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A Labor of Love

January 25th, 2014

Yesterday we celebrated a birthday. When I asked Mr Chiots what he’d like for a birthday meal, he said “Lasagne”.
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It was a slow meal, a very slow meal. It all started way back in the fall of 2012 when we first moved to Maine. I planted garlic in the back garden. This garlic was harvested this past summer and it seasoned the sauce and the sweet Italian sausage that used in the lasagne.
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The next step towards reaching this meal was starting onion seeds in January. Then in March seeds were started for tomatoes and herbs used in the sausage and the sauce.
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I canned this sauce last fall, it’s perfect. The tomatoes and herbs are roasted for many hours in a low oven. The result is a deeply flavored sweet sauce, with none of the acidic bite of a sauce made with fresh tomatoes.
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On Thursday evening I made a batch of ricotta cheese with Jersey milk from a local farm and lemons from Lemon Ladies Orchard. I procured whole milk mozzarella, parmesan and romano at the local co-op. I also purchased mushrooms to add to the lasagne.
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The hens provided eggs for the pasta, King Arthur Flour provided the flour.
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I wrote a post on Eat Outside the Bag about making your own pasta if you’d like to give it a try.
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Mr Chiots ended up eating three servings, so I guess he thought it was delicious. The good thing is, there are only two of us, so it will take us a few days to eat up the rest of the pan. I always find that lasagne is much better when reheated.
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It’s certainly satisfying to see all the different ingredients that were grow and raised right here coming together to form a delicious meal. For my birthday I always used to request chicken and dumplings, luckily, another meal with ingredients that can be mostly grown or raised right here.

What dish do you request for your birthday meal?

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.

Planning Ahead

July 10th, 2010

Many of your have probably heard about the Slow Food Movement. This movement was started: to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world. Growing your own food is a great way to learn to be more mindful of what you eat. Sometimes I wonder how a grocery store can sell a tomato for only 99 cents a pound when I know what goes into growing them.

I was thinking about slow food earlier this week, when I planted some sage in the garden. My main reason for planting sage was to season our Thanksgiving meal in late November, four and a half months from now. Sure I could buy some sage at the grocery store to season my stuffing and turkey, but I know this will be much tastier. I’ll certainly enjoy the sage in the stuffing more, knowing that I started it from tiny seeds, nurtured the plant, harvested and dried it, all well before Thanksgiving. Not to mention the celery and onions used in the stuffing will be homegrown, the bread with be homemade, and the turkey will be pastured on a local farm! A Slow Food Thanksgiving will be enjoyed with my family!

Has growing food helped you become more mindful of food?
Do you appreciate food more knowing what goes into it?

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Shop through these links and I get a few cents each time. It's not much, but it allows me to buy a new cookbook or new gardening book every couple months. I appreciate your support!

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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.

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