Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

No Grocery Store Challenge, Day 20 January 22, 2010

Wow, three full weeks tomorrow and I am happy as can be with my decision to do this little challenge.  I just got home from an extraordinary event by Slow Food Austin.  It was a happy hour at Cipollina Bistro on West Lynn, a spot I’m quite familiar with as it is on my daily traffic route.  I used to frequent the Fresh Plus Grocery Store next to it, a little spot that has felt like my own personal little shop for years and years.  Cipollina has gone through some transitions in the last few years, and I felt, struggled to find its identity for a bit.  But now, they are using as much locally sourced foods as they can, and I will go there again and again, because the meals they prepare with local food are outstanding.  (I need to go on a never use the word “awesome” again challenge, too)  I had a wonderful time hanging out with my Slow Food buddies, learning about the movement to allow roosters in backyard gardens, the grading of farm eggs and the like.  It was a really well attended event, and there were lots of new faces.

So, for my food today, I had big plans to get up a bit earlier and scramble a duck egg with my leftover Kocurek sausage from last night.  I did get up early, but my curiosity got the best of me and I poured my coffee and headed out to the backyard (in my robe no less) to check the progress of the seeds I planted last week.   It doesn’t seem to matter how many seeds I’ve planted over the years, there is little more exciting to me than a tiny seed, breaking through the earth above it, determined to get some sunshine and become a plant.  And even more exciting, is that it will be food.  From a pack of seeds.  I just marvel at the process every time.  The carrots were up, but not the lettuce, no matter how closely I looked.  Then I noticed some weeds in the strawberries, and pulled them.  Then I decided I should water the herbs in the greenhouse and did that.  By then, it was too late to cook an egg before heading downtown.  I did eat some leftover cold sausage, just so I could say I had improved my breakfast habit.

The Watermelon Radish seeds arrived today, so I was anxious to plant them.  So, I ate locally for lunch, munching brocolli from the garden while planting radish seeds.  I didn’t wash it, because I know how it was grown.  I didn’t cook it, because fresh raw brocolli is really sweet and tender.  I ate the crown, bit by bit, then pulled up the plant and composted it, because it was done and I’ve got more greens than I can handle.  Grazing in the back yard, no silverware, no cooking,  just good eats from the yard is very cool.

For my dinner, I shared appetizers of Brazos Valley Farms brie, and a duck liver mousse (duck from Countryside Farms) at Cipollina, at the event mentioned above.  Then I had a ceasar salad and shared a couple of pieces of pizza with my Slow Food friends Kristi ( and Freddy Marshall (  All in all, a good food day.   I’m glad I didn’t restrict my challenge to no eating out, because I have a really fun group of foodie friends, and if I couldn’t eat out for a year, I would either fail or cheat, so I’m good with the way I set this deal up.  A challenge, but not an impossible imposition on my social life.  Lots of my friends like to eat local too, so it works.  And perhaps over the course of the next year minus almost 3 weeks, I can inspire someone to think a tiny bit harder about where their food comes from, what is in it, and maybe even to try their hand at growing some of their own food.


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