Friday, October 30, 2009

Day 46 – 100-mile Diet : Halloween without candy is no fun - But week-ends in the woods are!

So I didn’t really think about it until today. I had thought of the challenge finishing before the holidays and not having to sacrifice any of my favorites like pumpkin pies, cranberry walnut sauce and sweets. But I hadn’t given a thought to Halloween.

My office is a sweet factory on any given day, but on Halloween, it’s ridiculous. I walked in to bowls upon bowls sitting on top of filing cabinets filled with soft butterscotch candy, mini Mars bars and my favourite : Reese’s pieces!


It was a hard day and I will admit it, I faultered. I had a mini Mars bar at lunch and I’m not too proud of it. But it was sooooo good! So that I wouldn’t feel so bad, I brought a little mini bag of Reese’s pieces to my hubby and he gobbled it up. It just made our day!

Home we came and started our busy night of preparing for the week-end.

It will be my birthday next Tuesday and I decided to take Monday off to make it a 3-day week-end. We are going on a rustic, wood deep, cabin retreat and we are so happy!

Going away for a week-end would have been very complicated during this diet. Where do you go when you can’t cook for yourself and nothing is truly 100-miles? Well, these cabins are what they call “Ecogîtes” (eco-inns in french) and they are a network of cabins that are electriciy free, candle lit, wood stove heated, spring water pumped “chalets” that you can rent and commune with nature in.

The eco-site is called “Entre cimes et racines” (between tree top and root) and it is situated about 3 hours south of Quebec in the Eastern Townships. The one we rented for the week-end is a small log cabin one-room place. We will make sure and take lots of pictures and share with you all when we get back!

Besides all the clothing and bedding, board games, card games books and magazines, we are leaving with a strict 100-mile menu :

  • Home made sourdough bread
  • Carrots, potatoes, beets and onions
  • Cheese, goat yogurt, milk, butter and eggs
  • A big container full of cauliflower and brocoli soup
  • Fresh made fruit juice from the frozen berries and melons we have stashed away
  • Fresh picked apples
  • Herbal tea

Our only luxury : Coffee. I asked for my birthday present that we have one hot steaming cup of coffee in the brisk late fall morning of Sunday! I think that is fair…

I hope everyone has a great week-end!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day 44 and 45 – 100-mile diet : Finding allies

Following a wonderful comment left by Elle on my post a few weeks ago, I decided to go on a hunt for information on a little town called Vernon in British Columbia that has been doing something pretty amazing with the challenge!

On September 1st, 2009, this is what the Vernon Morning Star had to say :

People join the 100 Mile Diet Challenge

A challenge has been issued to the people of the North Okanagan – to eat mostly local food that has been produced or processed within a 100 mile radius of your home for 100 days.

This 100 Mile Diet Challenge has been issued by the Food Action Society of the North Okanagan (FASNO) in order to encourage people to see how local they can go.

People fearing that this 100 Mile Diet might mean an end to their morning cup of coffee can rest reassured. FASNO’s classification of local food includes food that is processed locally, such as coffee that has been roasted by companies based in the region.

“Buying locally produced food supports our farmers, but buying locally processed food is also good because it supports local businesses, and that benefits our community too,” said Mary Stockdale, one of the organizers of the challenge.

People are encouraged to join the diet at a level of local food consumption that is challenging but manageable.

“We have three levels at which the pledge can be taken: Gold, for people who will try to eat almost 100 per cent local food; Silver, for 75 per cent or more local food; and Bronze, for 50 per cent or more local food,” said Andrea Gunner, one of the organizers.

The diet will officially start on Monday, and will end 100 days later on Dec. 15.

“In the North Okanagan we are lucky to have a wonderful choice of food within our 100-mile radius, ranging from the Okanagan to the south, the West Kootenays to the west, Kamloops to the north and Merritt and Princeton to the west,” said Gunner.

The Interior Provincial Exhibition (IPE) in Armstrong is a strong supporter of this 100 Mile Diet Challenge. At the IPE grounds, the Centennial Theatre will be devoted to local food events Sept. 2 to 6, including local food tastings, films and presentations.

People are encouraged to visit the website: to find out more or to sign the 100 Mile Diet pledge online. They can also visit the Centennial Theatre during IPE week to ask questions and sign the pledge on paper.

Stockdale said there are many reasons to eat local food.

“It is much better for our health, better for the local economy and better for the environment,” she said. “Plus, fresh, seasonal, local food tastes really good.”

How inspiring! And I must admit I absolutely LOVE the Gold-Silver-Bronze system. We also love the importance of supporting local businesses that may have imported ingredients in their products, but still are produced locally which means jobs and a healthy local economy.

For us it is simple : During the growing season, you buy fresh veggies and fruits, eggs and meat (for my husband) from local farms to support our farming community. During the winter months, those same farmers live off processed foods they produce - preserves, salsas, meat based products such as, pâtés and potpies, dessert items – so encouraging them year round, even though their pâtés have salt or their jams have sugar, seems like an important step as well.

So my husband and I, who had been struggling with the idea of balancing imported, far away foods again after such an adventure, have decided to try and stay at Silver level after the challenge.

Thank you Elle for bringing this to our attention and making our transition after the challenge less of a scary one!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day 40 to 43 – 100-mile diet : A week-end of fun and back to life as “normal”

Sorry it may have looked as though I disappeared for a while. The week-end was a very hectic and fun one and it took a few days to catch up on sleep and get back in the swing of things.

As I had mentioned in my last post, my parents-in-law were here for a quick week-end visit and we had decided to apply the social life amendment in order to make our days a bit more fun filled and a bit less in-home intensive. We didn’t want to cheat too much, but also didn’t want them to feel part of something they hadn’t signed on for so we decided a healthy balance of both would do the trick.

