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.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fall is in the Air

Another Sunday evening... the weeks are just flying by. Hard to believe that tomorrow I will be 26 weeks pregnant and only one week away from my third trimester. The idea that there will soon be a little tiny baby in the house is becoming more and more real, although when I try to imagine him curled up inside my belly, I still can't quite picture it. There's definitely something in there, but a tiny human? Really? If he was born right now, he would probably survive. Crazy.

Anyway, the local eating has gone moderately well this weekend. I have to say that I am enjoying this more relaxed challenge. In the past, I looked down my nose at people who took their challenge less that 100% seriously, but this year I'm totally one of those people, and it's kind of nice!

Saturday was an early work day for me. I had the usual breakfast before going in to work at 6am. I'm not sure what I'll do when my peach stash is gone. I ate through all the Door County peaches I had saved, and now I'm working on a large bag of peaches that my Mom gave me from the family community garden plot on Main Street. Once those are gone, the fruit selection will be down to just apples and pears.

Lunch at work was microwaved leftover lasagna. I had a big container of milk on my way home at 2pm, and also an apple with peanut butter (I'm not ashamed to say that I'm totally milking my nut exception). Dinner was garden potatoes boiled and then fried up with three eggs and some cottage bacon from Willow Creek Farm. Simple, but very satisfying.

Saturday night I took advantage of my exception for food that's already in my pantry by indulging in a cup of hot chocolate made with chocolate from our trip to Oaxaca, Mexico last March. It's been way too hot outside to drink hot chocolate this summer, but we've recently had some delightfully chilly weather that made it seem like the perfect thing.

Breakfast today was a bit of a cheat, but not bad. Sundays are a day off for both Stanley and I, so we went with Elwood to a new local bakery/restaurant: 4 & 20 (named after the nursery rhyme). It was my first time there and I had heard a lot of really good things, so I was excited to try it out. I had a breakfast sandwich with egg (local), house cured bacon (local), and green zebra tomato (also local), on a decidedly not local but extremely delicious biscuit. Ah, the joys of white flour!

Lunch was the last of the lasagna. Mid afternoon snack was an apple. I worked all afternoon in the garden moving my perennials around, but surprisingly I didn't feel famished afterward like you might expect. Funny how I seem to get way more hungry when working at a desk than I do when I'm physically active.

Stanley made an awesome local chili for dinner: beef, garden tomato sauce, garden peppers and onions,  sweet corn, and leftover locally grown baked beans from our wedding (frozen since last October!). So satisfying on a chilly September evening.

I started knitting my first baby item tonight - a hat made from local alpaca yarn that I picked up at the North Side Farmer's Market .... at $18 a skein, it was a real splurge, but what the hell? My December baby will need some warmth and what better way to keep him warm and toasty? He deserved it.

Friday, September 7, 2012

I'm Getting Better at This

Yep, I'm getting the hang of this now. The trick is staying ahead of the hunger.

I remember reading somewhere that when your blood sugar gets low you regress to baby mode - I need food and I need it now - it doesn't matter if it's local or not, I eat whatever is easy and fast.

If I can stay ahead of that hunger and plan ahead, I'm just fine. In fact, I feel great. It's not always easy while working 40 hours and living a busy life, but it is possible.

Breakfasts have been the same: peaches, milk, slivered almonds.

I worked early yesterday, so I opted to eat a snack mid-morning (three apples, some aged Gouda, and milk) and then when I got home in the early afternoon I boiled up a bunch of potatoes and had them with a fresh garden tomato and butter. For dinner I made a ton of lasagna (a perfect leftover to have around!): noodles (already in the pantry), tomato sauce from the garden, pork sausage, cheese, kale, basil, summer squash, Italian frying peppers. Perfect.

Today's lunch at work was a microwaved sweet potato with butter, handful of pecans, and milk. I'm not a huge fan of the microwave, in fact I've never lived with one at home, but it did come in handy today! Dinner was steak, mashed potatoes, and a mess of green beans from the garden.

In baby news, I went to a friend's house this afternoon and got a ton of baby stuff from her, some of it gifted, some sold. She had her baby last year in November, so the timing couldn't have been better. Clothes, a co-sleeper, a bathtub, and a bunch of other handy stuff. The number of things that have been passed on from friends, family, and coworkers, has been overwhelming. Baby stuff, maternity clothes - I've really had to buy very little. What a wonderful thing, and so nice to know that these things are being recycled and that I'll be able to pass them on when I am done.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Feeling Good

One thing about pregnancy - it's a complete roller coaster. There have been plenty of times that I've felt terrible: low energy, heartburn and other unpleasant digestive symptoms (don't worry, I won't go into detail!), headaches, backaches.... it seems like every week there's something else to complain about.

