Wednesday, March 2, 2011

DAY 2: Eat Local Project

I feel like a contestant on one of those reality cooking shows in which they open a basket full of miscellaneous ingredients and must cook an appetizer, entree and dessert. For me it's not a basket that I'm opening but my front door to discover what's in season here in the valley of the sun.

This morning Brad and I wandered into the backyard to plant the bell pepper and sugar snap pea plants I've had sitting on the kitchen counter for a week now. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the growing seasons here. While the rest of the country is digging out of the snow, we're enjoying balmy 70 degree days while we pick oranges and work on our tans. Don't hate me. We pay a hefty price for this heaven come July. But as far as gardening goes, it's past time to plant around here. So in went the peppers and peas. My tomato and basil seedlings have a couple weeks before they're mature enough to plant outdoors, but it doesn't get any more local than growing your own food.

Brad analyzing the earthworms I uncovered while planting.

Today Brad asked if he could eat the plants. Therein lies the rub with gardening. Just because you plant something in the ground doesn't mean you get to eat it. Weather turns sour. Crops fail. Hailstorms come. That's something we don't really think about under the fluorescent lights of the mega mart. Food just appears. It doesn't seem to have any connection to the ground or the seasons. My project, steep as the learning curve may be, is already impressing on me a sense of gratitude for whole foods. I never thought about being grateful for plants. Animals, sure, they give up their life for me to eat. But for plants? That mindset is changing.

After gardening, I stared down the remaining 15 lemons languishing in a decorative bowl on my dining room table. Pesto would not do. We needed some lemon annihilation. So I made gluten-free lemon scones and fresh lemon curd. It is to die for. Even tonight when I had guests over, I couldn't help but invite the ladies helping me with dishes to dig into the fridge for a bite.

As I finished up the scones, Rich came home quite fortuitously with a bag of fresh fire roasted green chilies one of his coworkers brought back from New Mexico. Suddenly a wave of inspiration hit and I created what must be the most fantastic dish of enchiladas I have ever had. I used the local jalapeno cheese and corn tortillas I bought yesterday and spiced up my existing creamy spinach and black bean enchiladas. Although many of the ingredients came from outside the Southwest, this isn't a religion. It's food. It's not about being perfect. It's about connecting with people around life giving foods and supporting the people, plants and animals that make that food possible.


  1. Wow, Pamela, this is quite the undertaking! Can't wait to catch up with you about all this.

  2. ugh, you have it SO much worse than those contestants, because you have to hunt around trying to FIND the random ingredients that you then have to concoct into something. yikes!