As promised, here is a list of all the foods we cheated by buying and consuming:

  • Bread – We bought one bakery country style bread and 2 French-style baguettes.
  • Tea – My in-laws love hot tea in the morning so we had pulled out the Orange Pekoe out of our boxes in the spare room.
  • Pork filets - We had all 4 parents for dinner Saturday night (who all eat meat) and although we tried our best to find local pork that wasn’t ham, we were unable to. So the un-local pork filets were NOT for lack of effort!
  • Tofurky cold-cuts – On Sunday night, with the leftover baguettes and pork, we decided to make deli sandwiches. Since my hubby and I aren’t really big on meat (I’m a vegetarian and he rarely eats meat), we decided to leave the pork for my in-laws and buy ourselves faux-cold cuts.
  • Vanilla ice cream – to go with the maple-apple pie I made (which WAS 100-mile).
  • Lunches out – Both days, we had lunch outside the home so of course, not local!

And that is pretty much it… Every breakfast item (except for the bread) was local, every fruit and veggie, all dairy – cheese, yogurt, milk, cream, butter – was local, we even took a drive to a local winery for the wine for Saturday night. We used all the oils, vinegars, flours we had at the house. We used all the herbs and local seasonings we had at the house. And even though they added salt and pepper to their meals, we never cooked with it or added some ourselves. All and all, I think we did pretty great! They had a wonderful time and so did we.

Back to life as normal

I will have to admit that after a few days of indulging, it’s been hard to motivate ourselves. Even though we didn’t go overboard with all the over-processed foods, we are missing the convenience of a simple sandwich for dinner. But it is coming back. Bread was made last night and is baking this morning, I made potato salad and we bought local fresh goat cheese we’ll be able to spread on our fresh baked sourdough rolls. Got everything ready to make a huge thing of soup tonight and we will thaw out the leftover bean spread we made last week.

It’s hard to believe we have been on this journey for 43 days now. Some days it weighs on us quite a bit, but some days it’s easy. But we have already gotten a glimpse of what going back would be and to tell you honestly, we have mixed feelings still. It was wonderful to have foods we hadn’t had in a while, but it left us feeling uneasy in our minds and bodies.

Although we had been honest with all about “cheating” while everyone was here, we spent the whole week-end feeling bad about buying things that weren’t in our range. Plus, after only two days of “normal foods”, our bodies were definitely feeling it: sluggish, bloated, slower… It’s been making us rethink our ways when we will be off the diet on Nov 19th for sure.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Day 38 & 39 – 100-mile Diet : Busy last few days and prepapring for a partial “break” off the challenge.

So 2 weeks ago we received a very unexpected phone call from my mother-in-law announcing that they were planning a long week-end up in Quebec. Being from Pennsylvania, they would be driving up all day on the Friday (today), spending the whole week-end with us and leaving to drive all day back on Monday.

We were THRILLED! They haven’t been able to come up and visit since the wedding almost 3 years ago so we got busy making the place nice and ready for guests.

First : Busy nights and this challenge don’t exactly mesh well if you don’t have pre-prepared foods – which we were out of – which meant lots of quick cooking staples that didn’t really spark the imagination.

But I still managed to whip something nice that I thought you all might like :

White bean and roasted butter nut squash spread

  • Soak about 1 cup of beans over night and then cook them until the flesh cracks. Drain and set them aside to cool.
  • Cut about 1 cup’s worth of buttenut squash in cubes, lightly cover with oil and set on a baking sheet in the oven. Roast for about 30 minutes at 400’F. When they are done, set them aside to cool.
  • When everything has cooled down, in a food processor, put the beans and squash, a couple of table spoons of your favorite local yogurt - we used plain goat - and add whatever fresh herbs you have. We added chives that we had frozen and dill.
  • Refrigerate to let the flavours blend in and serve on bread or crackers.

Where does the BREAK thing come in?

Well, as you can guess, having company over that is hoping to be out and about doesn’t really go well with this challenge. We figured, this was a happy surprise and this is a social life amendment situation if there ever was one!

Now, while we are at home, we are planning on being as 100-mile as possible. All veggies and fruits will be local, all cheese, eggs, milks, yogurts… That won’t change. All oils, vinegars, flours, herbs will be the ones we have used for the last 5 weeks. I’m gonna be working on a couple of loaves of bread tonight – which should be ready to bake tomorrow – so that should go over pretty well too. I plan on making pancakes and eggs for breakfast, home made frozen fruit smoothies instead of juice. We were smart and froze local berries and melons for the coming month. We are even having my parents over Saturday night and are planning a big market fall veggie type stew for dinner.

But while we are out visiting the town, we can’t run home all the time to have lunch. My in-laws were here for 3 days and busy with wedding stuff the first time and I want them to enjoy the city this time around without stressing them out about our challenge.

So there it is.

I’ll be back next week to tell you about our week-end. I’m really curious of HOW MUCH local foods we will be able to “sneak in” during this week-end. It’s almost a new challenge in itself.

We are so looking forward to their visit. It will be amazing to see them!

Have a great week-end everyone!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Change the World Wednesday Challenge - How recycled is your stuff?

Hello to all.

It's wednesday again and time for another Small Footprints "Change the World Wednesday Challenge" for you :

For this week's challenge:

Each time you shop for a non-food item, look to see whether a recycled version is available. If feasible, buy the recycled version. If there isn't one, but it's a category such as paper where you know recycled versions exist, ask the store to start carrying a recycled version.


If you already buy recycled items regularly (or cannot afford to do so at all) then write a blog post about products made from reclaimed materials.

