Monday, October 8, 2007

One week later.....

I'm going to finish up a few thoughts about my month of local, and then move on to my new blog: The Good Food Muse ( I've found that I've become addicted to blogging about the food I eat. It'll be nice not to feel obligated to write every day, but I enjoy taking pictures and making some sort of record of the wonderful food I cook and eat every day. I've just started a little vegetable garden in my front yard, so I'll write about that to.

So what am I taking away from my month of local food?
  • I feel so much better on a non-wheat, non sugar diet! The difference was really amazing. I managed to lose a little weight (something I haven't successfully done for years) and feel great all month. I don't think I realized how good I felt - when you're digestive system is working perfectly, you don't always stop to notice I guess. I definitely noticed a change when I went back on the non-local diet though. I don't want to go into too much detail about the inner workings of my digestive system, but things are generally more sluggish, and I feel heavier. Sugar is especially making me feel weird - shaky and light headed. I guess because my body got used to life without it, re-introducing it was that much harder. Also, I've realized how little my body likes wheat. I think the lack of wheat in my month of local food really contributed to how good I felt. Especially when you consider how much energy flour takes to produce (threshing, separating wheat from chaff, grinding, etc.) potatoes just make more sense anyway. Not that I think wheat is all bad - but I've really realized how much we lean on it unnecessarily.
  • Eating local in September in Humboldt is not that hard. I really didn't suffer in the least. The hardest part was getting the energy and imagination to cook every night, but once I got over that it was easy. Leftovers are key, that's for sure. It looks like maybe the co-op will do a month long local challenge next summer - I can't wait to do it again and help others realize how easy this really is once you make the commitment.
  • I really love having a connection to the farmers that grow the food I eat. This is almost a spiritual thing for me. I talk to a lot of the farmers daily through my work, so I'm especially lucky in this regard. I not only know many farmers pretty well, but I know their relationships with each other. I could have written a poem about each dish: who grew it, what the relationships between all the farmers who grew the food is, and what the relationship between all the flavors is. I really felt that I was collaborating with the farmers in some way by taking the food that they grow, blending it with the food of other farmers, and taking it that last step from raw ingredients to delicious meals. It was a sharing of food production rather than a one sided give and take. For me, I think the next step would be to only eat food frown by people I know.....
That's all I can think of now. I'm sure I'll write more about all of this in my new blog!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

This is my first official day of non-local. I thought it would feel really great to have the freedom to eat whatever I want, but really I'm finding myself already missing the local diet.....

I'll backup and chronicle my last few days. I haven't been taking pictures - I hope if anyone is reading this that it's not too boring.

Sunday night we had my bread with butter and I made a veggie stew with a shallot, 2 zucchini, sugar snap peas, Shitake mushrooms, a Sweet Italian peppers, a green bell pepper, a spoonful of sour cream, and the rest of the tomato sauce I made about a week ago. It worked really well to just make the sauce and then keep it in the fridge for random uses - I'll have to remember that.

The bread is VERY dense. I think it did rise a little, but not much. Other than that it's quite good - with just a hint of sourness. I think maybe my cheff wasn't quite strong enough. My guess is that it didn't stay warm enough in our house for optimal growth... I did save some of the cheff to try it again next week. Now that I've made such a complicated bread, I'm excited to try some simpler recipes. There is definitely a great satisfaction in finally eating the bread that was a month in the making. I'm glad that I did without it for so long though - I proved that I could be quite well nourished and satisfied without wheat of any kind.

Monday morning I had the usual breakfast - a pear, yogurt, and honey. I cut open one of the passion fruit and mixed it in - it added an extra flavor dynamic that was quite good. Lunch was the usual boiled potatoes, with some of the stew from the night before mixed in, and a little more sour cream.

Monday night I made omelets. For a filling I used leftover veggies with some fresh sugar snap peas and cheddar cheese. We've been using the same huge block of cheddar I got the second week of September - I'm amazed that it's not moldy! We made toast with my bread, and I had it with butter and apple butter. I also made a fruit salad with a Comice pear, an apple, figs from the market, a peach, yogurt, and honey. It was good, but not quite as good as the fruit salad I made earlier in the month.....

