Monday, April 20, 2015

Month One ... #completed

The first month of the 100 Metre Diet 2.0 is behind me and it turned out that the very first day was the hardest.  Breaking through the ‘caffeine withdrawal wall’ was unpleasant but luckily it only lasted for 24 hours.  Since then it’s been clear sailing.

This month my 100 metre menu items included:
Sunchokes, sprouts and goat tenderloin
Sunchokes, spouts and goat tenderloin
  • Eggs
  • Water
  • Goat milk
  • Ham
  • Headcheese
  • Bacon
  • Chicken
  • Goat meat
  • Fresh sprouts
  • Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes)
  • Stored potatoes
  • Stored butternut squash
  • Stored pickled peppers
  • Stored ramp pesto
  • Goat cheese
  • Fresh maple syrup
It wasn't a terrible selection of food for the first month of the diet but the lack of variety inspired my garden planning.  Many seedlings are happily sprouting in my windowsill as well as a number of spices (oregano, thyme, sage and basil).  I'm looking forward to those.

But I'm not sure what I was thinking going without grain products ... no crackers, no bread and no pasta. There's no sense in complaining because flour is a long way off.   It will take all summer before my oats and spring wheat are ready for harvest.  The oats were sown yesterday, the wheat will go in before the start of May.  Then we wait and dream of egg noodles ... #really

Piggies being piggies
The only other update is that our two piglets arrived 8 days ago! We put them straight to work tilling the garden and they completely turned it over in just 7 days. These guys are terrific diggers ... it's incredible.

We should rent them out ... they're that good.

Well it wouldn't be a diet if I didn't lose weight, and I did lose weight.  15 pounds.  I can't complain ... I certainly feel much healthier.

I'm assuming that April will be the hardest month on the diet and it really wasn't that bad.  It makes me smile and look forward to May and the early spring delights ... morels, saddlebacks, ramps and more .... :)


Friday, March 20, 2015

The 100 Metre Diet 2.0

It’s amazing how time flies …

2015 will mark the 5th anniversary of the start of my original 100 Metre Diet. Back then I was young(er), na├»ve, unprepared and considerably under-skilled in the art of self-sufficiency. However, I survived the yearlong challenge and advanced my homesteading skills considerably. Yay me! I’ve come a long way since then and I think it’s time to revisit the 100 Metre Diet … this time as a seasoned homesteader.

So I’ve decided to undertake the 100 Metre Diet 2.0, starting today, the first day of spring 2015.

The rules for the original challenge were that I only ate food that I grew, raised, made or foraged on our 4.5 acre property. The only supplies that I allowed myself to buy were flour, sugar, local honey, spices, vinegar, oil, yeast, baking powder, vanilla, yogurt starter and the odd vitamin.

This time my rules will be much more restrictive … they have to be or this wouldn’t be much of a challenge, would it? For the 100 Metre Diet 2.0 I will only eat foods that I grow, forage, raise and butcher on our 4.5 acre property and the only products that I am allowing myself to purchase are salt, cheese culture and rennet. In addition, anything that I have previously preserved, such as relish, pickles, cheese and jams, will be fair game for consumption.

Without flour I can see that I won’t be doing any baking or noodle making at the start of my diet. That will encourage me to plant crops that I’ve never grown before, like grains and sugar beets.

Over the next few days I plan to take a complete inventory of the food that I have on hand as well as consult with a trusted dietician to analyze what essential nutrients my diet might be missing. After that I’ll plan my 2015 garden … stay tuned.

PeskyChicken (aka Greg Stevenson)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Check out my local paper

I hope this link works!

My Story!

Thriving after a year on a 100-metre diet

PUSLINCH TOWNSHIP — The recipe sounds exotic and straight off the table of a five-star restaurant. Handmade, organic ravioli filled with goat meat, dandelion leaves, chives and tomatoes, with a light tomato sauce.”

Along with sounding mouth-watering, the dish is something else: everything but the flour in the pasta came from within 100-metres of Greg Stevenson’s home.

The Puslinch resident recently completed an entire year when almost everything he ate came from within 100 metres. That means that he had to raise, grow, gather and forage what he ate from his 4.5 acre (1.8 hectare) property. The only things he allowed himself to buy were flour, sugar, local honey, spices, vinegar, oil, yeast, baking powder, vanilla, yogurt starter and the “odd vitamin.”

The idea came to Stevenson, a pension consultant, in January 2010.

