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Spokane family journeys for locally grown food

Craig and Nancy Goodwin stand with their kids, Lily and Noel, in the family's backyard greenhouse. Lily, 6, shows off lettuce, tomato and onion starts, while Noel, 8, displays a cabbage start. Below: Among the food in the Goodwin pantry: from left, Silvana Meats Orange Chipotle Sauce (a gift from Western Washington), Tullia's Pasta Sauce, Christ Kitchen Bean Soup and Lighthouse Carmel Dip. 
 (J. Bart Rayniak photos / The Spokesman-Review)
Carolyn Lamberson Correspondent

When most families contemplate changes for the new year, the desires can be lofty. Lose weight. Pay off debt. Get organized. For Craig and Nancy Goodwin of Spokane, both ministers at Millwood Community Presbyterian Church, the changes they sought were more profound. The family wanted to embrace the notions of eating locally and of reducing consumption.

So the Goodwins and their two daughters, Noel, 8, and Lily, 6, have embarked on a yearlong experiment, their “Year of Plenty.” In 2008, the Goodwins have pledged to eat food that has been locally grown, produced or processed. They will buy only second-hand products. They will make or grow whatever else they can.

One caveat: They are free to use whatever ingredients or equipment was in the house before Jan. 1.

The idea came about during this past holiday season as a rebellion against what Nancy Goodwin called “random, senseless buying.”

“Just the pressure to consume and get gifts that didn’t mean much,” Craig Goodwin said. “It just felt like there was a sense of dissonance and dissatisfaction with those patterns of consumption.”

Adding inspiration was Craig Goodwin’s past work with the Millwood Farmers Market, which the church helped organize.

“I made friends with all these farmers and was drawn to that experience,” he said. “There was something compelling to me about really knowing the people that we were buying our stuff from.”

It’s not a 100-mile diet, Craig Goodwin said, referring to the notion that one eats what comes from a 100-mile radius of home. Instead, it’s driven more by the family’s ability to meet the people who make their food. Thus, they’ve visited with local dairy producers, farmers, ranchers and wheat millers.

The family’s range includes Eastern Washington and North Idaho. Products from west of the Cascades are off limits. They aren’t, however, strict on where the raw materials for their food come from. Coffee, for instance, is allowed, as long as it is roasted locally. If they’re going to the trouble of making homemade ice cream, they’ll be flexible about buying rock salt.

That exemption doesn’t necessarily apply to the edibles needed to make ice cream. When the family’s vanilla supply ran out, Nancy Goodwin got creative. She turned to a neighbor who had a big bottle of the stuff and has been buying a little at a time.

“It is secondhand,” she said with a laugh.

Despite some of these challenges, the Goodwins have been surprised at what’s out there.

“We are learning that our region is very do-able for local eating,” Craig Goodwin said. “We have wheat. We have apples.”

The region also has a lot of dried beans and lentils. The family’s chickens come from Rocky Ridge Chickens near Reardan. Their beef is Susie David’s Cattle Co. in Spokane. The family enjoyed winter squash and carrots from Siemers Farms in Green Bluff.

This is, the Goodwins noted, probably the most difficult time of year, when the local winter vegetables are gone and the spring crop has yet to grow. Still, they’re looking ahead to summer. Seeds have been planted in the Goodwins’ greenhouse, awaiting warmer weather. Work is under way to expand the backyard garden plot. What they don’t eat fresh this year, they’ll preserve for future use.

There is one big exception to the family’s locavore way of life: Thailand. The culmination of 2008 will be a trip to Thailand. As such, the Goodwins have allowed Thai ingredients and dishes to grace their dinner table.

“That’s been a really fun part,” Craig Goodwin said. “We’re learning a lot about what foods come from Thailand. A lot of tuna fish comes from Thailand. And pineapple juice.

“So we have a juice. We won’t die of scurvy,” he added with a laugh.

For the first few weeks, they kept themselves open to the possibility of ending the experiment. Their uncertainty didn’t last long.

“The ah-ha moment for me was two weeks into it. We sat down to eat, and we prayed like we always do, thanking God for the meal,” Craig Goodwin said. “The ‘ah ha’ was that we had spontaneously prayed for the people who had helped bring our food to the table.”

In the kitchen, they’re learning to be creative.

Lettuces have been absent this winter. Instead, the Goodwins turned to alfalfa and mung bean sprouts grown in Moyie Springs, Idaho. The sprouts are tossed with grated Green Bluff carrots and topped with dressing.

The family enjoys ice cream, but weren’t happy with locally made options. So they bought a 6-quart ice cream maker – secondhand, naturally – and starting churning their own. The family’s supply of sugar is long gone, so they use local honey to sweeten the ice cream – and just about everything else.

“We’ve gone through a gallon and a half of honey in three months,” Craig Goodwin said, “after hardly ever eating honey before in our lives.”

The family meals have become more basic, while still being flavorful. For a dinner party, Nancy Goodwin created a casserole dubbed Spokavores Delight, featuring local beans, tortillas from DeLeon Foods, Cougar Gold Cheese and Tullia’s pasta sauce.

Nancy Goodwin finds herself spending more time in the kitchen. The family has a wheat grinder to make flour. She bakes at least two loaves of bread a week. After-school snacks for the girls have included homemade crackers. She enjoys the effort, she said.