Tuesday was my official last day. I didn't really have time to go all out on anything - I ate pretty much the same things I had been all along. Breakfast was the last of my yogurt, honey, pear, and passion fruit. Lunch was boiled potatoes with the last of my sour cream and the few veggies that were left over from the stew and the omelets.

After work I went to a yoga class and didn't get home till 7. I had bought some "stew" beef on Monday after work - basically beef cut into chunks. I cooked that, set it aside and in the same pan cooked a shallot, an onion, two russet potatoes, two broccoli stems from long long ago, a Pimento Pepper, and the rest of the Shitake mushrooms. I added the beef, lots of red wine and and little water and cooked it till the potatoes were tender. I was aiming for a beef stew, but I didn't have any stock, so it wasn't as saucy as a stew should be. It was good anyway with wine, garlic butter, and bread. The beef was a bit tough, but definitely edible.

And that's it. The month is over. I feel kind of let down - I think I'm going to miss eating this way. I certainly don't feel any elation at being able to eat whatever I want..... I think what I realized more than anything this month was that eating locally is not a hardship at all (at least here in Humboldtin September.) It's just as tasty and fulfilling as eating exotic things, it just a little limited, so you have to have more imagination and time.

The rain this weekend wiped out many of our local tomatoes, and other things are winding down in a big way, so even if I wanted to I couldn't keep eating nothing but local....Preservation is something I haven't focused on at all, although it's probably not too late to can some spaghetti sauce or salsa...

I'll keep blogging here for the next few days as I think about these things more.....

Sunday, September 30, 2007

This is a Prescott Fond Blanc Melon from France (well really from Blue Lake, but originally from France.) I bought it this week, and by the time I got around to eating it, it was a little funky.....melon season is practically over.

It's been a busy few days. Technically, today is my last day, but I ate all sorts of weird things on Friday and Saturday, and I've decided to extend my month by two days to make up for it. It's OK, I'm not really looking forward to eating tons of non-local things anyway.

Thursday I had the usual breakfast and lunch. Boiled potatoes are getting harder to eat every day....but they keep me going. For dinner Johnny and I had leftover chili. Just when we were done eating, my friends arrived from Sonoma County.

On Friday I think I probably ate food that originated from every continent except Antarctica. The first Rotary meeting was a breakfast meeting. There was French Toast with a pad of butter and imitation Mrs. Buttersworth syrup, bacon, organic nonfat blueberry yogurt, orange juice, and a bag of Orange Pekoe tea. I can't even really comprehend how many different places all of that came from. I found myself wondering where the flour in my French Toast was grown, and how it was ground.

It was raining and cold, so after breakfast the three of us went out for coffee. I really indulged! I got a Mexican Mocha - which was just a mocha with cinnamon I think - and a blueberry lemon poppy seed muffin. The mocha had Cinnamon from South East Asia, coffee from probably South America, and Chocolate probably from Africa. Oh, and of course don't forget the sugar from who knows where. At least probably the milk came from California.

We then went and walked out in the dunes on Samoa. Both of my friends are avid edible mushroom hunters, so their eyes were glued to the ground much of the time. We saw a few mushrooms, but nothing worth picking. We did find lots of huckleberries though. They're like little blueberries - and they'd just been washed by the rain - our tongues were purple by the time we walked back to the car!

Our second Rotary meeting was a luncheon. It was a lot better than breakfast: a green salad, a slaw like salad with raisin and broccoli, steamed mixed vegetables, and a pasta dish with penne, chicken, and cream sauce. There was also bread, dessert and coffee, but I skipped all that.

I wasn't feeling too well by the time we were done with all this! The sugar especially was a little hard to take. I forget what a weird tweaky feeling it gives me! The corn syrup for breakfast was especially hard to take!

