photo courtesy of Christopher Greenslate
It’s been over a month since I made the commitment, inspired by Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, to eat locally. I know it’s not going to have a huge effect on the world, but it will have a small effect on a few local farmers, on our reliance on fossil fuels, the part of our carbon footprint I’m responsible for.
Most weeks I make my way to the Union Square market on Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday; Tompkins Square market on Sunday. There’s also a farmer’s market near me on Sunday that caters towards the South American residents. Last week I needed bread, all they had was brioche (French, yes, I know, but that was all they had). Brioche is sweeter than I like my bread to be, so topped with jam it became dessert, French Toast the next morning & finally bread pudding topped with broken pieces of shelled pecans. No waste.
Walking through the market is like a getting a day pass out of the city, without actually having to leave. Hot cider & apple cider donuts in the fall, cold cider & apple cider donuts in the summer. Window shopping for flowers I’d buy if I didn’t have plant eating cats. I eyeball what everyone has, smelling this, touching that. Then head back, knowing what I want and who has the best tomatoes or cucumbers and trying to remember I’m shopping for one. I absolutely do not want to waste any food, but the colors clamor for my attention.
I come home with everything I need : spinach, arugula, mushrooms, apples, pears, blueberries, raspberries, corn on the cob, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, fresh bread, Hungarian rice pudding cake (only on Saturdays at Union Square and it is amazing. Really amazing), turkey sausage, organic chicken, eggs, fresh fish, fruit juices, potatoes, onions, garlic, shallots, honey, melons, mesclun, heirloom tomatoes, peppers, goat cheese and this week’s fruit spread, not preserves, not jam, because there is no sugar at all here, is Spiced Apple spread. More amazing.
Everything is more amazing and more expensive than the supermarkets, so when I eat, what I eat has more value. I don’t waste. I’m present, rather than eating without thinking. I didn’t grow up saying grace, but I’ve started. I’m not a holy roller, but I am grateful. For the food. The abundance. And the work that went into creating it. I was raised to say please and thank you. No reason not to stop for a moment & simply acknowledge my part in the food chain. Send a little thanks to the goats & cows for the milk and to the dairy farmers that turned it into cheese. Thanks. I appreciate your effort. The work that went into it was not wasted on me. Thanks.
I’ve let go of avocados & citrus. Come winter, since I haven’t figured out canning there’ll be some other changes as well I’m sure.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to eliminate supermarkets 100%. I get my lactose free milk from the supermarket, but my homemade fresh mozzarella from the Italian deli. The milk may be trucked in but the cheese is local. There are no regional peanut farms, so I opt for the organic Traders Joes, chunky, salted and made with Valencia peanuts. Shoot me, but I’m not giving up peanut butter. I’m not giving up Trident sugarless bubblegum either, don’t even bother to ask.
It’s been a few 24′s & I’m feeling nothing but good about the decision. I still rely on Met Food for Saran Wrap, Kleenex, Fancy Feast and a few other things but most of the time it’s me & the local farmers, doing the do-si-doe. Life’s nicer when you like who you’re dancing with.
BRIOCHE BREAD PUDDING
* 3 thick slices day-old brioche
* 1 tablespoon butter, melted
* 1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries (optional)
* 1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)
* 2 small eggs , beaten
* 1 cup milk (or be wicked & use half and half)
* 1/4 cup brown sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spices (you can use allspice, nutmeg or cinnamon. Or all three!)
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Break bread into small pieces into an small loaf baking pan. Drizzle melted butter over bread. Nows the time to sprinkle raisins or pecans if you’re going to.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, sugar, Chinese five spices, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed.
4. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.
6. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or topped with heavy cream.