Posts tagged ‘Dark Days Challenge 2011’

March 7, 2012

Vegetarian Dark Days Challenge Meal

“Nice presentation,” said The Eldest, “but it would have been even better with a few swirls!” Not something your typical 16-year-old says at dinner, but this is what can happen when your kids start working in a professional kitchen! But, what, I am sure you are asking, did you make for dinner that elicited such commentary?

We had visited our regular farmer’s market on Saturday morning, and found to our delight that the color green was seen at multiple vendors’ stalls.  After touring the stands, we decided to purchase the bulk of our vegetables from Sunnyside Farm.  Knowing that the theme for this week for the Dark Days Challenge was to prepare a vegetarian meal, we had decided to make the potato-leek soup that my daughter (a.k.a., The Picky Eater) had wanted to make for her Depression Dinner. I knew that we could get sweet potatoes, and thought that making Sweet Potato Biscuits might make a nice accompaniment — and was something new for me to try to make.  Finally, I was thrilled to see that early leggy greens were available at the market. So, the menu was set and all that was left to make make it…

I pulled out my favorite cookbook, How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman, and quickly found recipes for both the soup and the biscuits.

Potato-leek soup is so easy to make, I really think we could enjoy it once a week.


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February 20, 2012

Eating Local Can Be Easy…

A trip to a different farmer’s market on the way to Doughnut Day and a local dinner was the result!

Our normal farmer’s market day is Saturday. But with Friday being opening night of a play that the twins are part of, we have been at the theater for the past three Saturdays rehearsing and building and painting sets. But the play has now opened, so the set is built, and as we were heading to our Mardi Gras weekend party, we drove past one of the smaller farmer’s market in our neighborhood (just in our immediate Arlington/Falls Church area, we have three year-round weekend farmer’s markets — pretty lucky, I know!), and decided to stop in to see what was available. There were only about 8 stalls, but Smith Meadows was there, and there was a vegetable stall.

So, we g0t some sweet Italian sausage, some carrots, and some salad.

Quick boil of the carrots, served with melted butter and some local honey….

Chop up the onions (from the grocery store), cook the sausage in a frying pan with a little bit of water. When the water evaporates, add the onions, and enjoy the smell of frying onions!

Marry that with some red quinoa (organic) cooked just like rice in the rice cooker, some unsalted butter from South Mountain Creamery, … and voila, dinner!  Even the Picky Eater enjoyed it (especially once soy sauce could be added to the quinoa).

Sometimes, the SOLE dinner is the easiest one in the fridge.

January 28, 2012

A Local Better Homes and Garden Meal – Dark Days Challenge

I feel like I have lost the past week of my life. Too much to do at work and home has kept me away from blogging. Fortunately, I did remember to take pictures last weekend when we made our mostly all local dinner.

I have been leaning toward the soup/stew end of meals for the dark day challenge, but when I looked at what we had in the fridge, I realized that meatloaf, candied acorn squash, and kale with capers would make a wonderful meal – where the main ingredient of each dish was local.  If I had had more time to prepare and think about this, I could have made this one hundred percent local, I am sure, but this is what I made. I turned to my two “go-two” cookbooks, The New Better Homes and Garden Cookbook and Bittman’s How to Cook Everything and cooked up a storm.

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January 3, 2012

Meatless Monday Goes All Local — Dark Days Challenge Meal 4

Okay – my weeks are all off, and so I am going to count my meals (and hope to catch back up with weeks soon)!

Lots of wonderful family and entertainment over the holidays has set back my planning and prepping and writing time (although it has in no way impeded my eating and drinking time….). But we have a brief lull, and I thought I’d best to my all local meal today before work/school/return of my favorite Denver-based family re-occurred.

Yesterday, it was, as many of you know, Meatless Monday. In keeping with that tradition, and reflecting the reality of the local food currently in my fridge we made for dinner:

Leek Potato Soup

Roasted Green Beans and Radishes

Red-Cooked Cabbage

Almost Homemade Bread (with a little help from Fleischman’s Simply Homemade)

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December 20, 2011

Lovely Lamb Soup – Dark Days Challenge Week 3

Soup is a wonderful thing. Especially when it is cold outside, and you just happened to pick up some lamb soup bones from the farmer’s market. And when the veggies are still abundant at the market…

So, our Dark Days Meal for Week 3 is a lovely lamb soup accompanied with bread from Atwater’s.

We began by making a stock from the lamb bones, filling up the pot with carrot tops, onions studded with cloves (okay those aren’t local), some limp celery from Thanksgiving, salt and peppercorns.

