Posted: August 03, 2009

Entirely Homegrown: The Last Supper and Day One

The lean, meatless days of the backyard-only diet are upon me now, but on Friday night – Entirely Homegrown Eve, you might say -- Kobayashi the fabled hotdog-eating champion had nothing on me.

Mike Taylor

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My strategy was to eat as late as possible -- and of course as much as possible -- on July 31 so as to delay any feelings of deprivation till well into the afternoon of Aug. 1, the first day of my month-long, backyard-only diet.
(Watch the video of my last fast-food order for a while.)

Nutritionists say your body doesn’t store protein – unlike fat, you use it or lose it. But you can’t blame a guy for trying. I went through the drive-through at Good Times Burgers & Frozen Custard at about 9:30 p.m., and because I wanted to videotape the event I explained to the attendant what I was doing, that this was going to be a last supper of sorts. In a gesture of support she added a cookies-and-cream frozen custard and fries to my order in a large bag that already included three Mighty Deluxes, a small order of onion rings and strawberry shake.

To quote Neil Diamond: Good Times never seemed so good. I killed everything but the frozen custard, which I put in the freezer and gave to a friend the next day.

For most of the next two days I lived mostly on sautéed yellow squash and broccoli, cherry tomatoes and eggs. Tasty, but the satisfaction was fleeting. Whatever the benefits of these vegetables, they don’t stick to the ribs.

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Knowing that potatoes –or lack thereof – would make or break this project, I had put off checking whether there were any spuds growing under my 30 or so 3-foot-tall plants.  Late Sunday afternoon – Day Two – I decided I needed to face the truth and whatever it meant for the viability of the experiment. Plus, I was hungry and noticed I was already cutting deep into the inventory of my other produce barely a day and a half into the project.

So with a two-pronged weeding tool, I dug delicately into the base of my largest potato plant.  Nothing at first. I was reminded of Geraldo Rivera’s prime time humiliation many years ago where he made a big production out of opening up a basement chamber on national TV. Al Capone’s remains were supposed to be in there. The chamber was empty, and Rivera wasn’t heard from again for five years.

Could the potato vault be empty? I kept digging. And then! Three inches down… Eureka! A potato! Golf-ball size, but perfectly formed. I dug some more. Bingo! This one even bigger, close to baseball size. In about a minute I had five potatoes – six if you count the marble-size one, all with delicate, paper-thin skins.

I chopped five of them up and sautéed them in olive oil (an allowance along with coffee, salt and pepper) and cooked an egg on top. That was around 6 p.m. I don’t know if it tasted so good because I was hungry and had low expectations -- the camping-food effect -- or because it was homegrown and so fresh.

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At any rate, my satisfaction lasted until about 9 p.m. when hunger set in. It hit me that if I wanted a late-night snack I had two choices: Cook up that last potato in the fridge – I had saved the baseball-size behemoth to admire for a while -- or go out to the garden with a flashlight and dig up a carrot or cut off a stalk of broccoli. I mulled the options and went to bed, a fitful night of little sleep.

This is going to take some getting used to. But it looks like I’ll have a bumper potato crop, and more egg production is likely; only one of my four hens is producing, but at least one other hen is the same age and thus should start producing any day. Plus, I’ve got five eggs stockpiled.

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Mike Taylor is the managing editor of ColoradoBiz. He writes about small-business money issues and how startups are launched. Email him at mtaylor@cobizmag.com.

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