Monday, October 1, 2012


So the eat local challenge is officially over. For a normal challenge, I'd grade myself somewhere around a D for my efforts. When I take into account the pregnancy, the stomach bug, and the travel in the middle of the month, I suppose that grade could come up a little  - somewhere around a B-.

What did I get out of it? Definitely a new found sense of digestive health (at least at the beginning of the month), some delicious meals that wouldn't have happened otherwise, a much smaller than normal grocery budget, and a sense of satisfaction that I'm doing everything in my power to nourish my baby and connect him to his place even before he's born.

I'm a perfectionist. I've never been able to feel fully content without a clean house, a perfectly manicured garden, a completely successful career, etc. etc. etc. I know that once the baby comes, there will be no time to maintain such a perfect existence.... even if there were, I don't want to be so busy and stressed with everything else that I don't have time to just be with my child. I've been thinking a lot about that - how do I learn to be content with not doing it all and doing it perfectly?

I think this challenge has helped with that, at least a little. In the past, I've taken my eat local challenges very seriously. If I do it at all, I do it 100%, and cheating is completely out of the question. It wasn't like that this time. I ate locally whenever I could, but I also listened to what my body wanted and let myself take the easy route when it was called for. Perhaps this is a first step toward accepting my new less than perfect existence?

In other news, I have yet to be able to make an appointment for our level 2 ultrasound. Somehow my insurance and the facility that does the procedure have not been able to get it together to process my referral. I find myself worrying less as time goes on - after all, even if there is something wrong there's nothing that I'm going to do about it at this point, and worry and stress aren't good for me or the baby. That said, I am quite anxious to get it over with... hopefully I'll be able to make the appointment tomorrow.

Friday, September 28, 2012


This week has been a blur.

I honestly can't remember what I had for breakfast and lunch on Tuesday. I think it was local, but I'm not 100% sure. Sad how meals can fade from the memory so quickly.

I do remember Tuesday's dinner. It was one of the best yet. Stanley had his last softball game of the season that evening, so I was on my own. I baked a local sweet potato in the toaster oven, and cooked up a bunch of kale from the garden, an Italian Frying pepper, and some walnuts in the cast iron. The secret ingredient was a touch of maple syrup with the nuts and veggies. It caramelized them just perfectly and brought out the sweetness in the entire meal. I know it sounds simple, but this really was one of the most enjoyable dinners I've had all month.

Wednesday was a light work day. I had a meeting at Madison Sourdough (local bakery/coffeehouse) at 8am, so I had my tea with a scone from there (not local, but delicious!). After a mid-morning apple and peanut-butter snack, I had a fabulous lunch of boiled potatoes with lots of butter, sharp cheddar cheese, and broccoli florets from the garden.

I have my prenatal yoga class on Wednesday nights. As I was leaving the doctor's office called to give me the results of my ultrasound from Monday. The reason for the test was because my belly was measuring big for 28 weeks... three weeks big to be exact. Turns out it's because the baby's big (in the 75th percentile), but that wasn't all. They also found that his lateral ventricle (in his brain!) is measuring too big. If it gets much bigger, brain development could suffer. They are referring me for a more detailed ultrasound to check into it further. Though the doctor assured me that chances are he's fine (and my own Internet research backed that up), stress and worry set in big-time.

I really appreciated my yoga class that night! Yoga is such a wonderful way to clear your mind and set your intentions. I found myself telling my child over and over in my mind how much I love him, and feeling an intense protectiveness that is new to me. This is motherhood.

Anyway, once the stress and worry of that evening really set it, any attempt to eat well went out the window. Eating locally really requires attention and focus, and I found that I had none to give. We ended up doing way too much Internet research about the condition of our baby and then walking down the block to our local Vietnamese restaurant. At least the food there is good, not local, but good. I'm ashamed to admit that we also bought a pint of Ben and Jerry's and consumed it all that evening. Incredible what stress will do to you.

Thursday I had a bowl of oatmeal at work for breakfast (not local). I only remembered to eat lunch after realizing that I was starving at about 2pm. (and after my dropping blood sugar had led me to eat the frosting off the top of a cupcake in the day-old bakery bin). Leftover boiled potatoes (from Wednesday's lunch) with butter and salt. Boring but satisfying.

I got home with time and enough energy to engage in some culinary therapy... sometimes working with fresh foods and creating something wonderful can be quite therapeutic. I made pizza from scratch: sauce, dough, and all. The dough used local flour, the tomatoes for the sauce came from the garden. Other toppings were seasoned ground beef, garden bell peppers and basil, and lots of cheese. Not a traditional or beautiful pizza, but nourishing, local, and just what I needed.

