible part of the food chain are not mutually exclusive. We know where our animals were raised, what the animals were fed, and that they were, in fact, treated kindly like animals not like crops. Bullseye lived within 10 miles of our dinner table. How's that for low food-miles?

I discuss my conversion from vegetarian to conscious animal consumer in last year's blog ( in the post entitled "Love and Evolution." Check it out if you're interested.