When I signed on for this experiment in local eating I couldn’t have predicted that in addition to my full-time job I’d be in the throes of buying and remodeling real estate in Aspen and selling my mother’s Denver home in order to move her up to the mountains to live with me. At least this is my excuse for waiting until now to figure out what I’m going to eat for 40 days beginning on August 22nd.
My locavore compatriots and I have had casual conversations about sharing a produce CSA, gathering weekly over a potluck dinner, and scheduling farm-to-table meals together, but here it is two weeks from the start date and there are no firm plans.
I’d better start figuring out local food sources on my own.
From the beginning I decided how I was going to define a food as “local.” Since I cook virtually all of my meals and plan to do the same during this project, I concluded that if the ingredient is in the title of the recipe, or would be if I was to write up a recipe for one of my own preparations, that ingredient has to be sourced locally - - preferably from the Roaring Fork or South Fork valleys, or at a minimum from the Western Slope.
The Aspen Locavore project is an inquiry intended to explore the ease, cost, joys and challenges of eating locally and is not a purist project. We never intended that absolutely everything we eat would be sourced locally and determined as a group that we would make exceptions for salt, pepper, lemon and the like to aid in cooking our locally produced foods.
I decided that foods not grown here would at least be sourced from purveyors as close to home as possible. For instance I’ll be getting my coffee from Rock Canyon Coffee in Basalt and my favorite farmhouse ale from Aspen Brewing Company.
Two weeks ago I started menu planning. I began perusing my favorite cookbooks, the clipped recipes I keep in a three-ring binder, and my August Cooks’ Illustrated and Cuisine At Home magazines. Much to my dismay I realized that some of my favorite recipes were “out.”
West 38th Pasta, a go-to favorite for dinner, is out unless I can find locally made pasta. I haven’t been to a farmers’ market in Aspen for a couple of years, so I’m wondering, is the pasta vendor still there? And if so, where is that pasta made? Where does the wheat for its flour come from?
Grilled swordfish? Not a chance. And I’ve heard that short of fishing for it yourself, local trout isn’t even available here.
Scrambled eggs for breakfast are in as eggs are plentiful. And anyway, I’ve been exclusively buying local eggs for years from the Flying Circus and Emporium or Meat and Cheese market in Aspen.
I remember hearing that potatoes have been historically grown in the Roaring Fork Valley, so I think my boyfriend’s mother’s potato salad is in. Eric, our gardener, told me the Nieslaniks may have potatoes for sale that are grown on their ranch in Carbondale, so I plan to give them a call. And thank goodness Eric planted kale that will allow me to make Dr. Weil’s Kale Salad.
I’m traveling this weekend and next, so I want to stock some non-perishable foods now so I’m ready on August 22nd. My boyfriend is up for eating local at least for dinner, and my college-age children are coming to visit, so I’m going to need larger food quantities for the first couple of weeks.
True to my hyper-organized form, I started a spreadsheet in an attempt to quantify my food needs for the forty days. In order, the column headings are: Meal, Recipe Name, Ingredient, Quantity, Per Week Factor, # of Weeks, Total, Measure, Per Week Quantity Needed, 40-Day Quantity Needed, Category, Source. The analysis suggests that for breakfast for the 40 days I need 2.857 cups of buttermilk, 34.28 eggs, and 57.14 cups of granola.
It’s taken me several days to write this blog post, and it’s now T minus 1-1/2 weeks until the project’s start. The spreadsheet is out the window, and I’m just going to wing it.
Next Wednesday Betsy and I plan to drive up and down the Roaring Fork Valley to source as much food as we can to start the project. We’ll hit these places and more: Carbondale farmers’ market, Mountain Primal Meat Company, Rock Canyon Coffee, Avalanche Cheese, Sustainable Settings and Woody Creek Distillery. Stay tuned for a full report!