Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dark Days Meal #6

Somehow I am sitting here at 3:30 in the afternoon on Wednesday, Christmas Eve Eve, eating my soup and enjoying some Christmas music. I can't even hear the kids ramming their race cars into each other and the furniture as they run through the house and scream. The soup was made for dinner tonight, but once it was finished cooking and the smell was filling up the house I had to have some. I skipped lunch in anticipation of this happening and I'm sure glad I did. Tonight we will have fresh bread on the side, but right now a bowl by itself is very good...even if it is still 80 outside with the sun shining bright. Usually for my local meals I don't use spices besides salt and pepper and I use fresh herbs, today I did use spices and I also used jarred thyme. My mom has thyme in her garden, but I haven't been over to grab any the past few days. I started out by cooking Christmas Lima Beans and Yellow Beans from Sun Coast Farms (275 miles away, but the closest source I know of and sold at my local FM). Once those were done I threw some onion and garlic from Schaner Farms in a pot with my Petrou Garlic Olive Oil (local), added red pepper, cumin and thyme. Then I threw in delicata squash from Sage Mt. Farms and some leftover squash (I forget which kind) from my CSA box and topped it all with chicken broth ( not local, Pacific Foods Organic Free Range). Once the squash was done I added it to the beans, threw in some more Cumin and Cayenne and added the bok choy from Sage Mt. Farms. I let this all work together just long enough for the greens to get tender and then poured a bowl...Delicious!! There's a huge pot, so I'm looking forward to having meals ready to go for the next few days....especially if someone stops by and is hungry,Hmmm should I leave some for Santa??

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dark Days Meal #5

This week I had a delicious local meal! I had told my sister about my spaghetti squash pasta from a few weeks ago and she wanted to try it, so I had bought a few more the next time I went to the market. She had a lot of time off of work this week, so I picked up tomatoes at the market last weekend and planned on making some for her one night. My Dark Days meal was going to be a bean soup I was prepared to make, but we hit temperatures in the 90's this week and soup just didn't sound as delicious as it did the week before! Besides that my tomatoes were going to go bad, so I invited my sister over and prepared for dinner. I made spaghetti squash "pasta" with homemade tomato sauce (red, which was not even close to being as good as the orange I made last time), homemade toast with chopped garlic and evoo drizzled atop it and a parsnip, thyme puree. My sister (who is only 18) ended up going to her friends house instead, but me and the kids had a yummy dinner and I still have more spaghetti squash to plan the dinner for her another night!

Spaghetti Squash - Sage Mt. Farm
-roasted with local olive oil from Petrou Foods

Garlic Toast
-Homemade bread- not local ingredients, but whole wheat and organic flour from Bob's Red Mill
-Garlic- from Schaner Farms
-more olive oil from Petrou

Parsnip Puree
-parsnips from Weiser Farms (230 miles away, but part of my CSA bag)
-lemon thyme from my moms garden
-garlic from Schaner Farms
-cream from Organic Valley

Just to mention the last time I made the squash, I had eggplant on the side and that worked much better than the parsnip puree as a side dish. Don't get me wrong the parsnips were delicious, but the texture didn't sit to well with the squash. Hopefully the weather will cool down for Christmas and I'll feel like soup again! Happy Holidays to all of you, hope you and your family are blessed during these special times and that you are sharing some good local meals!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dark Days Meal #4

Okay, now I'm embarrassed....I've been so sad I wasn't being included in the recaps, so I started a blog and still got left out last week, so I spoke up and now this week I didn't even make a great local meal!! Hopefully I'll get forgot! LOL...
First my excuse, my younger cousin had her baby this week (after 36 hrs of labor) and once her little angel came to the world, her mom got really sick. I had to step in at the hospital and I missed my CSA box and lost some days. Then once back home I just couldn't seem to put a whole meal together of local ingredients. I wasn't too creative with the veggies I had ( too tired) and I haven't yet connected with a local source of beef or pork or stocked up on fish or chicken which I 'd rather by fresh on Saturday/ Sunday at the market . Hopefully after Christmas I can join a beef CSA! So I had unlocal meat and local other parts of the meal when I did cook this week. I didn't get to the market until today and I picked up beans for a Delicious sounding soup that Annette gave me the recipe to, but didn't have time to soak there's my excuse!