Now I have to say we do the best we can. We already buy recycled paper towels, toilet paper and tissues (when we can cause not everywhere has them!) but besides that, I'm more about buying the recyclable things than the recycled thing.

So I'm up for the challenge!

Over the next week, I'll be making a list of al the stuff I buy that I find that is made from recycled materials and post them next tuedsday!

Hope you'll jump in... What is some of your favourite recycled stuff?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day 36 & 37 – 100-mile Diet : Darkness, Time changes and no coffee or tea

It is now late fall and Quebec is being tucked under a blanket of darkness. The sunrise this morning will be 7 h12 am and the sun set will be at 5 h 47 pm. Only a little over 10 hours of light and the days will keep getting shorter until winter.

I’ve never been truly affected by the seasonal time changes and darker days. I used to think myself a superwoman being able to truck along with a happy smile, thinking of the beautiful white snow to come. But now I know: It was the coffee!

I get up at 5 h 45 am, 2 and a half hours before the sun rises now, and the truth of it is that I’ve become sluggish. It takes me 30 minutes just to get functional anymore, which means hectic last minutes of prepping before my mother (who is my carpool buddy) comes and picks me up. Even now as I’m writing this, I’m contemplating the possibility of stopping writing and getting up and on the move, but my body is slumped at my computer desk and nothing is happening.

What to do?

I’ve been reading a bit about natural, non-sugar or caffeinated stimulants, but without success. Most of what I’ve been reading in not local (ginseng) or is not possible - brisk walks in the sunlight in the morning are hard when the sun comes up after I’m in at work – and I’ve been left thinking I just may have to tough it out.

Then I remembered : We bought bee pollen.

Be pollen is renowned for its amazing properties of long lasting energy. In addition to its high protein content, bee pollen contains over a dozen vitamins, 28 minerals, 11 enzymes and co-enzymes, and 14 fatty acids. We got the little pouch of pollen nuggets from a local bee keeping farm called Miellerie Prince-Leclerc (sorry, they have no website) and were instructed to mix the pellets in yogurt or cereal in the morning. Hmmm… what to do when you have none?

Eat it as a whole I thought. It can’t be bad. It will probably taste like powdered honey a bit… And it did! Now I’m not saying it gives you that jolt of adrenaline that caffeinated drinks give you, but I’m hoping to feel a little more refreshed here in a few.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted. In the mean time, I will peel myself off my chair and get moving.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Day 33, 34 & 35 – 100-mile Diet : Taking the challenge on the road, what a wonderful week-end…

Good morning.

Friday (Day 33) was a pretty relaxed work day. We had a friend over for dinner and made warm yellow and purple beet salad and spaghetti squash. We served it with an apple-strawberry cider from a local orchard. It was quite a lovely night.

We left early Saturday morning for a week-end (Day 34 and 35) in Longueuil (suburb of Montreal) with our niece and god daughter and my sister. We try to go spend a week-end every couple of months and this week-end was perfect. We have been renovating and wanted to hit a couple of stores that we don’t have in Quebec.

The only thing that could have been hard would have been the 100-mile challenge, but NO! Leave it to my sister to be the coolest chica ever and jump on the wagon with us for 36 hours. So first thing we did when we got there was to get the shopping out of the way, sister and niece in tow, and then we were off to discover our new 100-miles.

Our 2 greatest discoveries:

The first thing we found for the first time in over a month was locally made parmesan. A Montreal organic raw milk cheese maker called Bio Bio makes it and it is AWESOME! We had been using sharper cheddars and such for meals, but couldn’t help buying it. We had raviolis on the menu for that night and used some then, but we brought the rest home and will ration it until the end of the diet.
The second discovery was the most wonderful of all for my husband. You can imagine his surprise when we went to a small speciality store at the Atwater market and he came face to face with the first 100% Quebec micro brewed beer and that it was grown and made less than 50 miles away!

La Schoune (this site is only in French unfortunately) is the first of only a few farm/microbrewery concepts in Quebec. A group of local farmers of St-Polycarpe (south of Montreal) got together and decided to transform 32 acres of land into beer producing country. With many varieties of beer, they sell in speciality stores all over the province. Now, a few of their beers (spiced and apricot) couldn’t really be called 100-mile, but they had a lot of others, including a maple beer, that would gladly fit the rules to a T. Needless to say we bought some for the week-end and brought a few home. Again, we will ration it over the next 30 days as little treats.

We also bought everything we needed (veggies, fruits, meats (for my hubby and sister), wine and cheese) for two days worth of 100-mile meals!

When we got home, after cracking open a beer and snacking on our home made sourdough bread and wonderful local soft cheese, we started getting everything ready for a home made ravioli dinner. Tonight was butternut squash, roasted garlic and ricotta raviolis with a sage cream sauce. I unfortunately got wrapped up in the company and fun and didn’t think of taking pictures. We had also bought a great Eastern Township wine called L’Orpailleur.

The next morning was all about pancakes and maple syrup with fresh berry smoothies. Then my sister decided she would treat us to an amazing 100-mile picnic in a regional park close to her home. Here was the menu:

  • Fresh cheeses (raw milk, soft and fresh rosemary goat cheeses)
  • Beet, carrot and caramelized leek salad
  • Roma tomatoes marinated in balsamic vinegar and fresh basil.
  • The left over sourdough bread that we brought with us.

Did I mention was sister used to be a chef?

We had a wonderful picnic and I had my first sandwich (goat cheese and tomato caprese) in 34 days! My niece had a bagel, not 100-mile, but still locally baked! One of the things I realized this week-end was that the flavours in most of our foods were way to complex for a smaller child. If I as to do this with kids, I would have to keep it a lot simpler.

