The Hunger – I Mean, Eat Local, Challenge

Week 1 is nearly over.  I’ve been hungry.  Don’t worry, I’m not going all fundamentalist on the Eat Local Challenge.  When I get hungry and can’t think of, or find, anything local, I cave and eat non-local food.

The problem comes mostly from not thinking about food enough.  It takes some preparation and a time commitment.  I can’t just run to the store and grab something 10 minutes before it’s time to start dinner.  I have to plan ahead for the next Farmer’s Market.  Or wander the local grocery store, searching for local food.

I have to keep on eye on the bread and plan when I need to make another loaf.

I have to carefully observe the garden and guess how quickly various items will ripen.  Or at least get close enough to ripe that I can swipe them early.  Thank goodness zucchini has the good sense to grow exponentially and can reliably be infinitesimal in the morning, then moderately dinner sized by evening.  Goliath, if you can put it off another day.

But the Challenge has been great, too.  When I haven’t been hungry, I’ve had the best food I think I’ve ever eaten.  We’ve had some delicious dinners that will be added permanently to our go-to menu.

My favorite in the first week was a roasted vegetable pizza.  I used left over meat sauce from the Pasta Making Party, but it’s not necessary for a delicious pizza.  Here’s the recipe, in case you’re interested.

Meat Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

12 ounces ground meat
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped sweet bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
4 cups tomatoes, chopped and peeled
1/3 cup water (or as needed)
6 tbsp fresh herbs (parsley, basil, oregano, marjoram)
1/2 tsp salt

Directions

In a large saucepan, cook ground meat, onion, sweet bell pepper, and garlic until meat is brown.  Drain fat.  Stir in tomatoes, water, herbs, and salt.  bring to boiling, reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Uncover and simmer for 10-15 minutes more or to desired consistency, stirring occasionally.  Makes 4 main dish servings.

{Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, 11th ed}

We had pasta first, and saved the leftover sauce.  A couple of nights later, I was in the mood for pizza and thought it would be a good use for the little bit of sauce that was left.

I made a simple pizza dough.  While the dough was rising, I roasted some veggies.

I just took what I had, which happened to be some little potatoes, carrots, zucchini, onions, and garlic, and chopped them up.  I tossed them with some butter, salt, and pepper and roasted them in a 450* oven for about 20 minutes.

When the veggies were roasted, I layered the meat sauce, veggies, sliced tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, rosemary and basil on the pizza and cooked it for about 15 minutes in a 475* oven.

The pizza was to die for.  We had lots of leftovers – a MUST during this challenge! – and they provided lunch again.  I only used half the pizza dough {I froze the other half} so I’m looking forward to having pizza again during the month.

I was surprised at how fast it came together and how easy it was.  The best thing about pizza is that it’s so versatile.  You can top it with anything and it’s yummy!  I may be tooting my own horn a bit here, but I was really proud of myself for making the dough from scratch.  It was ridiculously easy, and in the summer heat of Utah, the dough raised in a jiffy.  Honestly, it would have taken longer to place a call and wait for a pizza to be delivered.  And there’s NO WAY it would have tasted nearly as good.

So even though I’ve been hungry and occasionally frustrated, the Eat Local Challenge, so far, has honed some cooking skills, offered up some delicious treats, and jump-started my creativity.

3 more weeks to go!

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