Dark Days Week 12

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Here we are moving into the second week of February and in Seattle the dark days are feeling not so dark any more. My condolences if you happen to be back east and are under snow right now but here it’s really starting to feel like spring is right around the corner.

Things have really started growing in my garden again and after taking a 6 week hiatus and shopping at the farmer’s market I think we’re back in business! I took advantage of this amazing weather to finish harvesting the first of the two carrot and parsnip beds so that I can get a cover crop in with time for the chickens to turn it under and have give any chicken poop a few months to compost before planting tomatoes in that bed. My husband is getting close to completing the chicken tractor which will keep the girls isolated to that one bed while they are doing their work.

I also did some turnip harvesting. Have you ever eaten turnip greens? What an amazing overwintering vegetable! I sowed the seeds (and not very carefully I might add) sometime last fall just after taking out the zucchini plants. The dirt they are in is not particularly good since it’s the original clay just under the old lawn and I’m still working on amending it. I neglected them all winter and then suddenly realized there were smallish turnips but the bed is coming alive with greens. And they taste amazingly like arugula, which is one of my favorite greens. The turnips are nice and sweet to boot, plus they are a veggie that doesn’t seem to mind not being thinned which puts them high on my list of things to neglect over winter every year.

They braise up tasty and fairly sing with flavor, which tells me they must be loaded with something good for me.

The kale is flush with new growth which is good because the new juicer came this weekend and we’ve been putting it to use.

Surprisingly, you could not even taste the kale in this kale apple juice.

And while I’m down with drinking bright green things there is no way I could sneak that one by my kids so I froze a pint of this in ice cube trays to add to chocolate breakfast smoothies. A little cocoa powder, vanilla and coconut oil and they would never even know they were drinking kale for breakfast. MWAH HA HA.

I was in heaven not having to stop and clean out the screen every few apples so I just kept going. My apples have been overwintering in boxes in the garage so they weren’t the juiciest things. I ended up with quite a bit of sauce in the screen which I used for fruit leather. The “sauce” also contains some beet & carrot fiber which made it a fun color and homemade fruit leather is one of those things you feel great handing to your kids when they want something sweet and you are pressed for time, or when they whine that other kids get treats in their school lunches. The bonus here is that I made it with something that might otherwise have gone in the composter yet still retained many nutrients and a lot of flavor.

As exciting as it is to actually have managed to grow so much of our vegetables this winter I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of sadness as I left the farmers market. I bought a pint of heavy cream from Golden Glen and 4 beets from Nash. I’m so grateful that we have winter farmer’s markets and this experiment would not have been possible last year if it wasn’t for them. So to thank them I up and planted my own thriving garden and totally cut them out of the picture. But it is so much cheaper for me to grow our food and so important for my kids to be connected with it in a way they couldn’t be had we bought it. Bittersweet.

This was the last week of my bronchitis (Yay!) and I was out of home canned chicken stock so I dragged myself to Met market one day and bought 3 packs of chicken backs for a grand total of $5. I made a gallon of chicken stock and froze all of it save one potful for soup. I used the meat from the backs, carrots and kale from the garden and Sun Rose noodles from Seattle (flour from who knows where). I felt better immediately.

I also found a few pints of red lentil soup in the freezer. At the time I ordered these red lentils from Bob’s Red Mill I was told they were buying the red lentils from Washington state so I can only hope they were right. I made a large batch of this soup sometime after Thanksgiving since it was labeled “smoky red lentil” which means I used the broth from our smoked turkey. I added some dried nettles that I had bought from Foraged and Found last spring after getting repeatedly stung from fresh ones. I’ll just leave that one up to the professionals from here on out. Unless I have some extra time this spring and can actually find my heavy gloves. Because, gosh darn it, stinging nettles sting.

Tired of soup I mustered up the energy for a Lentz spelt-crusted backyard egg quiche. I used Mt. Pleasant farmhouse cheddar and beet greens from the garden.

I made this quite a bit last winter using leeks and homemade chevre.

I had big plans but no energy for this ground lamb from Thundering Hooves I found in the freezer.

I wanted to make Greek pita bread and yogurt sauce but I ran out of gas. Instead we just fried them into patties with roasted garlic from Skeeter and I oven roasted some of Skeeter’s blue potatoes with rosemary from the garden. Not quite as good but you just can’t go wrong with lamb.

I finally managed to make more bread this week (after being too tired for several weeks) so we had Loki canned salmon sandwiches from Bluebird Grain bread with arugula from the garden and home canned dill pickles.

One of the hardest parts of this local eating thing is no  lunch meat. Sometimes I make chicken or egg salad or we might have some ham slices that I save but otherwise sandwiches are pretty rare around these parts.

