Sunday, November 24, 2013

Week 3 Meals

Three weeks have passed in our Alaska Food Experiment! Here's what we ate this week:

Sunday November 17:
Breakfast - unless otherwise noted, breakfast is eggs fried in butter
Lunch - unless otherwise noted, lunch is leftovers from the previous night's supper
Supper - London broil, onions, beet greens

Monday November 18:
Supper - London broil, broccoli, potatoes, carrots

Tuesday November 19:
Breakfast - bacon and eggs
Supper - bacon cheeseburger patties, icebox pickles, onion slices, home fries

Wednesday November 20:
Breakfast - bacon and eggs
Supper - steak, carrot and napa cabbage saute'

Thursday November 21:
Supper - steak-and-moose stew with barley dumplings

Friday November 22:
Supper - pork chops with zucchini and pickled vegetables, barley soda bread

Saturday November 23:
Supper - smoked ham, swiss chard, fried potatoes

This Week's Snacks:
Apple fruit leather, dried zucchini chips, cheese, pickles

Where it came from:
Apples - Soldotna
Beef - Homer
Beet greens - Soldotna
Butter - homemade
Carrots - Palmer
Cauliflower - Soldotna
Cheese - home made
Cucumbers - Soldotna
Eggs - home grown supplemented with purchased local eggs
Green beans - Soldotna
Napa cabbage - Soldotna
Onions - farmer's market
Pork - Funny River
Potatoes - Sutton
Swiss Chard - Soldotna
Zucchini - Soldotna

This week passed very quickly! Even though I didn't take a lot of time to cook, there were still new foods to try - bacon and ham! Now, I know what you're thinking, that bacon and ham aren't new foods, but they seem new when you brine and smoke them yourself. Jim smoked about 15 pounds of applewood bacon this week as well as a whole ham. We had some of the ham for dinner on Saturday night. It is delicious!

Jim slices the slab of bacon on an electric slicer.

My weight loss has slowed down but still continues. I've lost eight pounds since November 1.

Next week is Thanksgiving. I think I have all the menu items just about figured out, and can make everything we want to eat with only a small "cheat" to the all-Alaskan plan. Although holiday meals are exceptions to the plan, Jim and I have decided to see just how close we can get to traditional feast foods without using Outside ingredients. Stay tuned next week to see how we do!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Week 2 Meals

The second week of the Alaska Food Experiment is behind us!  Woohooo!!!  Here's what we ate:

Saturday November 9:
Breakfast - unless otherwise noted, breakfast is eggs fried in butter
Lunch - unless otherwise noted, lunch is leftovers from the day before
Supper - pork loin roast with stir-fried cabbage

Sunday November 10:
Snack - homemade potato chips
Supper - chicken-fried pork loin slices, broccoli and cauliflower

Monday November 11:
Snack - apple fruit leather
Supper - potato broccoli cheddar soup

Tuesday November 12:
Snack - apple fruit leather
Supper - meatloaf and hash browns with homemade ketchup, broccoli and cauliflower

Wednesday November 13:
Breakfast - eggs and hash browns with homemade ketchup
Supper - meatloaf and stir-fry cabbage

Thursday November 14:
Supper - pork roast with sauerkraut, zucchini
Snack - apple fruit leather and Finnish barley cookies

Friday November 15:
Supper - hamburger patties with cheddar, ice box pickles, and baked potatoes with butter

Saturday November 16:
Supper - beef pot roast, home fries, baby brussels sprouts, pork rinds

Apples - Soldotna
Barley flour - Delta Junction
Beef - Homer
Broccoli - Soldotna
Brussels sprouts- Soldotna
Cabbage - grocery store's "Alaska grown" section
Cauliflower - Soldotna
Cheddar - home made
Cucumbers - Soldotna
Eggs - home grown
Honey - Kasilof
Lard for frying - home rendered
Milk - home grown
Onions - farmer's market
Potatoes - Sutton
Pork - Funny River
Tomatoes - Soldotna

We finally got some snow on Sunday late in the day, and it is still on the ground. If I'd stayed with my original plan of waiting to start our food experiment until the first sticking snow, we wouldn't have started it until this past Monday. I'm glad I didn't wait so long. I've lost six and a half pounds so far this month! If I'd known the weight would be coming off so easily, I might have started the experiment in October, haha!

As far as trying new recipes goes, the Finnish barley cookies are a hit, and I'll make those again, but add more spices next time. The pork rinds? They were okay, but not as good as the kind you buy at the grocery store. I have more to cook up so I'll experiment a bit with that and see if I can get the hang of making them puffier than this first time.

Honeybee is not sure that snow is a good thing.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Week 1 Meals and Observations

If you're not sure what this is all about, start here.

