Monday, December 28, 2009

Dark Days - meal 6

This week we picked up a very lovely local ham from our market.  Baked using this recipe, it came out just beautifully!  This evening for our dark days meal we ate that ham, served with roasted acorn squash (from our CSA) and my husband's home-made herby bread & local butter.

I like to pre-cook my squash a little in the microwave so it doesn't take as long in the oven.  Just 10 minutes on high (cut in half, cut-side down on a plate), then I season with salt, pepper, hungarian paprika (adds a kick) and cinnamon sugar.  A nice balance of sweet & savory.  Add a small pat of butter and pop them in the oven cut-side up for an additional 10 minutes at 400 degrees F.

We also had a very special treat as an appetizer: tomato slices!  I'm a little embarrassed to admit, but while cleaning off the counter I "found" the VERY LAST TOMATO from our garden, which had been brought in the house, green and rock solid, before the first freeze.  It was perfectly ripe and ready to eat.  I had my slices straight up with a touch of salt, while my husband added a dab of mayo.  It was a heavenly little taste of summer!

A word about the bread:  he still used the flour we had bought before the challenge (according to my own rules I put forth in the beginning), but in the future we will be able to make bread and other stuff with locally sourced flour, since I found local flour last weekend in Philly! 

I bought buckwheat flour, whole spelt kernels, and whole wheat pastry flour, all made less than 100 miles of Philadelphia and even closer to Baltimore! 

I also did some research on other resources for local flour and came up with a couple additional choices.  Our local market is even going to contact the sources for flour I found in Philly to see if they'd be interested in selling at Mill Valley.  Pretty excellent.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
Originally uploaded by daftly smitten
My husband's little project today.  It requires quite a bit of humor to appreciate fully, but you gotta give him credit for creativity!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dark Days - Meal 5

My local meal this week almost got ruined by a blizzard, but we prevailed and made it to our planned meal at the White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia, PA.  We had planned our little weekend trip to Philly well in advance and were not going to let the forecast of a little snow stop us from going.  However, we did not expect the near 2 feet that came down!

The only change in the end was the fact that we had to order off the bar & grill menu rather than the full dinner menu - which was great, since some other stores and restaurants outright closed, and the bar & grill menu was still quite extensive.

Here's why this meal counts for the Dark Days Challenge:
On their website: "The White Dog Cafe's support of sustainable agriculture is driven by both taste and food politics. Seasonal, local, and organically grown ingredients taste better. Humane and sustainable agriculture produces safe, wholesome food in a manner that is ecologically sound, economically viable, equitable, humane, and provides a healthy and safe environment for the present and future generations."

Dave and I tried to choose meals that were local enough to fall within the 150 mile range.  Here's an ultra grainy photo of me enjoying a pint of Troeg's Rugged Trail Ale, from Harrisburgh, PA (94 miles from Philly):

We then split the Artisan Cheese Plate:

Birchrun Hills Farm Blue served with pomegranate seeds, Shellbark Farms Chevre with Slow Roasted Pecans and Pennsylvania Noble Cave Aged Cheddar with a spicy apricot sauce.  So delicious.  The Chevre was my favorite.

Then for dinner, I ordered the Wild Mushroom Soup with Grilled Amish Chicken and Truffle Chive Creme Fraiche, which Dave informed me was really an appetizer and I wouldn't get enough to eat.  I reasoned that with the beer and cheese and the thought that dessert would likely follow, I would be just fine, thank you!  The chicken in the soup was indeed more of a garnish, but the soup was still very rich and creamy.

Dave got the Amish Grassfed Veal Meatloaf served over grilled escarole with homemade marinara sauce.  I took a bite and informed Dave that my meatballs from DD meal one were way better.  I think he felt I was a little harsh in my judgment, but his meatloaf was a bit dry - and my meatballs were certainly not!

