Dark Days Fast Food and Semi Dud Beets

Sadly, the beet experiment was only half successful.  While the beet greens were tasty– we sauteed them with a little bit of red wine vinegar, the beets beneath never formed.  They were just a series of knotted long roots instead of bulbs.  I still don’t quite understand why. 

We’ve been pretty busy over here and on some nights only have 30 minutes between when I get home and J. leaves for rehearsal.  So, we’ve done a few local dark days fast food nights.  One night was pasta with “stir fry” strips of beef and pesto sauce — all farmer’s market.  Another night was spinach pasta with tomato, red onion, parsley (all farmer’s market) and some local italian sausage — from Costco, oddly enough.

Garden update: Today I transplanted 12 tomato seedlings into larger containers.  We also now have 2 sprouts of the chocolate peppers — so, they were not all duds as previously suspected.  Lastly, I planted one planter of Alaska Peas.  Going to need to pick up more dirt to fill up the othe planter next weekend.  I need to scavange some bamboo sticks to create support for these as the grow (which they hopefully will).

Dark Days: Home Grown

So, you ask — another frittata??  What’s so special about this one, woman, that you keep submitting frittata to dark days challenge?  Well, in this frittata, I grew the greens myself!!  Chard (red and yellow), spinach, beet greens from 20 feet away.  (by the by, who knew beet greens were so sweet and delicious?)  Eggs, potatoes, oyster mushrooms from the farmer’s market.  Cheese and bacon — not local, but needed to get used up.   It was lovely.  Max ate it, too, and will be taking left overs to daycare for lunch tomorrow.  I think next week I might feel brave enough to pull up the beets.  I have no clue how thick they may be getting underground.

Meanwhile, I have tomato seedlings sprouting and I think I need to move them to a location that gets more sun.  None of our windows are particularly sunny — and then there’s rigging up a device to keep the kitty from getting too curious.  That’s a project for next weekend.

Dark Days: One Month’s Worth

You know, I don’t like to think of myself as an all or nothing personality, but maybe I am.  I know the challenge for Dark Day is one local meal a week.    But if I am consistent about shopping at the farmer’s market, it results in a lot more  than one meal a week because the source is mostly the same.  Makes sense to me.  The flip side is if you miss the farmer’s market, it’s quite difficult to cook locally, but then I beat myself up about it — as in, “it shouldn’t be that hard to cook one meal in a week, what’s wrong with me?”  I don’t cut myself slack enough and I really should.

Anyway.  Here’s a triple play.  First we cooked pork shoulder with a simple salad of greens and deliciously sweet carrots.  The leftover pork then went into a stir fry the next night with  local rice, egg, green onion broccoli and carrots.

Then I finally got a great use for our virginal rosemary:  slow cooked beef shanks cooked in local beer, carrots, onions (and non-local tomato sauce) that just melted in my mouth!  The side was a mix of root veggies from last week’s farmer’s market.   It feels good to put out meals that I am proud of again.

Dark Days Guilt

(It’s not that I’m not making an effort to eat/cook locally … it’s that the effort to photograph and download is just breaking me.  I think my laptop is on its last gasp, because now it’s not recognizing my camera.  Boo!)

Last week we ate a local whole roasted chicken.  Have you heard of “air chilled” ?  The idea is that while it’s being processed it is chilled in a cold room rather than being dunked in water.  The result is that it is much fuller flavor.  We ate this with mixed salad greens from the farmer’s market.  On a different night, we also had Frittata — with local sausage, eggs, spinach, potatoes, but not local cheese.  (Can you tell I’m overcompensating — Jewish guilt for not posting enough)

However, much more exciting this week…I transplanted approximately 30 onion seedlings into the ground.  I suddenly felt like Octo-mom — I had to give each one a chance.    I also transplanted three sunflower seeds into the ground.  In case anyone is keeping track, out of the 8 sunflower seeds I started indoors, all 8 sprouted.

And last but not least, J. and I planted a Washington Naval Orange tree.  It is beautiful and already smells divine.  I think the next step is to buy another citrus and get it into the ground for cross polination. 

My back and legs were a little sore after this manual labor.  Since I quit the Gym, my plan is for steady yard work to make up the difference.

UPDATE: Here are the photos — a little (a lot) late.

Dark Days: Back on the Horse

I had to skip last week’s dark days meal.  It served as a strong reminder of how hard it is to cook locally when you miss the farmer’s market that week.  Oddly enough, my pantry is very unlocally friendly.  However, I expect that to change once I get a bumper crop from the garden and can start preserving stuff.

This week I had a grand plan of building a meal around the gorgeous herbs I’m growing.  I thought Lamb would be delightful with my mint and rosemary.  One thing led to another, and the recipe we used ended up not using the lamb and rosemary.  Don’t worry my pretties, I will find something nice to feature you.

We had lamb riblets from TLC ranch in watsonville.  Served along side local greenbeans cooked in local olive oil and local lemon.  The spices and glaze we used on the ribs not local. (Cola based)  Also not local is the baked potato J.’s family gave us as leftover from Christmas dinner.  Regardless, after the week I had, we’re counting this meal!

Dark Days #4 – Losing my mind & finding hope

First, I’m late on my dark days post, and will likely miss the posting deadline to make it in the recap.  All I can do is my best.

This week I made brussels sprouts for the first time.  That’s right. First time.  I’ve been afraid of the sprout, but I’ve conquered my fear.  This recipe was local leeks, sprouts and questionable (likely not local) bacon — which made the dish, so I don’t regret it.  I served it along side salmon from the farmer’s market which J. cooked up beautifully on the BBQ.

So, now that’s taken care of… some venting.  I’m uncharacteristically stressed out.  Couldn’t find my cell phone this morning.  Couldn’t make it out of my office till an hour later than I expected.  Couldn’t find my camera for 20 minutes prior to this post.  But, I did find a package in the mail with glorious heirloom seeds for the garden.  The rundown:

  • Cucumber
  • Chocolate sweet peppers
  • Tomatoes “mix”
  • Sunflower
  • Borage
  • Spinach
  • Autumn King Carrots

Do I know what I’m doing?  Hell no.  But let’s figure it out!  Any tips are welcomed!

Dark Days Ducktastic Eggs

One of the foods I’ve been counting down to when Max gets to start eating is eggs!  It’s one of those things that is easy to always have around the house and cooks up in no time.  It can also be a great finger food.  My mom told me eggs were one of the first foods introduced when we were growing up, but the vogue now is to hold off until year 1 due to allergens.  So, here we are, almost at the one year mark and I couldn’t wait!  Max had a huge orange-yolked egg from the farmers market. Scrambled.

To celebrate, I also had something I’ve been jonesing for … duck egg toad in the hole!

I made it with local bread from Le Boulanger, a duck egg from the sunnyvale farmer’s market, local butter, and a garcreamy garlic cheese spread from the farmer’s market as well.  What I was most impressed about re: this meal is that I made it for breakfast on a crazy weekday morning.  I admit that I skip breakfast most days now.

I could so go for one right now, but we’re out of bread till tomorrow morning’s farmer’s market.  This dish may make an appearance when the inlaws come to visit tomorrow.

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.

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.

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.