Welcome Week One of the Dark Days Challenge, and to the recapping team for the “West” Group! (Pretty much everyone from Indiana to the Pacific). Don’t forget to check out the companion post from the Easterners!
Starting next Sunday we will start recapping and sharing what some of the DDC participants are up to. If you just can’t wait that long or you want to read what others are chatting about, then head over to Twitter (#darkdaysfood) or Facebook. You will find the link on the tool bar to the right. We encourage everyone to join in the conversations that are flying around out there. If you are interested in joining the challenge, you still have until the end of the day today, December 4th, to sign up. Head over to (not so) Urban Hennery to join. If you don’t have a blog and want to join in, that is fine, be sure to leave a comment and tell us all what you are up to and how you are doing when we start our recap next Sunday.
Since I, the Other Emily (ooh, that has a Coraline feel to it – spooky!) from Tanglewood, do tons of baking, I figured I’ll focus many of my Dark Days posts on how I’ve been adapting my recipes to use local ingredients. It’s impossible to find local GMO-free sugar here in Michigan, though we are a huge producer of beet sugar. Unfortunately not long ago, farmers received the O-K to introduce genetically modified (Monsanto-bred) sugar beets and I haven’t been able to bring myself to buy local sugar since. There was some push to farm organic sugar beets locally, but it seems to have died out and without the land or equipment needed, it’s pretty impossible to do on my own.
Lucky for me, there is lots of Michigan Honey! We have several hives just down the road on some fruit orchards, and this time of year we buy our honey from the local feed mill (where they have an amazing little selection of locally produced foods and supplies) or our local winter market..
So earlier this week I used local, cold processed honey; sustainable, organic and local flour; local, grass-fed butter; and a smidgen of locally grown culinary lavender to make some spectacular short bread. Unfortunately I was unable to find locally grown substitute for rice flour or potato starch for this batch, so I admit I settled simply for organic rice and ground it myself in the food processor (verrrry noisy!)
Unfortunately I have no photos of the finished batch. They went into the welcome arms (and mouths) of various friends.. very quickly, too!
After a family and friend filled Thanksgiving last week, I (Miranda from An Austin Homestead) really felt the need to have some down sized dinners for a change. I cooked up a huge vat of purple cabbage soup which is lasting for several weeks as every or every other dinner for me (and sometimes the husband when he submits to soup for dinner). Cabbage soup is surprisingly filling, and all the onions and hot peppers add a lot of vitamin C, metabolism boosters and of course, flavor to this soup.
The cabbage, leeks, carrots and garlic were grown by a local organic farm (where my hubs worked this Summer), and an onion or two came from our Austin garden, along with all the herbs. Not local anymore, but homegrown nonetheless! I will admit, those floaty peas and corns: frozen. Woops. Product of the USA at least…… keep trying, Miranda.
Since Unearthing this Life has moved from Tennessee to Michigan, my world has been turned upside down. I left behind a 2000 sq ft garden (which did not last the drought anyway), gave away all my chickens, turkeys, and guinea fowl, and lost the opportunity to forage a lot of goodies from our property. Living in a rental with about 20 square feet of lawn is quite the change. Fortunately I was able to jump right into the wonderful local scene here to stock up on items I left behind in Tennessee.
While a majority of our meals contain at least one local ingredient, I went out of my way yesterday to make a completely local brunch. It was embarrassingly simple, actually. Local, eggy fried eggs with luscious yellow yolks cooked in butter. The butter came from our raw milk share – and extra was smothered on our toast with raspberry jam I put up this summer. Brunch was finished off with some of the last of the sausage brought up from Tennessee when we were members of a local meat CSA. I’ll be sad to see the last pound go, but I am excited to sample some of the newly local wares available here in town.
My challenge with this Challenge is to really zero in on local–how I feel about the terms Seasonal, Local, Organic, Sustainable, Ethical and Whole will be the focus of my next two posts. As you know by now, I tend to wax philosophical here on NDiN; you’ll find my recipes at Mahlzeit and Sconeday.
I think of myself as a late-comer to sustainable living, until people point out to me I’ve been growing food for more than 2 decades, and I recall things like the fact that I didn’t know about frozen French fries until I was in college. My roommates pulled a bag out of the freezer and I was amazed! What is this marvelous convenience! At home, we had always made fries by boiling sliced potatoes in oil. Even at McDonald’s they boiled the fries in oil. My roommates wanted to know, rather disdainfully, how else you were supposed to make French fries. Gee, I dunno. Um, fry them?
Frozen, baked French “fries.” Who knew!?
However, I still prefer to actually fry my French fries.
Don’t forget to stop by to see what the Eastern “Dabblers” are up to today!
leader: Miranda from An Austin Homestead
round here at chez hates
four four ten
The World In My Eyes
The Improbable Farmer
Nico’s Tiny Kitchen
Save the Rind
Knit & Nosh
Kitsap Farm to Fork
The Reluctant Blogger
(not so) Urban Hennery
Christin will be maintaining progress via email and comments
leader: Xan from Malzheit
If Not Here…
a girl named gus
Nordic Walking Queen
Loving Our Guts
Keeping Local with the Joneses
Squash Blossom Farm
Leader: Jennifer Pack from Unearthing this Life
Small Wonder Farm
20 Something Allergies
The Local Cook
Dog Hill Kitchen
The Frugal Homestead
Dee Dee managing via comments and email
leader: Sage from The Flowerweaver
Cortina Creek Farm
The Devine Kitchen
Canning with Kids
Not From a Box
Rosemary and Roux
Handcrafted With Altitude
d.i. wine and dine
Eat Drink Better