Dark Days – Solstice Edition

It truly is the dark days now – that time of year when it feels like it’s dark when you leave and return – traditional Yule, or the longest night of the year. Our harvest-focused ancestors lit bonfires in the fields and wassailed crops and trees that provided them sustenance.

In Sweden they celebrate on December 13 with Santa Lucia day. On this morning the eldest daughter rises early to bake special breads, then wakes the rest of the family singing and bearing them while wearing a crown of lighted candles.

This week was a dark blur but I remembered to hastily photograph two partially eaten meals. This time of year comfort food talks to me.

Meatloaf made from a local grass fed cow, with cellared carrots, onions and celery from Jubillee Farm. The sauce is from home canned ketsup and Rockridge Orchards apple cider vinegar. The Jubillee Farm kale is creamed with backyard milk and the Jubillee potatoes are whipped and mixed with backyard milk as well.

The meatloaf lasted a few nights then got served into sandwiches.

The extra mashed potatoes went into patty cakes, mixed with shallot, Beecher’s cheese and Loki smoked salmon. I love making extra mashed potatoes because I can whip up patty cakes in ten minutes or less.

Now that December is nearly over Jubillee Farm has taken a six week break until their next session which means Dark Days meals will start getting challenging. While I have hundreds of pounds of local grains, backyard eggs, meat and dairy I still don’t have the garden going here which is going to mean visits to the dreaded grocery store or driving into Seattle to visit the UW Farmer’s Market, which I’ll probably do every other week. It’s ironic I may need to drive into the city to buy produce grown right here in the Snoqualmie Valley. Local food can be wonky.

How do you find local food in the winter where you are?

6 Responses to Dark Days – Solstice Edition

  1. Yum! We are lucky in that we have a year-round co-op and a couple of year-round farmers markets. The local food movement has grown so that some of our farmers are growing things in their greenhouses, or hydroponically, or storing vegetables throughout the winter. It’s awesome!

  2. Annette Cottrell

    We have them in Seattle too – I just don’t happen to live in Seattle any longer! Which would normally not be a problem since I typically have a winter garden but we moved her after midsummer and I’ve been busy getting the animals set up. Wish I could trade you some veg for meat/eggs/dairy!

  3. Would you mind sharing your recipe for the Patty Cakes recipe? My mom used to make SOMETHING out of left over mashed potatoes and corn, fried up. I have tried to make them, and can’t, and didn’t overly love them anyway. THIS sound much better – more filling, and better tasting. Would LOVE to know how you make them? Thanks!! And Happy Solstice.

    • Annette Cottrell

      Wow Laurie did this comment get lost in the shuffle! I don’t have an actual recipe – it’s just mashed potatoes (you may want to set some aside without mashing since too much cream and butter can make the patties loose), grated or finely chopped onion, grated cheese and an egg. The mashed potatoes already contain salt and pepper, otherwise you will want to add some of that. My grandmother used to make these for breakfast with a fried egg.

  4. And you mix the salmon in too? Is it flaked, like in a can? Or dried? I wonder if the potatoes I’ve tried to use in the past WERE too creamy and that’s why they didn’t stick together enough? Never thought of that. THanks so much!

    • Annette Cottrell

      Laurie I do. It’s canned salmon, sometimes smoked. Tuna would work, or finely chopped roast turkey or fried sausage or bacon bits. Whatever you have on hand. Think of it as hash almost. Another thing I’ve done when repackaging leftover mashed potatoes is to either make a crust in a pie shell by lining it with mashed potatoes then baking a bit before filling or using it as a shepherd’s pie topping. And then you can also make gnocci or potato bread or lefse if you didn’t add a bunch of cream too. I love making mashed potatoes!

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