Saturday, April 28, 2007

Local Frugal, Day 6

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.


Kalyn said...

Very fun. But now everyone knows your real name if they read the newspaper story. (At least I can stop worrying about the government torturing me to reveal it. Now I can just stick to worry about the government.)

Chilebrown said...

The Chronicle says 1/4 ounce of bacon. That has to be mistake. I leave that much on my cleaver when I am slicing bacon.

dancingmorganmouse said...

That chicken hash sounds fabulous, I'm always looking for ways to use up the leftover bits of chook from a roast - usually it's risotto but I'm betting it's your hash next time (with the extra bacon).

Anna Haight said...

You are amazingly creative Cookiecrumb! Wow!

Beccy said...

I'm following your week of frugal living in awe! An organic, locally produced chicken would cost about $28 here!

Lannae said...

Amazingly fabulous Cookie! Wow, I think your menu is worth at mint if served at any restaurant in the bay area. That is one lucky journalist to have dined on such wonderful food.

Susan said...

What? You don't cook 4-course lunches every weekend? ;)

Thanks for accepting this challenge and sharing your experiences. Your menu is splendid.

Susan said...

P.S. Are those rainbow carrots in the newspaper pic? Happy 601st post too!

cookiecrumb said...

Kalyn: I share your worries, you Commie. You are funny.

Chilebrown: Yeah, wrong. Our bacon was frozen, so Cranky just hacked off a chunk; pretty sure it was an ounce and a quarter. You are funny, too.

DMM: I'm a little stuck on potatoes these days, because we have a fabulous local grower.

Anna: Pshaw... Thanks!

Beccy: That's why we made it go for four meals. But we don't have three growing children.

Lannae: Far too kind. I get to say that myself about my own cooking, but you are making me blush. :D

Susan: Hah! It was a weekday! Not having to work for a living has its merits; I recommend retirement. Thanks for your compliment.
And yes, they are the rainbow carrots you blew me away with on your blog. Good thing you didn't peel yours; the color comes off!!

Dagny said...

I have another suggestion for Cranky. It's not always a question of having the time but of having the energy to spend more than 5-10 minutes in the kitchen after being at work all day. At least that's what it often is for me, especially in the days when I spent at least three hours on the road commuting.

cookiecrumb said...

Dagny: I'm probably being unfair. It's true we have the time to cook, but we also have the energy.
I can relate to your commuter horrors, having had a job with a 2-1/2 hour round-trip commute. But the oddest thing is, I'd come home and cook a quick spaghetti sauce. Not local (canned tomatoes, in fact), but I was usually willing to put a few minutes in the kitchen.
I think with some smart weekend shopping, you could have easy-to-prepare foods in your home for busy days. And there's nothing wrong with leftovers.