Today has been somewhat successful so far. Fruit in the morning (OK, I did have a tiny little Vanilla Swirl pastry from the day old bin, but it really was small!), leftover pizza for lunch. I think the plan for tonight is venison stew.

There is a 90% chance that our baby is fine, and even if he ends up being in the other 10%, chances are it's not that big a deal. Either way, he will be exactly what he's meant to be, and he will be perfect.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Autumnal Daydreams

A tiny hat awaits a tiny little head. This is my first baby knitting, made from local alpaca yarn. Booties of the same yarn are coming next, and maybe some wee little mittens. A December baby needs warm things.

As you can see, we also pulled the last of our onions from the community garden this weekend. We got a few of decent size, but most of them never formed good bulbs - I planted them too late. I know it's probably crazy, but I'm already planning to use my maternity leave to plant early seedlings like onions. Next year's garden and next year's baby are in the forefront of my mind, and somehow connected. I have this image of him on a blanket in the shade and me working in the garden on a beautiful June day..... daydreams can be so sweet.

We are far from June now. Fall has taken hold of Wisconsin in a beautiful way. The light has started to fall in that golden-y fall angle, and the heat and drought of mid-summer seem an eternity away. 

I know reading about what I eat all day every day can be a bit of a bore (writing about it is too!), but for posterity, here it is: On Saturday (my Friday at work) I was finally victorious over the free day old bakery bin at work. I brought 3 leftover biscuits from the night before (local flour of course) and slathered them with local cream cheese and local honey for breakfast (along with some fruit of course). Lunch was the last of the leftover potatosagna - so sad to see a good leftover go! Dinner was as old fashioned meat and potatoes delicious as you can get - steak on the grill, baked garden potatoes, and roasted green beans (cooked in foil on the grill - a great way to do it!). 

Sunday we made potato pancakes with fresh applesauce and scrambled eggs for breakfast. The chickens have almost all started their autumn molt, so these were probably some of the last eggs we'll get until spring. With the baby coming we plan to go chicken-less for the winter, and start new next spring. It'll be easier that way. Because I've lived with these birds for so long, I just can't seem to bring myself to authorize their butchering. They will go to a local farm animal sanctuary where they will be allowed to live a happy chicken retirement. 

Anyway, Sunday was a day of snacking. Leftover biscuits with butter and honey in the mid-morning, a local Honeycrisp apple with sharp cheddar in the mid-afternoon. I made a super simple chicken soup for dinner - fresh broth from Friday's roast chicken, local celery, carrots, and some 4 grain elbow noodles (already in the pantry). There's something so good about homemade chicken broth. I can't really think of anything that makes me feel more nourished. 

Today (Monday), was a beautiful fall day. Sunny, mid-70's, leaves just starting to turn. Beautiful. I had a good breakfast of yogurt, walnuts, concorde grapes, and a shriveled (but not moldy) peach I found in the back of the fruit drawer. Then I had to go to the Dr. for my 28 week lab tests. The worst one was the gestational diabetes test, which involved drinking a horribly bright orange liquid that seemed to be composed of nothing but yellow #2, Red #5, and corn syrup. It doesn't get more awful than that. Predictably, heartburn, and a blood sugar roller coaster ensued. On the bright side, I got the test results very quickly, and I do not have gestational diabetes.

I came home and had a wonderful lunch of leftover grilled steak, frying and pimento peppers, a potato, and some sharp cheddar all cooked up in the cast iron. Then I was off to an ultrasound appointment.

Somehow my days off make me more exhausted than my days at work, (I did clean the house today, and do the laundry, and survive two Dr.'s appointments), so tonight is a bit of a fail for dinner. Stanley's on his way right now to pick up take-out from a local taco place which supposedly buys some food from local farmers.... ah well, you can't win them all. 

Did I mention I am now officially in my third trimester?!? 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Growth Spurt

I couldn't help but take this picture today as I was making dinner. I grew these little darlings! It continues to amaze me how much food I'm getting out of the garden for how little energy I put in this year. It's been wonderful.

I've been feeling hugely pregnant these last few days. It's seemed like I have weeks of stasis, and then all of a sudden, huge growth spurts - this week has been one of those. The baby has been quite active, and in a different way that he was before. He's way more like a big fish flopping around inside me than the little thumper he once was.

Most, but not all of that energy in my womb is coming from the fields and gardens of Wisconsin. I've not been perfect these last few days, and the heartburn and other digestive maladies have been popping up as a result. It's both annoying and kinda cool how pregnancy has amplified the connection between what I eat and how I feel.