On to my "meal"! This week my kids were wanting lots of meat, which is unusual, but I was on a salad kick. Salads are really all I used to make with my veggies, but lately I haven't made them at all. Missing my CSA box and not getting to the market all week, I only had my staples and a few odd guys that are waiting for further use. With my staples, I reverted back to my usual and for two days I ate salad. The salad is so packed full of goodies that I simply ate that, although my kids had other things for lunch/dinner. Packed in there were: apples, zucchini, yellow squash, Kohlrabi, bell peppers, jalapenos, carrots, green onions, avocado, lettuce, watermelon radishes, raisins, almonds, and cheese (not local, Tillamook) topped with lime and lemon juice and a squirt of Braggs Amino Acids (the other non local ingredient). These salads hit the spot for me and I was happy to have a reunion this week, though I didn't think they'd be making up my local meal for the week! Next week, a Delicata & Bean soup is on the menu just in time for the rainy weather here in San Diego.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dark Days Meal #3

Dark Days Meal #3

This week I wanted to try to get some meat for my Dark Days meal, and I picked up some Halibut last Sunday at the market, but ended up not using it for my meal. I cooked the Halibut on Monday and figured it was kind of early for my Dark Days Meal and then once I started putting it together, realized it wouldn't work too well anyways. I made tacos and my tortillas are from the FM, but I'm sure aren't made with local ingredients and I used vegetable oil (the others are too expensive and I haven't tried saving them yet?) to fry them into shells. Then I just couldn't bring myself to not have beans on the side, and I hadn't picked up any local ones yet. It was a very good meal though!! That was my first time trying halibut, the guy from Poppa's wouldn't let me say no and for $5 I had to try it out. It definitely needs a sauce or marinade next time, but for this time all the veggies and lime on the taco worked.

So now that I've told you all about that meal, let me tell you what I made for the challenge! I made one of my go to dinners on Friday night. I call it "Empty the Fridge" stirfry, where I simply chop up everything I have in the fridge and stir fry it. I started with avocado oil, chopped ginger (not local), garlic and green onion. Then I added bell peppers, yellow beans, broccoli, golden beets, Kohlrabi, Purple carrots, Crimini mushrooms, Tats Choi, and green onions. I topped it off with a little lime and Sesame Glazed Walnuts. Once it was done I simply poured it on a bed of Lundberg brown rice and ate dinner. It was so good I also made some for lunch today with the leftover rice, but added snap peas I picked up yesterday at the market.

Golden beets, Kohlrabi from La Milpa

Purple Carrots from Jaime Farms

Scallions, Garlic from Schaner Farms

Other veggies from the FM

Lime from Farmer Steve

Ginger from the store

Sesame Glazed Walnuts from Salle Orchards (N. Cali)

BellaVado Avocado Oil

Lundberg Brown Rice (N. Cali)

I always try to be mindful of what I'm cooking and I definitely think about what I buy, but I love how this challenge keeps me on my toes. I am constantly thinking about what's going in to my meals and I hope that as this challenge goes on I won't even have to think as much, it'll just naturally be more SOLE cooking!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dark Days Meal #2 (posted Nov. 27)

Only the past couple of months have I started to stretch my food boundaries. Before then I would buy my usual fruits and veggies and eat them raw in a salad or steamed most of the time. I always looked at recipes and I collect cook books, but I was always thrown off by not having one ingredient or another or just being hesitant to try something. Lately I have been trying food I never have before and I've been learning to substitute ingredients, cook on a whim, create meals. It's been fun and I have discovered that me and my daughter ( my son eats 10 things total) like most of what we've tried. Tonight was a great example! 

I didn't get to the FM this weekend and I didn't get my csa box this week because of the holiday, so I had to use what I had in the house. I had plenty of beets (which we tried for the first time last week and loved), a spaghetti squash one of the farmers had thrown in my bag to try, and eggplant I had picked up but kept ignoring every time I opened the fridge. All the recipes for eggplant I had come across seemed to include lots of cheese and breadcrumbs and I don't have local of eithier. Then I saw the recap from last week and I stole Melanzane Al Funghetto from Alison ( Artisanry of Acorn Cottage), but used the original recipe that calls for simply eggplant, evoo and salt. I did substitute avocado oil, because I ran out of evoo this week. To go with that I decided to try the spaghetti squash I've been wanting to cook and was planning on making a beet cream sauce to go with it. I don't have homemade tomato sauce and I had plenty of beets so I dug around on the internet and found a recipe. But....things didn't turn out as planned. I was so busy in the kitchen and with the kids that I forgot to roast the beets ahead of time and they wouldn't have been ready with the rest of my dinner. So I roasted them anyways for a salad tomorrow and instead decided to make a quick tomato sauce myself with fresh tomatoes. That turned out to be my favorite part of the meal, I simply sauteed garlic and onion in coconut oil ( not local), added a big diced up orange tomato, salt and pepper and cooked for about ten minutes. YUM! 
In short...
Spaghetti Squash "Pasta" topped with a fresh orange tomato sauce and Melanzane Al Funghetto on the side (well it actually ended up mixed in). My bread still had ten minutes to finish baking and I couldn't wait, so the meal wasn't perfect but so very good and my daughter liked it too! Washed down with a tall glass of Organic Pastures Milk and a slice of homemade Pumpkin Pie for dessert! Hopefully next week I'll find some meat to try, but if not looks like we'll still eat good! Thanks for the ideas!

