In between moving from my Whitworth-owned house on May 17 to my rental house on June 1, my friend Kari and I have been house-sitting for a Whitworth theology professor and his wife. It's been lovely to have time to rest and play between the end of school and the start of my job on June 2.
In my time off, I've been reading a book by Barbara Kingsolver called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It's a marvelous book about a family who eats locally for one year; Kingsolver writes with humor and poses good questions about our American tendencies towards food, especially to ship out-of-season foods from long distances. I appreciate Kingsolver's insights and want to live as locally and in season as I can within a non-profit salary. I'm excited to buy a chest freezer from my friend Lydia for $50 to preserve fruits and vegetables for the winter.
Last night, Kari and I went to a local farmer's market. The market takes place in the parking lot of a Presbyterian church and there was a distinct community feel to the market, where the local rubber hits the road. Kari and I wandered around and ended up talking with a cattle farmer, who urged us to try his delicious sausage. As I secretly wished for another sample, I asked the farmer a question about his sign, which read: "Five chubs ground beef and 1 dz eggs--$27."
"Okay, so, what's a chub?" I asked him.
"A chub's a pound," he said, matter-of-factly. "The first time I heard that I thought the person was insulting me, you know? 'Hey! Do you want a ground beef, chub?'"
Of course, what the person really meant was: "Do you want a ground beef chub?" You see, grammar does make a big difference. :)
I laughed pretty hard at this. The farmer then told us about the different parts of the cow and which parts are better as soup bones, fajitas or steak, etc. Why do I read cookbooks when I have the wisdom of the farmer himself? This man was clearly full of ideas. My goal is to buy some beef from him sometime this summer. Perhaps I'll buy a chub.
Kari and I did buy a couple things. I bought radishes, asparagus, and two pounds of cracked wheat breakfast cereal from a local grainery. Kari bought a loaf of freshly-made dried tomato bread and a bunch of spinach. For dinner, we had grilled cheese on the bread, steamed spinach, oven-roasted asparagus with olive oil, and a fruit salad. It was delicious, and I took particular pleasure in how many fruits and vegetables were present in the meal. It's hard to do, but satisfying when you can work those fruits and veggies into a well-rounded meal.
The pastor of the Presbyterian church that shares a parking lot with the farmer's market has written a book called A Year of Plenty, similar to Kingsolver's book. I met Pastor Craig at a book signing in downtown Spokane and was eager to read the book and learn more about the local Spokane food scene. Step-by-step, I'm learning more about the rich agriculture of this area. Though the Willamette Valley has a more hospitable growing season, Spokane has a burgeoning local food scene. I'm excited to jump in. Keep me updated on your experiences with local food, whether from a farmer's market, your own garden, or that ubiquitous bag of zucchini left at church in early August. :o) I'd be delighted to hear from you.