Checking In

Oof! It’s been a super-hectic past two weeks, but that’s not what I want to share with you. What I want to share is my response to two questions I’ve been getting a lot lately:

1. Are you sticking to The 250 even when you’re this busy?

Yes, I am. I want to say, “of course,” but there’s an interesting fact uncovered by this question that a glib reply wouldn’t do justice to.

I’ve gotten used to eating within The Rules and my 250-mile radius. It’s become my new normal. There’s a rhythm to it that has become automatic: feed the sourdough starter on Saturday even if I don’t get around to making bread, farmers’ market on Wednesday and Saturday and if I run out of dairy products there are local options at the co-op and even the supermarket. When really crunched for time, dump some of the ratatouille I canned last summer into my lunch container and bolt out the door. Breakfast lately has been smoothies of kefir and frozen berries from last year. My garden guarantees salads now even if I don’t make it to the farmers’ markets. And so it goes.

The other question I’ve been hearing frequently as I head into the final three months of The 250 is whether I’ll continue after the year is up. At least 95% is my answer. The remaining 5% leaves space for a few luxuries I might indulge in from time to time. I might replenish my empty jar of ground cinnamon. I might have a glass of non-local wine occasionally. Key word “occasionally.” Local will continue to be my daily fare.

But for now there are three months to go and beyond that a future of perpetuating what I’ve learned this year. Like how to make great sourdough bread (no commercial yeast required), and that I should have dried twice as many tomatoes, but I didn’t need so much frozen pesto. I’m planting my garden much more food-intensively this year than I have in the past. I’ve already put in basil

and the hot pepper seedlings

Both peppers and basil (and the tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash I’ll be putting in next week) are sun-lovers. But this year I’m also treating the shady areas of the garden as potential food sources. I already have wild ginger and spicebush planted, and today added ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris, the one that makes the yummy edible fiddleheads you see at the markets in early spring). In the woodland shade food garden, my mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) are blooming, which hopefully means fruit this summer. The blooms are a special treat to spot because they open underneath the leaves, undiscovered by the casual glance.

If you want to know more about edible landscaping, even in shady areas, Plants for a Future is a great resource.

A couple of nights ago I had Ellen and the gals from Kitchen Caravan over for a local food feast. The menu included Ellen’s superb lilac and peach wines and her spicy pickled carrots, as well as my pickled fiddleheads, beets, and cherries (all from last year), and some fab cheeses from Cato Farm. The main meal was salad with arugala from the garden and Old Chatham‘s blue cheese, roasted potatoes, grilled asparagus, and grilled portobello mushrooms with a chorizo sausage stuffing. Just in case you thought I was suffering on The 250–not!

Other news: I’ll be speaking at FarmFest on May 18th. Oh, and I won the 2008 Teaching Excellence Award from Adelphi University. Nothing to do with The 250, but I’m excited and so decided to share.

Not sure what this is about? Read Getting Ready for the 250-Mile Diet and The Rules

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4 responses to “Checking In”

  1. nmontesano says:

    Delurking to say, 1. I love the blog and 2. Lilac wine? Please tell us about it — and maybe a recipe? My lilacs are blooming now.
    Oh, and I’m especially curious about your wild foraging, although in the Pacific Northwest we probably have different wild edibles. You’ve encouraged me to locate (or replant) my wild ginger and try actually using it.

  2. SaraAnneC says:

    Leda, my dear, my inspiration!

    CONGRATULATIONS on the teaching excellence award!!!!!!
    Sara Anne Corrigan

  3. acmeplant says:

    It was a delicious dinner and fun to meet Emma and Sofia. But seriously! Were there no photos of me with my eyes open?!

  4. Miriam says:

    Congratulations, Leda. Not surprising that an award for teaching excellence should go to you, though.

    Your garden sounds good, and the basil & peppers look wonderful. I thought my windowboxes couldn’t contain one more thing, but I just realized there’s a space for a hanging plant basket, and it’s going to have basil in it. Love basil!

    Tomato prices are down here, and I’m starting a batch of slow-roasted ones today. Will you be doing any of that this summer?

    Miriam

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