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Archive for the ‘The Eat Local Challenge!’ Category

They say is takes 28 days to form a new habit.  It’s true – I can’t imagine eating any other way after this month of purchasing and preparing all local ingredients for my meals. Not only is it a joy to know exactly where and by whom my food was produced, knowing my dollars stay in my community and support people who are loving the land, but I feel physically healthier and have even dropped a few pounds as an added bonus!  Can’t forget how fun it is to be creative in the kitchen – April consisted of some of the best meals I have ever eaten. Along with the food challenge, was the time challenge – April is my busiest month of the year, but I was still able to pull this off on the go.

Some highlights:

Breakfast every morning consisted of a smoothie with rotating ingredients of Strawberries, foraged Loquats, Green Grocer Raw Milk, Anson Mills Oats, Honey, Pecans, Frozen Blueberries and Blackberries from last year’s harvest, homegrown Spinach and Romaine and Sol Haven Farms Kale. Greens in a smoothie, you say? Yes, you can hardly taste them! A great way to get more veggies in your diet. Can’t forget the Charleston Coffee Roasters Coffee with Raw Milk and Honey.

Lunch on the go: again, a rotating combo of Normandy Farms Bread, Meathouse Smoked Ham, Glass Onion Pimento Cheese, Kurious Farms hydroponic Tomatoes, homegrown Spinach and Lettuce, Meathouse Bacon (BLTs!), and seasoned, thinly sliced, roasted Rutabegas as a bacon substitute (RLTs!)

The RLT

The RLT

Snacks: homegrown Sugar Snap Peas, Carrots, Raw Milk, Nicole’s Nutty Goodness, Kale Chips, Boiled Peanuts, Hard-boiled Eggs and whatever roasted veggies were leftover from the previous night’s meal.

Dinners in House: Thankfully I have a wonderful boyfriend who helped me out preparing beautiful meals of wild SC game from Venison to Doves and SC seafood from Oysters to Shrimp along side Anson Mills Grains, Rio Bertolini’s Pasta, and an abundance of fresh vegetables – Asparagus, Greens, Onions, Peas – from Rosebank Farms where he works the fields daily, and the Dirtworks Incubator Farm – Sol Haven Farms, Fiddle Farms, Spade & Clover Farms, and Compost in My Shoe – Fava Beans, Carrots, Spinach, Swiss Chard and Kale.

One of my favorites was a Sunday meal prepared for friends and family:
homegrown Sugar Snap Peas (appetizer)
Cajun Boiled Peanuts from the Farmers Market (app)
Pan-seared SC Venison tenderloin
Spade & Clover Braised Fava Beans
Roasted Beets, Carrots and Spring Onions
Homegrown Romaine Salad brought by my Garden Clients and dear friends Helen and Steve
Homemade Artichoke Relish
Strawberry and Loquat Crisp
WOW!!

My second favorite was the Oyster Chowder:
Johns Island Oysters
SC Shrimp from the freezer
Green Grocer Raw Milk
Happy Cow Creamery Butter
Rosebank Farms English Peas and Spring Onions
Sol Haven Farms Green Garlic
Meathouse Bacon
Kurious Farms Tomato
homegrown Oregano

We also dined out on the town: Stars, Ordinary Oyster Bar, EVO Pizzaria, Chez Fish and the Glass Onion.

With food this good, why go back to the box stores? Each week, I brought my cash to the Farmers Market in Marion Square and stocked up. Once I figured out what to eat and where to get it, the stress of my next meal went away. Suddenly the fridge was stocked and it was time to get cooking!

Farmers Market Haul with Ground Cherries from a friend's garden, foraged Loquats, Coutry Pate and Pork Rinds

Farmers Market Haul with Ground Cherries from a friend’s garden, foraged Loquats, Coutry Pate and Pork Rinds

I love this challenge and I encourage people to try it, no matter what month it is!

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April 1 started out a little dreary. I was behind in my food sourcing and found myself eating grits, eggs and greens for the first part of the day – not that I mind those, it’s actually a favorite, but I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from just yet… I was feeling food insecure!

Luckily, Lowcountry Local First was having the Dirtworks Incubator Farm launch that afternoon and the reception was catered using local ingredients by Cassique and the Beach Club on Kiawah Island. Amen, I was saved…at least for the evening.

