day 4

What a difference three years makes.

Last time I attempted the 100-yard diet, it got pretty ugly. Maybe because it was July, sort of an awkward month, while February in Oakland is time for spring greens and potatoes and carrots and beets AND the winter stores of winter squash and canned tomatoes haven’t run out. I haven’t had to resort to the corn cobs on the mantle, but I’m waiting until day 10 or so. Here’s what I ate for dinner.

It’s definitely easier this time because of the goat. Also I cheated last night (knew I would, though) at my friend’s house last night. But he mostly made things I could have had anyway: corn soup, salad with feta and pumpkin–except for the mind-blowing seafood thai noodles from Christine Manfield’s book Spice. Oh my god. I brought goat milk and meyer lemon sorbet for dessert. Today involved squash soup, steamed milk, carrots, apple/plum sauce with milk, fried potatoes and greens and a little rind of cheese. It’s, as they say, all good.

But now that I have the benefit of a few days hindsight, I can think of some better cleanses/stunts for people to try. Feel free to run with these:

1. Catastrophe diet. Pretend like there’s no grocery store because there’s big earthquake or tsunami. Your house is intact, but what would you eat? Most people don’t know it, but they have a shit-ton of food in the cupboard. You should really eat it, and this is a good motivator to clean out the old stuff. Just looking through my cupboards (believe me, I’ve been looking), I have: 2 quarts of dry beans, granola, pumpkin seeds, thin rice noodles, almond butter, coconut milk, dried mushrooms, all kinds of flour, powdered sugar, arepa corn stuff a friend gave me…. This is all in addition to what’s in the larder of home-made stuff like wine and pickles and canned tomatoes. Paired with vegetables out of the garden, I could really make some good food! Maybe that’s what I’ll do post-cleanse, as it’ll force me to cook at home.

2. How to Cook a Wolf diet. I love MFK Fisher. The book was written during the war years, when money was tight and people were constantly being reminded of it. She used her imagination to make it kind of fun to be cooking the same boring shit everyday (I can relate). She also diverges from food talk to talk about making soap or stuffing pin cushions with old coffee grounds. I can’t believe some blogger hasn’t gotten a book deal for following HtoCaW. I’ll probably try out a couple of the book’s recipes, like the Southern Spoon bread (with the corn), Potato Soup, and Eggs in Hell (sans bread). I just love the section where she talks about having toast for breakfast. Lots of toast, and nothing else. But have fun with it and try lots of different kinds of jam. So easy. And so cheap. Aitkins rolling in his grave, I’m sure. God I miss toast.

As a sidenote, I’m reading her diaries now and just came across a line she wrote during the Depression: “Even now I feel it–a nostalgia for the present!” I wrote a similar sentiment in Farm City, but had never read MFK’s line until now. It’s strange how going through something difficult or challenging or uncomfortable makes us feel like it’s really important. That it shapes us and makes us who we are, so later when we are comfortable, we can draw upon the hardship and feel a proud about that hardship. Humans are weird.

3. Insect diet. I know this is gross, but you can take it. I did two hours of garden bed prepping, and during that time, I encountered many, many bugs. Big huge earthworms, spiders, snails. And one of the snails was caught laying her eggs. They are lovely and white. And I thought: caviar. And took a tiny sample. Actually, quite good. I’ve already “gone there” and eaten snails, but had never thought of their eggs. Might be a delicacy soon enough.

Okay, I’m addled. Goodnight!

14 responses to “day 4

  1. Your diet sounds so great – I just wish I could do that with my small garden – I had a 100-yard lunch today, but the next one probably won’t be for another week or two.

  2. I love this. I’m so jealous that you have greens. I’m in Maine and we won’t have greens for another couple of months. If it weren’t for sea vegetables, I’s be living on root veggies alone right now.

  3. You lost me at insects, although I admire your intestinal fortitude….

  4. Unless part of your plan is to avoid caffeine altogether, you could try planting one of the Yaupon Holly shrubs for your next cleanse… if my climate could support it, I’d definitely have one (or two, or three) of my own!

  5. I like the idea of the catasrophe diet. Not so much for losing weight, but learning how to get by on less. Our ancestors learned how to do it during the depression, and we will most likely learn to do it while we transition into a post-oil world, thanks again Novella.

  6. To Emily (above) You can grow greens all winter in Maine! See Eliot Colemans book, The Four Season Harvest. He grows year round under hoop houses and plastic in Maine. I am further north in NB Canada and following his example have been cutting fresh greens from my unheated greenhouse all winter. Pics on my blog. We are zone 4b.

  7. Julie Fricke

    Can’t wait for you to get to WI to “teach” me all about this fabulous weight-loss miracle diet! šŸ˜‰ Feeling your pain…and anxiously awaiting your visit!

  8. Wait, so you aren’t allowing yourself to use the almond butter this time? Cos you can make great curry sauces with that. Guess your spices would be limited anyway.

    Too bad you don’t have one of the many walnut trees you can find in Oakland near there, eh? Walnuts would be a fabulous component of your diet. Gnocchi with walnut cream sauce…oh yum.

  9. “Might be a delicacy soon enough”

    didn’t know you are a doomer

  10. Great ideas!

    I fell in love with M.F.K. Fisher last year while reading The Art of Eating and had similar thoughts about How to Cook a Wolf last year.

    It’s timely, practical, fun, gives us a great perspective on food and nourishing ourselves no matter what our economic standing (“Since we must eat to live, we might as well do it with both grace and gusto”) and I can’t believe no one has blogged through it by now!

  11. Snail eggs are the new thing! On that show Bizarre Foods on the travel channel he visited a small farm outside of Paris where they have rooms and rooms full of snails mating and then they harvest the eggs and sort through them by hand with magnifying glasses and tweezers……it was pretty amazing….may be you should jump on that niche market before it blows up

  12. MotherLodeBeth

    Was so excited when I got the new issue of Sunset magazine and there on page 73 was a wee piece about you and your lovely photo. Have done everything you spoke about here, including insects. Something the kids in our family love doing. We have chickens and other critters but with our chickens we have to have reallllly high fencing or they end up in areas they will get nabbed in. During WW2 most city folks had back yard vegetable gardens, and its always intrigued me that so many people think its odd to have a vegetable garden much less a flock of hens in one back yard. Love everything you do!! ~Beth~

  13. Snail eggs! You’re awesome! I gave my sister Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Cook on the Wild Side cookbook and she made his snail recipe. (She lives in England and has a garden over-run with the critters.) She’s now a regular garden snail eater.

    I love your idea of the Catastrophe diet. My larder is full of stuff that is perfectly good, but it never seem the “right time” to eat it kind of things. I may swear off shopping for a while. Actually I think I may wait on that since I might actually be (hopefully temporarily) unemployed in a month!

  14. Jeni Barnett

    Having been buried under several feet of snow for a few days this Feb. , I was looking through the cabinets for what we could use. It is amazing how much food we have just hanging around. I discovered we didn’t need anything from the “outside world”. I’m inspired by what you’ve been able to accomplish. Good luck with diet.

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