There are other times that I feel just fine - good in fact. This is one of those times. The past two days have been the first in a long time that I haven't felt any twinges of heartburn or discomfort at all, and I have to assume that it has something to do with my diet.

These last two days have been as close to 100% local as I could ask for. Breakfasts have been the same as usual: peaches, milk, slivered almonds, and a little maple syrup. Today I added two fried eggs to put some extra protein in the mix. Yesterday I had a big tub of cottage cheese and a few heirloom tomatoes for lunch, today it was the last of the potato kale soup that I made last week.

Dinner last night was a special one. My stepson was turning 5, and had requested breakfast for dinner - his favorite. For he and his Dad I made chocolate chip pancakes with local whole wheat flour, eggs, milk, and butter. Of course the chocolate chips were not local, so I left them out of my pancakes. Baking powder was the only thing that missed the local boat - I think I will add leavening to my list of exceptions. With the pancakes we had some fruit (local apples and peaches for me), and of course bacon.

Dinner tonight was a little bit of a fail, but not bad. I had a prenatal yoga class directly after work, so by the time I got home I was famished and in no mood to cook or wait for Stanley to cook. We ended up at the Alchemy - a local restaurant that serves quite a bit of locally grown food. Local chicken wings as an appetizer and a local burger (no bun) with cheese and a salad (not local, unfortunately) for dinner. I needed the protein - immediately after eating, the baby started having a dance party in my belly - a sure sign of his approval.

One thing about eating locally these last two days: it has kept me feeling good, but it has also kept me feeling hungry. I can't seem to get enough food at any meal to last till the next. Snacks are a necessity, and lots of them. It can be tough to keep up with, but so far so good.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sugar is the Devil

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - sugar is the devil. I've managed to kick the habit in past eat local challenges, but this time is different. Even though giving into my cravings inevitably leaves me disappointed and guilt ridden, I'm still have a really hard time with it.

Case is point: Yesterday.

I started the day well: two fried eggs straight from my own chicken coop, a Door County peach, and local yogurt. Somehow I was hungry again a few hours later, so I snacked on some of my all time favorite local cheeses - Ceasar's Oaxacan style string cheese, and a Ginger Gold apple from Door County. So far so good.

Like many expectant mothers, I've been a little obsessed with all of the stuff I'll need for the baby. I'd been wanting to make the two hour trek down to Chicago to the nearest Ikea store, and we somewhat spontaneously picked yesterday to do it.

Though eating local off the freeway is impossible, we managed to find a relatively healthy lunch at a Chipotle restaurant in Rockford IL. Brown rice, black beans, "natural chicken" (whatever that means), veggies... could have been worse.

Ikea was a disappointment. It was so crowded that you literally couldn't move around. With all the people and all the carts and all the hubbub we found ourselves disappointed and somewhat disgusted by the experience. We bought one thing, a small piece of furniture to hold baby clothes, waited in line for 40 minutes to check-out, and finally got back on the road.

Maybe it was the frustration of the shopping trip, maybe it was the heat, maybe it was a combination of the two plus the extra exhaustion of being pregnant, but somehow I decided it would be a good idea to stop at an A&W on the way home for a root beer float. It sounded so good that I just couldn't resist the idea once I had it in my mind. I consumed the cheap ice cream, carbonation, and corn syrup, and then immediately felt a little sick, both literally and figuratively. Mild nausea combined with the guilt of knowing I had given into something that I should not have - not a great feeling.

It seems to me that there's a connection to be drawn between the Ikea experience and the sugar cravings. The desire for new, shiny baby stuff is almost as strong as that for sugar. Both seemed really great in my mind beforehand - both were disappointing afterward and left me feeling unfulfilled. Whether it's unhealthy food or consumer goods shipped from China - neither leaves me with a good taste in my mouth, but both are hard to resist. There's a lesson there.

When we got home, I dug around on the Internet to learn more about sugar addiction. Interesting that so many people have the experience of not being able to resist sugar, yet most of what you find on the Internet is people simply asking if it's addictive. Of course it's addictive - it's just so common and so destructive that we don't like to think of it that way.

Dinner was leftover potato soup from the night before. Thank God for leftovers.

Today has been a lot more successful on the food front, and we've gotten a ton of things done - a good day overall. Breakfast was local peaches, yogurt, and slivered almonds. Another mid-morning string cheese snack, and a lunch of garden tomatoes, fresh okra, more cheese, and a glass of milk. I know that doesn't sound too exciting, but the tomatoes are so good that they are really a meal unto themselves.