Even though Jim desperately wanted me to name this project "The Hunger Games," I'm happy to report that nobody starved to death or even went very hungry. Here's what we ate this week:

Friday November 1:
Breakfast is fried eggs each morning unless otherwise noted
Lunch - steak stir fry with cabbage and carrots (confession: half a leftover ribeye steak was one thing I  didn't want to give to the chickens when I cleaned out the fridge, so even though it's not local, we ate it. But that's it.)
Supper - pork chops with honey apple butter and steamed zucchini with goat butter

Saturday November 2:
Lunch - leftover pork chops and edible pod peas
Supper - sausage and moose chili, cheddar cheese, and barley flatbread with butter

Sunday November 3:
Lunch -  lunch was leftovers from the previous supper for the rest of the week unless otherwise noted
Supper - crock pot moose roast, oven-roasted carrots and potatoes
Dessert - honey ice cream

Monday November 4:
Snack - refrigerator pickles
Supper - moose stew with barley biscuits

Tuesday November 5:
Supper - two types of crustless quiche - Italian sausage and turnip greens, and broccoli cheddar
Dessert - honey ice cream

Wednesday November 6:
Snacks - refrigerator pickles and moose jerky
Supper - pork roast roasted on a bed of sauerkraut, mashed kabocha squash seasoned with ginger cinnamon honey, steamed broccoli
Dessert - honey ice cream

Thursday November 7:
Snack - moose jerky
Supper - chicken soup

Friday November 8:
Breakfast - fried eggs and sausage
Snack - Jim confessed to having a little bit of popcorn at the hardware store (Bad Jim!)
Supper - beef roast and gravy, sauteed zucchini and carrots

And here's where all of that came from:

Apples - Soldotna
Barley flour - Delta Junction
Beef - Homer
Broccoli - Soldotna
Butter - home made from goat milk
Cabbage - grocery store's "Alaska Grown" section
Carrots - MatSu Valley
Cheddar - homemade from goat milk
Chicken - home grown
Cucumbers - Soldotna
Edible pod peas - Soldotna
Eggs - home grown
Garlic - Nikiski
Honey - Kasilof
Kabocha squash - grocery store's "Alaska Grown" section
Lard for frying - home rendered from local pig
Milk - home grown
Moose - outside Fairbanks
Onions - farmer's market
Pork - Funny River
Turnip greens - Nikiski
Zucchini - Soldotna

So... Besides not starving to death, how did it go? Remarkably well, I must say. A few years ago, I had to go on a very restrictive diet for health reasons, and this is not nearly as bad, as far as taboo foods go. While I do miss the ready availability of handy prepackaged snacks, I was able to say goodbye to them fairly easily. I expect I'll eventually figure out some recipes for snacky things but for now, I'm okay with the occasional piece of cheese or jerky. The transition from Diet Coke to kombucha was not difficult at all, which surprised me. What was hard, though, was changing the errand-day habit of going through the drive-through at McD's for a soda and grabbing a sweet at the grocery store checkout. Today was errand day and I can honestly say I didn't really want the drink and sweets... but the habit was there and that was the hard thing.

I've lost four and a half pounds this week, cutting out the junk. Yay, me! I don't know if it will stay off or if I'll lose more, but I hope so!

Time management is an issue for me and scheduling work so that I have dinner planned AND thawed by 4:30 has presented a problem on more than one day, I confess. I'm getting the hang of it, though. I've also discovered that, while I do know barley flour and wheat flour are not at all the same and are generally not interchangeable, I couldn't resist trying some recipes by substituting barley flour. Limited success. Needs more work. And nothing beats butter for frying an egg. Lard is good; lard-fried eggs are mediocre. Next year - stockpile more butter!!!

For the first time in our lives, we can point to nearly every single thing we've put in our mouths and tell you where it came from / who grew it / harvested it / butchered it / caught it / foraged it. I have a better appreciation for the amount of work it took to bring it from field to table, to blanch and freeze it, dehydrate it, can it, culture it, age it, cook it. It's a new feeling, being that connected to my food. I think I like it.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Jim and Deanna's Alaska Food Experiment

Jim and Deanna's Alaska Food Experiment starts November 1!

Not sure what that is? Well, let me explain...

I've read about people who have set their own goals for eating only locally-grown Alaskan foods for whatever length of time they've decided would work for them. I've heard of them lasting as long as a year and as short as two weeks. My goal is to eat only Alaska-grown foods for two months. I sourced my vegetables and some fruits from farmer's markets, a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription, a gardening trade group, small amounts of local produce from the grocery store when they've had it available, and gifts from friends. Our meat is mostly pork and beef grown here on the Peninsula, as well as moose, our own poultry and eggs, plus additional poultry bought from the feed store. Our goats give us milk, cheese, butter and cream.

Every week, I'll post what Jim and I ate for the past seven days.

There will be a few small exceptions to the Alaska-only rule, and here they are:

Beverages. I've decided not to restrict beverages, within reason. Jim is a willing participant in the Experiment, but this wasn't his idea. He's been such a good sport and enabler that I'm not going to ask him to give up his beloved coffee and tea. As for myself, I'll be giving up sodas in favor of water, locally-grown fruit juice, or home-brewed kombucha.

Leavening agents. Not that I think we'll be using them often, but just in case I decide we want pancakes or muffins, I'll need some baking powder or baking soda. There are ways to leaven breads without them, and it was my original intention to avoid them, but honestly, there are enough things I make myself that I decided to have this option in my back pocket, just in case.

Cheese starters and cultures. I milk my own goats and make my own aged cheeses. I think that amount of devotion earns me some latitude there, right? Of course it does!

Seasonings. I'm fine with making my own sea salt, but other herbs and seasonings, not so much. 

Minimally-used preservatives. Mostly lemon juice, vinegar or olive oil, used extremely sparingly, and only in preserved foods.

Holiday meals. I've got locally-grown ingredients for much of the traditional holiday feasts, but here again, the Experiment wasn't my family's idea, and I don't want to ask them to skip pie, for example. If I do use non-Alaskan ingredients in my holiday meals, I promise to confess them to you.

There you have it: our Alaska Food Experiment!