Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Meet Your Nutritional Needs

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.


ChrisB said...

I'm lurking and learning and I realise I'm not a very economic shopper or cook.

Jennifer Jeffrey said...

I have a bag of those very same wheat berries in my cupboard! I think I'm going to cook them tonight, to serve alongside a chicken from Petaluma and locally grown leeks. Mmmm....

Anita said...

dmn, now I feel guilty that I took the "locally made products" exemption for bread. But I keep thinking, as you and Cranky said in the paper, this is no about being in a cult. :)

I figure 95% local is still pretty damned good.

Sean said...

Yum, what a nice idea (and how very Heidi Swanson) to use wheatberries as a risotto replacement. I'm eager to try this!

Moonbear said...

Hi Cookie
this is off topic but I want you to know I cannot get the photo of the mutant gummi bear out of my personal history! It refuses to be deleted and just persists in its prone preternatural position.
I waited a long time to use that word.

Tea said...

The paper called it--you guys are the pros. It looks delish.

I'm looking at the reverse problem--lots of wheat in the new foodshed, and fish, just low on the produce (sigh).

Willa said...

Well, I saw online somewhere tonight that 353,000 bushels of wheat were grown in my county in 2005. Wish I knew where even 1 of those farmers is, I'd go shake some wheat berries out of him (or her)!

Dagny said...

I've never had wheat berries. Sounds interesting.

chilebrown said...

Is there a local place to buy Full Belly Farm whole wheat flour?

enidd said...

enidd can recommend barley risottos, if you have any locally grown barley, of course.

great blog, by the way, and thanks for introducing enidd to so much yummy food she hopes to enjoy when she eventually moves to california.

Beccy said...

I'm just in awe at how cheap it is to buy local. Here the local, homegrown stuff is twice the price and a treat for us.

dancingmorganmouse said...

Wheat berries, I've never heard of them, are there any other names they are known by? I'd love to give them a try.

Susan said...

I love the chewy texture and nutty flavor of wheatberries. I eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (though not on the same day).;)Your dish looks delicious.

cookiecrumb said...

ChrisB: What has been amazing to me is how economical it is for me, without really trying. I guess I've been a cheapskate all my life, and I really like "real" food, so this challenge is just natural.

Jenifer: Yay! I can't wait to hear about that. (And then, put the remaining wheatberries in the freezer, to keep them fresh.)

Anita: You're a tyro. You get to set the rules for your first time. 95% is damn good!

Sean: Yeah, so very Heidi! :D
Let us know what you come up with.

Moonbear: Ha ha. I 'pologize for all your "P" word problems.

Tea: News to me! First, I didn't know you were in wheat-land. But I'm even more surprised to hear you are produce-deprived. (The seafood, I get.)

Willa: You think you'll try to find some? A warning: some cook slow and tough; mine were fast and tender.

Dagny: Full Belly comes to your Saturday market, I believe. Yes!

Chilebrown: Well, probably at the Saturday Berkeley market. They have a booth there, and the flour is up on the counter where you go to get your food weighed. Only $2.

Enidd: How very third-person of you! Cookiecrumb will come check out your blog now.

Beccy: I'm just now realizing how lucky we are. But if you look at the food I eat, it's rustic and simple.
(Er, well... with Marin County cheeses and grass-fed beef and -- oh, never mind.)

DMM: I tried to find another name, but Google didn't help. I remember something from the hippie times called buckwheat groats... Like that? It's the fruit of the wheat, before milling into flour. Similar to barley or whole oats.

Susan: Ah. Susan knows.

Lannae said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lannae said...

I will heed your note about protein. As I am a bit envious at your ability to get CA grown organic olives and olive oil. I have Olive Oil from Sanoma, but the eat local challenge puts Sanoma about 2500 miles away. Less than 100 miles away is a pig farm with bacon and VA ham. I was going to buy a lb of bacon to rendor the fat to cook with for the week, and have my fatten bacon treats for the week too! I am also hoping for local potatoes for the starchy food. I have local honey for the sweetness. This is great fun!

I love reading about your eat local challenge!

Christie's Corner said...

For the reader who asked if wheat berries had another name, they are also called "wheat kernels".