We drove up to Trinidad to explore the beach, and on the way home stopped at a local fish smoke house that I'd never been to. There were all sorts of local fish that had been smoked by hand right there. Score! I got a package of smoked oysters, and my friends got a few large smoked scallops, and salmon. We stopped at a small market and got some crackers, cream cheese, beer, limes, and my friend bought a really nice bottle of tequila to remember the trip we took together to Mexico last May.

A good time was had by all. For dinner we went to my favorite little Italian restaurant. One reason I like it so much is that they use mostly local meats and vegetables. I had the potato gnocchi (made with local potatoes) with wild mushrooms and tomato cream sauce. I bet at least half the ingredients were locally grown.

On Friday we went out for breakfast to one of my favorite diners in town. They use decent ingredients, but I bet nothing about my Eggs Benedict with country fried potatoes was local. My friends and I walked to the farmers market before they left. I got:
  • a basket of figs from Orleans
  • 3 big Russet potatoes and 2 ears of corn from Arcata
  • 5 peaches (yes, they have a late variety!) from Willow Creek
  • a "Bursa de Turkey" melon from Willow Creek. This one has a great story that I'll tell later.)
After the market my friends headed home to Sonoma. they drove me as far South as Garberville so I could join Johnny at the Bluegrass festival that he was vending at. I was amazed at how bad the food there was! I got some apple pie and ice cream thinking that since there's so many local apples right now it must be made with local apples: but no, it was a total store bought plastic pie. Later in the day Johnny and I shared a plate with barbecued chicken, a bun, potato salad, baked beans, and apple crisp. It would have been OK, except the chicken probably lived a horrible life, and they put the apple crisp directly on top of the beans. Gross!

Our friends Chad and Erin were vending at the same festival, so Erin and I ended up driving home together. I dropped her off at her house and she gave me 7 eggs and 3 big King apples.
When I got home I tried to eat the Prescott melon, but it was no good, so I ate a fig and an apple and went to bed.

Today the big deal has been the bread. Before I went to bed last night - I started fermenting the Levaine. Basically you add more flour to the cheff and let it sit for 8-10 hours. It's supposed to be 75 degrees though, and it got cold, so it didn't rise too much.

I ended up letting to go more like 13 or 14 hours, and finally it started to rise a little. I measured out two cups of the mixture, and mixed it with flour and water to make the bread dough.

I kneaded it for about 20 minutes and then let it rise for 2 hours. After that I cut the dough into to balls and let them rise for 30 minutes. I shaped the balls into torpedo shapes and let them rise (or proof) for 2 more hours. Then we put them into the oven and they just got done baking.

I know it sounds like I know what I'm doing, but really I've been dubious of the whole process. It doesn't seem to be rising as much as it should, although it's definitely rising a little bit.

I drove into town while the dough was rising a bought a big square baking stone for the oven. The cookbook says that it's a necessity.

The book tells you to make an elaborate "couch" for your torpedo shaped loaves to rise in, but I just put a clean towel in a baking pan, and put the loaves in it with the towel bunched up between them so as to not stick together. It seemed to work, but the ends of the loaves are square rather than pointy like a torpedo.

Here they are going into the oven...

...and here's the finished product

I have a feeling they'll be good even if they're not totally light and airy. I ran out of my flour and had to use a few cups of non-local flour instead. It's probably at least 90% local flour.....

My bread is finally finished on what should be the last day of my local month. How fitting! I'm so glad I've decided to take it 2 extra days so that I can really appreciate it!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

This is the tomato from Willow Creek that I used in dinner tonight. It was almost literally as big as my head! I never want these heirloom tomatoes to end, but unfortunately the end is definitely coming. We'll have them for a few more weeks at least.

Tuesday morning for breakfast I had a Comice pear with yogurt and honey. Lunch was 2 ears of corn and a few boiled potatoes. After work I brought home some blemished Pimento and Italian Sweet peppers that I got for free.

