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Will You be Joining us Again?

January 29th, 2014

Well, it’s officially time to start talking about the 5×5 Challenge once again.  I’ve had a lot of people excited about doing it again this year and more that watched last year and are ready to jump in and start a garden this year.  I’ll be using my raised bed outside the front door again for this challenge, this year I’ll be growing different vegetables.  I haven’t decided which ones, perhaps you’ll have suggestions.
5x5 garden
This year we’ll hopefully be joined by a few members of the tiny house community, Tiny House Magazine will be running an article about the 5×5 in the next issue.
5x5 garden challenge
This year we’ll continue with the same schedule, Wednesdays will be the challenge days. The posts here on Chiot’s Run will focus on garden education, tasks to complete in your garden, and updates on my 5×5 garden.

Who’s in? Did you do the challenge last year? Are you a new to gardening?

Join Us for the Dark Days Challenge

November 10th, 2011

I’ve always wanted to join Urban Hennery’s Dark Days Challenge, but for some reason I always found out about it after the deadline to sign up was over. This year, I asked Laura about it a few weeks ago and she said she wasn’t going to do it because she was too busy. I offered to host the challenge at Not Dabbling where we have a few extra writers to take on some of the workload. So the challenge is back on – YAY. Knowing many of you are local, seasonal eaters already or interested in giving it a go, I thought you’d enjoy joining us.

Sunday, November 27th, 2011 to Saturday, March 31st, 2012. By joining the challenge you commit to eating one meal per week comprised of 100% local food (local being 150 mile radius from your home for this challenge). If you’re interested, head on over to Urban Hennery and sign up. We’ll be doing the recaps on Not Dabbling and you’ll be hearing about my Dark Days meals here. We’ll be doing special themes and giving away prized at Not Dabbling along with recaps for all the people joining us each week as well. It’s a great way to challenge yourself to eat locally, give yourself something to blog about each week, encourage creativity in your cooking, and of course increase blog traffic because we’ll be linking to you in the recap posts.

Do you think it’s easier to eat locally during certain times of the year in your area?

Join Us for the $5 Challenge & win a Prize

September 16th, 2011

As you know, I’m a big advocate for good, healthy local food. I keep up to date on what’s going on in the agricultural world, as well as the local and slow food movement. When Slow Food initiated their $5 Challenge I thought it was a great idea. I’m always trying to tell people that eating local seasonal food is not more expensive and this challenge sets out to prove just that. The goal is to cook healthy meal for less than what you would spend for a meal at a fast food restaurant. They emphasize that the food should fit the Slow Food ideal “food that is good for those who eat it, good for farmers and workers, and good for the planet.”

THE CHALLENGE: This September 17, you’re invited to take back the ‘value meal’ by getting together with family, friends and neighbors for a slow food meal that costs no more than $5 per person. Cook a meal with family and friends, have a potluck, or find a local event.

WHY: Because slow food shouldn’t have to cost more than fast food. If you know how to cook, then teach others. If you want to learn, this is your chance. Together, we’re sending a message that too many people live in communities where it’s harder to buy fruit than Froot Loops. Everybody should be able to eat fresh, healthy food every day.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED: Sign up for the challenge! You can cook a meal with friends and family, find a local event, or host your own event. When you sign up, we’ll send you $5 cooking tips.” Sign up for the challenge! You can cook a meal with friends and family, find a local event, or host your own event.

This isn’t really a “challenge” for me. We’ve been eating local, seasonal, slow food for quite a while. We even try to eat this way when we travel and when we’re on the run.

I’ll be getting together with a few friends tomorrow night and I’m in charge of the meal. Later today, I’m off to Local Roots to see what kinds of meals I could prepare for $5 a person. Of course I could make the entire meal with ingredients from my garden and some of the venison from the freezer and it would cost me only about $2 per person. But I think I’m going to purchase the ingredients for this challenge.