Squash, eggplant, garlic, and onions from Sage Mt. Farms

Tomato from the Farmers Market

Avocado Oil from Bella Vado

Coco. Oil not local, Milk from the closest dairy I know of (350 miles), and not local salt.

The pie was made from a local pumpkin roasted in local apple juice and the milk was Organic Pastures, but the rest was basic sugar, spices, flour and butter. 

There's no picture to go with this, because it was too ugly! Thanksgiving morning I broke my pie dish, my hand mixer and my camera, so I had to use my 3 year olds Fisher Price camera! The picture would have been beautiful though, the orange tomato sauce on the yellow spaghetti was gorgeous!

Dark Days Meal #1 (posted Nov. 22)
Agggghhhh! So as long as I get this wrote up before midnight, i'm good right?? It's been a busy weekend...I found out about this challenge on thursday I believe and since then I've had a kid with a severe asthma attack, I have been fighting off sickness, I've been busy in the kitchen, planning and throwing a baby shower and did I mention my diva 3 year old? So for our first Dark Days meal we had Kabocha Squash Soup for lunch yesterday! Last weekend at the Hillcrest Farmers Market I sampled some soup from Heather at the "ROOTS" stand. It was so delicious and she said the recipe was in her new holiday cookbook, so I picked one up. "Kind Food Kitchen" is a great little book that I hope to use plenty during this holiday season! For attempt number one, I made the squash soup... Kabocha Squash from Rutiz Farms  Onions from Sage Mt. Farms Thyme, Sage, and Parsley from my mamas garden Evoo from Petrou Avocado Oil from Bella Vado Veggie Stock from Organic Imagine =(...I had everything to make a stock and I should have, but I was feeling too sick and very pressed for time. Won't happen again =) To go with the soup I simply toasted bread from Peggy's Pasta topped with a little evoo (Petrou) and sun dried heirloom tomatoes from Schaner Farms. The soup was not as delicious as Heather's, but then again my first attempt at making soup and it was still pretty good! I can't wait to have a little more time on my hands this week to prepare for the next meal!! 

Let me start off by telling you what the Dark Days Challenge is. It's a challenge to eat one SOLE (Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical) meal per week and write about it. Many people in other parts of the country rely on root veggies and what they've preserved for the winter during these coming months. I am very lucky to live in California and still have access to a lot of fruits and veggies. Where I fall short is in the protein department, I haven't yet made relationships to get my hands on any local meat although I have found some options throughout Southern California. This challenge sounds easier than it is, when you start thinking about all you use to cook:grains, flour, seasoning, oils, etc. Not every ingredient has to be local, you got to make an exception list before you started and include what you'd be using that wasn't local.
My Exception List:
I have not found local sources for beans, grains, rice, or wheat, but I can get all of these ingredients from within California. The only items that will be used from outside of California are my baking ingredients, even my flour that will be Bob's Red Mill until I can get a grinder. The closest cows milk is 350 miles and the cheese even further, so I will try not to use these much in my meals for the posts, but we'll see...The other thing I have to mention is my vegetables and fruit, at this time I pick up a CSA box that includes food from Central and Northern California. I will mostly use my FM veggies and fruits, but at times one of these might sneak in, but I'll note it.

My take on the SOLE meals, is the same way I feel about the rest of my meals I make everyday. I love to get as much local as possible, but as long as it's from California I feel pretty good about it. The resources I do use from California are organic, sustainable, etc. If it's not from California and just something else I purchase I try to be mindful of the company that produces it and I don't buy too much of those things. I would love to say I don't give in to cravings and junk sometimes, but I do, but I am aware that every purchase is a vote and I think I do my part. I am pretty proud of where we are today, but am hoping to get much better in next year.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Beginning

So....I am starting this blog to chronicle my journey in the Dark Days Challenge courtesy of I started out posting my meals on a discussion board in my facebook group Eating Locally in San Diego, but they are getting a little long and I don't think everyone there wants to hear about it. So this way, I can be included in the recaps, be more accessible to other Dark Days Challenge takers and ramble on all I want. I don't know if I will continue this blog after the challenge or even what I will include during the challenge, but we'll see how it goes. I am new to all this...