Wow! So welcome to the big leagues! Jumping into a hundred mile diet cold turkey in Thurston County in early May is a crazy thing to do! Well, cold turkey is a relative term since I started planning ahead in the middle of last week. But first here are the rules that I’m playing by. Anything from another county that is within a hundred miles is fair game. That means I’m dealing with: Thurston, Pierce, Mason, Lewis, Kitsap, King, Gray’s Harbor, Pacific, Clark, Jefferson, Clallam, Snohomish, Island, San Juan, Kittitas, Wahkiakum, Cowlitz, Skamania counties, and probably most importantly, that means Yakima and Skagit counties are in play. The one notable exception I have given myself (so far!) has been to include wheat from Blue Bird Grain Farms in Okanogan County, which is about 150 miles from here. I looked into Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill in Bellingham, but they’re just milling flour from the eastern side of the Mountains. The other “local” flour I investigated was Shepherd’s Grain. They’re a cooperative that pools together their wheat from around the inland Northwest. Mostly it’s Washington wheat but there are also farms in Idaho and Oregon.

The (i)deal is that the whole product must be sourced from within those counties. That means that if I find a nice jam from Coupeville in Island County that says it includes “organic cane sugar,” that’s very nice, but it’s also verboten! Salt is a bit of an issue. I went looking online for sea salt from the Pacific Northwest. The only stuff I could find was this ridiculous alderwood smoked salt that was definitely processed in Washington and may have been sourced from here. Oh yeah, the other issue is baking soda/baking powder if we are to do baking. The way I’m thinking of those ingredients is that they are tools like the oven. They’re not foods. 

This morning I woke up to my first failed experiment in local eating. I tried to make my own yogurt. I don’t have a yogurt maker but I remember my mom making yogurt without a yogurt maker when I was little, so I called her up for some tips. She said I just need to find a place to keep in warm for an extended period of time. We used to have a gas oven with a pilot light she used that some times. Other times she would put it up on top of the refrigerator because the coils on the back of the refrigerator would leak enough heat and other times she would put the jars on the hot water heater. In my apartment we have an electric oven and there’s no space available above the refrigerator so I decided to try the hot water heater. Unfortunately my building is only about four years old and I think the hot water heater must be one of those damn energy star models because it was not leaking off nearly enough heat! I tried to make myself about twenty four ounces of the stuff so I wasted a lot of good Golden Glen Creamery milk on that. Damn! Incidentally, I find it really interesting that Bow in Skagit County is the closest I can guarantee my (cow) milk come from. Twin Oaks Dairy from Chehalis used to sell milk but apparently after the floods they were forced to choose whether they wanted to focus on producing milk or cheese. They chose the cheese. 

So for breakfast I ended up having sausage from Mason County pigs and eggs from Yelm. Unfortunately I couldn’t have any pepper on my eggs but I was able to have some of that weird smoked sea salt…! My girlfriend made me a lot of sausage and eggs but they needed something like a tomato thrown in. Or maybe a nice cup of yogurt with local honey! Also, I didn’t have anything to drink but water. 

At lunch time I had a big simple salad with lettuce from Tenino and bleu cheese dressing from Chehalis. That kept me going quite a while. Later I needed a snack and had an egg I hard boiled last night (with some of that funky sea salt). I used to despise hard boiled eggs but within the last year I have come to appreciate them as a perfectly packaged snack food. 

For supper we had a small feast to start off the week in style! Fortunately for me, my girlfriend really likes to cook and we invited Jake over so he wouldn’t feel so lonely going into this experiment in his house. We had a carrot purée with carrots from Thurston County, an onion from Yakima County, and some failed yogurt muck to thicken it up. We had asparagus from Sunnyside in Yakima County and the entrée was gnocchi made from potatoes grown in Thurston County, flour from Okanogan County, and sautéed in butter from Skagit County. Apparently they should have been sautéed in oil but that is an ingredient that has as of yet, failed to make itself known as a local ingredient. The asparagus tasted like asparagus does but the carrot purée was fantastic! It was so sweet and creamy and rich with the savory flavor of the onion added, but not at all overwhelming. But the real surprise was the gnocchi, which at first were threatening to fall apart after being boiled but ended up tasting almost like little donuts. Sautéing them in butter actually made them perfect. Never have I tasted gnocchi like these. My girlfriend estimated that the cost of this meal for three was somewhere around $12.00, which is really nothing except that she said the gnocchi were a pain in the ass to make. So the cost goes up for some bothersome labor, perhaps. 

So one day down, four to go. I’m looking forward to visiting some of the farms later in the week. I wonder if anyone has considered creating a farm that brings its produce to market by bicycle cart to completely avoid petroleum from the local diet.