Dark Days & Wedding China

Yesterday was our first use of our wedding china– it only took us 2.5 years.  The meal was a day-after thanksgiving leftover soup with good friends who came to visit from L.A.. 

I made the stock over many hours (see below).  I added to it local carrots, celery, onion, parsnips, (leftover turkey – not local), and herbs that I grew myself in the backyard.

Turkey Stock on Hour 7

Our house smells amazing.  Again.  Yesterday I made one of the turkey’s for J.’s family’s celebration.  It was my first attempt at making a turkey all by myself.   Using my mom’s recipe, it went very well.    The particulars:  sage/thyme butter under the skin.  In the stuffing we had leeks, apple, cranberry, sausage, rosemary.  Then I caramelized a giant skillet full of onions and shallots. and added them to the turkey drippings.  That ended up making the gravy.  The turkey got an apricot jam glaze from apricots I preserved myself in the summer.    I was so exhausted by the end of the night that I fell asleep at 9pm. 

Today I stopped by my mom’s to borrow her giant soup pot.  Making stock in two pots last year was fun and all — but I was ready for some simplification.  I had considered buying one myself but that would have required my violating “buy nothing day”  (which I’ve been faithfully adhereing to for 3 years).

Turns out my mom wasn’t feeling well, so I got a turkey stock started for her and hopefully she’s been enjoying a few good bowl fulls this evening.

Then I came home and got started on our stock.  It’s on hour seven and the house smells lovely.  I think I’ll let it go for a few more hours while I do some work.  (The fun part is that we got two carcasses this year.  I froze the other one for some stock in the future)

Max has had a lovely holiday.  He has eaten plenty of turkey (light and dark meat), yams, potatoes, stuffing and a little bit of pumpkin pie that J.’s mom made. 

(photos to follow tomorrow?)

Dark Days and Catching Up

It’s time to catch up on my life, catch up on the blog, and catch up with Max who is running all over the place.  Yes, running.

You know how you wish for a weekend day when you can just hang out in bed?  Well, careful what you wish for.  I’m sick as a dog and didn’t leave the bed till 3.  Worse yet, I’ve completely lost my voice, which is driving me crazy.  Thankfully we have grandparents in the area that have pitched in with Max.

I was kind of hoping to be able to hit a farmer’s market today and make a meal worthy of kicking off the Dark Days challenge.  Didn’t happen.  But earlier in the week I made a meal that got fairly close.   We picked up some beef spare ribs at the Sunnyvale farmer’s market.  I roasted some broccoli.  The non local stuff: the pasta, and the can of tomato that I used as part of the slow cooking.  We used local herbs, local beer, local garlic.  I look forward to the day when I can make fresh pasta like (not so) Urban Hennery.

To catch you up the garden, I’m really excited at how it’s going.  I tasted my first arugala in the garden.  It was fresh and peppery and a little bitter and I loved it!  The chard is recovering from neighborhood cat exploration.  The beets and basil look good so far.  The rosemary is definitely growing.  So far, no fatalities!  I am seduced by this by wondering what else to plant?  Should I plant more chard to keep the old chard company (and get a staggered harvest)?  Is it time to plant mint?   Should I think big and finally plant a lemon tree?

I’m also having a lot of fun with the compost pile.  I wonder how I’ll ever get “finished compost” when I keep adding new food scraps & clippings and mixing it in.   It also doesn’t seem that easy to get to the stuff at the bottom of the pile.  I wonder if I’ll have to deconstruct the box to get to it.  Shouldn’t be too hard as it’s basically a bunch of lincoln logs.

I hope tomorrow I’m feeling up to going to our old farmer’s market.   But I have to force myself to get better because I can’t afford another crap billing week.  Grr.

Pride of Ownership

One of the first things you are supposed to pay attention to when looking to buy a house is what is the pride of ownership in the neighborhood.  The example most often given is whether people take care of their front yard.  The guilt was nagging at me because we did not have a lawn mower and the grass was looking a bit shaggy.

Initially I thought we’d buy an old-fashioned manual push mower, but I couldn’t find any positive reviews.  I also wanted to be able to capture the clippings for composting.  So, we did the next best thing — mooched the mower from my parents.   J. and I enjoyed pushing it around the yard and Max enjoyed watching.  Who knew one pass at the yard would create so many clippings!

In other garden news, I have not yet killed the Rosemary of Arugula from two weeks ago. (pics included as proof)  I felt so good about that that I purchased seedlings for Chard, beets, and a new fangled Basil.

Now, the one thing I wussed out on was making my own raised beds.  It felt like a little too much of a project at this juncture.  If I am successful with these planters, perhaps I’ll go for the raised beds for spring  time. Baby steps.  

Dark Days, Then and Now

Some of you may remember that I did the Dark Days Eat Local Challenge last year.  This is the challenge by which we attempt to cook at least one local meal a week.  Even though I am no rookie this year, it feels like so much more of a challenge this time around.  Here’s a glimpse at how life is different.

Then:  I was in my third trimester with nesting instincts manifested through cooking.

Now: I have a 10 month old that is full-on walking.  (oh yea, did I forget to mention that?  He’s done with crawling.)

Then: I was fresh off a trial team and coasting into maternity leave.

Now: Like all lawyers of our day, am hyper aware of the economy and throwing as much time at my job that I possibly can.

Then: Apartment Dweller two blocks away from the farmer’s market.

Now: New homeowner!  but farmer’s market is 20 minutes walk or a drive away.

Anyhoo, the challenge does not officially begin till Nov. 15, but what the hey, let’s give it a go! 

Tonight’s dinner: braised lamb shanks cooked in Turnbull Sauvignon Blanc, garlic & baby garlic, rosemary and thyme; celeriac and baby yukon potato & green onion mash; and mixed greens.  All local from farmers’ market, except for salad dressing which was not local.

My Garden, Week 1

For those of you who have heard me bitch and moan for years about wanting my own plot of land to play out my “live off the land” fantasy, this week I took the first step.

First, I built the outside composter.  I need a new motor for the food scraps composter; so, we’ll see if I can overcome inertia, order it, install it, and give it a go.  I realized tonight, however, that I need a whole bunch of dirt/finished compost in order to make the chemical reaction work on the outside composter.  So, next weekend’s project is to get a crate full of compost from the city and make it happen.

Second, at the farmer’s market today I bought some rosemary and Arugala plants.  I planted them in planters that the previous owner had left behind, along with potting soil that stayed behind, too.  The next project is to build raised beds for more serious cultivation.  But again … project, inertia, winter coming, we’ll see what we can achieve in the coming weeks.

Third, I raked leaves from the front yard’s magnolia tree and put them in the composter along with kitchen scraps.

I am thankful for every minute I got to spend with the yard.  Max enjoyed watching me rake leaves for some reason.  Then I was able to do the planting while he was napping.  I still long for a more predictable schedule with him.  There’s no telling if he’ll be down for a monster 2 hour nap, or no nap at all, which makes allocating time for other stuff pretty tough.