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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Dark Days Challenge Week One – Dinner and Lunch

Sunday night I kicked off the Dark Days Challenge by cooking an almost completely locally sourced dinner, and then Monday had a lovely lunch of leftovers to make it a “twofer”.

My rules are in my previous post. This meal came from within a 100 mile radius, since my CSA sources are about 80-90 miles away in Amish country. We pick up our CSA about 8 miles from our property so that is the distance I traveled to get most of my dinner. A few things came from my trip Christmas shopping to Frederick and Thurmont, and from a visit with friends to the Dupont Circle Farmer’s market. I stocked up on local items while on these two trips so have lots in the larder and freezer for future meals.

Sunday Menu
Green Salad
Turkey Breast w/chutney
Sweet Potato Galette
Pumpkin Ice Cream

The wine was local as well. Black Ankle vineyards is my favorite Maryland winery, and this Gruner Veltliner is a perfect match for turkey.

The salad:
2 heads Baby Flashy Troutsback Lettuce – organic – Friends Road Organics – CSA
1 shaved carrot – organic – Elm Tree Organics – CSA
Six cherry tomatoes from my garden
(bag ripened from the final culling of the vines prior to frost)
1 Black Radish, peeled, sliced – organic – The Farm at Sunnyside (Dupont Circle Market)
Cremini and Button Mushrooms – organic – The Mushroom Stand (Dupont Circle Market)
Peach Vinaigrette – Catoctin Mountain Orchards Thurmont MD
Pistachios – the only non-local item on the salad

The galette:

Recipe Sweet Potato Galette

2 Beauregard Sweet Potatoes – organic – Eagle View Acres – CSA
1 large bunch spinach – organic – Farmdale Organics – CSA
1 head tatsoi – organic – Hillside Organics – CSA
1 package Firefly Farms Black and Blue Goat Cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
Turkey Stock, homemade from Maple Lawn Farms fresh turkey, using neck, gizzards, heart and liver
1 TBSP butter – South Mountain Creamery

I cooked down a large quantity of greens (spinach and tatsoi) in skillet using a splash of organic extra virgin olive oil (not local, I wish we could grow olives here) and a quarter cup of my homemade turkey stock. Set them aside and prepared skillet for creating the galette. Dropped a tablespoon of butter in the skillet, let it melt, and added first layer of thinly sliced sweet potatoes, topped with greens and cheese, then repeated three times, and seasoned with salt and pepper. I made sure to press down the final layer just before putting it in the oven, and added a tiny bit more of my stock to keep it moist.

Baked in a 350 degree oven in the skillet for about 45 minutes. I use convection bake for this to speed up the baking and keep the bottom from browning before the potatoes are done. A bit messy to plate but definitely good. Next time I would use the other cheese from Firefly which is a creamier blue. This one got a wee bit chewy.

Reheated the turkey breast in the oven with a drizzle of turkey stock. Turkey breast was leftovers from our Thanksgiving all natural fresh turkey from Maple Lawn Farms in Maryland, made Friday. Veggies and stock for the turkey all local, veggies from CSA (carrots, onions, celery) and stock made in advance from the innards.

Served it with a side of the last of the wild blueberry chutney a friend brought home after her summer in Maine. I give them all tomatoes in the summer and they exchange things, like milk from their cows, and others have eggs from their chickens.

Dessert was pumpkin ice cream from South Mountain Creamery.

Monday was beautiful here, so we decided to eat out on the patio. I made a salad with leftovers of the turkey and pretty much the same other items, like carrots, mushrooms, and served it with cheese from Bowling Green Farm and an apple from Quaker Valley Farms (Dupont Circle Mkt). I did add dried cranberries from our organic supermarket. They are not local obviously. The vinaigrette was Catoctin Mountain Orchards Blackberry Splash. Cider from Black Rock Orchards in Lineboro MD.

It wasn’t hard to do most of this in November. February is going to be difficult I imagine.

My Dark Days Challenge Rules

Dark Days Challenge begins today.

Details are here.