Dinner was leftover pizza. I used the time I would have been cooking grinding the rest of the wheat. I got a little more than I got from the first batch - about 10 cups I think. It's still a little chaffy, but better than the first batch. I probably could have done a better job cleaning it, but my time was limited and I just wanted to get it ground and over with. I can sift out the little bit of chaff.

I added some of the freshly ground wheat and water to the chef and mixed it around vigorously. That's supposed to feed and get oxygen to the yeast. I'm happy to say that it's working! The dough is filled with bubbles and it has a vinegary smell and sour taste. Here's what it looked like tonight:
I really didn't expect it to work so well! I guess I shouldn't celebrate too much until I have bread made. I'll have to put the actual baking off till Sunday I think. One more day until the chef is ready, and then I can store it in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Breakfast today was the same: yogurt, pear, and honey. Lunch was boiled potatoes with sour cream. I'm really starting to get tired of boiled potatoes! I wish I could come up with another easy lunch solution.

After work I bought two heirloom tomatoes, a Prescott melon from Blue Lake, 4 Passion fruit from Arcata, a few Asian pears from Willow Creek, and a few more Comice pears from Orleans.

For dinner tonight I sauteed a yellow onion, a shallot, a head of garlic, 1 Poblano pepper, and 1 pimento pepper. To this I added the two diced heirloom tomatoes. Here's the back of the one at the beginning of the post. It was truly the most incredible heirloom I've seen this year.

I cooked that mixture for a while and then added the rest of the black beans from Sunday's dinner. As the chili was simmering, I cooked up some ground beef in the cast iron skillet and then added it to the mix. I added some wine and salt and it was ready to go. It was super good with a little sour cream and cheese.

Believe it or not, I've actually lost weight on this super buttery beefy diet! I weighed myself last night at the gym and I was 8 pounds lighter than I was a week and a half ago! I've been noticing my clothes feeling looser, but it was hard to imagine that I could be eating all this rich food and still losing weight. I guess it's kind of like the Atkins diet, except I've still been eating tons of potatoes. Probably the lack of sugar helps too.

I'm feeling kind of weird about ending this diet. This Friday I have to do several presentations at Rotary Club meetings, and I have some friends coming into town to present with me and stay the night. It'll really be a hassle to have to explain myself to a bunch of Rotarians, and I'd like to go out to a nice dinner with my friends, so I think I'm going to to go off the diet for a day. I'll do a day extra to make up for it, but I still don't really want to cheat, especially now that I've made it this far! I've enjoyed this diet a lot, and it'll be sad in a way to end it. I guess I'll have to really conscious keep aspects of it going......

Monday, September 24, 2007

Here's a few images from dinner on Saturday night. I simmered the dry black beans I'd bought at market for a few hours in the afternoon. At about 1 hour till dinner, I grilled a red and a green bell pepper, a Walla-Walla onion, and a Poblano pepper in the cast iron skillet.

I set that aside and grilled two flank steaks (sorry vegetarians!)

I combined the two and let the fajita mixture rest while I made chapatis - which are a type of Indian flatbread that my mom used to make back in her hippy days. I got the recipe from Laurel's Kitchen, one of her old cookbook from the 1970s. They're basically like tortillas - you mix flour, water, a little oil (I used softened butter) and salt; kneed the mixture for a while; shape it into balls; roll them out with a rolling pin; and cook them in the skillet. Here is the dough ball:
Here are the finished chapatis. I didn't do too good of a job making them round, but they still tasted great - especially after not eating any wheat for a month!

We made two "tacos" each, with beans, fajita veggies and meat, grated cheese, cilantro, sour cream, and fresh tomato. Delicious! The chapatis worked really well as tacos - they held together just as good as any flour tortilla.
Johnny was vending at the same fair the on Sunday, so again, breakfast was a little bit of a rush. I had yogurt, honey, and 2 small Bartlett pears. For lunch I had boiled potatoes, butter, salt, and pepper. I've never felt more Irish than this month - I've eaten potatoes pretty much every day!

