Saturday, March 28, 2009

Turning off the lights for Earth Hour

In about half an hour we'll be participating in our second annual Earth Hour, which involves shutting off the lights (and the computers, and unplugging electronic devices) at 8:30 PM, regardless of time zone, for one hour. It is part of a global warming/climate change awareness campaign by WWF.

People argue that shutting down for one hour doesn't make much of a difference, but its goal is to raise awareness (rather than suddenly save a bunch of energy, which it also accomplishes.) Video footage from last year left me breathless and teary-eyed, especially seeing the whole-hearted participation of cities across the world. There are already some great photos up on the web page, and I'm sure folks will be putting plenty of videos on youtube as 8:30 PM marches across the world. Here is a video about the event, including lots of footage from last year. Australia, where the event began, has really proven to be a leader in this.

Now I just wish I had some like-minded neighbors with whom to share some wine and candlelight!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dark Days of Winter Challenge - week 17

I guess this is the last week of the challenge, which officially ended yesterday. Wow! I've had a great winter of really good, interesting local meals, and the rest of the challengers have been endless sources of inspiration. Thanks everybody!

My final meal has fallen back into the meat-vegetable-vegetable-starch pattern, but at least it features a new and interesting local product! The protein was a pork chop (Blue's Creek), topped with a mixture of diced apple and paw-paw chutney from Integration Acres of Albany, Ohio. The chutney was seriously hot, so the apples helped cool down those habaneros! Side dishes were a roasted sweet potato (Carousel Watergardens Farm) with butter (Hartzler's Dairy) and maple sugar (Pleiades's Maple Farm); corn (I bought from several local farm and froze it, so exact origins are unknown) with more of that butter from Hartzler's; and Brussels sprouts with butter and onions.

It's been a great winter. I didn't succeed in all of my goals (thanks to surgery with debilitating complications) but we have managed to enjoy fresh and frozen local food in new and interesting ways, and we've really enjoyed the journey. Thanks so much to Laura for all her hard work, and for her brilliance in starting this challenge. Winter local eating has been way more fun these last two years, thanks to the Dark Days Challenge!

SO now that it's over, that means spring is automatically here. Right?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Dark Days of Winter Challenge - week 16 vegetarian

This week we had a vegetarian meal that was pretty darn good. For this week's bean dish I decided to try my hand at rajma (kidney bean) curry. I used light red kidney beans (variety: pink floyd) from local growers Pop and Judy, along with local butter, onion, garlic, cilantro, and tomatoes from the freezer. The salt and spices were the only non-local ingredients. I served it over locally-grown spelt berries, which was tasty but not texturally the best combination (there was a little too much popping going on!)

The side dish was a simple all-local slaw of apples and carrots, dressed with local apple cider vinegar and honey. I was in the mood for something crisp and fresh, and this was definitely a winner! Thank goodness for my Benriner mandoline slicer, which made the slicing quick and easy. (I've owned a number of cheap mandolines over the years, and the Benriner is definitely the best.)