This was the big day. A newspaper reporter was coming over to see what we were up to, and to share a meal of food we had procured from within a 100-mile radius.
The plan was to feed two adults for a week on this diet for $144. And we dared ourselves to include a dedicated eater as our guest, within that budget.
Of course, we had to show off.
We cooked up a four-course lunch. I don't eat four-course lunches!
But it was easy, filling, nutritious and — gosh — yumzo.
As you may know, Cranky and I took the Penny-Wise Eat Local Challenge a couple of weeks early so our reporter pal could chart our progress. So I'm telling the story today of a meal that happened in the recent past.
Here's how it went.
First course: Chilled gazpacho soup, made from last summer's frozen roasted tomatoes. We didn't have any local onions on hand, so we blinged out the soup with diced radishes and chopped seabeans. Flavoring was homemade cider vinegar, salt and local habanero pepper. Just a small serving for each of us.
Second course: A beautiful salad I've already written about. Go see.
Third course: Chicken hash. We had roasted a chicken at the beginning of the week, and were doling out portions of the cooked meat for subsequent meals. This meal was made from diced, boiled potatoes; some chopped, cooked bacon (and the fat that was rendered); some diced scallion; some minced, foraged grape leaves; and a good drizzle of cream. If you follow the link to the newspaper story, the recipe for our hash is in the paper, but I guess the food staff there decided to go way skimpy on the bacon; the recipe says 1/4 ounce bacon, but I think I used an ounce and a quarter; maybe my notes were faulty... Ooh, but it was good.
Fourth course: Dessert of a simple laurel-infused yogurt, drizzled with local honey. For three (admittedly small, but we were stuffed) desserts, I figure we spent 49 cents.
Total cost for three: Just over $13.
The meal was consumed at a leisurely pace on the patio, but — and I can't stress this enough — for any of you who think cooking local food on a budget requires more time than you can spare, I want you to know that we cooked the entire four courses while the reporter was on the premises... And that includes the time she spent eating with us. Yes, the chicken was already cooked, but around here, that's known as "leftovers." The tomatoes had been preserved last summer, but that's called "smart." Everything else was prepared on the spot, in the amount of time a busy journalist has to spend interviewing and eating.
I'd say she got the lucky end of the deal... but so did we.