“I looked around the farm and saw we had chickens for fresh eggs, and goats for milk, and I thought, I think I can live off what I have for one year,” he says.

The idea was also driven by his weight and diet.

“I was pretty discouraged with the food I was eating, and I knew there had to be a better way.”

Rather than jumping in immediately with both feet, Stevenson planned for six months, planting and storing up some food in the freezer. In June 2010 he started, treating it mainly as a diet at first. He quickly realized that wasn’t the way to go, as his weight dropped from 198 pounds to 160 in only four months.

“I realized you have to eat when you are hungry and eat as much as you can, because you are eating healthier foods,” he says. “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.”

The first months of the diet were the easiest, says Stevenson, as he was able to eat the bounty of the garden. By the time late December and January rolled round however, Stevenson realized the full implication of his decision.

“Around Christmas, I stopped milking the goat, so I could just drink water,” he said. “In January I realized I’ve got nothing fresh, I’m just living off of my freezer. That was the hardest period.”

It was then that he relied on the support of his wife, Barb, and three boys, Michael, Matthew and Daniel.

“This year absolutely brought our family together,” he said. “They all pitched in when they could. You couldn’t go through this on your own.”

Most of what he ate was egg-based, as well as homemade cheese and pitas. As for vegetables, his diet consisted primarily of tomatoes, squash, zucchinis, onions and potatoes. Fruit was more difficult, as he had to rely on foraging some wild grapes, currants and some rhubarb. In terms of meat, Stevenson at first relied on his stockpile of 20-plus frozen chickens and a goat that they had butchered before he began.

According to Stevenson, the tough thing about the diet is the amount of time you spend in the kitchen. While he appreciates the cooking process the experience has given him, he says he would spend a lot of his weekends preparing food for the week ahead. If he had a family visit on the weekend, the week ahead would be “eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” he says with a smile.

In order to have enough meat for the final five months, Stevenson brought two of their goats, Lucky and Chocolate, to the butcher in January. While some would have a tough time killing an animal they had bottle-fed, hug and named, Stevenson takes a different approach.

“I treated them with respect, I raised them humanely, but I knew their ultimate purpose was for the table,” he says.

It is all part of the appreciation for food that Stevenson says the year gave him.

“You won’t remember a steak you eat one year later, but I won’t soon forget the animals I’ve eaten this year,” he says. “That’s very meaningful for me.”

Now that it’s officially over, did Stevenson run to the closest convenience store to grab a bag of chips and a soda?

“I’m not that person anymore,” he says. “Once you begin it’s hard to stop, I’ve changed and I don’t want to eat that way again.”

Stevenson is in the process of figuring out how to proceed and “evolve” his diet. He says he is going to buy beef from a neighbour who raises cattle, and that he will be a regular at the Aberfoyle Farmers’ Market, following a simple mantra:

“Nothing out of a can or a bag,” he says. “If it’s not in its original packaging, I’ll say no.”

Not that Stevenson is an activist for the “humbling” diet.

“It’s hard and it’s not for everyone,” he says. “It gave me an appreciation of where food comes from and the effort that goes into preparing it,” he says. “Grocery stores today are selling convenience. I just made the choice to not go the convenient route.”

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It’s the end of the 100 Meter Diet

Wow, I made it. I survived one full year on my 100 meter diet. I knew that I could … I even knew that I would … but still, I’m surprised that I did.

It wasn’t easy but I felt that I needed to do this and I’m glad that I did. I’ve discovered a sense of food freedom and a stronger self confidence that I didn't expect to find.

Living a simpler life, and becoming more connected to the foods that I eat, has filled me with tremendous energy that now fuels my desire to push the boundaries and take on more challenges. There’s nothing stopping me now. If you think that I’m self sufficient today … just wait until you see where I am in 5 years time!

I no longer care if people think I’m crazy for living and eating the way that I do. I’m being true to myself and I’m setting a good example for my children. There is nothing more important to me than that. I’ve excepted the fact that I can’t change the world, but I can change myself, and at the same time have a positive impact on those around me. I believe that I have done that on this diet and that makes all the effort worth while.

The hardest part of this diet was finding the time to blog about what I was doing. There were many stories and thoughts that never saw the light of day.

I never came close to quitting the diet but on a few occasions I came very close to walking away from the blog. With encouragement from friends and family I managed to keep up the blogging, even if it meant posting less frequently.

I’m glad that I stuck with it and I plan to bind the blog into a keepsake book for our family.