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December 13, 2011

Making a SOLE Burger Choice: Elevation Burger

When the Family Foodie wants to go out for burgers, we have many options.  Five Guys, BGR, and the ever-present McDonald’s are all in our immediate vicinity. But the burger shop of choice in our house is Elevation Burger.

For those of you who don’t have an Elevation Burger in your neighborhood, Elevation Burger serves only organic, grass-fed beef, sources other items on the menu locally when practical, and exemplifies in their business practices the reduce, reuse, recycle principles that we try to implement in our daily lives.

And best of all, the burgers are darn good.

We have had the privilege of watching the store grow from the neighborhood burger store on the way to my sister-in-law’s house to an 8-state and growing franchise. This growth suggests that many of us around the country are seeking ways to eat sustainable, organic, local, and ethically produced food – aka SOLE food — both at home and when we go out.  I, for one, plan to continue to support all the SOLE businesses that I can throughout this holiday season.  I hope that you will do the same.

December 12, 2011

A Quick SOLE Dinner: Dark Days Challenge Week 2

A quick and easy meal for the dark days is necessary on Monday night. Monday night is music night in our house, and between piano lessons, and guitar lessons, and play practice, I needed something simple for dinner tonight. Oh, and I needed to do my SOLE meal for Week 2 of my Dark Days 2011 challenge.

In the cupboard, I had one large sweet potato — I mean really really large — from our gleaning activity that we did the end of October.

In the vegetable drawer, I had a head of broccoli from our visit to the farmer’s market last week.

And, in the fridge, we had two Stachowski Brand kielbasa that my working teen brought home from BBQ night at the Westover Market. Excellent side benefit.

So, we cubed and roasted the sweet potatoes tossed with (non-local) olive oil in a 450 degree oven with a sprinkling of dried orange mint from our garden and a little bit of salt.

And we sauteed the broccoli in local butter and with garlic from the farmer’s market, served with a splash of (non-local) lemon.

And, we sliced and pan fried the Polish kielbasa.

I put out some leftover organic basmati for the kids, and poured a glass of Barboursville Virginia Chardonnay (97.9 miles) for the grownups. The tale of Barboursville will need to wait for another night…

Dinner is served.

December 4, 2011

A Salad for the Dark Days

Our first Dark Days Challenge dinner is a salad.  I know, a salad is not perhaps the first meal that one thinks of as a dark days meal. But it was in the mid-60s today, and we had a big lunch buffet for the football game, so salad sounded awesome.

We started with lettuce, cilantro, and dill from the veggie stand next to the crepe stand at the Falls Church Farmer’s Market, supplemented with arugula, and mizuna, and bitter watercress from our garden.

Boiled some eggs from Smith Meadows Farm (in Berryville, VA, 61.5 miles from home).

Sauteed some red onions and green beans from the market in butter from Blue Ridge Dairy Farm (cheese is produced in Leesburg, VA, about 33 miles away, cows produce the milk in Carroll County, MD, about 58 miles away).

Topped it with some thinly sliced beef from the aforementioned Smith Meadows Farm, and some feta cheese from Fields of Grace Farm (in Remington, VA about 56 miles away).

Voila. Steak Salad a la Nicoise!

Our dressing was Annie’s Woodstock – not SOLE – but I’m considering this to be in our spices exception.

It was delicious!

December 3, 2011

Challenge: Eating Local in the Winter

Not only have I decided to join the NaBloPoMo December Challenge, where I have committed to write a post each day for the month of December, but I have decided to jump on into the Dark Days Challenge. The goal of the Dark Days of Winter Eat Local Challenge is to cook one meal each week until the end of March featuring SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) ingredients, and write about it on my blog.  Eating locally is something we try to do as much as we can. In the summer it is pretty easy to do. We have weekly farmer’s markets, our CSA, and our local butcher shop. But as the days get shorter, eating locally requires a bit more thought. But not as much as you might think. We are fortunate to live in an area where our farmer’s markets are year round. So, all year we can have access to local and sustainably raised meat and eggs. We typically get our Saturday morning bacon and eggs from Smith Meadows Farm.

And we can get more cuts of pork from Ciobola Farms (buffalo too).

I can even get hot dogs for the Picky Eater.

Vegetables are not a problem, of course,

nor are dairy products. Cheese and milk and butter and yogurt are available from multiple purveyors.

Fresh herbs are still available,

And mushrooms too!

Apples and cider are highlights this time of year.

And, there is bread too. But it is here that I will have to pause. Although Atwater’s makes wonderful bread, and is make well within the 100 mile radius, I am not sure where the grain for the bread comes from, and whether it would count as truly local.

And for what I can’t find at the market, I can check to see if it’s available at The Local Market, a new neighborhood haunt.

I have the resources available.  Now, just to make it all come together in a single meal….that’s not breakfast!

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