Return from the Wild

If ever I need to be reminded of how fast plants can grow, I go on vacation in August. After 2 1/2 weeks away, the most noticeable growth was in the corn forest and the various grains – particularly the amaranth and millet.  Oh yes – and the piles of squash, tomatoes, peppers on our kitchen counter was one of the best welcomes I could have received. I have never been so happy to eat a simple dinner of zucchini, kale, and fried eggs!

It turns out that its surprisingly easy to feed yourself without meat or dairy while on a road trip. I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to prep and bring our garden with us. But I did throw some squash, green beans and tomatoes in the car, and away we went. I thought I’d share a few things that I learned about almost-vegan road-tripping:

1. When eating out on the road, ethnic restaurants like Thai and Chinese are pretty good bets – you can usually get tofu and a fair amount of vegetables, and dairy isn’t a core ingredient. We also ate one night at a Sizzler just for the salad bar!

2. Grocery stores. A few times we made a giant salad of spinach, chickpeas, cukes, tomato, onion ,etc. Zucchini and green beans keep fairly well in the car, and when backpacking I brought along avocado, onion, bell pepper and apples in addition to squash and beans.

3. One of my favorite traveling dinners is inspired by my friend Natalie: tortilla chips with refried beans, guacamole, and salsa. Great protein from the beans, and easily dressed up with other toppings (I added diced squash, kale, and tomatoes one night.) Another camping favorite from this trip was pasta with white beans, mushrooms, artichoke hearts and sundried tomato bruschetta.

4. We are VERY spoiled by our access to fresh, local and delicious produce here in Santa Barbara. There is truly no other place like it (well, maybe Santa Cruz could compete), and I’m so thankful to live here!

We’re about five weeks out from the Eat-VERY-Local week, and I’m feeling optimistic and excited about the challenge. I’ll try and post up a list of all the food we have stocked up so far, but there are still eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, and squash out there in abundance! Plus, I harvested a bunch of walnuts from a tree near the bike path last week that I need to process.

No recipes for this post, but I’ve got a few drafts lined up already. Instead, how about a parting shot from Wyoming?

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