I had a few hours free on Sunday afternoon, and it was a beautiful fall day, so I decided to thresh the rest of my wheat. I still had one bundle left. I discovered in the process of threshing this one that there were actually a lot of weeds mixed in that I think I accidentally threshed with the wheat in the last two bundles. I though the weeds were just another variety of wheat, but I think I was wrong. That's why I've had so much trouble with chaff - I've been trying to thresh weeds! This bunch was a lot easier and yielded me more than the last two combined. Here's what it looks like now, almost chaff free.
For dinner on Sunday, I made four more chapatis, while Johnny made the main course. We were going for Indian (or as Indian as food can get without using any spices.) He cooked the cubed lamb meat that I bought on Friday with butter, added a whole bunch of red chard, and let it cook down. I'm always amazed at how a big bundle of greens can become so little! He added some of the tomato sauce from last week, and a spoonfull of sour cream. The result was so good it was hard to believe that it didn't have any fancy spices in it! We ate the lamb mixture like stew with chapatis on the side.

As we were cooking dinner, I started a project that I've been meaning to do for a while - wild yeast hunting. This is an idea that I got from the Omnivore's Dilema: apparently you can capture the wild yeasts that live in the air and use them to make bread. The resulting bread is called Pain au Levain- levain is leven in French. The starter mixture is called the chef: You mix flour and water together and let them set uncovered outside for a while, cover them, and then feed the yeast more water and flour every day. In about three days it's supposed to be able to make a loaf of bread. I'm dubious, but I wanted to try. I let it sit out on the front porch for about a half hour. Hopefully we have nice wild yeasts in Humboldt County - apparently they're different from region to region. Here's what it looks like now:
Not too exciting.....

For breakfast this morning I had the usual yogurt with a half of an Anana melon and honey. For lunch Johnny and I shared the left over fajita fixings without chapatis. I made a ton of beans on Saturday, so we had plenty for lunch, with lots to spare. I'm sure I'll think of something to do with them sometime this week.

For dinner tonight I decided to try pizza dough with a yeast-less crust. I used the last of my first batch of flour to make basic chapati dough. Johnny shaped it into a perfect looking crust - He's worked in enough pizza joints that he's pretty good at rolling out the dough. Here it is in the pan:
I layered tomato sauce (I'm so glad I made that sauce when I did, it's really come in handy!) with basil, Fontina and Mozzarella cheese, and a zucchini. I sauteed a shallot and a head of garlic and put that on top of the zucchini. The shallots that I bought at the market on Saturday are beautiful. Strong too - the one I cut up made my eyes water worse than most onions.

Here's a picture of the finished pizza:
It turned out good - the crust could have been a little crispier, but I wasn't complaining. It's pretty amazing to eat wheat that I've threshed myself. It adds a whole new appreciation for wheat that I've never had before: It really takes a lot of energy to get it from the field to the pizza!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Lots to catch up on today. It's been a very busy week - I barely had time to cook, much less blog about it! This is the dahlia blooming in my garden. Usually we only get one blossom from it, but this year it looks like we'll get at least 6!

Breakfast on Wednesday was Crane Melon with yogurt and honey. The yogurt had sat out overnight, but it was still a bit runny and not too tangy, so I left it out when I went to work. I also turned on the tomato sauce again and let it cook on low for the rest of the day.

Lunch was two slices of leftover fried green tomatoes, a sliced red tomato, cheese, and basil. I could have used some carbs, but it tasted good.

After work I bought a whole bunch of garlic from the co-op. The local garlic was done, and I wanted to get as much of it as I could before it was all gone.

Dinner on Wednesday was left over potato casserole. It was even better the second day. As it was warming in the oven, I went out and picked a few apples from our tree and blackberries from a few places around our house. After dinner I made a simple batter from eggs, flour, butter, and honey. I cut the apples up and put them in a greased pan, topped them with the blackberries, and topped that with the batter. What resulted was a kind of cobbler type dessert. Still a tiny bit chaffy, but delicious with honey and a little sour cream on top. This was the first dessert I've made all month. It's totally amazing to me that I'm not really craving sugar too much!

