Going without bread for a whole week?
Did somebody just say whole wheat?
While eating food from a 100-mile radius, and sticking to a budget for the Penny-Wise Eat Local Challenge, I know I will have to do without white flour.
There is a local farm, Full Belly Farm, that grows a sturdy winter red wheat. They mill it into whole-wheat flour, and I have baked with it, but the results were leaden (keeping in mind that I am not a baker). I came across a recipe for whole-wheat pasta not long ago, although I have yet to experiment with it.
So. How am I to get the carbs I need during my local challenge? Potatoes, sure. Rice, too — I am fortunate, living in the Bay Area, that there are rice growers roughly within my region.
Ah, but that wheaty taste. Sometimes you crave it.
Luckily, Full Belly Farm sells whole wheatberries. They are hella easy to cook. You can use them in "risotto" dishes, or you can stir them into soups. We ate some for breakfast, drizzled with yogurt and honey.
And then we made a salad of room-temperature wheatberries, mixed with local olives, Marin feta cheese, baby romaine lettuce leaves, local olive oil, homemade cider vinegar, a splash of olive juice, and a pinch of homegrown herbs.
It sounds naive and quaint, but eating it was an haute cuisine experience garbed in peasant clothing. The berries have a caviar-like explosive crunch, and the ingredients are all deeply satisfying as well as nutrient-rich. I can't say enough about it. Oh, except that for the two of us, it cost $4.86.
Meeting all your needs: It is tempting to forgo costly proteins to come in under budget during this challenge, but your body will not forgive you and you'll end up cheating. Make sure you get what you need. Beans, eggs, little dabs of meat, cheese. Don't eat too much of them, though, and make sure your food is fascinating by using bright flavors and tempting textures. Please don't try to do this experiment by living strictly on potatoes for a week.
One more idea. When you cook a strip or two of bacon to jazz up dinner, save the bacon grease. It is a thrilling cooking fat for your next day's menu — and it's free.