We went to the Community Garden this morning and dug our potato crop. I don't have a scale, but I'd estimate we yielded between 25 and 30 pounds - should last us a while. I'm especially pleased considering what a dry season it's been and that I only watered these potatoes once. Given my pregnancy, this was probably the most neglected I've let a garden get, but we still got quite a bit of sustenance out of it.

Later in the day Stanley and I tag teamed the house cleaning, and started moving furniture around in our bedroom (which will also be the baby's room) It feels so good to get some tangible work done in preparation for baby, and we didn't have to buy anything!

We're going to my Mom's for dinner. Local food will highlight the menu I'm sure, but I'm also sure there will be ingredients that aren't local. That's OK - the food will be delicious, the company will be good, and that's worth more than keeping to a strict diet.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

September 1

Well, I have to say that the first day of this challenge was not exactly a smashing success. There's such a huge difference between being pregnant and hungry and not-pregnant and hungry. I think my routines will prove much harder to break than ever before, and I might just decide not to break some of them at all.

Like every other Saturday, I was up today at 5am and on my way to work by 5:30. Since not eating before work isn't an option, I had what has become my regular breakfast: granola, slivered almonds, and a sliced peach (a local peach at least).  I think that I will have to make an exception for nuts. The protein is just too good, and though I love local Hickory nuts, the $24 per pound price tag is just too much for me this year.

What a way to start a challenge, with an exception!

Day-old bakery has become the bane of my existence. Almost every day there is an assortment of free baked goods just calling my name and it seems almost impossible for me to resist. Today with my cup of tea (fair trade Earl Grey because the week long headache that comes with caffeine withdrawal on top of pregnancy symptoms is just not an option), I had some sort of pear almond tart thing and later in the morning I guiltily cut myself a quarter of a banana cupcake with lots of frosting. This is one thing that has really got to stop with this challenge.

Lunch was a salad (mostly local, but not entirely) from the salad bar. A little planning ahead and I should be able to do a better job at lunch. We have local salad mix in the produce department, and lots of things to go on it. Yogurt is also a good choice with maybe some nuts and fruit..... or bringing leftovers from home cooked locavore meals.

I redeemed myself with dinner. After coming home, I took a 2 hour nap and used my refreshed energy to walk to the community garden and dig a few potatoes and pull a few onions. I cooked these in chicken stock I had made earlier in the week, fresh picked garden kale, and Cottage Bacon from Willow Creek Farm. A little Cider vinegar and salt, and I had a wonderful locavore soup.

So what exactly is my challenge this year? I think I can call is "Extreme". All local, with a few exceptions: nuts, black tea, vinegar, lemons and limes, spices and of course the rennet, vitamin D, yogurt culture, and salt found in most dairy products and cured meats. I will also give myself free reign on the things I already have in my pantry. There's no sense in wasting food just to prove the point.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Hello everyone! It's been almost a full year since I've posted to my blog, The Good Food Muse, and given the long period of time and the changes in my life, I thought it fitting that I start a new project.

As you can probably guess from the blog title, I'm pregnant! Stanley and I are expecting a baby boy in mid-December, which makes me 24 weeks along, almost at the 2/3 mark. Pregnancy hasn't been easy, but it hasn't been all that hard either. Especially once I could feel the movements of the baby in my womb, and the idea that there really is a little person in there became really real to me, excitement overwhelmed the feelings of discomfort. Hopefully that keeps up!

So what's this new blog about? Well, anything I write at this point in my life will invariably be about baby. It's really all I think about at times, and I can't leave him out. That's a given.

I've been thinking about how cool it is that my baby is made up entirely of things that I have eaten in the past months, many of them local. He's only a little over 1lb now, with a lot more weight to gain in the next three months. What percentage of him will come directly out of the Wisconsin soil?  What does this mean for him as new human being? What does this mean for his mother and family? These are questions I hope to delve into here.

I've also started thinking about local beyond food. How can I welcome my baby in a way that upholds the same principals that draw me to local food? How can I enter into motherhood in a way that is good for me, good for my baby, and also good to the planet, it's soil, it's animals, and the economy of the place we call home?

Of increasing importance to me as I plan for my family's future, is how do I do all this without spending way too much money? It seems that a lifestyle in which organic, sustainable, and local are central factors is reserved only for people who can afford it. Is there a way to do it in a way that is economically sustainable for my family and also realistic for our available time and energy? We shall see.

As September rolls closer, I've realized that I've done some sort of eat local challenge every year for 5 years. I can't imagine stopping now. I plan to start this blog with an eat local challenge, and explore what that means for a pregnant lady. If time and energy still exist, I'll continue through the birth of my baby boy, exploring all of the themes above, and more as they come up.

So there you have it: In Utero Locavore.