Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dark Days - Meal 1

Thursday night I made meal 1 for the Dark Days Challenge:
 Veal meatballs and spinach over spelt fettuchini with a creamy tomato sauce.

The word veal might be setting off alarm bells for some people, but let me first explain myself!  I purchased Free-raised veal, which according to wikipedia is from calves which "are born and raised in the pasture, have unlimited access to mother’s milk and pasture grasses, and are free to roam alongside their mothers and herd on open pastures. Free-raised veal calves are not reared in confinement or in feedlots, and are not administered hormones or antibiotics. The meat may be a richer pink color, indicative of an all-natural diet and healthy iron consumption. The free-raising method is environmentally friendly and sustainable."

I will be open and tell you that I am not a vegetarian (although I favor vegetables), but my husband who eats dinner with me is the opposite of vegetarian.  Therefore in order to move forward in this challenge I must have meals which more often than not, contain some sort of meat.  While my goal is for most of the meat in my meals to come from local farmers who if not met by myself, have been met by my trusted local market owner Cheryl, who is very knowledgable and transparent about where all her goods come from.... I was under a bit of a time crunch to make this dinner happen this week, and needed to find a meat which was ready to cook (i.e. not frozen), but which also fit my recipe and guidelines.  So I went to Whole Foods.  As much as I'd rather go to a local market - in a pinch when it's raining and I'm on my way home from work, I know that Whole Foods will label their meat and tell me how far it traveled to get to me.  So this veal was organic and sustainably raised in Virginia, within my 150 mile radius.  The only meat that fit into the challenge and would also allow itself to be made into a meatball.

The rest of the ingredients were either from our garden, our local green market (Mill Valley General Store) or from the One Straw Farm CSA we are a part of, which just ended this week!  Oh - except the spelt pasta, which was made on an Amish Farm in PA whose wonderful food I purchase through a somewhat secret collective of people who care about their food and how it was grown/raised.  Everything I get from this collective is totally 100% SOLE.  That is about all you need to know about the Amish Farm.

spelt pasta

First I made the meatballs with the veal, an egg (local), breadcrumbs made from my husband's home-made bread and some rosemary & oregano from our garden, and popped them in the oven.  Then I started the sauce with a little olive oil and an onion from our CSA.  I added a chopped yellow pepper and a whole carton of mushrooms (both conventionally purchased before the challenge) to saute, and then the last jar of home-canned tomatoes from last years CSA.  Sadly due to the blight, there were not enough tomatoes to can any this year!  I also ended up adding a bit of garlic paste and tomato paste from the pantry.  Oh yes, and some fresh tomatoes from the garden which have been ripening on our counter.  The cheese I added to make it creamy was 1/2 a brick of Philidelphia cream cheese which has been hiding in our refridgerator cheese drawer forever.  (I'd tell you the expiration date, but you might yell at me.)  On Friday I ordered several cheeses from the Amish farm to assure this will be the last use of such a non-local cheese.  More herbs from our garden finished off the sauce.

After the pasta was cooked I quickly blanched the CSA spinach in the pasta water and covered the pasta and spinach with meatballs and sauce.  Quite a tasty first meal!  (and also approved by the hubby).

(p.s. in the picture there is cauliflower I was planning on roasting to accompany this meal, but I forgot!  You may see it again, since I still haven't cooked it.)

(p.p.s the tulips were a last minute addition, but the sign at Whole Foods told me they were grown 114 miles away and I couldn't help adding them to the basket. we didn't eat them, but they made our dinner that much fancier.)

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