Last summer, mostly just to see if we could (and also it’s good for the planet, your health, blah, blah, blah), we practiced a modified version of the Hundred-Mile Diet, and from July 1 through the end of September, attempting to eat only food grown/processed/produced in Maine. I had a lot of personal growth experiences that had to do with making peace with beets, finding and making peace with raw milk, and figuring out (duh) that back when people made their own butter and jam and bread and cheese, they did not also go sit in offices eight hours a day. I will probably devote a whole zine to our experiences some day.
In any case, we’re trying it again, chugging toward week 2. This year I’ve allowed some exemptions up front: coffee (b/c C would buy it anyway), necessary ingredients (e.g. vinegar for pickles, pectin for jam, yeast for bread, baking soda/powder, etc.), oil (because we ran out of both olive and safflower in the same week last summer and, unbelievably, it turns out not everything tastes good fried in butter), all-purpose (white) flour (because I am going to pick myself up off the can’t-bake-a-loaf-of-bread-to-save-my-life dust and try again) and lemons (because I don’t want to go a whole summer without lemons, dammit, plus a lot of vegetables just taste good with a little lemon juice).
I was going to start after my family left mid-July, but since their trip got delayed I decided to plunge in and start July 1 again, almost as unprepared as last time (last year we returned from a three-week vacation June 30 and started the diet the next day). And somehow I’m not managing to muster a lot of enthusiasm this year. The first week we mostly subsisted on what was left in the house and a whole mess of strawberries from our recent pickings, but by yesterday I was feeling a lot like I did during the first mile of my long bike ride—ready to turn around and go home. I was hungry (we were out of bread, eggs, fruit and our garden is in a lull between spring greens and everything else), tired, hot, cranky and my kids were downright mad that all we have is granola and not Shredded Spoonfuls or Shredded Oats or Puffins on offer in the mornings (they make up for it with bowls of Frosted Flakes at daycare—oi!) I was feeling like I was making my family suffer just so everyone else can go on living their gluttonous lifestyles.
I went to the bakery for bread (really I’m going to learn how to bake bread this summer!), but they only had one loaf of white. Instead I bought myself a croissant sandwich with tapenade and a chocolate no-bake cookie (major cheat…but like I said, our cupboard was bare) and went to the local health food store where I picked up bread and a few acceptable exceptions (flour, lemons, yogurt starter). I picked up milk and maple syrup from the milk farm and eggs from the egg farm on the way home and I felt better when I got there and C had made pizza (with the last of the mozzarella—until the farm makes more, or until I try my hand at cheese). This morning I decided to make some milk that had gone a bit off into yogurt and kefir, I put it on to heat up, left the room and came back to find it had come to a boil and separated into curds—perfect paneer without even trying! During my lunch break today I went out into the sticky, hazy, ozone-y, particle-y, mid-Atlantic-style weather and drove to the farmer’s market. There I purchased tomatoes (already!), new potatoes, cauliflower, cucumbers, zucchini (this summer’s personal growth project, other than the bread-baking: make peace with squash), kale and cinnamon rolls.
There in that hot parking lot I crossed the first road, the pedaling became easier, I started listening to the birds…I think I’m enjoying the ride, and I can’t wait to eat!