We ate through the first two loaves of sandwich bread right away so I made another round and then for some reason decided that I finally had to try the baguettes from Daniel Leader’s book that Farm Girl had blogged about. I printed that recipe off a year ago but this week had a burning desire to make them. I used 30% Bluebird hard red wheat and about 70% white AP flour from Azure in Dufur, OR. My kids were thrilled to have something made from white flour come out of the oven and the baguettes disappeared pretty quickly.

They also talked me into another round of chocolate pantry pudding. By dialing back the sugar and increasing the eggs this is one snack that actually rivals any breakfast for nutrient dense ingredients. Forget being part of a balanced breakfast – this pudding IS a balanced breakfast. I was tempted to make eclairs and stuff them with this but I decided not to overdo it this week. We’ll save that one for another week.

And for Friday night dessert I made the King Arthur Flour faux-reo cookies. These were too sweet for me so we never even made it to frosting. I used Lentz spelt in place of the flour. These were surprisingly rich for having only cocoa powder as the chocolate ingredient and decidedly un-oreo like.

Happy Dark Days!

This post was entered into the “Grow Your Own” roundup, created by Andrea’s Recipes and hosted this month by House of Annie.

This post is also entered into Wardeh’s Tuesday Twister Blog Carnival.

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12 Responses to Dark Days Week 12

  1. I had breakfast already, but after reading this post I am ready for another one! Everything looks yummy. The baquettes turned out particularly nice. I imagine they did not last long.

  2. Congrats on the new juicer! So glad you decided to get the J8006 :) . Isn’t it great? We’ve been using ours every single day since the lovely thing was delivered almost a month ago.

    Remember I said that “I’m giving this to my husband and it will his responsibility”? Well, I fell in love so much with this juicer that I don’t mind prepping the veggies/fruits and the cleaning is so easy anyway. Yeah, hubby is a lucky guy, no doubt! :D

    You know, I don’t use the screen because we like our juice kinda pulpy but using the pulp for fruit leather is such a great idea.

    Sometimes I use the dry pulp in soups and I’ve also made a rather nice creamy sauce with it.

    My oven is working again. We ordered the part we thought needed replacement and got behind the beast to see if we could do it ourselves and then I chickened out (idiot me) and told hubby we should perhaps call a technician. The guy came this morning and replaced the burned out igniter in 7 minutes (@ $139) using the igniter we had ordered (@$80). I can be SUCH a moron… :( ((((((. Sigh.

    OK, this week I’m making your pastry dough (that quiche looks grrrrrrrrrrreat!) and the lemon tart I gave hubby a rain check for last week. Can’t wait!

  3. KFG – I feel like all I’ve eaten lately is soup and breakfast!

    Auburn, glad you are back and your stove too. I still say it’s worth it to have a professional hook it up for you. Some things, like playing with gas and jacking your house up to retrofit for earthquakes are things I prefer my dh not do although he doesn’t always listen to me.

    I noticed only the apples were leaving much pulp in the screen so I’ll likely just use it when I add apples and perhaps if I was using juicier apples it wouldn’t have left so much.

    That lemon tart is amazing – especially if you add both sticks of butter. :)

  4. “Some things, like playing with gas and jacking your house up to retrofit for earthquakes are things I prefer my dh not do …”

    You made me pee my pants!!!!!!!! :D :D :D

  5. Oh life. Why are these guys so sure they can do that kind of thing? It must be the testosterone, eh?

  6. Your photos are gorgeous! And, I am nearly convinced to get a juicer.

  7. I love that spring is coming to you! That is such a brilliant feeling. Everything here (in NY) is cold, though we didn’t get the snow that a lot received. I’m contemplating your turnips and kale, so I don’t feel so bad about the hard, cold, earth out here.

  8. Wendy, that is my third juicer. The first one was just a $30 one from Target which is a great way to go until you are sure you will use it forever and ever which I am, after 15 years of juicing. It’s funny, I’m to the point in my life now where it no longer makes sense to buy things that will last a lifetime since I won’t likely get my use out of them! Oh to have money when you are young and have your youth ahead of you…

    Julia, I feel guilty listening to the national weather. As soon as your ground is thawed you can sew turnips & kale since they germinate at really low temps and make for a nice early spring crop (along with claytonia, purslane, sorrel, arrugula which I’ll sew outside this weekend and then we’ll likely be eating those by end of March. Exciting!

  9. Pingback: Dark Days 09/10 :: Week #12 Recap (PNW) « (not so) Urban Hennery

  10. Glad you’re feeling better! Looks like your family ate well this week :)

  11. Thanks Myrnie – now dh and pancake boy are sick so hoping this round is short. We had been out of supplement for 2 weeks and don’t sleep much around these parts so it was a bad recipe…

  12. Really awesome spread of homegrown dishes!

    Would you like to enter this post in our Grow Your Own roundup this month? Full Details at

    http://chezannies.blogspot.com/2010/02/announcing-grow-your-own-39.html

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