Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Dark Days Challenge Report

Last week I broke in my new all-clad pan by cooking the chuck roast (actually a chuck blade steak, I think) with some local onions and carrots, along with a couple of non-local celery tops. I shredded the beef into a gravy (made from the cooking liquid) and added the onions and carrots back in. To go along with it I cooked the last of the Brussels sprouts (pan fried with some leeks) and colcannon. Colcannon is an Irish dish which is perfect for the fall/winter larder. It's a combination of a leafy green vegetable with potatoes. My version contains cabbage and leeks. I cubed some red skin potatoes and cooked them in a pot of water. Toward the end of the cooking time I added a couple of tablespoons of chopped leeks (which had been frozen raw) and about a quarter head of green cabbage (which was blanched and frozen.) The cooked veggies were tossed with a bit of butter and a generous helping of something that was almost, but not quite, homemade butter.

I'd read about making homemade butter with the shaker method (you literally shake cream in an oversized jar until it turns into butter and the liquid separates out.) I couldn't find local cream so I made do with organic (which contained carrageenen - all the brands had it.) I don't know if that was the problem, but the liquid never separated. I ended up with a fluffy spread that tasted like butter but was somewhere between whipped cream and butter. It was fantastic in the colcannon and really great on scones (made with 1/2 local wheat flour, local milk and butter.) Next time I try the butter experiment I am using the kitchenaid.

Tonight's dinner (the dark days meal for this week) featured a roast chicken from Speckled Hen farms, white corn and butter, green beans with shallots, acorn squash with maple sugar and butter, and not very local stuffing (from a bag on the shelf.) Of course I made gravy from the drippings, and heated up the last of the colcannon to serve with it. For dessert I ransacked the fridge and cooked up the most pathetic of the apples (bought in the fall) into a very tasty applesauce. I'd be hard pressed to tell you what varieties went into it, but it came out quite well.
Non-local ingredients were salt, pepper, cinnamon, stuffing mix, and celery.

I'm down to my last onion again. I hope I can find some at the market this weekend. I've lost a number of squash to mold (must try freezing some cooked squash next year, and remember to check the squash cupboard every week or two.) The veggies in the root cellar have sprouted like crazy, but they seem to be surviving okay (though the turnips feel a little squishy.) There's still a few apples in the fridge and in storage. There are a few small shallots left, but they are rather dry. There's plenty more corn and a few more packages of green beans, edamame, and cabbage in the freezer. I also have a ton of tomatoes that I froze whole. They become extremely soft when defrosted; I used a few in soup but will probably try to make marina sauce with the rest. I'm down to my last pint of marina sauce in the freezer. There are a TON of frozen strawberries; other than smoothies I'm not sure what to do with them. (Any suggestions?)

Note to self for next market season: please cut and freeze onions during the summer, to avoid the late winter onion panic.


Alyssa said...

The problem with your butter was likely that the cream was ultrapasteurized and homogenized. This changes the milk proteins so that they don't form the way they normally do. You probably need either raw milk OR buy hartzler's milk, separate out your own cream and try it that way. (see the book nourishing traditions for more info).

Anne said...

Thank you for the advice! I was wondering if I could skim the cream off the Harztler's milk for this, so I think I will give that a shot! I wish I could find a local herdshare for raw milk (it's the only way to get it in Ohio, as far as I know.)