We Moved!

We moved! Our new blog is http://www.solefoodkitchen.com and it is a lot of fun. Come join us!

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SOLE Food Eating

Follow us on the next level of our journey at http://www.solefoodkitchen.com. We’re having fun with new recipes, more local eating and all new menus and weekly budgets for farmers market eating!

Day 365–A New Blog Is Born!

Happy New Year’s Eve! Thanks to all of you who have commented, emailed or texted me information about what you like in this blog! I’ve used your comments and some goals of our own to create a NEW blog SOLE Food Kitchen, http://www.solefoodkitchen.com (since the link is not apparently working) that focuses on eating Sustainable, Organic, Local and Ethically-sourced food. Please check it out!

This is very much a work in progress, but I’ve posted my first entry and hope you’ll take a look! I still have a LOT to do. A GINORMOUS thank you to Heather at Sugar Dish Me, who provided a lot of information. Heather, I still have lots of questions (like why are my links not working!), but I’m starting to figure things out–thank you!

Year of Healthier Living will still be up–no worries. Eventually, I will transition some of the better recipes to the new blog and add some additional yumminess!

Happy New Year, happy new beginnings and happy eating!

Day 363–Our Year In Review

budget

What is going on with the time? It seems like the months are moving in warp speed. It is hard to believe our year experiment is almost up! I’ll be reworking the blog a bit (and hopefully not crashing everything!) and returning on January 1 to start again, this time with a new challenge and a slightly different twist.

This is the time of year when everyone is doing some kind of retrospective on the past 12 months and since we started out with a year challenge, it seems fitting that we will do this, too.

The goals of our family challenge were threefold:

  • Eat at least 75% of our food from local and/or sustainable sources
  • Spend no more than $100 per week on groceries
  • Increase our walking destinations.

How did we do?

Well, we did pretty well for our first time out! Overall, we kept our average spending to just under $100, but missed our mark of 75%. Here’s how the numbers break down for the 43 weeks that I recorded our budget and menu (I’m missing 9 weeks due to schedule craziness, vacations, and whatever else was going on, but I believe those weeks would probably even out to about the same numbers).

  • Total amount spent on groceries:          $4,199.51
  • Grocery $$ spent on local food:             $2,684.91
  • Percent of food budget that was local:  64%
  • Average spent per week:                            $97.66

That averages included our Christmas and Christmas Eve feasts, which were way over budget (but also supremely awesome). I did not include trips to Whole Foods as local, although they were organic and sustainable, because they did not reflect a direct payment to farmers. So for the year, almost $2,700 of our food budget stayed within our community. I’m pretty proud of that!

Where we have not done so well is increasing our walking to local destinations. That is definitely going to be on the agenda for next year.

I personally had some good health outcomes this year. I dropped 15 pounds, lowered my overall cholesterol by 17 points and raised my good cholesterol by several points.

More importantly, I have met some wonderful new people, reconnected to eating seasonal foods, reignited a love of cooking, learned how to can my own food and all around, just had a great time!

What’s next?

Here are some goals for next year:

  • Work on my food photography skills
  • Incorporate more plant-based dishes into our diet
  • Visit our local farms and include our experiences outside the farmer’s market

What would you like to see in this blog for next year? More recipes? Fewer recipes? More research-based information?

I’ll see you back here in 2013–just a few short days away. Have a happy and safe New Year!

Day 355–A Local Holiday Menu

brussel_sprouts

 

I love cooking at Christmastime, but the rush of the holidays sure does make it hard to carve out large amounts of time to really get focused. Still, whenever I do have the time, I enjoy it so much. We have a pretty standard menu for Christmas Eve (our fancy meal) and Christmas supper (more casual), but we do like to change it up a little. This year, I am trying to cook our meals from local foods that are available at this time of year or that I froze/canned this summer. Here is what we’re having!

 

Christmas Eve

 

  • North Carolina seafood casserole (recipe to come tomorrow)
  • Mini tortieres (Canadian pork meat pies)
  • Brussel sprouts with apples
  • Local garden salad
  • Virginia rolls from Great Harvest Bread Company
  • Peppermint ice cream and chocolate pie (not local–just good)

 

Christmas Supper

 

  • Smoked mini boneless ham from Mae Farm
  • Mashed sweet potatoes
  • Collard greens cooked with Mae Farm jowl bacon
  • Field peas
  • Virginia rolls from Great Harvest Bread Company
  • Pecan pie

 

What about you? What are your favorite holiday foods? Do you have a traditional menu or do you experiment each year?

