The first time I prepared a raw chicken I literally cried. I was in my very early 20s and cooking was done only to impress dates (the baked chicken was for a real meat and potatoes guy — things didn’t work out). Other than that I could be found dining out and munching on my specialty — Fruit Loops. As time has gone on and my relationships have moved past dating to marriage, my cooking skills have greatly improved (although I must say for the price, the rotisserie chickens already prepared at the market make for a much less dramatic dinner time at casa de Caswell). Anyway, there are a few reasons behind my increased skill level. For one, I got really sick of my friends making fun of the Fruit Loops. Since when is it a crime to enjoy kid’s cereals past the age of 18? But I also have my career as a journalist to thank. A few years ago at a previous gig I accepted a challenge from my editor — in order to draw attention to the localvore movement I was to eat only foods that were produced or grown within 100 miles for one week and write about my experience. Great, I thought. Jersey Giant (my fav sub shop in Lansing) is in walking distance to my apartment. Turns out, that’s not what the rules imply. A 100-mile diet means that everything you eat has to be grown, raised, slaughtered, milled, brewed (local beer has to have local hops — told ya it was tricky), etc. within 100 miles. Basically, Jersey Giant need not apply. It was a challenge for sure. But I learned so much that week. First of all, I’m not really a bad cook when given good raw materials (chickens need not apply). Also the Mooville milk and ice cream produced in Charlotte is honestly the best I have ever had. Ever. Totally worth the drive no matter what your diet plan. And I was able to meet some really awesome people who run in the same crowd as our cover gal — Laura DeLind. I won’t lie; when the week was over I made a bee line for Jersey Giant and indulged in a Miller Lite, but by no means was the week a waste of time. To this day, I’ve kept a lot of the skills and knowledge I learned close to my heart. I will likely never restrict myself to the 100-mile diet again, but I can also tell you I don’t eat pork chops that aren’t purchased at the Lansing City Market. Eating such fresh foods opened my taste buds to an entirely new level of taste and enjoyment (that’s a lot considering how much I already loved food). My advice? Include at least one item per meal time that fits the 100-mile criteria, check out any of the local farmers markets for help or advice and wear rubber gloves when preparing raw chicken.
Emily Caswell is the Managing Editor of CAWLM. She has a passion for fun, family, friends, shopping sprees, cold drinks and Lansing.