Monday, January 25, 2010

Dark Days Meal #11

I sat down to my dark days meal early this week, Monday to be exact. I went in to have my wisdom teeth out on Wednesday and I assumed nobody wanted to see pictures of smoothies and vegetable juice which would sustain me for the rest of the week. So on Monday, while my kids were both in school (new for me) I sat down to a great lunch while I caught up on some other Dark Day Challengers blogs. Over at Hippychick's Adventure she wrote a wonderful little post while describing her meal that almost matched what I had in front of me. It was beautiful to read and made my lunch that much better. I cooked some red onion and garlic in olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar (not local). After it cooked for 6-7 minutes I poured it over a salad of sliced cabbage, kale, snap peas, radishes, green garlic and garbanzo beans (all local and from the market). To make it a complete meal I then poured the salad on top of a bed of reheated Lundberg Brown rice and chopped up some hard boiled eggs to go on top. I'm still not back to 100% from having my teeth out, but I am ready for this salad again!

Dark Days Meal #10

WEEK 10!! This week we are back to a meatless Dark Days Meal, like usual. Well actually my kids did eat some grilled chicken with the potatoes and beans and I had the chard instead. The chicken was the last of our frozen supply of non local meat and I now refuse to buy any meat that does not meet my standards. We don't eat meat very often, so I don't think it will be a problem. I do have local pork, fish and chicken available at the market now and one of my favorite vegetable farmers, Phil from Sage Mt. Farms is going to have beef to purchase starting in March!! I am beyond excited for this! It has taken me longer to adjust to eating the local meat, simply because of the prices and my lack of money but I can no longer turn a blind eye to the animal industry and the disgustingness...I have been using up what we had and I can't even bring myself to eat it after I cook it and I have figured out a way to make it work for us. We don't eat much meat, so I figure I can buy one or two sources at the market every two weeks and make into a couple meals each week. I did that with ground pork we got last time and it worked well and wow was it yummy!! To supplement (which I should have been doing all along) we will eat more beans, which I will also buy 2 bags of every two weeks and use for the meals on the other days of the week. The soaking and planning had always put me off of purchasing more beans, but they are so easy and I realize I can just store them cooked in the fridge and then plug them into the equation when dinner rolls around. Annette over at SustainableEats also just mentioned that she freezes hers and that would make it even easier!

On to dinner...Dinner was just a collection of different things, but was very filling and delicious! I still had fresh potatoes that I quartered and roasted with carrots, rosemary, garlic and Olive oil. I also slightly sauteed a bunch of chard with green garlic and olive oil and to round out the meal heated up some pinto beans from my fridge and topped them with some shredded Tillamook cheese. Everything was local, except the cheese and the salt & pepper.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dark Days Meal #9

Is this week 9? It seems like it's been much longer than the number 9, but maybe that's because it's been 63 days!! Although I haven't produced any difficult, amazing culinary dishes I've realized that is not what it's about. I was worried coming into this challenge that my cooking skills weren't very advanced and I would be embarrassed posting my meals, but I have realized that this is not at all about what you create in the kitchen but what you use to create it. Reading the recaps and visiting the fellow challengers blogs has brought to me the realization that alot of the meals created by SOLE ingredients are simple, yet some of the most delicious meals we've ever had! This is because the ingredients are the best available to us and they taste best when you let their own flavors shine! I hadn't been to the Farmers Market in a few weeks and I was very excited to get down there again this past weekend, even if I was only going to find greens, winter squash, beets, apples and oranges...boy was I wrong. I came home with green garlic, green onions,garlic and onions, celery, sprouts, radishes,tomatoes, zucchini, wheatgrass, the BEST tangerines, limes, avocados, apples, oranges, grapefruits, lemons, purple broccoli, chard, kale, orange cauliflower, cabbage, carrots of all colors, of course squash and beets and POTATOES pulled form the ground the day before! The bounty I have access to living in San Diego is amazing! I do plan on growing a few things in containers again this year, but I have accepted that at this point I can only do so much myself. It doesn't bother me anymore that I can't have a full fledged garden and farm, I am happy to support my friends (the farmers) at the markets. They work hard at what they do and what I can do to support them makes me feel good and when I've taken some time away and return to smiling faces to see that they are just as happy to see me and the kids and be providing us with great food, as I am to see them and get some great food it makes it even that much better. My kids were just as excited as I was we were going to be taking a trip to the market, they were jumping up and down the night before talking about what we could get: eggs, honey, apples, almonds. My kids don't have a perfect diet of no processed foods or no junk, but at the same time they are learning for themselves what they like and alot of the time making great decisions. They ask more for fruits and vegetables than for chips and snacks, more for pasta, beans and rice than chicken nuggets or corn dogs. And they love knowing where their food comes from, they love to ask if that's the fruit from Matt (Lone Oak Ranch) and if I say yes they are even more excited to eat it! When we came home from the market, they sat down and simply ate a bowl of veggies: broccoli, tomatoes, celery, carrots and cauliflower with a little sour cream and peanut butter on the side. Knowing that feeding them good and making the right decisions is so easy, is very empowering and I am proud to be a growing member of this local food community! I am excited for the next steps I will take in becoming more involved with local programs and trying my hand at new practices of food preservation and I am excited for the strides that the local food community in San Diego is making. People are recognizing the need and the benefit of SOLE eating, cooking, and purchasing and the boundaries are expanding and I am happy to be a part of it. Just as I am happy to be a part of this challenge! The fellow challengers give me so much motivation and encouragement even if they are not directly talking to me and they are all a wealth of information (the google group is invaluable)! Thank you!!