What will my diet look like tomorrow? Well, I’m going to expand my food sources beyond our property. I’m desperate to reintroduce a greater variety of local foods into my diet so I’ll be buying produce from our local farmers market as well as beef from our neighbour’s farm around the corner. As much as possible, I’m going to continue to make the majority of my meals by hand. Processed foods will rarely be seen in my diet. I’ve proven that I can live without them and I know for sure that I don’t want them.

As for the blog itself ... I’m not certain what will become of it. I wish that I had the time and the energy to keep it going but I’m not sure that I do. At least not right now. Living the 100 meter diet takes a lot of time and effort. Everyone in our family contributes, in their own way, to this way of life and it’s an excellent family bonding experience. Blogging, on the other hand, is a solitary task which pulls my time away from the family. I find myself apologizing to my family when I need to seek out some quiet time to blog. That doesn’t feel right to me and I’d much rather live this lifestyle than take time away to write about it.

For those that have been regular followers – thank you! Your comments and encouragement made me feel less like a lunatic and made me realize that there are many more like minded individuals out there in the world. I’m grateful for that and I really, truly needed to know that you were out there.

Finally, I can’t end the diet without an update on my weight. I started out the diet weighing 198 pounds and as of this morning I weigh 160 pounds. I couldn’t be happier with that result. I should have done this many years ago.

My next challenge is to rebuild all the muscle that I lost over the past year. In order to do that I joined a fitness gym yesterday and I’m pretty sure that I can find the time to commit to a work out routine. I’ve proven that I'm good with commitments.

Thanks for all the support and just for the record … I feel great!

Greg Stevenson (also known as Peskychicken)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Penultimate Post

The weather we had over this past weekend was absolutely gorgeous. Sunny and warm with a slightly cool breeze. It was perfect gardening weather.

On Saturday afternoon the sky presented us with a special treat ... I'll call it a cloud rainbow. Unfortunately the picture doesn't do it justice. You can click on the picture to get a larger view.

It contained all the colours of a rainbow but it was made up a wispy thin cloud streaks. I've never seen than formation before and I'm glad we had the camera close by ... beautiful.

So, I'm heading into my last full week on the 100 meter diet and I'm surprised to find myself looking forward to crossing the finish line. The freezer is nearly empty and I'm tired of baking bread and making noodles. I actually said to Barb this morning, "I would happily pay someone to bake me a loaf of bread".

I have 1 jar of pickled beets left, 2 jars of regular pickles, some frozen zucchini, frozen butternut squash, a few onions, some goat meat and of course eggs and goat milk. Survivable, yes ... Enjoyable, no.

Our local farmers market (The Aberfoyle Farmer's Market) opens on May 28th and I'm really looking forward to it. I'll be like a kid in a candy store ... buying as much fresh produce as I can. I hope someone there sells fresh bread ;)

One more week ... I can do this!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Finally ... the morels have arrived!

The first morel of the season is always the hardest one to find.

I've been searching for this tasty morsel for just over two weeks and I finally found it today.

I found another four smaller morels in the same area but I want to find more. Many, many more.

One season, about eight years ago, we found over ten pounds of morels on our property. I would love to end the 100 meter diet with 10 pounds of morels. It could happen .... and if it does I'lll be in heaven!

We're going to have wet, rainy weather for the next week or so. I'm crossing my fingers that all the rain makes the mushrooms explode all over the place.

Morel mushrooms are worth their weight in gold around our house. Everybody loves them. If you've never tried morels before you are really missing something special. In Ontario, May is the month for morels. They're hard to find but you could get lucky and find someone selling them at your local farmers market. It's worth a try.

Mmmmm. Morels.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Graham crackers

Recently I had a craving for some cheese cake but I was still feeling guilty about using store bought graham cracker crumbs last time. So I did a little 'googling' and found a recipe that I could work with.

They were surprisingly easy to make and they tasted really good. I'll be making these again.

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup goat butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup locally produced honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup goat milk

Mix the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda together and set aside.

Then mix the butter, brown sugar and honey together and stir until it is very creamy. Incorporate the dry ingredients, as well as the milk and vanilla, then work the mixture into a ball. Knead the dough well, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, divide the dough into quarters and roll each quarter out flat (about 3 millimeters thick). Dust the dough with flour as needed to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin. Trim the sheet of rolled dough into a large rectangle. Cut into smaller rectangles and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Mark a line down the center of each one using a knife.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes in a preheated oven at 350 degrees. Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks.

And there you have it ... 100 meter graham crackers!