So here is a run down of what we brought back from our week-end :

  • Apples
  • Squashes
  • Leftover Ricotta Cheese
  • Beer
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Leftover fresh rosemary goat cheese
  • Part of my sister's salad from the pic-nic.

All within the rules!

So now it’s back to life as usual...

Thank you again to my sister for a wonderful week-end and for having the open-mind to do this with us for a week-end.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Day 31 & 32 – 100-mile Diet : Mastering and taming the sourdough bread beast!

We have bread! Real bread… bread we could make little sandwiches with: Sourdough goodness that has a golden and hard outside crust and a wonderful creamy center.

We couldn’t be happier!

We decided to never mind the quick recipes online. All web sites we found seem to be very much in a hurry to make bread : “Let rise for 1 hour”, “Let rise for 2 hours”, “Bake for 20 minutes”… It made no sense to us. Isn’t making bread an art form?

I remember my uncle Paul who used to make bread in his kitchen. For days, he had loaves of rising bread splayed about ever counter and fridge tops. It would be a week-end long endeavour and that is what we wanted; to have EARNED the bread.

So we decided to go with James recipe from the 100-mile book. We wanted to watch it come alive, wait for it and let it come to us. And we did.

His recipe is simple:


  • ½ cup of starter
  • 6 cups of flour
  • 2 ½ cups of warm water
  • Oil
  • (He writes salt, but we didn’t cheat!)
Let's GO!
  1. Take the starter out of the fridge and let it cool at room temperature.
  2. Mix the starter, water, salt (if you use it) and 4 cups of flour and blend.
  3. Knead the dough, adding the remaining 2 cups of flour ½ a cup at a time. (We ended up adding almost a half a cup of flour just to be able to knead it. That thing was alive!)
  4. Oil a ceramic or glass bowl and put the kneaded dough in it. Let rise for 12 hours in a warm place. (We chose the top of the fridge.)
  5. Take out of the bowl and knead for 5 minutes (we kneaded for almost 10 minutes, adding another ¼ cup of flour to get it to un-stick from our fingers.)
  6. Lightly oil 2 bread tins and put half of the dough in each.
  7. Let rise for another 6 hours or until it doubles. (We ended up letting it rise for almost 9 hours.
  8. Preheat the oven at 425’F and bake for 115 minutes.
  9. Turn down the heat at 350’F and bake for another 45 minutes.
  10. To know if it’s done, stick a knife in the middle. If it comes out clean, it’s ready.

VOILÀ! Patiently, awaited bread…

We are heading to my sister’s place this week-end. The car full of 100-mile staples and she is all about the adventure with us for a week-end. We will be hitting local markets and buying all kinds of goodies from her 100-miles. We love her for wanting to join in, she’s the best!

I’ll be back on Sunday night to tell you guys all about it!

Have a great week-end!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009 - Understanding food miles and their impact on the environment

The main reason why my husband and I have been doing the 100-mile challenge was to not only have a better understanding of where our food comes from and to put a face on who feeds us, but it was also to diminish our impact on the environment by becoming more locally fed and reducing our carbon footprint on the world.

Food miles, by definition, are the distance our food travels from point of production to point of consumption. It is also important to not only understand the numbers behind the food we eat, but the environmental impact of it getting to our table.

In order to supply the increasing demands in exotic and off season foods, producers today have to import their foods from further and further away. Unfortunately, this increase in imported foods along with the centralization of distribution have made distances they travel a great concern due to their environmental impacts.

Although not all food miles are the same (taking under consideration the type of transportation used, the amount of food carried by one food carrier and the type of fossil fuel used in the transport), it is important to understand these impacts.

According to WWF Canada’s new Localicious event going on from October 2 to October 18, it is important to understand what local and sustainable foods are and what impact they have on lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“When food is transported over long distances - especially if by planes or trucks that burn fossil fuel energy - it contributes to global warming and pollution. Consider that the average food product travels 2,000 km before it reaches your home. Now multiply that by each food item you eat each day! That's a lot of fuel, which also means a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. Although local food isn't always available due to seasonality, it's all about doing your best. Every choice you make has an environmental impact and can help lower your carbon footprint.”

So what are we to do?

There are many ways to counteract the high levels of GHGs emitted through our food consumption without feeling like we have to give up everything we love.

Buy local sustainable food when possible. In the best of worlds, we would always have access to local, organic and sustainable foods. When these are not available, try and think of at least doing one of these criterias. When buying coffee, go for fair trade. Teas as well. When you have a choice between carrots from your local farmer’s market or pre-cut ones at the grocery store, opt for your local farmer. When buying flour, as they come from the Prairies, buy it organic. You’ll know you aren’t contributing to vast sprawls of pesticide sprayed fields. Every little bit counts.

Look for Eco-labels. Certifications and eco-labels give you good hints about how the food was produced and that way you know you have a lesser impact on the environment.

When buying staples like grains, flour, cereal, spices, sugar, try to buy in bulk. There are lots of places where you can buy ingredients in bulk. That way, you know that the same amount of GHGs was put into the atmosphere carrying the large drums than it would having the small prepackaged bag, but there are many people that will benefit from the drum so the food miles are split up between consumers.

Try to live with the seasons. Although fresh juicy tomatoes are very tempting in the middle of winter, try tasting seasonal veggies and fruits. In countries and regions where winter means no agriculture, try buying green house produce from closer destinations. Green house produce is usually pesticide free and grown year round.

Just remember: Every little bit counts. If all of us would try 20% of the time, the world would be a much cleaner and healthier place.

Visit Blog Action Day 2009 at for other posts and topics!

Sources :

Foodshare Toronto

WWF - Localicious

Franc Vert

Day 29 & 30 – 100-mile Diet : Busy week and reaching one month.