I hope to cook my first dark days meal tonight, so I wanted my rules set out before starting.

I am using a 50 mile radius for how far I may have to travel to source the food items, and 100 miles for origination of the food items. I will probably use the 150 mile radius for wine, since I know we will go winery hopping at least once this winter to Charlottesville VA which is about 125 miles as the crow flies from our location. If someone brought me a gift from their travels and it was made locally to them, I will use it.

Meat, seafood, dairy, veggies, and bread/pasta will all come from the 100 mile radius with the exception of oysters and fish, which can come from anywhere on the Chesapeake Bay. I can get them at local farmer’s markets all winter, but don’t know how far the fishermen and oyster men must sail to catch them, or gather the oysters.

My philosophy as a locavore is more pointed in the direction of supporting local small businesses and farmers, even if they use some non-organic or non-locally sourced items to make their foods.

Such as: fruit in some of the cheeses like cranberries; spices and herbs in the meats and cheeses and breads. The Breadery, where much of my bread comes from, mills their own grains but sources it from outside the area. Not much grain growing in Maryland.

Not all of the local vendors have gone through the arduous process of becoming certified organic, but they apply IPM, or in the case of meat vendors, they are as natural as we can get. No antibiotics, hormones, and mostly grass fed, or free range.

Dinner tonight is going to be a sweet potato galette using The Slow Cook’s recipe, and turkey breast from my Thanksgiving turkey with the last of the blueberry chutney brought back from a summer in Maine by a friend who volunteers with me.


I also hope to eat most meals at home using a majority of local items, even on the days I am not doing the 100% sourced meal to meet the challenge.

Here’s hoping I can be successful in becoming more of a year round locavore, and not just a casual summertime one, which I was in the past.

Shopping on Small Business Saturday

So, today I took my quarterly pilgrimage to my favorite creamery and orchard market. The creamery

South Mountain Creamery

sells from May until November at a local farmer’s market, but the rest of the year I have to trek out there, or have home delivery. We don’t drink enough milk to do weekly delivery, but I do go out there when visiting friends in Frederick MD, or when the fall foliage is perfect, or on our way to some wineries we love.

The little piglet picture from their website shows some relatives (?) of the source of the grilling sausages I picked up, while stocking up on butter, eggs, cheeses and I had to get pumpkin ice cream and peppermint stick ice cream.

Not hard to eat locally with such great stuff right up the road.

Milk in glass bottles with cream on top! Yum!

Our Thanksgiving Dinner

Tonight I will be cooking our personal “what I want to eat” Thanksgiving dinner for just the two of us. We do this every year, since we moved out here to the rural west county. We buy most of it locally and make spicy or ethnic foods that don’t find favor or takers at our family get together.

Some won’t eat spicy, or “weird” veggies. Their words, not mine. There are few veggies we don’t like, and the ability to experiment with what we get at farmer’s markets or in the CSA share, is what gives me pleasure.

Besides, the turkey legs will be Sunday night’s kick off Dark Days Challenge main course.

We picked up the turkey Wednesday at our local market when I picked up the CSA.

I am roasting it this year in the oven instead of grilling it, and not stuffing it with anything other than some onions, and citrus peel. I will use a dry rub that I make with Italian herbs and use a little grapeseed oil on the skin.

I am baking sweet potatoes in the other oven, along with a small batch of sausage and apple stuffing, with a spinach salad on the side.

Opening a local Gruner Veltliner from Black Ankle Vineyards.

Pictures I hope to get up here tomorrow. A romantic dinner watching the sunset from the dining room windows. Lots of leftovers to use in soups and sandwiches, and to make stock for future Dark Days Challenge meals.

Giving Thanks

Getting ready for the holidays always creates mixed emotions, those of thanks, love, memories, losses, the good days and the really difficult days of our past.

My FIL left this world 30 years ago this week. My DH misses him still. My dad went into the hospital then hospice this same time of year nine years ago. At Christmas we lost my MIL five years ago.

So, I am thankful that my mom is still doing well, as she is 82 and going strong. I am thankful for my health, and my DH’s, and that we got to retire while still young enough to enjoy it.

