Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The 100 Mile Diet

My family and I have decided to follow the 100 mile diet this summer. The basic concept of this diet is eating locally grown or raised food all originating from within 100 miles of where you live.

There are many advantages to the 100 mile diet, but I thought I would mainly talk about the ones that played into our decision. First and for most, the possibility of saving money. Now this may or may not actually work. I understand that many local farmers are going to boast that there produce is organic and therefore may charge just as much as the grocery store or maybe even more. However, we also are hoping that with rising food prices that distributors have to pay that they then make the consumer pay for that maybe the local farmer will charge less. We will find out as we go. Also though, getting more for our money. Produce may be the same price, even a little more, but it will be fresher and thus being healthier and tasting better. Hey if my family will eat more of it because it tastes better, that is money well spent! Also I like the idea of knowing where it came from. If you have an opportunity to meet the grower or their employees I think this is great. You have opportunity to ask any questions about how something was grown. Lastly, I just think it is great to support the small business owner. Do we really want our country to be overrun with corporations? Well, I don't.

I am very excited about our plan to eat locally grown and raised foods. I know it will not be easy but I do have a strategy to tackle our lofty plans. Here are some strategies that anyone can use to follow the 100 mile diet.

Local Harvest. Out first major strategy is to shop the Farmer's Market every weekend. We have a great farmer's market in central Ohio in Worthington. Instead of planning the vegetables I want to make before I go to the store, I am going to see what is available and in season. Eating vegetables that are in season is a great way to save money. If I am uncertain with what to do with the vegetables I but I can always look up a recipe, or if all else fails throw it on the grill and see what happens! We also have the North Market here in Columbus that has food vendors that are local. There are a couple of meat vendors there so this is our approach to buying much of our meat. For information on local farmer's market or other local food vendors, Local Harvest is a great website.

Grow your own. Another great strategy to local eating is to grow stuff at home. We live in a condo with only a little room for a garden so we are going to grow our own herbs. Growing your own herbs is a great way to save money. If you have room, it is pretty simple to grow your own vegetables. Most of the time just a couple plants will you give you all the harvest you will need. You could also start a partnership with a neighbor. You can grow the tomatoes for instance, and have them grow another vegetable and then trade. You could even do this with several friends or neighbors you are close with to get several types of vegetables! Also, if you live in an apartment some vegetables will even grow in containers or pots. Tomatoes is an easy one that comes to mind, just make sure your plants get enough sunshine so that they ripen!

Ask around. You never know what people have extra of until you ask. I recently found out that my grandmother has a friend with many chickens who lay lots of eggs. This friend has more eggs than she knows what to do with and gives them away. Now we get free eggs from her!

Share. If you decide to grow your own produce and have too much share. My parents plant 30 tomato plants every year. These plants produce more tomatoes than my parents could ever eat. (Why they plant so many every year is still a mystery!) They take all of their extras to neighbors or coworkers. This not only helps out the recipients, but my parents usually get help and favors in return, like neighbors helping them cut down a tree or whatever.

Now I have to admit, I will probably not be able to limit the grocery store completely. I do have a 1 year who stills likes his snacks of Cheerios and Cheezits. I am not sure how to explain to a 1 year old that if Cheezits are not at the farmer's market then they are not found in our pantry either. Yeah, probably wont happen so we will make some grocery store runs but I hope to cut them to a minimum. I will of course keep you posted on how the 100 mile diet goes for us as the summer progresses! I hope you will try this venture with us!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Wines on the Cheap

I suspect most people are like me. I enjoy a glass of wine with my dinner and occasionally I'll find a wine I like enough to drink the whole bottle in one night, but I am by far a wine expert. I really only know what types of wine I like. I cannot describe wine in technical terms, but have my own words for describing wines. Therefore, when I do buy wine I do not want to spend a fortune on it. It always annoys me when I read an article in a Food Magazine highlighting tasty bargain wines that are priced at $30-50. I have even seen so called bargain wines that are listed at $100 for a bottle! To the wine connoissier this may be a great price, but not to average Joe wine drinker. Bargain to me is $15 tops.

That is why I love this website, Cheap Wine Reviews. They taste and review affordable wines. Most of the wines they taste are between $5-$10! I think that is great! Definitely more my speed! You can read the daily posts, or look up by wine types. I think this site is great and I can't wait to try some of their recommendations! Thanks Cheap Wine Reviews!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

All I Want for Mother's Day

Here is my list of what I am hoping to get for Mother's Day. I thought I would write this post in the hopes that my husband might read it. I also thought this might serve as good gift ideas for the cooking enthusiast.

First on my list is a pasta machine. The particular one pictured is an Imperia Pasta Machine sold exclusively at William Sonoma and made in Italy. I really want to try making my own pasta but I really really dont want to have to roll it out by hand. I have read some reviews and the Imperia had mainly good reviews. I am also making this easy on my husband as we have a gift card for William Sonoma!

The next on my list is the cookbook Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. This one seems to be the bible for Italian Cooking so I must have it. We definitely prefer Italian food. I love cooking it and my husband loves eating it. I have quite a few cookbooks that I use on a regular basis but quite frankly I am getting bored with some of them!

Third on my list is another cookbook. Mario Batali's Italian Grill looks like it would be a great addition and wonderful compliment to the books I already have! I have another of his books, Simple Italian Food, which I love, but I do want to add to my collection. Also, the nicer spring weather makes we want to grill but recently I have been having trouble finding interesting grilling recipes. I hope this book can help. Mario Batali also peaked my interest in this book when I caught him on Martha Stewart the other day, cooking some of his recipes. They looked great!

Last on my list, well as far as cooking stuff goes, is this nifty looking OXO Corn Stripper. It is shaped like a computer mouse and cuts the corn kernels off the cob quickly, easily, and safely. We like fried corn among other recipes that require you cut off the kernels. I usually use a knife and a cutting board but also feel awkward and clumsy, a great way to cut off a finger! This tool looks like it would take away at least the unsafe part of de-kerneling the cob!