Monday, March 31, 2008

Dark Days Challenge - sliding into home plate

Can you believe it is almost spring? Still not a bud to be seen, and my crocuses haven't bloomed yet, but it is technically spring. My seeds are beginning to sprout, and I look forward to planting a new, bigger garden this year (but I am not looking forward to digging a new bed, nope, not one bit.)

Since the Dark Days Challenge ends this week, I have decided to slide into home plate with some old favorites and new meals. I have loved this challenge, and it helped me understand that it IS quite possible to eat locally year round, provided some advance planning is done. I did quite well, considering my putting up of food started toward the end of summer (I had to wait for a freezer and vacuum sealer to come into my life before I could start.) I must have frozen an adequate amount of food, because I am just now coming to the end of it.

Monday night's dinner: We had our favorite grass-fed burgers from Flying J Farm (Johnstown, Ohio) with bacon from Blues Creek (Marysville, Ohio) and garlic and herb cheese, made from grass-fed milk, from Meadow Maid (Versailles, Ohio.) I couldn't find my usual ciabatta buns, so I picked up something called "pan bread" at the local Italian shop. (It looks like a normal loaf of bread but the slices are quite thick.)As a side dish I just roasted some red potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Tuesday night's dinner: My first attempt to cook lamb chops! I felt like I was in a bit of a rut, dinner-wise, so I picked up some lamb shoulder chops and dug the remaining white kidney beans and tomatoes out of the freezer. What can you do with those ingredients, you might ask? Why, Tuscan lamb chops with a ragout of white beans and tomatoes! The lamb chops were seared off and then braised with a mixture of red wine, water, tomatoes, onions, garlic and herbs (thyme and rosemary.) The beans and tomatoes went into a pan with some olive oil, chopped onions and garlic. Since the tomatoes were frozen they provided plenty of liquid for a sauce and I added some oomph with a little red wine. Thyme and rosemary were the main herbs here as well. When the chops were done I strained the braising liquid and added a little to the beans (which made them a little more lamb-tasting than I wanted, but oh well. For a side dish I quickly sauteed some green beans in butter.

Tonight's dinner: My last pasture-raised chicken is roasting in the oven. The leftover bread from Monday's dinner is well on the way to becoming stuffing, and the remainder of the green beans (I defrosted a big bag, the last one!) will be cooked with some bacon. I doubt I can resist making mashed potatoes and gravy!

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