Category Archives: Dark Days Challenge

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?

Dark Days December 10, 2011

Here it is the second week of the Dark Days Challenge and I have yet to photograph a single meal. This week I made a huge pot of potato leek soup and we ate it for four days. Everyone else was starting to get sick of it but I could have eaten it for four more (also since that meant no new dishes and cooking!)

I used potatoes, leeks, carrots and celery from our Jubilee Farm box. One night I added some collard greens and another night I added Brussels sprouts, both from the farm box. I used a base of veggie broth and added a fair amount of goat milk from the girls to make it creamy, then I added a lot of Beechers aged cheddar.

I don’t have a photo or recipe for this simple soup but in case you haven’t noticed the countdown to Christmas is on. Are you done shopping or making your presents?

Dark Days are Here Again and a Book Signing

Laura at (Not So Urban)Hennery started a challenge five (?) years ago now to encourage people to support local farmers over the winter and over the years the challenge has grown and grown and grown. It’s so big now that the fine folks over at Not Dabbling in the Normal are taking it over. If you haven’t already signed up it’s not too late – you can do so through Sunday, December 4.

This week has been particularly crazy for me, with breeding two goats, submitting the grant application (thanks for the help, Jenny!), visits with close friends, several nights of frozen animal waters to be thawed, and driving to the Peninsula to get Mona and Bessie who are now in the quarantine stall picking on poor Starr. I returned with them just a few hours ago and it hasn’t taken them long to take charge of things around here.

It’s been so crazy in fact that I haven’t had time to download photos so I’m just going to tell you what my dark days meal was for this week.

Just before Thanksgiving I picked up my turkey from Brad at Abundant Acres. He was kind enough to meet me at the Medina Tully’s. We got some odd looks as we greeted in the parking lot – him waving a bag of turkey feet and heads (“For broth!” he shouted by way of greeting.)

Thanksgiving was much more traditional then I had anticipated since I hadn’t planned on getting a local turkey this year but when your turkey dealer sends you a Facebook instant message it’s hard to pass that up. I made loaves of Emmer sourdough bread from my Bluebird grain that went into stuffing with leeks and celery from Jubilee Farm just down the road. We had potatoes mashed with butter and creamy goat milk, turkey bits gravy, plum chutney from the plum tree, Brussels sprouts from the Jubilee Farm box and honey roasted delicata squash also from the Jubilee Farm box. For dessert we had a Lentz spelt pie crust filled with apple goodness from the tree near the duck pond.

And lucky for me there were enough leftovers to keep us fed all week while I was busy with food justice and goatie things.

Tomorrow, December 4, after I’ve spent several hours thawing water for the six rabbit cages, the meat chicks, the young laying pullets, the turkeys, the chickens, the ducks and all the goats, you can find Joshua and I along with Bill Thorness – author of Edible Heirlooms at Santoro’s Book Store in Phinney. We’ll be there from 1-3 pm. Bill will have seeds that he saved and you can buy a signed copy of his wonderful book for that gardener in your life. Joshua and I will be there too, eating all the cookies. I hope we’ll see you!

Dark Days Mid February

I’m digging my way out of my hole, and just sneaking this in by tonight’s midnight deadline with 2 minutes to go!

I have no recollection of these meals but they are on my camera so I must have made and eaten them in the last few weeks.

Top left corner: coddled creme fraiche eggs made with backyard chicken eggs and homemade creme fraiche. Cream from Jackie’s Jerseys.

Bottom left corner: lamb shephard’s pie made with garden onions, carrots and turnips. Lamb from On the Lamb Farm.

Right: Short ribs Provencal made with Prairie Springs Ranch beef, home canned tomatoes, beef stock, herbs from the garden (not France), creme fraiche mashed potatoes from the garage and braised greens of some kind from the garden.

Happy Dark Days!

Dark Days January End

Where did January go? We are down to less than 2 weeks left to finish this book and I’m quite honestly having a hard time cooking. In fact, some days I realize at dinnertime that I forgot to brush my teeth after breakfast. It’s been a wee bit hectic here! And probably stinky.

I’ve been relying on sandwiches and luckily there is a lot of food in the pantry and freezer to pull from when throwing them together.

Great Rueben – Bad Picture

We smoked pastrami from our Prairie Springs Ranch cow and paired it with special sauce, rye bread and some of Charlotte’s saurkraut from last spring with a lacto-fermented pickle side. I love how fermenting makes food last for, oh, ever. How can cabbage from last spring still be good? Amazing.

This salsa? I fermented it in September. These tomatoes still taste like fresh tomatoes. And they have been sitting in my refrigerator for nearly five months. Even the cilantro in there is still good. I’m thinking lacto-fermenting is the new mummy. Or maybe whey is the new botox. I wouldn’t be surprised if Joan Rivers has some whey in her face somewhere.

Another night another sandwich. This one home cured bacon from the pig formerly known as “The Mean One Who Tried to Kill Andrea,” or TMOWTTKA for short. On homemade spelt bread this time, with dandelion greens (look out weeds, the garden is getting sparse…) and pickled peppers. I call this the BDP. Pickled cherry bomb peppers are marvelous in the winter. They have better acidity and texture than canned tomatoes and are really easy to preserve.

Other than frantically writing I’ve ordered seeds for the spring/summer/fall/winter garden, both here and at the community owned agriculture plot once we find the perfect one. We are still forging ahead with that, finalizing legal documents and will be rolling out communication to any of you waiting for it in the next few weeks.

Happy Dark Days!