Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dark Days Challenge weekend edition

Another wonderful weekend of local eating! Our winter market was on Saturday, and we beat the crowds and stocked up with mesclun salad mix, baby spinach, scallions, radishes, potatoes, apples, eggs, and a wonderful loaf of whole wheat bread with sunflower seeds.

Saturday night I turned some more of our grass-fed ground beef into meatballs (which, despite baking them this time, were still not spheres. I give up. Symmetry is something that happens to other people!) with the help of the local baby spinach, garlic, onions, egg, basil, and oregano dried from my garden (some non-local breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper completed the mix.) I served them with some of the last of my homemade marina sauce (with added oomph from more garlic and onions), locally made fresh pasta, and garlic bread (local garlic and butter and the whole wheat/sunflower bread.) It was divine, despite the lack of symmetry in the meatballs.

Today I had a potluck to attend, so all of the butternut squash soup came out of the freezer. While it came up to temperature in a crock pot I cooked shredded carrots (local) with some non-local curry and ginger. I had a brief moment of panic when the final product tasted too strongly of ginger, but the addition of (non-local) condensed milk took the bite out of it. The final product tasted so good that I must rescind my earlier assertion about not liking butternut squash!

While the soup was coming together I cooked up some bacon (local, from the freezer) with some fresh eggs and more of the whole wheat bread. We won't talk about how much butter from Hartzler's Dairy I slathered on the toast - I ran out of their butter last week (and a couple of local stores were out of it!) so I was celebrating its return. I've never had a butter so sweet as the 2 lb. rolls from Hartzler's.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Dark Days Challenge; a frequent visitor to my back door; and I am a Menu for Hope winner!!!

Here is one of our "funny kitties." (We were trying to decide what the cats thought about these strange creatures at the back door, and somehow, "that's a funny-looking kitty!" became the answer. And thus the term "funny kitty" was born.)

I am very excited to tell you all that I was one of the prize winners for Chez Pim's Menu for Hope! Not just any prize, but the droolworthy All-Clad 6-quart saute pan offered by Cincinnati Locavore. I am utterly delighted, especially because a) I never win anything, and b) this item was considered a long shot in the tip sheet. I look forward to many culinary adventures when the pot arrives.

Local eating has been quite good this week. I defrosted two of my three quarts of peaches (oh, why didn't I put up more?!?) and made a peach cobbler for a potluck and peach pancakes for brunch (served with some bacon from Curly Tail, a local organic farm.) I had a few cups of peach juice left from the peaches and it seemed a shame to waste it, so I reduced it and added the remainder of the peaches and a bit of maple syrup, which resulted in a lovely syrup for the pancakes. That was one delicious brunch! Just a little note for myself for next year: don't slice the peaches quite so thinly.

The protein of choice this week (other than bacon!) was boneless pork loin chops. I didn't realize that the package held four, so we had two meals of them. The first was Asian pork (sliced and marinated in a variety of non-local items from the fridge and pantry: lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, ginger, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar) as well as local garlic and scallions. I served it with local romaine-leaf wrappers and shredded carrot (local) and cucumber and cellophane noodles (not local.) It would have been a perfect meal if I had gone a little easier on the fish sauce; it was seriously salty as a result.

For the second appearance of pork loin I marinated it in pomegranate glaze (non-local, and the same bottle from last time), pan-fried it and served it with spaghetti squash, mashed potatoes, and the last of the broccoli.

My current favorite meal features not-local shrimp but local cornmeal, butter, bacon, cheese and scallions. I turn a small amount of cornmeal into creamy polenta (with the help of some butter and Gouda) then fry some bacon and cook shrimp in the bacon fat (shhhh, don't tell my waistline!) before adding the bacon (crumbled) and scallions. A few (or many) dashes of hot sauce, and you have one fantastic meal.

We have another winter market in Worthington this Saturday. The last one was rather insane - only one vegetable vendor with very long lines and very rude people. I still managed to get lettuce, potatoes, onions, scallions, pork chops and bacon, and grass-fed beef (ground and chuck roast), along with a tasty apple dumpling.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Dark Days Challenge report

The cat of the day is Mr. Grey, who decided to live here a number of years ago. He has the most beautiful markings on his face, and the most annoying habit of poking the humans in the face when they're asleep.

The past few weeks have featured meals that will sound familiar to readers of this blog. The soup I made this week was new though! I dug through the veggies in the freezer and the storage cupboard to produce a soup with all local vegetables: garlic, red onion, Lima beans, white kidney beans, green beans, tomatoes, cabbage, and corn. Tomato and veggie stock were also local and made by me. Non-local ingredients were salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.

This week I also tried spaghetti and meatballs again. The meatballs were actual ball shapes this time, at least until I browned them. Judging by the wave of garlic that hit me when I opened the leftovers, I should have called it spaghetti, garlic and meatballs.

I also made chicken breasts with gravy, broccoli, and mashed purple potatoes and leeks. I used chicken and stock from the local poultry butcher, and the gravy was amazing as a result. My own chicken stock clearly needs some work.

We've also had cottage ham with sweet potatoes, corn, and Brussels sprouts with leeks - that was the last of the fresh leeks. There's still a cup or so of chopped leeks in the freezer, and I wish I had more of them.

The potatoes and onions are almost gone, save for the root cellar experiment. I should probably check on that soon (In the garage I have a cooler filled with sand and potatoes, carrots, and turnips.) I look forward to seeing what tomorrow's winter market will bring.