Yesterday, breakfast was almost non-existent. I ate some fruit at work, and since I didn't have anything else I gave into muffin from the day old bakery. Not a good idea. Luckily, I had some leftover potatosagna that I'd brought for lunch.

Stanley wanted to take me out for dinner, so we tried The Greenbush Bar, which does feature some locally grown ingredients. Though the conversation was stellar, the food was not. We had cheese bread (aka lots of white flour with a little cheese), and pizza (more white flour with cheese). Why must Italian food be so heavy on the refined carbs? Some of the best flavor combinations come from Italy, but they all seem to be combined with white flour.... it's a shame. My body has become unaccustomed to large loads of white flour, and it did not react well. The heartburn lasted well into today.

Today was a better day. I had an apple and some yogurt with a handful of walnuts and a drizzle of maple syrup for breakfast. More fruit throughout the morning, and then for lunch I microwaved some potatoes and ate them with aged Gouda and lots of butter.

It's been getting really chilly outside, so I was eager to turn on the oven when I got home from work. I worked early, so lucky me, I had time to take a nap and roast a chicken. Such luxury! I pulled some carrots from the garden, and cut our last head of broccoli. Roast chicken, steamed vegetables, and I made some quick whole wheat biscuits to complete the meal. Yes, the biscuits were more like hockey pucks than the light flaky things my home ec teacher taught me to make, but whatever.... they still tasted good. I made a lot so hopefully I can bring some to work and they will help me resist that darn day-old bakery!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Potato-sagna and Other Musings

To those two or three people who seem to be reading this on a regular basis - thank you! I know that it's not too exciting, especially with no pictures, but honestly it's very freeing to me not to be worrying about the visual side of things. Maybe someday I'll pick that back up, but for now I'm really enjoying the simple act of writing.

Anyway, I am officially back in the swing of things, and starting to feel pretty good again (or at least as good as 7 month pregnant lady can feel!).

My food in the last few days has been quite simple, and predominantly made of things I've grown myself. It's such a great feeling to be able to get such nourishment from my own backyard. I put very little effort into the garden this year - that plus the drought make it quite an unexpected reward.

Instead of a real breakfast, these last few days I've been really just snacking all morning. It seems to be a good way to keep my energy up. Yesterday I had a piece of leftover cornbread with honey before work, and then throughout the morning and early afternoon: another piece of cornbread with butter, a hard boiled egg, an apple, some milk, and then another apple with a nice hunk of bandaged cheddar. That got me through the work day pretty well.

Yesterday I made a wonderful (if haphazard) dinner, which just illustrates yet again that you really can throw almost anything together, top it with cheese, stick it in the oven, and it turns out delicious. I baked a bunch of garden potatoes until they were cooked but still firm, sliced them, and put them in a pan with some sliced bell peppers and a layer of chopped kale (both from the garden). I quickly threw together s sauce of ground beef, stewed tomatoes (garden tomatoes simmered in the crock pot overnight), home-grown basil and onions, and a little dab of heavy cream. The sauce got poured over the potatoes and veggies, and I topped it with a healthy layer of Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Popped it into the oven and baked it for about 30 minutes and voila! My husband named it Potato-sagna.

Today was an apple for breakfast, and then mid-morning I had a big portion of leftovers from the night before. I always have a lot of fruit to snack on at work, being that I manage an organic produce department and all, so I was able to make it until dinner without getting hungry. I have a yoga class on Wednesday evenings, so dinner was a quick affair after I got home - a big apple pancake (just a whole wheat pancake using local flour, milk, eggs, and apple pieces) and two fried eggs. I splurged a little afterward with a mug of Oaxacan hot chocolate (not local, but I do have an exception for what's already in the pantry and I've had the hot chocolate since our trip to Mexico in March).

I found out on Monday at my Doctor's appointment that apparently my uterus is measuring too big for 27 weeks pregnant. Someone at work thought maybe given all the good food I've been eating, that I'm having a super baby. I like that!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pride Goes Before the Fall

When I woke up last Wednesday morning, I felt fine. I ate a breakfast of pears, almonds, milk, and a little maple syrup. I got in the car to made my 30 minute commute to work.

Halfway there, I started to feel a little funny. By the time I arrived, I was feeling really weird. I lasted about 10 minutes before my breakfast came up. Throwing-up at work is not something I am used to;  even during my first trimester I never once threw up. This was definitely not pregnancy related, since (how do I put this delicately?) I was having trouble at the other end of my digestive tract as well....