Ever since I got back from holiday (It was Canadian Thanksgiving this past Monday), the week has been hectic to say the least. Overloads of tasks at work have forced us, both my husband and I, to put in extra hours. This means arriving late and having less time to get together meals.

Tuesday (Day 29), we made salad and frittata with all the left over veggies and roasted red peppers from our ravioli this past week-end. We made enough for lunch the next day so that was figured out.

Yesterday (Day 30), my husband surprised me with an email from work asking if he could make us Stromboli! “I understand it’s still pizza” he said “but it’s kinda different if it’s rolled up!” So while I whipped up a little quick tomato, leek and basil sauce and he went to town making Stromboli stuffed with cheese, all colored peppers and red onions. They were wonderful! (Wish I would have thought of taking a picture.) We have enough for lunches today too so it makes the morning extra simple.

The 1 month mark

The one thing I’ve noticed about having gone so long is that cravings are starting to go away. The way they used to be pains at the bottom of my stomach, they are now just a kinda of memory my body and mind remember.

We are yet to make bread that is good enough to make sandwiches, but my body doesn’t ache for one the way it used too anymore. It has also gotten used to the mild flavours of foods without salt and pepper. I’m not jonesing for Thai, sushi or guacamole… although they will be nice to have again. I still miss coffee and tea the most though!

The thing is that everything has a cost now and when we go to the actual grocery store for things like our milk, eggs, goat butter and yogurt, I see aisles upon aisles of “food miles” instead of foods.

It is obvious that with winter coming, our reserves will quickly dwindle and I know our freezers full of veggies and fruit will not last until the next farmer’s season. And I’m finding myself scared of having to make those decisions.

Things are simple now: Local good! Far away bad!

But what will happen when buying that tomato from Mexico will mean the difference between eating tomatoes and not? I guess I don’t have to think of it now…

Still 35 days to go.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Day 27 & 28 – 100-mile diet : Quiet days and quiet teas.

Good morning.

The last few days have been mellow ones as far as the diet goes. After Saturday’s roller-coaster, we decided to think of other things. When you’ve been thinking about food non stop for going on a month, you feel the need to simply relax and concentrate elsewhere.

So Sunday (Day 27), we went and planted our bulbs. We had bought a few more varieties, in addition to having dug up our now triple and quadruple sized bulbs from last year, so we proceeded to fill an entire corner of our perennial plot with varied tulips, lilies and alliums.

While we were there, we also decided to pick our chamomile and lavender. Both make soothing teas and there is just nothing like fresh flower herbal teas.

We got home and cut them to dry. This should keep us in 100-mile bedtime teas for the remainder of our challenge.

Yesterday (Day 28) was Canadian Thanksgiving and I had off, but my husband did not. So I decided to turn back to food preparation again and made 6 jars of maple-apple sauce and was able to make my first sourdough bread!

Now, it’s not the fluffiest thing ever. But it did rise. So I’ve started another starter (the first one was small and was completely taken up by the loaf) and plan on making a few more loaves this week. This time, I’ll let them rise longer. The recipe I was using said to let them rise until it doubled, which I thought it had, but maybe not. Other recipes I’ve found say to let them rise for up to 12 hours. So I’m thinking I may try that next.

Do any of you make sourdough bread? What is your favorite recipe?

In the evening, a very wonderful friend of ours had us over for dessert : Local cheese, fresh raspberries and maple syrup. We brought lavender to make tea and sat and talked for a while. I will have to be honest that the challenge has left us feeling a bit isolated. Having friends invite us over for something as simple as tea and berries has become the higlights of our social life. Not wanting to impose our challenge on people, the alternative is to have them over and it's not always possible. We should really try and be better about it. Cutting ourselves off will only make it harder. Something more to think about I guess.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Day 24 - 25 & 26 - 100-mile diet : Lots to do and lots to think about...

On Day 24 (Thursday), a friend of mine sent me a recipe for home made fresh cheese. Our first thought was “amazing! A money saving idea!” Turns out it may not replace the sharp cheddar we love so much, but it will replace ricotta in a home made stuffed pasta!

Now, I think that I may have squeezed too much of the whey out which is why it became so dry. By the time I was done with it and it had cooled. It had the crumbly texture of extra firm tofu.

BUT! I was able to crumble it up with a fork and we made frittata which was wonderful. We accompanied the whole thing with Brussel sprouts in cream and caramelized onions and had a wonderful meal.

Day 25 (Friday) was a day of gifts and discoveries. A lady I work with told me a while back that she would bring me her left over curly parsley. She grows it as a perennial in her landscaping and simply cuts it down every year. When she found out about our challenge, she offered to bring it to me so I could dry and use. Of course I said yes and I’m glad I did: She walked in with a garbage bag full for me to go through and hang. Although it was further along in the season than it should have been and parts of it had yellowed, we were able to get a decent bit washed prepped and hung. It should keep us in parsley for quite some time. We also kept a bit of it fresh in the fridge for the next few days.

The other wonderful thing that happened was that we stopped at a little organic farmer stand at our local farmer’s market that had… drum roll… THAI CHILIS! I’ve never before seen Thai chilies here other than at the supermarket. We have a lot of mild and medium peppers, but to find real hot peppers is quite a venture. I think I took him by surprise when I picked up the little box of them and asked him “How much?”. He looked at me and said “50 cents”. I looked at my husband thinking it was a steal until I realized what he was saying and then asked again “No, how much for the whole box?”. He started laughing and said “Wow! Okay, 5$”. Got home and had 18 Thai chilies. I hung half of them to dry and froze the others. This made my day!

Day 26 (Saturday) was a wonderful day and a hard day all at once.