Okay, now on to my Dark Days meal! When we got home from the market we ate tons of fruit and veggies, then my aunt came over and delivered enchiladas and tamales she had made. That made lunch and dinner. The next morning I decided breakfast would be my Dark Days Meal for the week, I had bought some potatoes from Sage Mt. Farm the day before that looked amazing and Justin had told me that they were just pulled out the day before and had never seen storage so I wanted to cook them up as soon as possible. I decide to shred the potatoes and try my hand at hash browns, I also rolled out some sausage patties from local ground pork I had purchsed at the market. To round out the breakfast I scrambled some eggs with green onion and green garlic and topped them with cilantro. Breakfast was delicious, the only thing I would change is how I cooked the hash browns. I cooked them in avocado oil which my kids love and actually drink on occasion, but they did not like the taste it gave the hash browns so next time I will simply use olive oil (eventhough I thought the flavored hash browns were good).

Ground Pork from Da Le Ranch
ginger and garlic salt....not local
Onion from Sage Mt. Farm

Potatoes from Sage Mt. Farm
Avocado Oil from Bella Vado

Eggs from Hilliker's
Milk from Organic Valley
Green onions from Sage Mt. Farm
Green garlic and cilantro from Schaner Farms
salt and pepper....not local

Tomatoes from Suzie's Farm

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dark Days Meal #8

This week I needed some comfort food and my dark days meal came in handy for that. Not only did it work for a comfort meal, but my mac n cheese also was good enough that my kids enjoyed it and now they won't ask for the boxed version any more. Well they might ask for it, but I can come back with "I'll make some". The mac n cheese was not as local as I'd like, I'm still searching for the best milk and cheese for me and have yet to find any very close. The milk is Organic Pastures 350 miles away and the cheese was Tillamook. The noodles were organic, but not local and the salt, pepper, and paprika were not local. On the side we simply had steamed broccoli and raw carrots. Usually we steam both, but the kids have been asking for the carrots to be crunchy. It was a yummy, kid friendly dinner that was easy to make. I had a hard week and wasn't up for spending too much time in the kitchen. On to the next week...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Dark Days Meal #7

Week #7 already....and already I had a hard week. This week really opened up my eyes to what I should try to work on this year. I am a die hard farmers market shopper, who goes every weekend, gets my food for the week (with a few extras that'll keep longer) and cooks it. Besides that my involvment is limited. I had tomatoes and herbs growing last year, but no other garden. I live in an apartment and have very little space that gets good sun and being that most of my life I despised getting dirty, I didn't know much and messed up the other things I tried to grow. I don't preserve food in any kind of way and this week that is why I got into trouble. I hadn't gotten to the market during the holidays and couldn't again this weekend and had used up ALL of my food...Thankfully I had some Lundberg rice still in the cupboard and I had made another batch of bean/squash soup from last week, so I simply poured the soup over the cooked rice and added some local sun dried heirloom tomatoes from Schaner Farms. It was a delicious meal, but all week I felt dragged down about the food choices I had in my house. I realized I needed to try again at a garden this year, so I've been combing the catalogs looking for the best container seeds *If you know of any, please let me know*, and I realized I needed to start learning to preserve! I'm not sure all that that will entail, but I'm ready to learn and take the next step in my local food journey. I definitely will not have a harvest '0 plenty to put up myself, but I can definitely buy extra from my farmers and work with that. Again any tips, suggestions, advice you have, please share...because just like gardening last year I don't know anything and am starting from scratch. I will definitely keep you updated on my journey, and I feel wonderful going in to my next phase!