I am thankful for family and friends, and for my extended community where I volunteer.

Whenever I sit and contemplate my life, past and present, and watch the sunsets across the fields from our home, I give thanks for luck, and love, and life.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Fall CSA Week Four

Surrounded by all the holiday traffic and chaos I picked up this week’s CSA and then went off to a local market to get my pre-ordered fresh turkey and homemade sausage for my Dark Days Challenge, and our Thanksgiving dinner scheduled for Sunday night.

We go to visit family on Thanksgiving in Annapolis, so our turkey is made Sunday.

The CSA haul was again beautiful.

“Log Grown” Shiitake mushrooms, tatsoi, purple top turnips, baby peppers, Jerusalem artichokes, baby leaf lettuces, garnet sweet potatoes, green cabbage, spinach, cauliflower and a leek.  All organic.

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Dishing Up Maryland

This book, Dishing Up Maryland

is one of my sources for local items, as well as inspiration for cooking with local items.

I have done countless dishes from their recipes. I use South Mountain Creamery, Black Ankle Wines, Baugher’s, Catoctin Mountain Orchards, and Larriland all the time, for local foods.

I commend Storey for publishing books that allow us to enjoy the benefits of local foods.

Why Blog? Why Now?

I was just asked by a friend as to why I started a blog now, what motivated me, and what do I intend to write.

I have to say my initial exposure to blogs was travel blogs by people visiting places I want to travel. People who wrote about Antarctica, and expedition cruises.

I haven’t been traveling lately, mainly because house renovations got in the way, but we used to travel quite a bit.

I suppose it was somewhere in the Amalfi Coast, while sailing that I really got into cooking, or maybe it was the market in Nice.

But, I also got inspired reading some great articles in Gourmet, before they went away, and then I inherited a Bon Appetit replacement subscription that introduced me to Molly Wizenberg and Orangette. We shared a common bond, sauerkraut at Thanksgiving, since I was born and raised in Baltimore.

So, now retired and really into cooking and growing some of my own food, I decided why not record it? I contributed to a few groups in my earlier years, only to find the posts disappeared when you don’t own them. My own domain, my words, my pictures, here until I decide to get rid of them.

Today I am making sauerkraut from a cabbage left over from the CSA. It will be ready to eat by next Sunday, for my dark days first supper, and our home Thanksgiving. Just us. The relatives get together on Thursday, but we like our own small fresh turkey from a local farm, with leftovers to make soup.

And here I get to record it.

Dark Days Preparation

I am getting ready for the dark days challenge. I have inventoried the farmer’s market and neighbor’s contributions of meats in the freezer and looking at what stocks and veggies are also in there.

I have my peppers drying.

I also have the dried sage hanging in the garage, and thankfully the rosemary is still going strong.

Garlic and jellies around, and some gifts from friends who traveled, like blueberry chutney. Honey from the bee hives where I volunteer.

Local wines in the cellar, and a few six packs of locally brewed beer. Apple cider still coming in from a local farm

The CSA and the Amish markets should help me make it through the winter. Fifteen weeks is a long time, and there may be some omelets and soups more than I usually make, but at least I am doing a small part to work on reducing my carbon footprint.

Baby steps, we call them, but worth it to me.

Roasting Beets

So, last night I roasted the specialty beets from the CSA and peeled them to use in a salad tomorrow night.

I roast beets dry, unpeeled, over a bed of kosher salt to pull out some of the moisture and allow them to concentrate their flavor.

I put them in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for about an hour, then let them cool and peel them. Off to the refrigerator to wait for my salad tomorrow evening. I will update this post with the salad picture when I make dinner tomorrow evening.

The Update with the finished product:

This salad was made using CSA box red romaine, white radishes, the specialty beets, and adding local goat cheese, some grapes from the store, some pistachios, and drizzled with Catoctin Mtn Orchards Blackberry Splash Vinaigrette. About 90% local, with only the grapes and pistachios bought at the grocery store.