We started out early in the morning with one mission: Pick a road, set the trip-odmeter at zero and drive until we hit our circle limit. We decided to head North East along the south shore of the Saint-Lawrence River and headed to the county of Kamouraska, 155 kilometers away (96 miles).

What a beautiful drive it was!

Along the way, we bought quite a few things thinking that if we were to put in the miles, than at least make it count. We got:

Flour at the mill we had found earlier in the summer. La Seigneurie des Aulnaies, it is the only mill we found that is not only Eco-Cert organic certified, but also uses grains that are exclusively grown in the Kamouraska region. We came back with a 10 kg (22 pounds) bag on white flour for pasta and trying our hand at a sour starter again and a 2 kg (4.4 pounds) bag of wheat pastry flour for apple pies and a possible future pound cake attempt.

We stopped at a local smoke house called Les Pêcheries Ouellet and my husband got maple smoked sturgeon and eel, both caught by the man behind the counter that pointed out the window to the exact spot where he did. It was hard to get much more local than that. He was also very proud to say that the maple planks used came from his land across the street!

Our last stop was at la Fromagerie du Mouton Blanc where they make one of my favorite cheeses of all time: Le Tomme de Kamouraska! Made from raw sheep’s milk, the Tomme is almost as hard as parmesan but much milder, which makes great to just eat or in food. Not only that, but the company follows Kyoto protocol practices by having built manure recycling vats that transform the methane gas into the electricity that is used for the farm.

Here is what the owners, Rachel and Pascal-André, have to say:

“Innovation, leadership and know-how… “Our business does its part for the planet by saving energy and respecting the environment. Over the years, we have planted windbreaks on our land to ensure the comfort of the animals at pasture. In addition to creating natural habitats for wildlife, these windbreaks help prevent soil erosion. They also limit the sheep’s access to bodies of water for their protection. What is more, the farm harnesses solar energy for its activities.

We are especially proud to be part of the 15 dairy businesses recognized as energy innovators within Canada’s dairy industry. This recognition, which the farm received for building its cheese making facilities according to the Kyoto Protocol in 2003, is a first in North America.” (Source)

So we got home pretty happy with ourselves… until we sat down and added up the receipts.

What there is to think about?

Unfortunately, reality struck when we got home and realized, once again, that we were broke. This has been a reoccurrence ever since we have started.

One aspect of this I’ve been keeping out of my blog in fears of scaring people off from trying local eating is the money side of it. The reality is that our grocery budget has tripled since we have started and we are starting to run out of funds. The sad thing is that, the reason WHY everything local cost so much for people like us that are trying to take such a challenge is that no one buys local. The more people would buy local, the less things would cost… but you need a handful of people to start actively buying local, which everyone finds too expensive and can’t afford. Catch 22 really, and it is stretching us thin.

What to do?

We sat at home depressed for hours at the idea of having to stop before our time was done. The simple idea of it was unbearable. The feeling of being failures because of money was too much to handle so we had to find something else.

We thought of doing it partially. 3 days a week for longer lets say. But that would be even harder: The farmer’s markets all closing in 3 weeks would mean living on nothing but reserves for months on end and for better parts of the months, in Quebec’s harsh winters, which just can’t happen. And it would mean making MORE reserves now, which would only increase our grocery bill that much more which defeats the purpose.

After hours upon hours of quiet sulking, we came to a decision: Tough it out.

One of the problems I think has been that we tried to make this too “fantastic” and it’s not the point I think. So back to basics… Cooking simple foods and staples, keeping the fancy stuff for the week-end and special occasions.

New challenge: Living within our NEW means and making this a real challenge…

Friday, October 9, 2009

Change the World Wednesday Challenge - Walk with a purpose!

Back (a few days late) with another great CTWW challenge from my friend Small Footprints :

Put on your walking shoes because this week we're going to walk ... not just idle walking ... we're going to clean as we go. Yep, this week, please go for a walk ... at least once ... and pick up litter as you go. If you're feeling ambitious, go every day. Once you've got your bag of litter, recycle what can be recycled before tossing the rest in the trash bin.

Do you have an idea where to start?

I've decided make it a week-end plan. Here is what I'm commiting to doing :

  • On saturday, we will be going to our community garden and taking down our plot for the coming winter. I will walk up and down the aisles and pick up any trash laying about. Unfortunately, our community garden being near a very busy walkway, a lot of people think it's nice to walk through... most of them thinks it's just as nice to drop trash and cigarette butts. Blerk!
  • On sunday, we are going hiking in a provincial wildlife sanctuary for snow geese. I will bring a bag with me and pick up the trash people seem to find it's okay to leave on the trails!
What will you do to make your part of the world a little cleaner?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Day 23 - 100 mile diet : Reward day.

So, when we first started planning the challenge, we had been dead set on being absolute purists. My husband and I have a tendency to be very hard on ourselves. We feel very guilty about succumbing to temptation and are very critical of our short comings. We were going to do it for a long enough time, it was going to be hard and it wasn't really going to count unless we did it 100%.

As the weeks went by, we started thinking about Rule 2 of the "Get started guide" page of the 100 mile diet registration site.

Here is what it said:

" 2. There are no rules.

Make your 100-Mile Diet experiment a challenge. If you’re trying it for a day, consider getting tough: every ingredient in every product has to come from within 100 miles (that was our rule for a year). Over a longer period, escape clauses are nice. Maybe the occasional restaurant meal or dinner at friends’ houses? And what will you do if you travel? Ask some deeper questions, too. If you eat meat, where does the feed for the animals come from? If you’re vegetarian, would you be prepared to eat animal products if no beans or tofu are raised where you live? If you just can’t live without coffee, don’t let it stop you. Wave your magic wand and declare it ‘local.’ "

Now, no magic wands here. We had completely refused to declare things local just BECAUSE we couldn't live without them. After all, we were only doing it for a shade over 2 months. Whatever we wouldn't have, we would get again someday. We were also very strict about the "social life amendment" (as previously mentioned) and refused to simply have dinner at everyone's houses to apply it without any circumstances. This is why we have voluntarily chosen to add days to our challenge when we felt we had over stepped our bounds.

