Day 6 of the 100-yard diet

Friday: day 6

The bread keeps calling out to me. I had bread for breakfast and lunch; with butter and honey for breakfast, with feta and roasted red peppers for lunch.

For dinner, I made black beans and cheese in corn crepes, with salsa.

I had soaked some black beans overnight – a pole variety named Cherokee Trail of Tears, said to have been brought from Tennessee to Oklahoma on the infamous journey. These were simmered in the sun oven, although since the day was a bit cloudy, there was barely enough sun to cook the beans. I sauted onions, peppers and garlic, added the beans and seasoned with cumin.

Queso fresco is made by adding vinegar (I used plum vinegar) to almost simmering milk so it curdles, and straining out the curds.

Then I made salsa, my usual recipe: tomatoes, jalapenos, onion, cilantro, and salt. Usually I add some lemon juice, but skipped it today – the salsa missed it, but was still delicious. I’m happy that I have enough cilantro to make salsa – for some reason I can’t grow this very well, it’s the one thing in the produce department that we buy regularly.

Finally, the crepes; a thin batter of eggs, milk, wheat flour, and corn flour. We had some regular sweet corn that got starchy before we picked it, so I tried drying and grinding it.

It was beautiful and delicious, but probably would have been better with tortillas. No reason I can’t make masa and produce tortilla – it’s just takes more skills, ones I don’t have. But this isn’t a great climate for growing corn, either – corn likes water, and our summers are so dry.

In the far distant past, food was hard to come by, and precious. You didn’t waste energy coddling along some plant or animal that didn’t grow easy and abundantly in your particular area, and when travel was by foot or boat, you didn’t rely on food that grew thousands of miles away – like the cornmeal we buy, which probably comes from Iowa, right? Part of the whole eat-local philosophy is remembering that – eat what grows locally, in the season it’s abundant.

It’s a hard concept for us to remember, since the bananas and apples are right next to each other at the grocery store, and our tastes are developed around that – like for example mangos. I love mangos in any form (my favorite snack is dried mangos), but mangos just don’t grow here. We can get mangos flown in from anywhere nowadays (why does our food travel more than we do?). Or I could find a dwarf mango tree, plant in a big tub, keep it in the greenhouse, and spray regularly for the mildrew and diseases it’s prone to under these conditions, and maybe get a mango now and again, but not one at the top of its flavor. For much less effort, no travel involved, I could have abundant and flavorful peaches, cherries, raspberries, strawberries… there’s no shortage of things we can grow locally and enjoy.