I dedicated April 2 to driving all around town to gather my sustenance for the next little while. My day consisted of:

A trip to Ambrose Farms on Wadmalaw Island yeilding – U-pick strawberries, beets, asparagus, Spring onions, carrots and the first (literally) Spring broccoli, offered straight from the farmers hand. Thanks Pete!
IMG_0831

My journey carried me back to Johns Island for a stop at Blackbird Market where I picked up:

– 10lbs carrots grown on their farm plot on Wadmalaw
– Rio Bertolini’s Split Creek Farm Goat Cheese Ravioli (convenience food!)
French Boule baked at Normandy Farms Bakery
– 2 jars of pickled SC peaches – we are in a fruit shortage at this time of year, so I was really excited to find these!
Nicole’s Nutty Goodness snack bars (more convenience food – hooray! – I need all the help I can get)

Crossing Main Rd., I found myself at the Piggly Wiggly scoping out their local dry goods selection. I came up with:
Charleston Coffee Roasters whole bean organic dark roast coffee, and
Charleston Bloody Mary Mix mix to be used with the Firefly Vodka I pick up at the ABC next door.

Onward up Maybank Highway to Earthfare Health Foods Market who has a lovely display of local produce right as you walk in the door.  They receive most of their local fare from the all-local food distributor Grow Food Carolina.  My findings there:
Sweet Potatoes from Care Farm in Orangeburg- they look a little rough, but they taste divine – sweet and silky texture, bright orange flesh. Needed nothing but a little sea salt.
Tomatoes – Hydroponic from Kurios Farms – they are pretty darn good for being grow indoors in March.  I’m really thankful for a local tomato right now…
Zesty Salad Mix from City Roots in Columbia – beautiful microgreen mix with pea tendrils, beets, brassicas, and sunny shoots.
BeerWestbrook Brewing CompanyWhite Thai 6-pack o’ cans.

Earthfare's Bounty

Earthfare’s Bounty

Kurios Farms Tomatoes

Kurios Farms Tomatoes

The Glass Onion off 17 keeps a stock of the Green Grocer’s AMAZING raw milk. Celeste Albers is one of our finest producers in town – a hero of mine. I also grabbed some homemade pickles and pimento cheese.

Heading through downtown, I made a quick u-turn into Crosby’s Seafood to pick a local catch –
Flounder filets

And the farthest journey of all – to Our Local Foods off of Clements Ferry – but worth the trip to acquire Happy Cow Creamery’s Butter and Cheese. Can’t forget the sweet tooth – Split Creek Dairy’s creamy, delicious Fudge.

I head home to find a freshly delivered package waiting on my doorstep – from Anson Mills in Columbia – a most precious and holy box of the finest in South Carolina Heirloom, organically-grown grains…various Flours for bread, tortillas and dough, Farro, Carolina Gold Rice, Popping Corn, stone-cut Oats and Grits.  Spectacular.

The amazing array of Anson Mills products.

The amazing array of Anson Mills products.

The pantry and fridge are stocked with the most beautiful foods in our land.  I have found the food security I was looking for with a little hunting and gathering.  I’m thinking this challenge will be more than possible – healthy, delicious and conscious.

Now to begin cooking…

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The month of April has arrived – part of the busiest season in our area for agriculturalists and gardeners alike – preparing the soil for planting, clearing the greenhouse of transplants and moving them to their permanent homes, gearing up for the farmers market, and feeling the buzz of go-go-go…the growing season is on!

So why not add another challenge to an already challenging time?  Eating Local Food for a whole month.

Lowcountry Local First, a non-profit in the Charleston area committed to supporting local businesses and sustainable agriculture celebrates April as Eat Local Month. They provide us with the challenge us to take our love for local foods and producers to the next level.

check it out: The Eat Local Challenge

As I have been involved in local foods and agriculture for 9 years now (almost a third of my life – wow!), the next level for me is Local All-the-Way. I know what’s in season, who grows it, where to find it and how to prepare it.

My original intent was in the raw foods with local ingredients only, but let’s be reasonable here. I’m busy, your busy and we all need to eat.  Supporting local businesses is just as important, and its impossible for them to source all of their raw ingredients from the state.  Meaning, we have lots of opportunity here.

So, the parameters for my challenge:

1. Foods produced in South Carolina, with a priority on seasonal produce, dairy, seafood, meats and grains, including wild game. This also includes goods from local bakeries and home-made items from local producer-supporting restaurants.

2. Foods that I have canned, frozen or dried from the farm over the years.

3. Meals at restaurants that really and truly support our local producers.

4. Kitchen staples such as oils, vinegars and spices are allowed from outside of SC – we just don’t have them here.

5. Dinner invitations or gifts of homemade foods are fair game. After all, local is community, and sharing food is community in its purest form.

Follow me on my journey through our Foodshed for the month of April as I explore and honor our Tenders of the Earth and others who celebrate Her bounties in the form of food.  And please please let me know of any hidden local gems I have missed!

Now, off to the Strawberry Farm!

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