The Dark Days Challenge continues as the days start to get longer, but the end of winter is no where in sight. This challenge is going to start taking on new meaning as some more of the farmer’s markets out there are closing down for the season. Many Farmer’s markets have been closed for month while other markets is some areas remain open and thriving.
The EAST is still cookin’ up a storm as more wintery-like weather starts rolling in to some areas. Be sure to go and check out the companion post today and see what exciting meals the individual recappers for the WEST have been cooking up.
UPPER NEW ENGLAND with Ryan from Phoenix Hill Farm
Lindsay and Erik from EatLocal365 have created a step by step photo tutorial on how to butcher a whole chicken. I found this extremely helpful as I have a freezer full of organic, pastured Freedom Ranger chickens we raised this winter and I have been getting bored (is that possible?) with roasting whole chickens. I’m ex
Bethany the Luddite participated in a different type of butchery, the experience of cutting open the flesh of a red beet, slicing leeks and roasting pumpkins. Anne-Marie from Green(ish) Monkeys, created a meal from her last CSA pick up and her share through the Free Range Farm Truck. They enjoyed BBQ pork chops, corn, roasted carrots and potatoes and fresh spinach.
Sherry from the Onion Flower had a tasty, Boxing Day SOLE breakfast of 7 grain pancakes with foraged raspberries and local maple syrup. Also celebrating multiple holidays, Rachel from Great Faith in a Seed, enjoyed participating in festivities for Christmas and Chanukah. She brought back a treat from her childhood and celebrated the seasons with her own home caned peaches which they enjoyed for Christmas brunch with bison sausage in a balsamic-rosemary reduction.
Barbara from the Crowing Hen brought it to the table this week. She wrote a powerful post about the use of antibiotics in factory farmed livestock. If you are going to check out just one blog this week, I would recommend Barabara’s informative essay on this topic. It is one that you might also want to share, post it on your facebook or twitter, because she breaks it down and more people need to know what she so eloquently explains. She of course, finished her post with her SOLE meal of organic beef stew that was tasty and easy to cook up.
Stephanie from This Little Monkey went to Market had her most local meal yet, potato pancakes with apple sauce, sour cream and a side of ham. Emily from the Finicky Farmer sure makes dirty carrots look tasty. Her meals are very local, as her partner is a farmer and most of their vegetables come from their farm. Made with their own turkey stock, they enjoyed a meal of 3 bean soup with fresh root vegetables including those beautiful carrots and the not so beautiful but delicious celeriac.
Brynne from You got me cookin’ put her crock pot to good use and threw together a slow cooked chicken with a chutney of peaches, onions, vinegar, garlic, spices, and raisins. Caitlin from Nine Lives n More had some ground lamb sausage for one meal, corn chowder for another and then finished this part of the Dark Days challenge with a shepherds pie.
SOUTH (MD, VA, NC, SC, GA) with Emily from Sincerely, Emily
The South Region certainly wasn’t slowed down by the holiday hustle and bustle of last week.
All except for a few of her seasoning, AnnieRie (MD) From AnnieRei Unplugged has used all local ingredients – again! Heirloom tomatoes with goat cheese, basil, olive oil and balsamic. Sweet potato gnocchi with maple syrup and sage brown butter. Maple pork sausage with onions and peppers. Boordy Reserve Chardonnay. She was thrilled to find local spelt and took advantage of it by making homemade sweet potato gnocchi. What a treat. Visit her blog to see her recipes and also her “local resource” page.
Susan (VA) from Backyard Grocery made two meals to share. Susan treated herself to some local celeriac (very most favorite vegetable) this past week and made herself a special meal. Pepper crusted venison and celery root fries. After cooking the venison backstrap, she made a lovely sauce by deglazing the pan with red wine. Taking advantage of the deglazing sauce she added sliced red onion and let it saute in the flavorful mixture.
For Susan’s second meal she cooked up a Christmas Kale and Sweet Potato Stew with venison. Hitting a couple of her local markets she found everything she needed for her Christmas stew. I imagine her house smelled wonderful as this stew cooked in her slow cooker. Her combination of ingredients and the spices she chose was sure to be a hit (cumin and coriander). Drop by her blog and check out both of her meals, detailed recipes and her local resources.
Victoria (MD) from The Soffritto was in dire need of some whole grains and vegetable after a past weekend of feasting so she made up a life saving Pumpkin Farro Risotto. Using many local things from her backyard and coming from the depths of the freezer, the only not-so local ingredient was the farro. Pumpkin puree, chicken stock, honey, thyme and garlic – I can just smell her sauce bubbling away on the stove. Stop by her blog to see details on her meal and more photos.
