Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dark Days Week 2

Last week was finals and I admit I didn't do much cooking. . . or laundry or cleaning or sleeping or eating for that matter. I threw things together for dinner every night for the kids, but didn't even take the time to sit down and eat with them. It was a rough week, but my quarter is over now and I got 2 A's and a B. Not bad for a single mom with two monsters just coming back to school after a nice long (six year) hiatus. I had been waiting for the quarter to end to get in my kitchen and get a few things done besides the usual cooking. I have bones waiting to be made into broth, squash waiting to get dealt with, apples (previous batch pictured here) and lemons to dehydrate. . .but now Christmas baking has taken over and none of that has happened yet. I also haven't made the ribs my kids have been dying for or cooked the chicken I got. I hope the chicken will be my Dark Days meal this weekend and I know last year in the google group I asked about making a chicken and then never ended up getting one. I will be going back to those suggestions again and if there are any others feel free to share! This will be my first chicken, so wish me luck! I can't mess up because I have not eaten chicken in almost a year, when I pledged to not buy meat from the store anymore. I thought that would be easy, but I didn't realize meat has seasons too and you better be in line for certain things. Sign up for the chicken CSA begins soon and I will not miss it!
On to the meal I did pull out of last week, it was obviously a weekend dinner after finals were over, but I did forget to take pictures! I remembered as we were eating away, but thought you'd rather not see bones and scraps all over. I cooked some Pork loin chops (TLC Ranch) in a skillet with some again not local olive oil, rosemary from my garden and salt and pepper. The salt actually is local, which was a great find here in Northern California. Farmhouse Culture which makes some delicious sauerkraut also sells a sea salt at the market. Oh and let me not forget their Kraut shots! For $1 you get a "shot" of kraut juice. The Smoked Jalapeno one is great and though it kinda burns going down, it's worth it and Delicious! So with the pork chops we had "fries", roasted parsnips with sea salt and the kids dipped in ketchup (not local). I said as I served, "Here's your pork chops and fries" and my son said "these are potatoes?" as he bit into one and I responded, "Well, parsnip potatoes"...I know it's wrong, but sometimes just the words can ruin it. Because he ate them up and said I loved those"fries"! I too love parsnips and this was a nice hearty meal after days of barely eating!


Dark Days Meal #1!! It was so long ago, I had to study the picture and remember what I made! I don't know how I'm going to find time to blog once school's back in session! But I am determined!! At least this year we only post twice a month for the recaps, which should make it a little easier to keep up! So onto the meal...We had hamburgers with roasted veggies for dinner! Normally for a Dark Days Meal I try to leave out condiments or sauces that don't fit the bill but I had to have mustard and ketchup on my burger this time! It was just too good to not have just how I wanted it. Those things along with the buns and cheese were not local but organic yes. The meat....the hamburger and the BACON are local coming from TLC Ranch and Morris Grassfed Beef. The bacon is delicious and I'm sad to only have four more packages in the freezer, but we'll use it wisely. All the veggies including the onion and garlic are from local farms at the farmers market. The rosemary is dried from my garden and the pickles are home made! Canning is one thing I finally tried my hand at this summer and I had a blast and have lots of yummy stuff in my cupboards. The pickles were a huge success and next year I know to make plenty more because these are the last of the sliced dills!Back to the meal...the roasted veggies consisted of carrots, garlic, purple and red potatoes, and beets which are not pictured because they weren't done yet. The kids left all the beets for me but enjoyed the carrots and potatoes. My daughter even partook in the meat eating that night. Oh yes, bacon is not considered one of those Meats that she doesn't eat....she still LOVES bacon, but it's rare we eat it since we have to make it last! Under the peppers next to the cheese is not another burger, but sauteed onions and garlic, I like it kind of burnt and crispy...It's also on my veggies. I'm a huge onion and garlic Girl and happy to be living back up here by the Garlic Capital of the World, Gilroy! Every time you drive through town, the garlic aroma sits passenger for a good ten minutes and it's Heaven! The other thing not local was the olive oil I used for the roasting and sauteing...I ran out of my San Diego oil and although I have now found a local source in Santa Cruz I haven't bought any yet. I had already bought some at the store and I have been budgeting tight for the last few months, but in January it is in the budget! This meal was delicious and home made hamburgers are always the best because you can make them exactly how you want and cook them to the doneness you want and nothing gets better!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I'm Back...

Well I haven't caught up on here yet, so here it goes...I am still a single mother of two kids, 4 and 6. One eats almost anything...plain, and the other eats anything as long as it's not meat. My four year old was the BEST eater, sauerkraut was her favorite food and she loved meat, cheese, etc. Lately she asks, "is that meat"? I think about telling her no, but eventually say yes and she states, "I don't like meat" and won't eat it! This is the same child that could eat three hot dogs in one sitting! My worry for this Dark Days is I have a lot of meat in my freezer and I plan to use it! Sometimes she gives in and eats it and loves it, but most of the time she stands firm. Anyways...besides the change in her eating habits, many other things have changed. We now live in Northern California, which we are loving! I lived here years ago without kids and always wanted to come back and raise kids here. Now that is what is happening! It is easier to eat local here but one thing I am having a hard time with is meat. I had a great pork farm that also sold beef from a local family farm, but they unfortunately had to throw their hands up for the business and walk away. Instead they will be traveling the United States in their motor home for the next few years, helping on family farms and writing all about it. The woman in charge is Rebecca and she has a great blog over at HonestMeat. There is one place to get chicken, but the season was full before I got here, we got lucky and got one chicken that will definitely be used during this challenge. One other big change before we move on to the challenge, I am now a full time student with no time! I still get good food on the table for dinner, which is the only meal I now make for my kids with us all in school, but it is usually not extravagant. So just like last year, there really won't be anything fancy here for this challenge! The challenge....the 4th annual Dark Days Challenge! I participated last year, which is what began this blog and it definitely helped me find new resources for local foods in my area. The challenge is to cook one meal a week made from SOLE ingredients...Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical. Not all of my ingredients will fit the organic categorization as I have learned more about that and as long as fits the other three guidelines, I'm usually okay with it. My other exceptions will be butter and spices, and anything else that comes up I will note in my write ups. On to the new Dark Days...and being in Santa Cruz, CA instead of San Diego I might actually experience some Dark Days!