I finally put the yogurt in the fridge after dinner. It worked really well - the perfect texture and tangyness. I also bottled the tomato sauce that had been simmering all day. It was super thick and rich. I got a quart plus a pint total. I'm not sure what I'll do with all of it, but I'm sure it'll get used.

Breakfast of Thursday was yogurt, honey, and the rest of the Crane melon. For lunch I heated up some leftover potatoes with sour cream and chives from the porch.

After work I picked up a bag of spring mix and a tomato for salad.

For dinner we baked the Kabocha squash that had been sitting on the table all week. It was huge and super dense - I had to have Johnny help me cut it. While the squash started baking I sauteed half an onion, a zucchini, and a bunch of shitake mushrooms in butter. When the veggies were relatively cooked, I pulled the squash out of the oven and stuffed the veggie mixture into the two halves. I topped it all with grated Mozzarella cheese and put it back in the oven. In about 40 minutes it was done, and we ate it with salad. It was good - the squash was amazingly creamy for being so dense - dry, but not too dry. I especially enjoyed the mushrooms. I haven't had anything mushroomy for a while!

On Friday I had to work at 6am, so I brought the rest of the apple blueberry cobbler in to work with me and heated it up in the microwave for breakfast. I went home at about 11 for a lunch of scrambled eggs with Corno di Toro peppers and cheese.

After work, I did my last weekly local co-op shopping trip. I got:
  • 1 quart of milk and 1 block of Mozzarella from Ferndale
  • 1 bottle of Merlot from Orleans (at $20.00/bottle, this was a bit of a splurge, but it's one of my favorite vineyards)
  • 1 big Butternut squash, 1 small Ha-Ogen melon, and 1 small Annana melon from Willow Creek
  • 1 little square of truffle goat cheese from Arcata - this was also a bit of a splurge, but I've heard really good things about this particular cheese, and I wanted to give it a try.
  • 2 Humboldt Grassfed inside flank steaks
  • 2lb of lamb stew meat (boneless chunks)
  • 1 red onion and three yellow onions from Arcata
  • 1 block of Fontina cheese from Lolita
  • 3 Comice pears, 4 Bartletts, and three tomatoes from Orleans
We had a few errands to run in Eureka on Friday evening, and we didn't get back till around 8. We heated up the second half of the Kabocha squash and ate it simply by itself. How wonderful leftovers are!!

We had a busy day today - Johnny is vending at a local festival (if you haven't, you should check out his website and I was helping him set up. Breakfast was hurried - yogurt honey and the Ha-Ogen melon.

The festival was on the Arcata town square, right by the farmers market, so after our booth was set up I walked to the market and did my weekly shopping. I bought:
  • 1 5lb bag of mixed potatoes from Arcata
  • About 3 or 4 lb each of dry black beans and dry white soup beans from Arcata (this is the first time I've seen these at market - they just harvested them this week!)
  • A few pounds of sugar snap peas from Blue Lake. The weather is cooled off enough now that peas are starting to show back up at market.
  • 4 nice sized red shallots
  • 1 big bunch of red chard
  • about 1lb of shitake mushrooms
I walked home with all of this - it was heavy, but I made it. At home, I put started soaking the black beans for dinner and made myself an early lunch of boiled potatoes and sour cream. The sour cream turned out really good and thick this time. Probably because I let it culture for almost a full 48 hours. After eating, I headed back downtown to help Johnny for the afternoon.

It was hard to be at the fair and not eat any of the delicious food - There were so many kinds to choose from: African, Lao, Egyptian, name it, it was there. The smells were hard to take, but I survived. It made me want to open a restaurant or food cart with nothing but least there was a booth selling local wine from Petrolia!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

This is my wheat right before I ground it in to flour yesterday

Sunday night for dinner we had potato pancakes and fruit salad. I grated a few big Yellow Finn Potatoes and added 4 eggs, salt and pepper. I scooped them out of the bowl into a hot frying pan and cooked them like pancakes. They were a little runny (you're supposed to use flour for thickening) but the held together pretty well and tasted great with apple butter and sour cream.