Rebecca (VA) from Eating Floyd prepared some beautiful kale pasta and used homegrown tomato sauce from the freezer. Using kale from a local farm, she has preserved some of it by making kale chips. Crushing those chips into millions of small pieces she added them to her homemade pasta along with local flour. What a great way to get more nutrients and vitamins into your meal! For her sauce she used a frozen packet of their herbed and slow roasted tomatoes mixed with homemade homegrown basil pesto. What would we all do without our freezers? Visit her blog for her wonderful tutorial & photos on her pasta making
Jessica (SC) at Eat.Drink.Nourish. Using lots of local foods again, Jessica has made Pecan Crusted Fried Quail served with Simple Sides (Buttery Rice and Sautéed Chard.) The quail looks crunchy and fabulous. She used crushed local pecans and panko to get the nice coating. Local rice! How nice. And some fresh chard from her parent’s garden made for a wonderful meal. Where did she get her local rice – go visit her blog and find out!
Kim (NC) from Flight of the Seabirds focused on a local Christmas meal. Beer baked ham, Mashed and roasted sweet potatoes with garlic and onions (all local). For another local side dish she diced carrots, added broccoli and garlic and roasted them together. She used local stone ground whole wheat flour and made biscuits and then finished off the meal with a nice plum cake. Visit Kim’s blog to see photos or her dishes and also check out where she found her local foods.
LOWER NEW ENGLAND/MID-ADLANTIC (NY, CT, DC, NJ and England)
with The Other Emily, from Tanglewood Farms
Wow! I’m so impressed with this crew. Some of the other recappers have talked about waning participants but this group is certainly going strong!
Samantha (NY) over at Listen, Foodie has been keeping it simple with roasted sweet potatoes, camembert and cabbage tossed into scrambled eggs. She seems to be having the same problem I am. It’s not the dark days cooking that we are finding challenging; it’s writing about the dark days cooking!
Sophie (CT) from Late Bloomers Farm went all out by making her own soup stock from the Thanksgiving turkey bones. What a cool dish! She also listed all of the local sources for her ingredients, with links to web sites. Very helpful!
Angela (DC) at Bumble Lush had praise for the fresh taste of the local eggs that she used in her SOLE omelet. She also grew her peppers and tomatillo herself and found some ingredients at the local farmer’s market to finish off her breakfast omelet. There’s nothing wrong with quick and simple, especially if it contains SOLE ingredients!
I have to preface this by stating that I LOVE this photograph. There is something so wintery about pears, carrots and parsnips. YUM! Stacey (DC) over at Fessenden Farm whipped up a delicious sounding soup using these gems and some ginger from a local farmer. I honestly can’t wait to try this myself!
Herbed Bean and Sausage Stew? Sounds delicious! It seems like people are settling into their wintery hibernations by making soups and stew aplenty. Monica (NJ) at Monica Tries To Cook tried her hand at this stew from the New York Times, using local and organic ingredients. Unfortunately she wasn’t happy with the results after over cooking the beans a bit so that the soup thickened. Her sister actually loved the soup, so that’s a happy note to end on! Her meal the following week, Pinto Bean and Veggie chili, was much more to her liking.
Karen (NJ) over at Prospect the Pantry is supplying some incredibly inspiring recipes over at her blog. She has posted about some fantastic looking Tuna with fennel, as well as Tomato, fennel and carrot soup. She used her fennel in several recipes and had some great ways to use it. She also made a vegetarian shepherd’s pie, substituting cabbage for the meat base in her recipe and topping it with some adorable brussels sprouts from her garden.
Tamika (NY) at subRural Alchemy is thinking soups as well, and whipped up a parsnip and butternut squash soup, with warm kale salad (I may have to try this one tonight – we still have salvable kale in our garden!) She also posted some great thoughts on why she has joined the Dark Days Challenge in the first place. What can I say? I’m a sucker for soap boxes. 🙂
Gardening to Preserve‘s Kaytee (NY/NH) did several projects in the kitchen. First she used local carrots, turnips and potatoes and roasted them with bacon. She also made kale chips and parsnip fritters. She also suspects the less-than-flavorful bacon in her recipes may be that way because it wasn’t the good local stuff. (I know how it goes to have stuff sitting around in your freezer that you have to use.) Dark Days is all about learning, though!
