Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My PELC so far

I'm back! And I'm exhausted. Stew and I are both wondering why our backs hurt so much--we spent much of the weekend traipsing around farms, but it's not as though there was heavy lifting involved...unless maybe you count our cooler.

The cute baby animal quotient on the farm tour was absolutely through the roof. And as if that wasn't reason enough to attend, I was able to buy a rather stunning amount of cow and sheep cheese, plus a pound of whey-fed pork breakfast sausage. (We have pork here, yes, but I haven't managed to make any breakfast sausage yet this year--just Italian sausage. Things are so hectic that it may be a while before I can set aside more time for charcuterie.)

For the Penny-Wise Eat Local Challenge, I'm doing what I did during my first Eat Local Challenge in 2005: declaring that "local" is wherever I am or have been during the normal course of my week. So some of my Georgia-grown stuff ended up in Stew's fridge, and some of the North Carolinian goodies I picked up have already made it into my home cooking. The point is that I was actually on the farm where these things were produced. You know--"Know the Farmer," etc.

Yesterday Stew and I kicked off the Challenge with a brunch of asparagus omelettes and cornbread. In the afternoon we went to Locopops for two paletas apiece (kind of a PELC budget-breaker, even though the popsicles are less than two dollars each). And at dinner, Stew's pupusas and curtido (the Salvadoran kind) were stunning. She was totally winging it--had never made them before in her life--but worked some kind of magic on the simple ingredients. We also served some locally made Mexican chicken sausage.

We came out at $13 apiece and panicked (we're aiming for around $10 per person per day). But then we remembered that there were a ton of leftovers that would end up as part of the next day's food. Stew has half a loaf of cornbread socked away, and she sent me home with half of the sausage, three pupusas, and about a third of the curtido. That brought us down to $9.30 apiece, which was right in line with our ambitions. And there's more: When I left yesterday evening, she was using the caramelized pan juices from the sausage to make a rich, delicious gravy. Thrifty!

This morning I woke up wanting Kashi Strawberry Fields cereal in the worst way, partly because it was something I couldn't have, but partly because I happen to possess a gallon of really gorgeous raw milk from just over the border in South Carolina (it's illegal to sell raw milk in Georgia, so we are having it brought in via a buying club). The s.o. tasted the milk side-by-side with grocery store milk and said there was no comparison: "It's like Maker's Mark next to Old Granddad," he quipped. I agree. I had some of the cream from the top in my morning coffee, and it's outrageously delicious, very meadow-y and cow-y. It also costs only $4.75 a gallon, which is totally in line with grocery milk prices right now.

Since I wasn't allowed to have my Strawberry Fields, I cooked up some locally milled grits ($4.50 per 2-lb. bag, and you only use a half-cup per two servings, so impossibly cheap...will have to weigh it later for an exact cost) and then added $.90 worth of basil-and-garlic chevre from the blinged-out goats of Celebrity Dairy. (For the record, in case anyone is concerned about our double-dipping of Georgia and North Carolina products, we can get chevre made about 30 minutes from my house.) Breakfast for two, decadent and cheap!

Lunch will be leftovers...which I am very much looking forward to. So far so good on the PELC.