Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dark Days Challenge - Week 5

It's been so warm here that if this keeps up, I will start planting the spring garden in February.  This is crazy.  We need some below freezing weather to at least kill the nasty pests.  It's time to start eating from the pantry and freezer.  The local meal today was a throw together of what was in the fridge for breakfast.

I have a few eggs left from the farmer's market - they are not here this week and not sure I can last until next Sat with only 3 eggs before I buy Safeway brand.  I scrambled the eggs with cream from the dairy and threw in chopped leftover bacon from my heritage hog.  I had one Bosc pear leftover from the farmer's market and I sauteed it in dairy butter.  Yum

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dark Days Challenge - Week 4

The problem with trying to come up with meals that are purely local is that most of my meals have some local component to it everyday.  Last night, Aunty Tess and Bea came over and the meal was totally local but I didn't want that to count since we had roast chicken - a repeat of week 1 I think.  Roast chicken from the farmer's market, scalloped potatoes (potatoes from market, milk and cream from my local dairy), glazed carrots (from market) and sauteed spinach with garlic (market and my garden).

Earlier this week, I did make a lovely soup.  Pears and carrots from the New Morning Farm market, parsnips from my garden and the last of the ginger from Farmer Allan.

Delicious although Mr Gourmet commented that I shouldn't use pear next time because the texture was grainy.  Huh?  He wouldn't have even noticed if I hadn't told him.

This is the same child that called me yesterday to say "mom, I'm making bread, where's the dough hook?"

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dark Days Challenge, Week 3

Lentil Vegetable Soup
Almost all local


Bacon grease - saved from the bacon from the Tamworth Hog I got last year
Onion - farmer's market
Carrots - farmer's market

Parsnips - my garden

Kale - farmer's market
Garlic - my garden
Canned tomatoes - my garden, preserved this summer.

Delicious Soup

Lentils - not local.  In fact, where do lentils come from?  This had me thinking. I have never seen lentils in any of my seed catalogs - where are they grown?

I spent some time while I was at the reference desk today researching lentils.  They are in fact grown in the United States but primarily in Western Washington, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota.  Apparently, the US exports about 70% of their crop.  To whom?  And where do we get our lentils then?

The US government is a wealth of information.  The biggest importer of US lentils is India.  The biggest exporter to the US and in fact, to anywhere in the world is Canada.  We get our lentils from Canada and Turkey as well as several other countries.

There is a US Dry Pea, Lentil and Chickpea Council.  Who knew?

There is also a Northern Crops Institute.   What's interesting is that California has lost all of its lentil growers in the past 20 years, Washington and Idaho have also lost 1/2 of their growers while North Dakota has created a lentil industry.  So did the farmers all move to ND?  Why the change in locale over the years?

I went to the grocery store today and picked up a bag of store brand brown lentils.  There was no information on where they were grown, only that they were distributed by a company in NH.  I'm almost tempted to get the contact information of the distributor to ask where the lentils are grown.  I'm fascinated by this lentil story.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dark Days Challenge, Week 2

Yesterday I made a list of possible Dark Days meal - parsnip leek soup, ham and potato gratin, roast chicken.  Roast chicken it is.

There is a lovely little farmer's market right near my house that goes through the winter.  It's called New Morning Farm and keeps me supplied with all the root vegetables I need.  Currently there are still parsnips in the ground in my garden and all the sweet potatoes are in the basement.  Otherwise, I need to buy at the market.  Sean and I went on Saturday and bought potatoes, carrots, broccoli, an organic chicken, tat soi, apples, eggs.

This week's meal was roast chicken with roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli.

I butterflied the chicken and then made a rub of butter (from my dairy, South Mountain Creamery and dried thyme from my herb garden).  I took the back and neck and simmered it for some minutes and then used the broth for the bottom of the pan.  Roast at 400 for 45 min or so.

Chicken is from Lancaster County, PA

A nice pair of poultry shears makes it very easy to butterfly

Potatoes tossed with olive oil and more thyme.  The broccoli was steamed and I cheated a little by putting some chopped preserved lemon on it.  I did make the preserved lemons myself but the lemons are not from anywhere near DC

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Rainchain with recycled materials

Today, Sean and I went to Community Forklift to look for stuff.  The glass in the storm window for the cold frame broke so I though we could just buy a new window.  Who knew that all storm windows are not the same size.  We were unable to find one with the measurements we needed so abandoned that idea for just stapling plastic over the current window.

Sean LOVES this place.  A warehouse full of recycled building materials. I wish I was more handy because the website has lovely pictures of projects that customers made and I can't image tiling a patio, making a wrought iron fence or building a room with this stuff.

I can, however, do small projects.  Last year for Christmas, I received this cool book from John, my kids' dad.    The Revolutionary Yardscape by Matthew Levesque

The author is a landscaper and has created cool projects for his own house, using found/recycled materials.  He has a few rainchains and I thought I could definitely do that.  Last year we made a trip to Community Forklift and I bought these gaskets (at least that is what I think they are).  Cost for them = $8.50

They've sat on the back porch all summer - it was time to create something.  So today, I found some clamps that I thought would work.  9 clamps for $1.45 - not a bad deal.

It only took a few minutes to put together, Sean hauled the ladder out of the garage and Viola - a lovely rainchain.  I hope it works.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dark Days Challenge, Week 1

A couple of years ago, I participated in the Dark Days Challenge and had a lot of fun doing it.  Last year it started but the women in charge was overwhelmed and the challenge fizzled.  This year it is back with more groups involved in organizing it.  The idea is to eat one meal a week that is SOLE - Sustainable, Organic, Local and Ethical.  Not really a problem for me since the freezer is full of local, organic vegetables and meat.  The meal this week is pork from my CSA (I don't remember what breed this year), salad from my garden and pickled collard greens, from the local farmer's market.

Arugula from my garden.  This year I tried a tip from a fellow gardener. I let my arugula go to seed this summer and more regrew.  This stuff is good but potent. 

Lettuce, mustard greens, mizuna from my garden.  Also lettuce from Richard's garden - his plot is near mine and he offered me some.

Pork chop with fig jam, salad and jar of pickled collard greens.  I bought 1/2 hog this year from farmer Allan.  Raised on his farm.  The fig jam I made last year with figs from the community garden.  Salad from my garden.  I was in Charleston, SC recently and tried pickled collards at a farmer's market so I decided to try and make themself.  I bought the collards at a local farmer's market in the Palisades area of DC and soaked them in hot water and covered with a spicy brine.

The greens are delicious

Chop and figs