I also made a fruit salad with yogurt, a Comice pear, a few pluots, the rest of the figs, and a bit of honey. Even Johnny, who doesn't usually like fruit salad loved it.

Before bed I checked the yogurt and gave up completely on it ever being edible. Bummer. It was just totally curdled and gross. The sour cream looked good, and I left it in the cooler for the night.

Breakfast on Monday was the last of the yogurt with 2 pluots. Breakfast is harder now that there's no peaches! For lunch I heated up left over potatoes from Saturday night with tomato sauce and my cheese.

Directly after work I started working on the wheat again. I sat on the front porch for about 45 minutes picking the wheat from the chaff. I did the best job I could, but I still wasn't too happy with the results. Some of the wheat berries were just too stuck in their hulls. I finally decided to call it good enough to grind.

It took me a while to figure out the flour mill attachment for the Champion Juicer. This is what it looked like when I finally got it all assembled. It took forever to grind - about 1 cup every 5 minutes. I got about 8 cups total, so it was on for a while.

I was immediately disappointed with the flour. There was a lot of chaff still in it, and it didn't grind up! Little bits of inedible cellulose mixed in with the flour. I decided the only thing to get it out would be a flour sifter. We don't have one, so again the project was put on hold till the next day. I did sift about a half a cup with a sieve. It took a while, but it worked.

For dinner Johnny made hamburgers and I made fried green tomatoes. I had tomato and grilled onion on my burgers and wrapped them in lettuce leaves instead of buns. Definitely a low carb burger! I sliced the green tomatoes and dipped them in egg and then flour and fried them in butter. They had a wonderful tang - almost like catchup. How cool to finally eat a little of my flour!

After dinner I attempted yogurt again, with a store bought starter. I was totally demoralized when it curdled like the last batch. I was almost ready to just give up.

Breakfast today was a Comice pear, a pluot, honey and sour cream since I had no yogurt. It tasted delicious, although I couldn't really justify eating sour cream every morning for breakfast. Lunch was 2 left over fried green tomatoes, a fresh red tomato, basil, and the remainder of the cheese I made this weekend.

After work today I bought a flour sifter. I also bought a Crane melon from Willow Creek and a block of Mozzarella cheese from Ferndale - I didn't realize there was a local mozzarella! I also scored a large bag of super ripe heirloom tomatoes, an Italian Sweet Pepper, and 4 or 5 yellow Corno di Toro peppers.

I started the tomatoes cooking right when I got home. This is a picture of one of them - an Annanas Noir. I sauteed a Walla-Walla onion, the Italian Sweet pepper, two of the Corno di Toros, basil and a head of garlic and added half to the sauce. The other half I set aside while I was cooking the rest of the ground beef. I added the veggies back in with the beef and then the remainder of the left over tomato sauce from three nights ago. I layered this thick tomato meat sauce with sliced potatoes and mozzarella cheese and baked it for about an hour. Most of the tomatoes I got today were still simmering on the stove. I think I'll let them cook overnight into a super thick sauce.

While it was baking I sifted my flour. It worked like a charm! I got about 7 1/2 cups when all was said and done. It's nice looking flour! Now I just have to figure out what to use it for - there's not too much, so I don't want to waste it!

I still had time while dinner was baking, so I started my final yogurt attempt. I decided that my problem was that I didn't let it cool down enough before I added the starter culture. I heated it up and then forgot about it while we ate dinner. After dinner I deemed it cool enough and added the culture. It worked I think! At least it didn't curdle. I put it in jars in the cooler to let me culture over night.

That's it. I am finding myself looking forward to the end of the month. This is so much work! I haven't had any time to sit down today until right now - boy will it be nice to just come home from work and go out to eat if I'm tired!