22 September 2009


Day 11
Eggs, bacon, and rustic wheat bread

Day 12
Ratatouille, corn bread, and lettuce salad with yellow carrots and cucumber

Day 13
Baked chicken, butternut squash braised in apple cider, roasted potatoes

Day 14
French toast with maple syrup, melon

Trust Your Ingredients

I have a standard demurral when someone compliments my cooking: “You can’t go wrong with fresh vegetables."

One thing about the 100- mile diet is that you're limiting your ingredients with which to cook. You can’t add a dash of Tabasco to this or layer mustard on that. When I’m sauteing up veggies, I could add all the spices in my cabinet – because I have made spices an exception – but I find myself doing that less and less.

My ingredients are fresh and high quality. If an eggplant didn’t come from my own garden, it came from Thomas – our CSA farmer – or from one of the farmers I see every week at the market. To me, that means more care in planting, growing, and harvesting. Why not let them take center stage?

And yet, I still have a hard time believing it will work. Take my tomato-eggplant gratin. I started with a recipe from Alice Waters (there’s a woman who trusts her ingredients) and popped it in the oven. I was working at my computer in the next room when the timer went off – a reminder to remove the foil cover for the final minutes of baking. I walked in the kitchen and thought, Mmmm... what smells so good?

Sounds dumb, but I really did do a double take. Of course, it was the gratin cooking in my oven. Tasted just as good as it smelled too.

Tomato-Eggplant Gratin
from Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters

Saute 3 cloves garlic and 3 sweet onions in olive oil/butter mix until soft
Spread on the bottom of a lasagne pan
Peel and slice an eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds
Arrange in a layer on top of the onions
Slice a tomato for the next layer
(Waters says eggplant and tomato again, but I had a surplus of summer squash so...)
Slice a summer squash for the next layer
Slice a tomato for the top layer
Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil
Cover with foil
Bake at 400 for 30 minutes covered, 15 more minutes uncovered.

17 September 2009


Just dinners now. Partly because I can't keep track, but also because breakfasts and lunches tend to be very similar from day to day.

Day 8

Lettuce salad
Steamed green beans and broccoli

Day 9
I hosted my book club tonight, and made two types of foccacia: One topped with basil and garlic, the other with larges tomato slices, fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves.
Cherry tomato and green bean salad
Lots of bread and cheese choices
Locally canned roasted red peppers and dilly beans
For dessert: peaches & cream and apple-rhubarb crisp sweetened with maple syrup

Day 10
Ham, baked apples, tatsoi (an Asian green) sauteed with garlic and hot pepper, and foccacia

Potato-Leek Soup

When I pulled the leeks out of our farm share bag, I was excited. I've never cooked with leeks before, but I tend to love anything onion-y. So I wasn't really worried about how they would taste, or whether I'd like them. It was just a matter of deciding what to do with them.

I sat down with my cookbooks, my friends Alice Waters, Mark Bittman, and Deborah Madison. I learned that leeks can come thick or thin. You can grill them or stir-fry them, braise, cream, steam, or puree them. We had potatoes in the share as well, so I quickly settled on potato-leek soup.

I worked from the recipe in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

Wash and slice 3 leeks; chop 3 potatoes
Saute veggies in olive oil for a few minutes
Add 1 quart stock (I had made veggie stock from scraps the night before)
Cook until veggies are very tender; about 20 min
Puree (I used a small food processor)
Stir in 1 cup plain yogurt
Salt & pepper to taste

The soup was pale green, smooth and delicious. With foccacia on the side, we got more than one meal out of it.

14 September 2009


Day 6
Breakfast: Rustic bread with honey
Lunch: Eggplant-tomato gratin, sage foccacia
Snack: Plums
Dinner: Breaded eggplant, tomato salad

Day 7
Breakfast: Peaches and yogurt
Lunch: Potato-leek soup, breaded eggplant
Snack: Apples and honey on whole wheat bread
Dinner: Pork chops, applesauce, broccoli, sage foccacia


I told my husband we had three very orange pumpkins already in the garden. (It's my only summer crop that’s come in early.) They usually ripen in October and we set them on the front step for Halloween.

He said, “Can we eat them?”

I was thinking the same thing.

Two things are going on here. One is fact that we feel a certain level of deprivation. I think any time you make a change in diet you can’t help missing some of your standbys (for me, a bite of chocolate midday; for John, a handful of chips when he gets home).

The other reflects the extra effort required to stock up and prepare local fare. The shopping is limited to certain days (Tuesdays and Saturdays for the farmers market, Thursdays for our farm share, my garden when it gives – not the 24/7 supermarket), the shelf life is shorter (and my veggie drawer is stuffed), and the time commitment (to wash, chop, slice, knead, and cook all our fresh food) is relentless.

Both these things lead to hoarding our stuff. We push bananas on the kids (who eat our local dinners, but aren’t strictly on the diet) so we can eat the local plums for our after dinner fruit. When I offered to pack cherry and grape tomatoes in my daughters’ school lunches, I realized I was hoping they’d say no.

So when there’s a couple of pumpkins advertising themselves amidst my weedy garden bed -- well, we why wouldn't we want to eat them?

The pumpkins are on the front step for now. They’ll be on the menu soon.

13 September 2009


Day 4
Breakfast: Yogurt with black raspberry preserves
Lunch: Open-faced sandwiches with cheddar, tomatoes, and basil
Snack: Apple
Dinner: Grilled eggplant and zucchini, sage foccacia, Bibb lettuce salad with radishes and carrots

Day 5
Breakfast: Rustic bread and honey
Lunch: Potato-leek soup and sage foccacia
Snack: Sliced apples and cheddar on cracker-thin slices of bread
Dinner: Grilled steak, corn on the cob, tomato salad