“In addition to the slowness of making stuff from scratch, for me, there’s something really freeing in simplicity,” Nancy Goodwin said. “Because when I go to a market, rather than going down each aisle, now there are only certain things I’m going to buy there. It’s not as overwhelming.

“I’m not spending as much time in the grocery stores and in Target. I’m spending more time at home, and I like that trade off.”

The Goodwins have found that some things simply aren’t available to them. Butter, sour cream and yogurt aren’t made here, at least not that they’ve found. They’re learning to do without the latter two. Butter? The Goodwins buy cream at Behm’s Valley Creamery and turn it into butter in no time.

“Making butter is fun,” Craig Goodwin said. “We have an old Cuisinart, and we put in the cream and turn it on. It takes about 3 minutes.”

Butter turned out to be pretty important to the family’s culinary life – it was the family’s main cooking fat. They had tried camelina oil, which is made from the seeds of the camelina plant and is high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Just recently, they discovered a Yakima-based grapeseed oil producer.

Is has been an education. The Goodwins find themselves reading labels. Trying to figure out where things come from is a huge challenge. But the Goodwins see value in it.

“We’re finding that we’re kind of latecomers to the conversation,” Craig Goodwin said. “There’s the whole movement that’s been going on, and here we sort of stumbled into it.”

“We don’t know anything,” Nancy Goodwin added with a laugh. “We’re learning as we go.”

Honey Vanilla Ice Cream

6 cups whole milk

2 cups honey (see note)

3/4 teaspoon salt

4 cups heavy whipping cream

2 cups half and half

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Heat up three cups of whole milk, until bubbles start to appear. Remove from heat. Add honey and salt and dissolve. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until combined. Put in the freezer for 30 minutes or until chilled and pour into a 6-quart ice cream freezer. Churn according to ice cream maker’s instructions.

Note: Craig Goodwin notes that more or less honey can be added if desired. Also, darker honey will have a more intense flavor than lighter honeys. When the family first tested the recipe with two cups of honey, the mix had an intense honey flavor. However, the final product mellowed in the freezing process.

Yield: 5 quarts

Approximate nutrition per 3-ounce serving: 174 calories, 11 grams fat (7 grams saturated, 57 percent fat calories) 2 grams protein, 17 grams carbohydrate, 43 milligrams cholesterol, no dietary fiber, 77 milligrams sodium.

Pumpkin (or Winter Squash) Soup

From the Mennonite cookbook “More-with-Less Cookbook” by Doris Janzen Longacre

2 tablespoons butter

¼ cup chopped leeks (see note)

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups chicken stock or broth

2 cups pumpkin or winter squash puree

2 cups milk

½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon chopped parsley

Melt butter in large soup pot. Add leeks and onion and sauté, until vegetables are soft but not brown. Blend in flour and salt. Add stock, pumpkin, milk, thyme, nutmeg and parsley. Cook, stirring constantly on medium heat until slightly thickened.

Note: Nancy Goodwin writes, “The recipe actually calls for ¼ chopped green pepper, but there are no local peppers right now. Canned diced green chilies work well, too, but again, not local. Leeks don’t give quite the same edge, but are yummy just the same.”

Yield: 4 servings

Approximate nutrition per serving: 192 calories, 10 grams fat (6 grams saturated, 47 percent fat calories) 6.5 grams protein, 20 grams carbohydrate, 27 milligrams cholesterol, 4 grams dietary fiber, 1221 milligrams sodium.

Pinto Beans With Winter Vegetables

From the Goodwin family

2 cups dried pinto beans (Fiesta brand, Moses Lake)

5 garlic cloves (from our garden)

2 onions, chopped (Washington grown)

1 cup sliced leeks (from our garden)

4 carrots (Siemers in Green Bluff had them until late February)

2 cups winter squash, finely diced (from Siemers)

3 tablespoons Lena camelina oil (out of Marlin, Wash.)

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 to 2 tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Rinse and soak beans in water for at least 4 hours, then bring to a boil and simmer beans for 2 more hours, or until tender. Set aside.

Sauté garlic, onion, leeks, carrots and winter squash in oil. When vegetables begin to soften add ½ teaspoon salt and spices and keep sautéing until tender. Add beans and 1 to 2 tablespoons more salt, to taste. Serve over rice and add more chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and cinnamon, if desired.

Yield: 8 servings

Approximate nutrition per serving: 250 calories, 6 grams fat (less than 1 gram saturated, 22 percent fat calories), 11 grams protein, 40 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 13 grams dietary fiber, 1,165 milligrams sodium.

Spokavore’s Delight

From the Goodwin family

24 ounces Tullia’s pasta sauce (1 ½ jars of 16-ounce size)

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon chili powder

10 corn tortillas torn into 1-inch pieces (from DeLeon Foods)

2 cups Pinto Beans with Winter Vegetables (see recipe above)

1 pound ground beef, browned with 1 teaspoon salt (beef from Susie David’s Cattle Co.

3 cups Cougar Gold or Cougar American Cheddar cheese (or more if desired)

Spray 2-quart casserole with cooking spray or grease with butter.

Pour pasta sauce into a pan over medium heat. Add cumin and chili powder to sauce and simmer 5 minutes.

Layer half the tortillas on the bottom of casserole. Continue layering with 1 cup beans, half the beef, half the pasta sauce and half of the cheese. Repeat layers and bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until bubbly.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition per serving: Unable to calculate.