But, the idea of reward day, a day or two in the middle of the challenge where we could go and have dinner at a restaurant felt like a great motivator.

So we decided to establish the rule:

  • Split the challenge in 3 and have 2 reward dinners (one at 1/3 and one at 2/3 of the way) where we could go anywhere, eat and drink anything and not feel guilty about it. That being said, it could not be a dinner at home since that meant buying ingredients that then would just sit there and be un-used. No. It would be a one shot deal where everything would happen at one place, for one meal, and then business back as usual. No going to one place for drinks, then elsewhere for dinner and stopping for ice cream on the way home. One place, one bill and 2 hours of reward. That was it. Plus, we figured eating at a restaurant meant that the ingredients had travel far, but were being used for multiple meals which means less of an individual footprint.

Tonight was day 23 and our first 1/3 and it was nice. You would think we would have jumped on sushi, Mexican or something exotic like Indian or Thai. But no… After careful consideration, we went to our favorite burger place: Had locally brewed beer, split an appetizer of antipasto that was mostly roasted and grilled seasonal veggies and each had a burger and fries. I had a tofu burger and my husband, funny enough, had a burger topped with local goat cheese and maple-rosemary mayo.


We realized after last night that continuing, at least partly, with what we are doing after the challenge might not be so hard.

Back to the challenge though, and we are more motivated than ever!

Coming in my next post : Experiments with home made cheese!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Day 21 and 22 – 100 mile diet : As time goes by…

Monday (Day 21) was pretty uneventful. We had leftovers for lunch and made oven roasted root vegetables for dinner. We had leftover goat milk yogurt so my husband decided to make a nice little garlic-herb-balsamic dipping sauce which was wonderful.

When august came around, we started buying local fruit (strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, and water melons) in huge quantities so we could freeze them. We bought a Magic Bullet thinking that we would make all these amazing fruit smoothies in the morning. If we would have thought about it a bit more, we would have realized how horrible and insensitive we were at trying to grind frozen fruit at 6am in an apartment building.

What to do? Turn our morning intentions into evening treats. Fresh fruit sorbets have become our favourite dessert. Mix and match different flavours, add honey or maple syrup to taste and YUM!

Today (Day 22) was a little harder. My poor husband was struck with a craving for Chinese food and to be honest, although I told him I wanted pizza for dinner, I meant PIZZA for dinner! But we took a deep breathe and made our own 100-mile pizza recipe.

We keep modifying our recipes. Tonight, on a hunch, we added yogurt to the dough mix and are soooo happy we did. The crust came out fluffier and tender. It actually felt like it was cooked all the way through and wasn’t nearly as chewy and dense.

It was a very low impact day for our morals and meals. Hopefully, I’ll have more exciting news for you in the coming days.

Have a great night!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Day 18-19 & 20 – 100-mile Diet : A very big and productive week-end…

I hope everyone had a great week-end. Sorry for being away for a few days. Between not being home and then being home but having the computer unhooked for painting, I haven’t had the chance or the time to write.

Day 18 (Friday) was pretty uneventful. After work, we drove across the river to pick up a few wine bottles from one of our favourite local wineries and stopped at La Fromagerie Bergeron (cheese maker) and stocked up there. During our little trip, we came across a wonderful little farmer stand that had beautiful corn and beautiful spaghetti squash so we picked those up and had ourselves a dinner.

Saturday (Day 19) was the beginning of a very busy week-end. We had major home renovation plans for Sunday so all the cooking and baking had to happen today.

First, we tried our hand at a new yeastless recipe for rye bread. It turned out pretty good, but very massive and chewy. We HAVE to figure out this sourdough starter thing…

We set off, after a lovely breakfast, to my parents place where we brought the corn we had bought the day before and had 100-mile lunch with them. We had brought over a nice bottle of local apple cider and had a big filling meal before going apple picking.

Although it was raining, we bundled up and head out to my favourite local orchard and picked 25 lbs. of apple for eating, baking (we will try our hand at 100-mile apple pie this week!) and for making apple sauce.

Then home for dinner. One recipe we had been wanting to make since the beginning was 100-mile perogies. Seemed to me like an easy enough recipe. We have flour, we have eggs, we have cheese and BOY do we have potatoes!

100-mile leek and cheddar perogies

First, make your mashed potatoes. I decided to caramelize some leeks and grate some local sharp cheddar and mash them all in. Set the potatoes aside.

The recipe for pasta is pretty simple: 1 egg for ½ cup of flour. Then knead for about 10 minutes, adding flour when it gets sticky. We decided to not bring out the pasta machine and went with the rolling pin. Roll out the dough until it is almost paper thin, then take a large mouth cup and cut out circles. Place a spoon full of potatoes and fold in half. Press the edges with a fork.

Place the perogies on a baking sheet and place them in the freezer for about 30 minutes. I find this helps them stick together better when boiling. Take them out of the freezer and boil them for about 6-8 minutes.

We served them with left over tomato sauce and grated aged Gouda.

Sunday (Day 20) was a huge day! We were up at the crack of dawn because my husband wanted to paint the entire main room of our apartment. We had been living with the horrible faded milk chocolate brown color of the old tenants since we moved in last July.

During this time, I was put on canning duty.