 

Day 352–A Moment of Silence

It’s hard to talk food when you have just spent the morning talking your child into going to school because she is worried about her safety. But I am thankful for the fact that she is safe and praying for those parents who are enduring the unimaginable. So, rather than give a post today, I’m sharing this post as we all reflect on our children and our country.

blogging-day-remembrance

Day 345–What’s Fresh at the Market

Brussel sprouts

The weather here in central North Carolina is having a case of indecision. Although we have had some chilly days, most of December has been in the 70s. I’m not complaining, mind you, but it is a little hard to get in the holiday spirit when you’re wearing shorts and a t-shirt. And flipflops.

One of the wonderful side effects of this warm weather is that our farmers are still harvesting lots of great vegetables! Here is what’s fresh this week!

  • Apples
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Collards
  • Bok choi
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Pecans
  • Sweet potatoes (orange and white)
  • Greenhouse tomatoes
  • Winter squash–acorn, butternut, pattypan
  • Beets
  • Turnips
  • Rutabegas
  • Radish

Have a wonderful week and don’t forget to support your local farmers as you make your holiday meal plans!

Day 341–SOLE Food

20120419-081249.jpgI’ve been struggling a bit with a semantics issue. We use the term “locavore” to describe how we have shifted our normal eating pattern. But sometimes that doesn’t quite capture it. If Whole Foods has a special on grass-fed bison, I may pick some up because bison is healthier than beef, tastes good and the meat is humanely raised and processed. But it may not be “local”.  Or we may purchase sugar, which is not local, but may be organic and minimally processed. So how do we describe that?

I came across another blog using the acronym SOLE to describe food choices (Sustainable, Organic, Local and/or Ethically sourced). The more I think about that, the more I like it. While our first priority is local, organic food, we also have the priority of purchasing sustainable and ethically sourced food that may or may not be local. Great to know that there are so many others thinking this through as well!

As we near the end of our Year of Healthier Living, I’ll be thinking about what to do with our blog–should we rename it and begin again? Tweak it a bit? Hmmm, lot’s of decisions to be made!

Day 334–What’s Fresh at the Market

turnips

turnips (Photo credit: Joanna C Dobson)

Our farmer’s markets are definitely in winter mode. At the NC Farmer’s Market, many farmers who feature summer crops are gone and have been replaced with Christmas tree and firewood vendors. Our weekend markets have reduced their hours because, really, who wants to get outside at 8am when it is 30 degrees outside to score some fresh kale. Not me, that’s who. Even though the markets have lost their summer bounty and a bit of their festive air, they are still full of goodness!

Here is what is available now at central NC markets:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Turnips (and turnip greens!)
  • Beets (and beet greens!)
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Lettuce
  • Greenhouse tomatoes
  • Rutabegas
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter squash
  • Pumpkins
  • Butternut squash
  • Acorn squash
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Pecans
  • Apples

Day 333–Thanksgiving Lessons Learned

I know Thanksgiving was almost a week ago and we are all moving on to the winter holidays, but I’ve taken time to assess several “teachable moments” I had over the holiday and thought I would share them with you. Ready? Here goes…

Freezing and canning mountains of produce in the summer is totally worth it. While we are still making a dent in the food we put up this summer, it is so nice to just go to the freezer or to my canning shelf to grab pasta sauce, roasted pepper ketchup, jam or whatever we need instead of running to the grocery store, especially when we’re planning a big meal like Thanksgiving! And it tastes way better, too.

I need real knives. I’ve probably cooked more this year than I have in my entire adult life. You know what? I really like it! All the vegetable chopping, however, has taken a toll on my cheap-o knife set. This was brought home to me as I was hacking away at our lovely turkey. What we served didn’t look all that pretty, but my knives are shot. Thanks, mom, for being Santa Claus and making that happen.

Real food tastes better. Ok, I didn’t just realize this over Thanksgiving, but it did remind me that fresh food tastes far superior and it doesn’t get any fresher than local produce and meat. And when it tastes better, everyone’s hungry for leftovers. That = less food waste.

Why does anyone buy cranberry sauce? One pound of berries, 1 cup of orange juice and 1/2 cup of sugar. Combine, bring to a boil, stir, refrigerate. Voila. And you control the sugar. Voila-la!

I need more glass food containers. We switched from plastic to glass food containers this year and while our supply is good, it could not keep up with the level of leftovers generated by Thanksgiving! Yes, glass can break (I haven’t experienced that yet) and yes, it is heavier than plastic. Do a taste test though. Microwave something in plastic and do the same in glass. I’m highly subject to suggestion, but I do believe there is a remarkable taste difference. Worth. It.

So Santa, you’ve got the list, right? Knives and glass food containers (well, knives are taken care of 🙂 Oh, and if you can slip some Trader Joes pumpkin ice cream into my stocking, that would be appreciated, too.