Tuesday, May 8, 2012

That's just too far.

Apples from New Zealand. Pears from India. Seriously Safeway?

(homemade animal crackers...let's go for it) I popped into my local grocery store yesterday just to pick up a few things, including some produce. I was floored. Why are we importing an apple from New Zealand? Or pears from India? Does this seem ludicrous to anybody else?? I could not bring myself to buy any of them. It seemed wrong for so many reasons.

(this egg was Free Range Organic and nearly a buck. for ONE egg. need to source some cheaper clucks) First of all, I am not some crazy granola crunching hemp wearing environmentalist. Not even a little bit. Confession: if my recycling bin is full it would not bequeath me to throw my tin can/glass jar/newspaper into my kitchen garbage. (no judging, I’m trying) He We occasionally leave the house room without turning off the lights or the TV. We have been known to frequent popular fast food establishments where I am pretty certain the chickens being served up were not raised kicking it back in lounge chairs, sipping green smoothies.

(I love that my son is old enough to watch me lick the beaters...) But I guess everyone has their own personal line in the sand  (My recycling one is that I would never throw a tin can in the garbage, I dunno why, I just wouldn’t...I would however,  set it NEXT to the overflowing recycle bin) I cannot help but think of the impact – both environmentally and economically. (big Words with Friends points for those words) The last time I checked, those cargo ships were not hybrids and there is like a thousand BC farmers trying to sell apples and pears (and cherries and blueberries and apricots etc.) in the summer time.

(what animal shape is that you ask? don't.)This is turning into a bit of a rant so let me reel it in a bit and find my point. I don’t want to eat pears from India. I would like to wear silk from India and taste spice from India, but I don’t want my pear coming from India. I am more than happy to wait until August when the Okanagan farmers harvest their crop. Pears are great and everything but if I really need one , I think the folks at Absolut will help me out.

(yes, they are all little crescent moons, not lions and tigers and bears oh my.) I think I get what Mackinnon & Smith were thinking when they decided to eat local for a year. I have not yet read their book but some insightful takeaways I have already gotten from them are things like:
  • The usual minimum distance supermarket produce has travelled is 1500 miles.
  • Melons grow locally… cantaloupes do really well in BC
  • BC apples are often exported to Washington State to get cleaned and waxed (insert Brazilian joke here) and then imported as a Product of the USA

(there is something very domestic/grownup/mommyish about having a cookie jar with cookies in it. I like it) We did a 100 Mile dinner party with some friends one year. It was actually super fun and made for some great eats (and some great laughs) It was tough (it was March, not BC's finest in crop production) but we had potato leek soup, grilled salmon and for dessert, some amazing BC apples with Garam Marsala (ya...that was not so good. Cinamon was one of the only local spices we could find. Then we accidently mixed it up in our spice cupboard with the Indian one. Not good. Really really not good) 

(ladies and gents, we have a cookie overboard) I know I mentioned it in an earlier post that I wanted to make a conscience effort to eat more locally. It was reaffirmed yesterday at Safeway. I was physically bothered by it. So in the spirit of making lists, add this to the Things To Try List.

  1. Feed the family for a week with nothing but clean, whole foods.
  2. Feed the family for a week 90% within the principles of the 100 Mile Diet.
(Fine Print: Olive Oil and Bread are very hard to source local – not a lot of wheat fields in dem here parts – and I married an Italian. No judging, I’m trying)

(like a judge on Iron Chef, Little Sixtyone45 contemplates the flavours on his palette) Speaking of lists, you may recall that making Animal Crackers was on one of mine. This recipie was great and I really liked (1) how healthy they were and (2) how well they stood up to a milk bath and (3) how much Little liked them. I'm not crossing it off my list yet though. Gonna try a few more and see if I can perfect my own. And I'm going to buy some animal cracker cookie cutters because if you can't bite the head of a giraffe...

...its just not an animal cracker. (the judge approved)

Whole Grain Animal Crackers (adapted from The Cilantropist)

3/4 cup Whole wheat flour
1/2 cup All-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed*
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinamon
1/2 stick butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Agave
1 large egg
1 T vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, sift together the first 7 ingredients, and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar for about 2-3 minutes, then add the egg and vanilla extract and continue to mix. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients (flour mixture) in two additions, and then mix until the flour is just incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball; flatten the dough ball into a 1-inch thick disk and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough at least 2 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it warm up for a few minutes; then roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. If the dough sticks to the rolling pin or starts to crack, just dust the top of the dough with a little flour. Move fast, as the dough warms it becomes fragile and sticky.
To cut out the animal shapes press into the dough. (I find if I press it into the dough, and then wiggle it from side to side a bit, it helps me to remove the dough surrounding each animal.)  Working quickly and carefully, use a spatula to transfer the cookies to the lined baking sheet. You don't want the dough to get too warm and stick, but the cookies are also delicate and can break easily. (Squeeze together any dough scraps and put them back in the fridge to re-roll for your next cookie batch.)

Place the baking sheet in the fridge for 30-40 minutes or in the freezer for 15 minutes; then bake at 350 degrees for 7-9 minutes, or until the edges are just lightly golden and cookie is slightly puffed. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack to allow cookies to cool completely. Cookies will keep in an airtight container for about 1 week.

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