Here's where we went off the local boat: dessert.  Chocolate and Oranges - totally not local.  But I have a thing for chocolate cakes.  Maybe once I make one of these molten suckers at home, the novelty of gooey chocolate cake will wear off, but for now - I love me some chocolate cake.  And even when most of the other desserts appeared to be sourced locally, I ordered me some chocolate cake.  Warm Molten Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sorbet, Cocoa Nib Tuile, Candied Orange and Orange Campari Syrup to be exact.  It was beautiful, and heavenly to eat.  See how the dark chocolate under the cake was painted on with a brush?  I scraped it all off with my fork it was so delish.

So if you find yourself in Philly, even in the middle of the Blizzard of 2009 - stop by the White Dog Cafe and get yourself some SOLE food!

Philly in the Blizzard of 2009

Did you read that title with enough dread in your voice? I always love laughing at newscasters and how seriously they report everything. Although maybe you should be the one laughing at the hubby and I for walking outside all day long in a friggin blizzard!  We were good little tourists.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dark Days - Meal 4

This week turned out to be much more hectic than many previous... lots of catching up both at work and home.  However... it's Hanukkah, and so we had a few friends over to celebrate.  Everything we made was local, but since it was potluck, I can't say the same for what others brought.  So here's the meal we had the next day with leftovers:

It was a pancake smorgasbord.  The hubby gave me an electric skillet for the first night of hanukkah, since we had plans to make latkes-a-plenty on Saturday night.  So Sunday morning, we had pancakes made from a local-to-Nebraska pancake mix which was gifted to us and hand-carried by my in-laws.
here were the leftover potato pancakes (latkes), made with purple potatoes, one sweet potato, onion (all leftover from our CSA) and local eggs from the market, as well as leek fritters, made with local leeks (Tuscarora Organic Growers in PA), eggs and homemade breadcrumbs.  I found the leek fritter recipe on Serious Eats while searching for a good latke recipe.  I went ahead and used the spices as called for, but they really would have been better without!

To serve with all these pancake-ee items, there was homemade applesauce, a dill sour cream dip I sampled at Whole Foods and couldn't resist buying (made by The Farm at Red Hill in North Garden, VA, which I now know is actually 180 miles away... a mistake on my part, but the farmer himself was there serving up the samples, so I really thought it's be less than 150 miles away!), and maple syrup from my Amish farmer in PA.

I made a little slaw from some red cabbage leftover from our CSA - and called it a meal!

A little lacking on the protein, but there were eggs in there - right?!?

Happy Hanukkah!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dark Days - Meal 3

This week we still had lots of leftovers from Thanksgiving, so we really had to use them up.  This was another quick(ish) weekday meal that did just that.

white button mushrooms - West Grove, PA (71 miles)
kale, onions, scallions - from our CSA in White Hall, MD (35.2 miles)
sage pork sausage - Mt. Airy, MD (32.1 miles)

sauteed everything up in a skillet, while at the same browning some leftover purple taters from Thanksgiving.
Added leftover gravy to the saute pan, scrambled an egg and piled everything onto a plate!

apple cider from Westminster, MD (33 miles) added a nice bit of sweet!
Not all that pretty, but it was tasty and warm - and wasn't turkey sandwiches, which we're pretty tired of.

Cherry Pie (Thanksgiving dessert, one day later)

Cherry Pie, made with sour cherries hand-picked locally this summer with my family (frozen in 5 cup portions), sugar, cornstarch, and crust from scratch with local butter and the flour we had on hand.

The crust was SOOOO good.  Here's the recipe I followed, found through a quick food blog search.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I just noticed something (A BIG MISTAKE) about the recipe posted for my mom's stuffing in my Thanksgiving post.  If you copied it for future use, please go back and look again with the update.  I forgot to mention that the sausage should be BROWNED in a saute pan (cooked through) before combining all the ingredients and popping it into the oven for an amount of time which certainly would not have cooked the sausage on its own. Clearly I am new at the whole writing out of recipes.  :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Work on the Farm

Work on the Farm
Originally uploaded by daftly smitten
One of the coolest benefits I have at work is one day of paid leave specifically to volunteer. Today I took half of my one day to work on my favorite local farm.  5 hours straight of mulching the garlic field... I am one tired puppy, but I got the whole thing done!  The weather even cooperated; nice and sunny.