Kate (CT) from Snowflake Kitchen posted a brief recap from her past three Dark Days meals which included short ribs and mashed potatoes, breakfast for dinner (one of my favorites), and potato leek soup, which she makes with no butter or cream so it’s a little easier on the stomach. What a fantastic assortment of meals!
As a meat eater, I can’t help but be totally in love with this photograph from Barefoot City Girl‘s Reamika (England). What a beautiful example of oxtail soup, she has posted! She even included a written recipe in the post, and I look forward to trying it, since I’ve never made oxtail before.
Jessica (NY) over at Cross Creek Family Farm Made a garlic, rosemary chicken with maple butternut squash that sounds just drool-worthy. Most of her ingredients were home-grown, including her very own cornish cross chicken.
I hope I got everybody this week! I’m super inspired by these posts to get into my own kitchen. Great job, guys!
with Susy Morris from Chiot’s Run
(click on the photos to be taken to post with recipe)
It’s so great that these groups are broken down into regions because I often recognize some of the farms participants are sourcing from. Like Allison, I too purchase butter from Hartzler’s Dairy and we occasionally have Great Lakes Beer in the house like Gabe. I must say, my group is making this SOLE eating thing looks easy and tasty, especially since this last few weeks included the holidays. I’m very impressed with the range of meals, nothing boring here. They cooked everything from lambchops to gingerbread!
Gabe from life, from the ground up. kicked off the second recaps with sirloin and roasted delicata squash from his own garden. For his next DD meals he cooked up some shepherd’s pie with beef and local beer, you really can’t go wrong in these cold climates with meat braised with beer, it’s the perfect warming meal on a cold winter night! For the last meal there was a quick but delicious looking red and sweet potato hash. Personally hash is one of my go-to meals when we need something quick.
Dave from Our Happy Acres kicked off the second series of DD meals with baked chicken from a local farm with sides of roasted sweet potatoes and komatsuna from his own garden. For his second meal pork scallopini with turnips and shredded kale (I have to admit, I haven’t had many turnips show up on my plate, I should look into them for one of my DD meals).
Michelle from SOLE for the Soul had the most wonderful looking balsamic pork loin and beans/cashews on the side.
Allison from The Life of a Novice started off with a frittata, though she had to forgo the bacon because her husband was fasting for a procedure. For her second meal she purchased chicken patties from a local farm and sided them with broccoli from her garden and peaches she canned in the summer – which sounds like a perfect combination to me.
Christina from C & J Homemade had the most wonderful looking ingredients: I purchased local, organic fingerling potatoes, brussels tops and raw milk cheddar from Clarion River Organics, along with my usual creamline milk and pastured eggs and she whipped them up into a delicious meal. The purple potatoes in particular were quite stunning!
Margo from Thrift at Home came in with three delicious meals. Roasted sweet potatoes with lots of salt & pepper (just the way I like them), collard greens cooked long and slow with sweet onion, salt, hot sauce, and finished with a splash of vinegar and to round it off a strong dill pickle. She finished it off with some gingerbread topped with homemade ice cream and peaches. Now that looks like a meal we’d be eating here at Chiot’s Run! For her second meal she made the most wonderful looking latkes, with a side salad and some pie for dessert. Seeing her latkes frying in the cast iron skillet inspired me to make some of these with some of the homegrown potatoes in my pantry. When I saw her third meal I knew we’re somehow related, every meal she sounds exactly like something I’d cook up as well! She transformed some long skinny beets by roasting them and pickling them. Those were enjoyed on the side with roasted brussels sprouts and cottage potatoes – which are two of my favorite DD dishes.
Last but not least, Jenelle from Delicious Potager came in with lambchops with roasted potatoes. They looked so good, I’ll definitely be looking for some lamb next time I’m at the market to give this recipe a try! For her second DD meal, she had turkey and dumplings, which tops the list of my favorite winter meals. I’d gladly head on over to Jenelle’s house for dinner any time!
Other participants in the Ohio Valley Group that I didn’t get meals from (if you blogged them add the links in the comment section below).
Put Em’ Up: A Chronicle of Making Stuff
Bits of my Life
Our Rural Home
Martha who’ll be adding her meals in the comments
We hope you enjoy traveling around and reading about the EAST participants and what they prepared for the challenge. Be sure to click on the links to their blogs to read more about where they are finding their local ingredients for their meals. Not only will your read about their individual challenges, but also find some local resources that maybe you didn’t know about.
It is exciting to see that a few of the individual blogs have started their own pages listing local resources. What a great source of information.