I have a few meal ideas knocking around in my head, like:

    • Crispy Sticky Chicken Thighs from Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life
    • Braised Beef Sandwiches like those ones I blogged about
    • Simple Roasted Chicken with seasonal vegetables
    • Pasta Primavera featuring homemade noodles with local eggs topped with seasonal vegetables and local cheese
    • Beef Roast with roasted root vegetables
    • Homemade pizza with various toppings & local cheese
    • Beef Stew with a crusty homemade peasant loaf
    • Caramelized Onion Soup topped with crusty bread and local cheese and a side salad
    • Ratatouille from seasonal vegetables
    • Mushroom Lasagna with local mushrooms and cheese with a fresh salad

    Having a small edible garden is a great way to save some cash on your food bill and it’s the ultimate slow food. I have a collection of Botanical Interests seed packs to give away to one lucky reader. All you have to do is comment a great meal idea that would cost less than $5 per person using “food that is good for those who eat it, good for farmers and workers, and good for the planet.”

    So, who’s in? Any great ideas for inexpensive, delicious meals?

    Here’s a great Q&A with Josh Veirtel about the $5 Challenge and how it came about.

Looking Back on No Buy February

March 2nd, 2011

February is gone. I flipped my calendar to March yesterday morning and I was happy to see a photo of Siberian Squill looking back at me. By the end of the month they should be blooming in my garden. It’s time to think back on our No Buy February Challenge and take stock of how we did, and think about what we want to implement the rest of the year.

I did fairly well in the challenge. I bought box of grapefruit from a small organic farm in TX.  I had forgotten to buy them in January, and I knew if I didn’t buy them in February I wouldn’t get any grapefruit. Some organic mushrooms at the health food store and the farmer’s market also made it into my shopping bsket. Since they’re healthy and help boost your immune system, I didn’t forgo buying them in February. I didn’t want to end up sick just because I didn’t want to spend a few dollars on mushrooms. How could I resist these beautiful mushrooms anyways?

We worked on eating up food from the freezer, like the last of the chili I made a few months ago and the last of the turkey and dumplings from Thanksgiving. Potatoes were a staple this month as I still have pounds and pounds of them in the basement pantry and they’re starting to sprout.. Our favorite meal of the month was venison steak smothered in a mushroom wine sauce over rice (that’s where those mushrooms went). I made this several times as we have a ton of venison steaks since Mr Chiots was able to get three deer this year.  One area I really focused on this month was making simpler meals.  Since I only used items I had in my pantry, I made a lot of soups and stews full of a variety of vegetables.  This is definitely something I can try to focus more on throughout the year.

In the not buying food category I did pretty well. I did however end up buying a few things I didn’t need in other areas. I purchased a cookbook, mostly to get our total order up to get free shipping. I was going to buy the cookbook anyways, so it wasn’t an impulse purchase. I didn’t keep track penny for penny of things I didn’t purchase, but I’m guessing I saved around $100.

That amount will cover half a year of schooling for a child in Colombia. I’ll be donating the money to the Colombian Christian Mission scholarship program, which just happens to be what I do for my day job. The photo above is me at the school in Colombia talking to some of the students when I visited a few years ago (and yes I speak Spanish since I grew up in Colombia). Part of my day job is connecting students with sponsors and doing fundraising for the school.  I’ll be thinking a little more throughout the year on how I can save money each month by eating simpler meals.

How did No Buy February go for you? Will you be implementing any changes for the rest of the year?

And I just remembered I forgot to choose a winner for the Chiot’s Run Calendar contest. The winner is:

The Real Food Challenge at Not Dabbling

March 1st, 2010

Over at Not Dabbling in Normal, we’re kicking off the Real Food Challenge today. If you’ve ever seen a Food, Inc. or read the The Omnivore’s Dilemma you’ve probably thought about making changes to your diet by moving away from processed foods. That’s exactly what this challenge is about. Kim from The Inadvertent Farmer saw the movie and was challenged to make some changes in her diet. She decided to make it a group effort and the Real Food Challenge was born. You can read about my goals for this challenge here.

All month long we’ll be running this challenge with posts featuring how to’s for making things at home, ideas for saving time in the kitchen, successes and failures, giveaways and so much more. If you’ve ever considered making a few changes to your diet, this is the time. Join us.

Have you ever been challenged to make changes by something you’ve read or seen?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.