Oh, this is going to be harder than I thought. Yesterday I printed a rather optimistic plan for eating “greener” this year, including a commitment to buying and eating mostly produce grown fairly locally. I am still working out what constitutes “local.” The next town is “local,” California is “not local,” the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, although in-state, is (at 240+ miles)”not local.” This kind of determination will be easier once the Farmers Market opens (May 2!!) because no one who sells there comes from more than 50 or 60 miles away; until then I am at the mercy of my usual grocery purveyor.
Speaking of the grocery store, I called this morning to see whether the produce theoretically grown in Michigan at this time of year was available. I had on my provisional menu a great deal of asparagus, some broccoli and cabbage, and rhubarb. After a rather dispiriting conversation with the “onion and potato” guy (who consulted with his colleagues in greener areas) I got out the Wite-Out; the only things they have from Michigan at the moment are parsnips, wheat grass, sprouts, white and russet potatoes, apples and potted herbs. Since people do not, to my knowledge, actually eat wheat grass, and no one in my house eats sprouts (other than me), it’s a pretty limited selection. I am allowing myself onions and garlic, and anything I already have in the house, and I have come up with the following week of menus (and I hope we really like parsnips and can eat apples on a nearly daily basis without coming to hate them):
Vegetarian Nachos and Waldorf Salad Well, I guess I’m also allowing myself two avocados which were almost certainly not grown in Michigan, to make guacamole. The thing is, this is one of our vegetarian meals, and I am walking a fine line with this family between “Earth Friendly” and “Punitive,” so I have to make some compromises so that the vegetarian meals do not cause violent protests and lead to my ouster. Waldorf Salad is an odd choice with nachos, but apples seem to be pretty much the only non-starchy fruit or veg we can have, and maybe I’ll add a little chili pepper and toast the walnuts…or use Pepitas instead of walnuts….
Roast Chicken, Michigan White Potatoes and Scalloped Apples The roast chicken will give me bones to make stock, so that I can make this genius soup that uses the woody and usually discarded ends of asparagus…if there is ever any asparagus grown in Michigan.
Bucatini all’Amatriciana, Homemade Bread and Sauteed Brussels Sprouts This is a cheap and hearty pasta dish; I cheat and make it with bacon because I can’t always find (or afford) decent pancetta. The Brussels sprouts are in the freezer, and while they may have been grown on Alpha Centauri, I get to use what I already have. (She said, clutching her bag of frozen sprouts). The bread will probably be Ciabbata, and I’ll saute the sprouts with some garlic and onions.
Ribs, Fried Parsnips and Apple-Raisin Sautee I believe that Sam and Rob would try goat bladder, or diced camel hump if I fried it in butter. I am hoping that this trick will work with parsnips which, while certainly not appalling to contemplate, are not in our regular repertoire. The ribs will be prepared in my usual way (crockpot until tender and finished on the grill) and everyone will have had a day off from apples, so there should be no problem there.
Fish Tacos, Apple Salad I am buying wild-caught cod, which is not specifically listed among my “you are allowed to eat these” fish, but which I believe to be okay in an ecological sense. (If you know otherwise, please tell me!!) Since the fish tacos are fried, and fairly heavy, I’m thinking I’ll julienne the apples and hit then with some lime juice.
Burgers, Oven Fries and Homemade Applesauce For these burgers, I will grit my teeth at the price and buy grass fed, organic beef. Actually, though, if you take at least two meat meals out of your budget, it does make it easier to buy “good” meat when you buy it. Of course the potatoes and apples will be from Michigan (“Together again for the very first time, ladies and gentleman, please give a hearty Forest Street welcome to Michigan apples and Michigan potatoes!!” )
A Sort of a Pizza Bianca Sam and I will be on our own Friday night, and there’s a good chance he’ll have something better to do. If he’s here, I am going to experiment with a pizza (homemade dough) topped with olive oil, thin slices of parboiled potato, sauteed garlic and onion, mozzarella and a sprinkling of fresh herbs (maybe basil and parsley) and baked until the cheese melts. A Pizza Bianca of sorts. I am thinking that by Friday the idea of peeling an apple will cause me to hyperventilate, so we may just eat apples out of hand to get our “fresh” in. If Sam’s not around, I’ll probably have a cheese omelette, some toast and another damned apple….