Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dark Days of Winter Challenge - Week 15!

It was Mardi Gras week here at Green Leanings - not that we celebrate it in any way except for King cake. I have a huge weakness for very gaudy King cakes, and this one was both colorful and delicious. I didn't bake it, but it did come from Columbus' very own Piece of Cake, a lovely bakery in the Short North. It is an adorable shop that smells like the bakery of your dreams. Can't wait to try their whole menu!

For my actual Dark Days meal, j'ai laissé les bons temps rouler with a simple Creole Chicken. I used two chicken thighs (Speckled Hen Farm, Cardington), celery (my garden), green pepper and tomatoes (Honeyrun Farm, Williamsport) from my freezer, and onion from H-W Organic Farm (Sullivan, Ohio.) I won't vouch for its authenticity but it was very tasty, and a nice change of pace! Non-local ingredients were a bit of chicken soup base from Penzey's Spices and some random hot sauces and cajun spices from the cupboard and fridge. I had planned to serve it over local spelt berries, but my shoulder/arm had other plans, so it was served over non-local couscous.

I have to say that I enjoy having whole frozen tomatoes on hand in the winter. It's best to work with them while they are still partially frozen (as they get quite mushy) but they are a great addition to soups and stews, and they sound like cue balls when they are frozen solid. I usually freeze one or two gallon bags of them, and that sees me through the winter.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Dark Days Challenge - week 14

Week 14! Surely it must be time for spring, right? I am very envious of my friends in the south who are working on their gardens and enjoying warm weather. Here we have cold and flurries.

This week's meal is unencumbered by photos, because they came out quite poorly. I decided that it was time to institute my own bean night (after Laura of Urban Hennery)since I have a cupboard full of heirloom dried beans that haven't seen much use this winter.

The brown dutch beans won the bean lottery (meaning they were the first ones I grabbed), and into the pot they went. I soaked them overnight, and it took 2 hours to cook them. I added a ton of veggies (and ended up with more veggies than beans!), including garlic, onion, carrots, celery (from the garden via my freezer), and curly kale. I especially loved the addition of the kale - really brightened the pot. I did add some chicken chorizo at the end (cooked separately for fat-reduction purposes) but the dish could easily stay vegetarian and be just as good.

The only seasonings I added were salt, pepper, and thyme. No stock, no bouillon - it was perfectly tasty and full of flavor without it. I think a little wine would have been good in it, but I used wine in my last bean dish (and I'm trying to make each one different than the last.)

The seasonings and a little olive oil for sweating the onions and garlic were the only non-local ingredients in this dish.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dark Days of Winter Challenge - week 13

I had great plans to make a very healthy meal this week - plans that were slightly foiled by the amount of butter I used, alas. It was tasty, though!

This meal featured locally farmed trout from Freshwater farms of Ohio. I pan-fried it with fresh lemon juice (not local) and herbs. My second attempt at cauliflower puree was fantastic! I used two small potatoes along with the cauliflower, plus cream and butter and caramelized shallots. Sadly, that was the last of the cauliflower from my freezer. Other side dishes included corn with shallots and butter, green beans with even more shallots and butter, and carnival squash with, you guessed it, butter (along with maple sugar and curry powder. And without shallots.) I've been experimenting with flavorings for roasted squash, and I have to say that maple and curry is a definite winner (cumin is also pretty good, and cumin with coriander is on deck for the next batch.)

So how are your supplies holding out? My freezer is still packed to the gills, and we've been getting fresh lettuce and greens and the odd potato (sweet potatoes this week!) from the winter farmer's market. I have a ton of small, slightly wrinkly and sad potatoes that I bought in the fall, so hopefully they will become soup this week. And plenty of squash are still around, of course - it's about time to roast one of the big ones (probably a marina de chioggia.)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Dark Days of Winter Challenge - week 12

Week twelve already! Look, we're getting closer to spring!

I haven't done much cooking lately - my minor neck surgery left me with nerve damage in my neck and shoulder, and my right arm isn't entirely functional (and we won't even talk about the pain. Nerve pain is way beyond anything I could have imagined.) And I am right-handed, of course, which makes this all so very interesting in the Chinese sense.

I did manage to make one nice (and almost all local) meal this week: beef stew with roasted tomatoes and braised curly kale.

The beef stew featured grass-fed stew beef from Long Meadows (tossed in flour, seared, and braised), the last of the purple potatoes from the garden, a carrot (Persinger Farms; Jamestown, Ohio), and an onion and fresh parsley (H-W Farms). I had to use boxed stock and red wine from Trader Joe's, because I am currently in no shape to make stock.

I sliced the grape tomatoes in half and drizzled them with olive oil, then sprinkled on salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence. I cooked them on parchment in the toaster oven (I think it was around 250 degrees for one-half hour, then briefly broiled at the end.) I both braised and stir-fried the kale (I start out with stir frying, then add a little water and put the lid on the pot, stirring occasionally until it is done) with garlic and butter and it was very, very tasty! The tomatoes and kale were both from H-W Farms.