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