I must be honest, what I was making this week was my fruit ketchup. I did not make it 100-mile. Although the ketchup won’t be ready to eat until after the challenge is over, I needed to come clean about having cooked with ingredients that were not from within my range. I make ketchup once every 2 years (I make about 30 jars) and fruit ketchup with only apples is kind of, well, apple ketchup. My recipe asks for pears and peaches and although they were not from here, I did manage to find Ontario growers that sold them up here. I figure it’s not 100-mile, but at least it is growers from my side of the country. The veggies (onions, celery, tomatoes…) and apples were 100-mile.

We promise not to eat the ketchup until after the diet challenge is over. But because we cooked with 100-mile ingredients knowingly, we have added 2 days to our challenge.

Our challenge will now end on November 19, 2009.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Day 17 – 100 mile diet : Quiet night musings

I’m sitting alone in my living room, waiting for my husband to get home from helping out a friend tonight and I decided to write. I rarely have time to write on the actual day I post about and end up always writing 1 or 2 days late.

Tonight is the end of Day 17 and I feel pensive. I’m sitting here with a steeping mug of mint tea (from our own window mint plant) and I feel a little alone in the world.

I went searching for other Canadians that were doing the challenge at this moment. I was hoping to find a few blogs, similar to mine. Some friendly unknown faces that would understand what we are doing.

Maybe it’s because I got a little tired of people asking me what I think I’ll accomplish by doing all this. Maybe I was just a little hurt when I was asked when I was planning on cheating because they had ideas to make it a good cheat! Maybe I’m a little frustrated by people telling me they can’t wait for me to be off this “diet” so things can get back to normal.

I started thinking about what IS normal, and why I would want to go back there. The idea that I will emerge from this completely unchanged is naïve. The idea that the moment I am at freedom to do so, I will go out for a dinner filled with forbidden foreign fares is slightly unreal to me. The now, already familiar, simplicity of our lives will leave its mark and the idea of rushing out to buy pre-packaged, over processed foods doesn’t feel like us anymore.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have a list of foods as long as my leg that I miss and am looking forward to having again. But what we are gaining from doing this is so much more than what we have given up…

When November 18th arrives, I will continue:

  • Talking with the farmers that sell me my veggies come farmer’s market season. And they will know me to a point where they will pick out the biggest of everything out of their boxes under the tables for me just because it is me.
  • Reading labels and asking questions. Questions like “why buy balsamic vinegar imported from Italy when a local winery makes the best balsamic vinegar I’ve ever had?”
  • Making reserves of fresh local veggies and fruit, whether it be by canning, freezing or dehydrating, so I can keep eating as local as possible when the growing season has ended and the long Québec winter sets in.
  • Setting up appointments with the strange lady-herbalist that has native Canadian healing gardens in her backyard and buy teas from her.
  • Driving an hour along the river for flours made from local and certified organic grains for 1.60$ a kilo. Why? Because the ladies that run the shop at the mill know the names of the farmers that supply them by heart, so they feel like my friends.
  • Taking pride in the wonderful food growers and makers of my community and support them year round.
  • Pushing myself to learn how to live a local life as much as I can. And although I will indulge in far away luxuries, I will remember where I’m from and be thankful for what I have.

I do apologize to all of our loved ones, family and friends, that think this an eccentric phase and only a quirky fad, but we are changing. Things won’t simply go back to normal…

going back to normal was never part of the plan.

Day 16 – 100-mile Diet : Simple is best.

Until now, I’ve never really taken the time to fully appreciate what the convenience of quick food brings us. The idea of coming home, mixing together a few things and sitting, lazily, while they bake or cook, has become foreign to us now.

The average dinner meal at our home now takes about 1 hour and a half to make. Even though we have never been big on “meals in a box”, we would still take advantage of buying pizza dough, buying pizza sauce and then having nothing to do but cut up veggies and grate cheese. A slightly more involved version of the frozen option, but all ready in 20 minutes. Then we would sit, relax and wait for dinner to be ready. Those days are still far away. Will we ever go back fully to those ways? I don’t know. But it seems that having the choice of going back or not is the luxury itself.

Yesterday was our first real lazy evening when it came to dinner. And I say that still after my husband spent most of the first hour home after work doing dishes. (This diet makes a LOT of pots and pans!) Then, while I was putting together a soup and making dinner, he spent the next hour cutting up the huge celery and the 2 huge rutabagas that we had bought to freeze for the following month. If you ask my husband, THIS was lazy compared to any other night since we have been doing the challenge.

Dinner was simple:

Cauliflower and Broccoli florets sautéed in sunflower oil, garlic and red onions. Then topped with the tomato sauce I made last night and covered in aged cheddar. Sent in the oven for 15 minutes and served.

Total time of preparation: 30 minutes. I almost cried.

Our first 100-mile soup

This one was inspired by a million acorn squash soup recipes I had been looking at. It is squash season and I couldn’t resist buying an acorn squash almost the size of my head when we were at the market a few days ago.


  • 6 cups of vegetable stock (Made the night before… The taste of the soup will change with the flavours of stocks, but I recommend a sweet stock for this soup.)
  • 1 large acorn squash, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 5 small apples (I used Paula Reds), cut into pieces
  • Half a large red onion, cut into pieces
  • 3 medium potatoes, brushed, with skins on and cut into pieces
  • 4 large carrots, brushed and cut into pieces
  • One good size sprig of thyme. (Use any herbs you have around the house)

Cook everything at low boil for about 45 minutes (until everything is tender).
Pull out the thyme sprig from which the leaves will have fallen.
Spoon out all the veggies and purée everything in the food processor.
Add back as much of the leftover broth as needed to make it the desired consistency.

It makes a LOT! You can freeze parts of it. I never keep soup in the fridge longer than 5 days.


And we have soup for 2 lunches each and a container in the freezer for another hopefull lazy evening next week.