why I’m not participating in the eat local challenge

Exhaustion and poverty, mostly.  As a food blogger, these qualities tarnish my rep.  But the thought of driving all over town to secure one ingredient at double the price just doesn’t seem like fun if you don’t have something to prove. Plus, I don’t even have time to brush my hair (see Exhibit A, above).

The Eat Local Challenge is a great concept, challenging people across the country to eat local foods in October.  Understanding where your nourishment comes from (and how sustainable it is) really is no longer a matter of choice, as the economy worsens.  Check it out for some good ol’ fashioned consciousness-raising.  This exercise is much easier, of course, if you live in a place like the Bay Area, but I think it’s manageable in October in the PNW.  I’d love to hear about your successes.

But this year, I’m going to have to pass.  In my defense, we eat mostly local mostly all the time now at home.  I was pondering the failure of my competitive spirit over a very pedestrian meal of chicken wings, chopped salad, and broccoli last night.  I realized that I actually *do* drive all over town to secure ingredients (though I try to cut costs as much as possible).  In fact, just that day, I made a special trip back to Corvallis from Albany to get some meat and apple cider, then picked up my veggies at the CSA delivery point. Huh.  OK, I guess I can sort of still hold my head up high in the foodblog-o-sphere.

That night’s meal was really simple, almost an afterthought, but it used foodstuff gleaned from markets and gardens.  The only non-local product I used (besides the spices) was the chicken, and that was a pack of Washington-state grown and processed Draper Valley Farms chicken wing-ettes I bought on sale a couple of months ago.  I had planned to use my homemade barbecue sauce on them, but sourly realized I had frozen tomato sauce in the container marked “BBQ SAUCE 6/08” container after I removed it from the microwave.  Bad food preserver, bad!

The broccoli was from the farmer’s market on Saturday, the cucumbers were from my garden, the peppers were from the CSA and my garden, the tomato was from the CSA, the tomato sauce was mine, and the butter in the chicken wing sauce was local (Noris Dairy).  So I’m pleased.

I’m also pleased by the ad-hoc chicken wing sauce, which is basically an only mildly hot version of Buffalo chicken wing sauce.  It’s a tangy blend of melted butter and tomato sauce, spiced up with a shot of hot sauce, cider vinegar, and copious amounts of salt and pepper.  Easy, mostly local, and delicious.  I’m not going to pretend the butter makes it low-fat, but the grilled chicken wings (instead of deep-fried) should count for something, right?

The tomato sauce needs to be thick and rich.  If you’re using your own, boil it down until thick, or add a tablespoon of tomato paste.

Eugene Chicken Wings Sauce

  • 3/4 cup thick, rich tomato sauce
  • 1-2 T. Tabasco-style hot sauce (use at your discretion)
  • 3 T. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 T. cider vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Grill up your chicken wings or wing-ettes.  You can marinate the chicken with some barbecue rub and cider vinegar if you like, but be sure to salt and pepper it before grilling.

While the chicken is grilling, mix up the sauce.  Place the tomato sauce in a large bowl, large enough to hold the chicken later.  Melt the butter, then whisk it into the tomato sauce.  Add the hot sauce, cider vinegar, and salt and pepper.

Taste the sauce.  It should be creamy orange-red and taste tangy.  If it tastes flat, try adding more salt.  You might add some sugar for a more sweet-n-sour taste, but I find the sugar in the tomato sauce is enough for me.

When the chicken is done grilling, place it in the sauce bowl and toss with vigor, until all pieces are liberally coated with sauce.  Plate the meat and serve.  You could garnish it, but why?  Leaves you time to go hunt down a local, um, eggplant?  Vaya con Demeter.


3 thoughts on “why I’m not participating in the eat local challenge

  1. Veronica 10 October 2008 / 2:50 pm

    You’re being a little hard on yourself! I think great cooking is taking the freshest and best ingredients you can afford and turning them into something tasty and nourishing. I think you’re doing a great job!


  2. Laurie 10 October 2008 / 3:41 pm

    I am doing the challenge in Massachusetts and you are doing way better than me from the sound of it.The wing recipe sounds great and yes more healthy than fried.


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