So, I got in my car, had a wretched drive home, and spent the rest of the day on the couch. This episode was especially weird since I had had a very similar experience two weeks earlier, just before the eat local challenge started. Apparently there is a stomach flu going around, and though I'm not usually one to be susceptible to such things, being pregnant does nothing for my immune system.

The baby is fine, that's what matters, right? I couldn't help but feel a little jealous of him - so safe and secure in his cocoon while I felt all kinds of bad. The eat local challenge was the first thing to go. I ate whatever I could stomach - crackers, juice, etc.

I was feeling better the next day, but eating 100% local still wasn't quite possible since we were scheduled to leave town for the weekend for my cousin's wedding on Friday. The need to work, pack, pick up dry cleaning, buy pet food, get a wedding present, drop the dog off at he kennel, plus the exhaustion and weakness of my post-sickness meant that convenience won the day. Breakfast on Thursday and Friday was oatmeal at work (I just couldn't stomach any pears), lunch was whatever was quick and easy, dinner on Thursday was Chinese food (no local involved), and on Friday we ate at Monty's Blue Plate Diner on our way out of town.

I made it through the weekend eating a semi-local diet. We were in Green Lake, Wisconsin - a little touristy town near a beautiful Wisconsin lake. We rented a little house with my siblings and their wives, and found a local food store that sold the Wisconsin basics - cheese, meat, milk, and even some grains. I brought eggs from home for breakfast. I did overindulge a bit, especially when it came to refined sugar, but it was almost unavoidable (at least that's what I told myself). It's funny how once I give in to sugar it's almost impossible to stop. For me it seems to be either all or nothing.

We arrived home on Sunday afternoon, and made a nice local dinner - CSA pork chops, steamed broccoli, and corn bread using a mix that I had purchased in Green Lake (locally grown corn and whole wheat flour!). Today (my day off) I did my best with the limited groceries we have at home: pears with yogurt and almonds for breakfast, leftover corn bread and a hard boiled egg for lunch, roasted sweet potato with bacon, walnuts, Parmesan, and thyme for dinner.

I'm back on the wagon again, and ready to return to the good health I was feeling before I got sick!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mid September.... Really?

Are we really almost half way through this Eat Local Challenge? Once again, I am floored by the speed of the seasons - as soon as they're here, they're gone again.

I'm beginning to think that I should have been following this diet all through my pregnancy. I'm really feeling good! Probably it's the elimination of processed food that goes along with a local diet rather than the localness of the food itself, but no matter. I've always found that eating a locavore diet is the only way I can successfully convince myself to cut out the sugar, white flour, and other diet demons. The benefits are clear: I've had no digestive problems to complain about for two weeks, and what's more, my mood has been good. It feels really nice to know that I'm nurturing myself and my baby so effectively through the foods I'm eating.

Speaking of the baby, he's been really active these last few days. Whether that has anything to do with my diet or not is hard to say, but I like to imagine that it does. At first, he was pretty quiet - getting used to the change. Now he seems to be really into it. There's lots of kicks, nudges, and flips, especially after I eat a hearty meal. I think he's thankful for the good food!

Anyhow, here's the rundown on what I've been eating these last few days: Monday breakfast was the same old peaches, almonds, and I indulged myself with some heavy cream. I probably should have eaten more for lunch than I did - I made a plate of garden veggies (cucumbers, carrots, and tomato) and ate them with a big blob of Dream Farm chevre. I had an active day of stay at home domesticity, and somehow I'm never as hungry on those days, compared to my days at work behind a desk. I just don't get that.

Dinner on Monday was venison (still in the freezer from last year's hunting season), cooked in the cast iron skillet with bacon, bell pepper, and onion. I made chapatis to go with - these are unleavened Indian flat breads that act more or less like a tortilla and are super fast and easy to make. I remember my parents making these over the fire when camping - a throwback to their hippy days I'm sure. I always forget about them until the eat local challenge comes along and I'm craving quick carbs. Local flour, water, salt, and a little local sunflower oil and there you are. I ate one with dinner and then one for dessert with butter and honey. Yum!

Breakfast today was the last of the peaches - it's pears and apples only from here on out. It was a desk day, so like clockwork, I got super hungry and low blood sugar at about 10am. For once I was prepared. Instead of free bakery items, I ate the little bag of walnuts and dehydrated apples and peaches I had brought from home. It got me through!

Lunch was leftover chili from Sunday night - a big portion of it that left me stuffed. I couldn't eat much more by dinner time, so I just steamed some broccoli and mixed it with Dream Farm Chevre and walnuts.