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Tag Archives: Dark Days

Mostly Local

Back when I first started writing this blog, I used participation in food challenges as a way to increase my awareness of local foods. I did the Dark Days Challenge, the Southern SOLE Food Challenge, another winter challenge, the Buy Local Challenges and found out how easy it is to cook with local ingredients here. I need to update my local challenge page to reflect the current status, but it is a great link to some sources of local foods, as is my local resource page.

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My first dark days luncheon in 2011. Locally sourced items for a salad.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped doing weekly challenges, as my refrigerator, freezer and pantry had quite a bit of local ingredients stashed in them. Almost every meal had something local in it.

Meat and dairy is simple here. So are vegetables from all the CSAs in the county.

Yesterday I didn’t even think about it. I took two dishes to the reunion. Both had local ingredients. I also took a few bottles of Big Cork wine. A winery just outside of Frederick. A Traminette. Perfect for those who loved the shrimp and the crabs, and the pulled pork. A spicy wine, similar to Gewurztraminer.

My contributions were tomatoes, goat cheese, basil over a bed of arugula. To be accompanied by McCutcheon’s dressing. Tomatoes. Mine. Basil. Mine. All the plants from Sharp’s Farm. Goat cheese. Cherry Glen. Just west of us in Montgomery County. Arugula. Love Dove Farm. Howard County.

My other dish. A four bean salad. Using wax beans from TLV, and green beans from my CSA. Yeah, the cannellini and garbanzo beans were canned, bought at Roots the other day.

Breakfast today. Love Dove eggs. Lunch today. Leftover salads from yesterday.

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Dinner tonight. One incredibly awesome sirloin lamb roast from England Acres, one of the packages from the half of lamb we bought in April. Potatoes, from the CSA. Peaches from Lewis Orchards. Love Dove arugula. Catoctin Mountain Orchards Peach Vinaigrette over the salad.

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My latest batch of ajvar on the side with some pita. Using CSA eggplant. My garlic, roasted. Yeah, I bought the red peppers at Harris Teeter, as we haven’t seen many nice red peppers. Hasn’t been hot enough this summer.

I really am thankful that we have our markets. We have many local farms open year round. We have year round CSAs. Making our meals that much fresher, that much better.

Thanks to our local farmers. They make it easy to eat locally and seasonally.


Winter CSA Week Six

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This week our delivery has been moved to Saturdays. The Zahradka Farm has stopped taking on members for the rest of the winter, and the delivery routes adjusted so that we are a Saturday morning drop off.

This week we got another package of beef sausage. I do wish we would get other meats. I have an email in to ask.

My items were:
bag of spinach
2 lbs. white potatoes
2 lbs. sweet potatoes
3 yellow and 2 red delicious apples
1 1/2 lb. sweet winter carrots

I already have plans for most of it. Cauliflower will go into a soup later this week. Spinach omelet with local swiss cheese and the eggs from last week. I used one of the carrots in my Dark Days meal last night.

Dark Days Week Seven Sunday Dinner

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Honestly, if I didn’t get the salsify from the CSA the end of December, I would never have found my newest favorite vegetable.

Ugly looking vegetable, isn’t it? But it ended up in a lovely dinner of beef sausage, baked red cabbage and apples, and fritters made simply with the salsify. I do need to work on my photography skills though, as the cabbage and apples had juices running all over the plate. I suppose I can’t qualify for cooking magazine photographer, can I?

The salsify recipe came from vintage recipes and I chose the salsify fritters recipe from the Boston Cooking School Cookbook. I made it using local butter from Blue Ridge Dairy, and the spelt flour from The Common Market Coop bulk foods bin. It was really great tasting, just like described, reminding us of oysters.

The sausages were placed in a small pan in the oven to brown. The red cabbage from the last week of our fall CSA were placed in a deep baking dish with apples from the Leesburg Farmer’s Market (I forgot to record which farm we bought them from), apple cider from Heyser Farms Colesville MD, honey from Baugher’s Westminster MD, and baked with the sausage. Baked it all at 300 degrees, for about an hour to get the beef sausages to caramelize.

Finished it all off with some pumpkin ice cream left in the freezer from our earlier trip to Baugher’s.

Dark Days Week Two – Dinner Extraordinaire

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When the better half, or the OM (old man in amateur radio lingo) raves about how amazing dinner was, you know you found a winning recipe.

I had leftover CSA veggies to use. The fridge is out of control. Today is CSA day. What to make with turnips and Jerusalem artichokes? Enter Serious Eats to the rescue.

Turnip, Jerusalem artichoke and apple soup. Somewhat easy to make. Immensely satisfying. Add to that some Red Apron Lamb sausage, some Atwater’s baguette, and cleaning out the spinach, tat soi and radish in the crisper to make a side salad. All local except for the olive oil, salt and pepper.

The soup recipe is below.

2 small leeks, cleaned and chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 small onion, diced
olive oil

Start with these in a heavy cast iron Dutch oven. Soften first, then sweat them in a 1/2 cup of water, until water almost evaporated.

Add diced turnips (3), Apples (2) and Jerusalem artichokes (about a pound total) with 2 cups more of water and a pinch of salt. Simmer it all covered for 45 minutes on low heat, then puree in a blender.

Served with a side salad of spinach, tat soi, radish and a peach vinaigrette. Sliced bread and the leftover lamb sausage from Red Apron butcher. And, of course, a local wine. Boordy Reserve Chardonnay.


Taking Stock

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Five weeks ago, I started blogging here. I had decided that something new and challenging was needed in my life to bridge the gap from fall to spring, my favorite two seasons.

Winter here gets a little intense at times.

Now, this was extreme, but you know, there are advantages and disadvantages to a steep roof. The snow falls off. When the total snowfall is two feet and the roof dumps another three all around the house, it gets interesting. At least blogging will keep me sane.

I love fall.

The weather is crisp and beautiful. I still have herbs and lettuces. But then, the rains come and the temperatures drop. And then, it snows!

I was reading my first posts here and noticing how life gets in the way of planning. I noticed I planned certain events or meals and things changed. But then, that is what makes life interesting.

The Dark Days Challenge fell into my life to fill the void. I am looking forward to doing many new things, like cooking with foods from small businesses.

Why focus on this challenge? Because I miss my volunteer “job”, leading school children on nature hikes on a preserved piece of farmland not far from my home. We hike spring and fall. Dark days are here, and not the time to lead nature hikes. So, we settle in for winter, and use what we have grown, saved and can find to sustain us until spring.

I hope the snow gods are kind to us this winter. We already have more than enough moisture in the soil. Our trees are toppling in the soggy ground.

Come on Spring!

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.