Just in Time

The organizers of the Dark Days eating local blog challenge have given us some challenges.  The first was the One Pot Meal challenge that I filled with pot roast, but this next challenge was A LOT harder.  I thought about it off and on for weeks.  The challenge—make a sweet treat for your Valentine using all or nearly all local ingredients.  That coupled with my little Valentine’s allergies to corn, soy, dairy, gluten (and those are just the pertinent ones to sweets), made this seem like a challenge deadline I might just have to let slide by.  A few days ago, stopped at a red light, it came to me–meringues.  Finally, I was saved.

I beat 4 egg whites (ours) stiff, added a pinch of cream of tartar, about a 1/2 cup of Longhouse Farm maple syrup, and a few drops of red food color (I could not help myself).  It worked like a dream.  Pink heart shaped meringues that melt on your tongue.   I  did it!  The cream of tartar and food color were not local of course, but they were minor additions.  As I type this, it occurs to me that I could have thawed some frozen raspberries and used a bit of those for color and flavor.

My seven year old Valentine was very impressed.

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Sometimes, I hit it out of the park

Well, if you really know me, you know that I cannot hit or catch anything, let alone out of the park.  But, in a culinary way, our Dark Days meal this week was a home run.  I am not a very good recipe follower.  If I do use one, I usually follow it loosely.  This week I decided the spare ribs from the hog we got in the fall were ready to come out of the freezer.  Since I taught this day an would no be home in the afternoon, I prepped this meal in advance and set the oven to come on later and a low temp and slowly cook our ribs and sweet potatoes. 

 

I wanted BBQ sauce–Small Wonder Farm style, so I took a jar of my canned ketchup which has 2 times the flavor of regular ketchup, added a 1/4 cup of local maple syrup and a 1/4 of yellow mustard.  After salting and peppering the ribs, I covered them in this.  We came home to the best pork ribs imaginable with sweet potatoes and fresh spinach salad (picked from our own high tunnel).  Definitely a hit.

This was the first year I made ketchup and it will definitely become a staple for our pantry.  More flavorful and so versatile.  It can easily become BBQ sauce, cocktail sauce, or an addition in dishes like meatloaf and cabbage rolls.

Small Wonder Farm: Spinach

Markle Farm: Sweet Potatoes

This Old FarmPork Ribs

Longhouse Farm: Maple Syrup

Outside inputs:  Yellow Mustard, Salt, Pepper

 

Dark Days Times Two

Just when I was pondering what our next meal would be for the Dark Days local eating challenge, 2 meals happened back to back without really planning.  

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The first is a meal of lamb burgers with home-canned ketchup, German potato salad, home-canned applesauce, and a cold beet salad.  Meal number 2 was a beef pot roast with carrots, potatoes, onions, and garlic.  We had this with some home-canned peaches. Our pot roast meal qualifies as they One-pot Meal mini challenge within the Dark Days Challenge.  The only item not in the pot was the peaches and we ate those right out of the canning jar!

You will notice that our lamb burgers were served without a bun.  We often have bread-less meals due to our daughter’s numerous food allergies.  Makes Dark Days easier too!

The German Potato salad is not a regular offering around here.   A few weeks ago, we visited Shapiro’s Deli in Indianapolis and I had their German potato salad and I have been craving it ever since.  Shapiro’s is a 100+ year old deli and a bit of a local legend. Hard to believe we had never been their before.  The potato salad, served warm, was the perfect combination of strong mustard, vinegar tang, and just enough sweetness to make it perfect.  I love vinegar, mustard, and the like. This salad had celery (sauteed), but no bacon (most recipes call for it), and came across as elusively simple—the kind of recipe that you might never peg.  My version was not bad, but not as good either. To make the dressing, I used mustard, apple vinegar (our daughter can’t have white vinegar due to corn allergy) and honey. I boiled the potatoes, sauteed the celery in lard, and then tossed it altogether in the mustard dressing and added fresh parsley.  I doubted husband and daughter would even like it (not big mustard fans), but we all loved it.  If anyone out there has more insight into Shapiro’s German Potato Salad, I would love to know.

Here is the score:

Meal One (Lamb Burgers):

Lamb and Lard—Thistle Byre Farm

Applesauce—canned from Butera Orchard apples

Honey (on beets and in potato salad)–Wabash and Reilly Honey

Beets, Potatoes, Ketchup, Onions, Parsley, Garlic, Parsley, Celery–from our own Small Wonder Farm

Outside Inputs: Yellow Mustard, Salt, Pepper, Apple Cider Vinegar,  1 TB orange juice (on beets)

Meal Two (Pot Roast):

Chuck Roast–This Old Farm processing and Glenn Hoover Beef

Onions, Potatoes, Garlic, Carrots—from our own Small Wonder Farm

Home-canned peaches—peaches from Thistle Byre Farm

Outside inputs: Salt, Pepper, Mixed Dry Herbs, White Wine

Butternut, Apple, and Cranberry Gratin

Our local meal pick of the week was a butternut squash, apple, and cranberry gratin and local sausage. The inspiration came from an online recipe from Organic Gardening Magazine. http://www.organicgardening.com/cook/butternut-squash-apple-and-cranberry-gratin

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I modified the recipe to accommodate our dairy and gluten free household. I substituted my GF flour blend for the flour and Spectrum shortening for the butter. I also used fresh cranberries for the dried ones and added 2 tablespoons of local honey to accommodate the lack of sweetness. We had this with some local grass-fed sausages from Thistle Byre Farm. This was a first time making this and we all really liked it. It would also make a great holiday side dish.

Here’s the rundown:

Thistle Byre Farm:
Grass-fed pork sausage
Fuji apples

Markle Farm:
Butternut Squash

Wabash and Reily Local Honey

Our own Small Wonder Farm:
Parsley
Thyme

Outside inputs:
GF flour blend
Spectrum shortening
Cranberries
Salt
Pepper
Cayenne

Roast Beast

Just like the Whos in Whoville, Our Christmas feast included roast beast, in this case–leg of lamb. We also had roasted carrots glazed with cider molasses (a thicker version of our cider syrup) and mashed potatoes. This meal came mostly from our own backyard with the addition of a beautiful grassed leg of lamb from Thistle Byre Farm. I marinated the lamb with olive oil, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, white wine, garlic, salt, and pepper. The carrots are Napoli carrots from our high tunnel. These are Eliot Coleman’s much lauded “candy carrots” that are sweetened by some heavy frosts and freezes. I harvested them along with some beautiful Jerusalem artichokes on Christmas Eve. The artichokes are heaped with compost in their outdoor bed. Our mild winter made it quite easy to harvest them. The carrots were amazingly sweet and lovely. These holiday gifts from our own farm were a beautiful celebration of the day.

Here’s the official breakdown for the Dark Days Challenge:

Our own farm:
Carrots
Potatoes
Thyme
Rosemary
Garlic
Chicken broth (for mashed potatoes)
Parsley
Apple cider molasses (home canned from Markle Farm cider)

Thistle Byre Farm:

Leg of lamb

Non-local Ingredients:

White wine
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper

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Chile Rellenos Casserole

My latest installment for the Dark Days Challenge is a riff of the Simply Recipes recipe for Chile Relleno Casserole.  “Chile rellenos” means “stuffed chiles.”  The traditional way to prepare the dish is to roast and peel whole poblano peppers, stuff them with cheese, dip them in fluffy beaten eggs, and deep fry. They are then simmered in a flavorful tomato broth—probably the best Mexican dish ever and no one makes it better than me. Needless to say, it is neither a healthy dish or quick to prepare, so we have it a few times a year.

I grow poblano peppers on the farm and then roast and peel them.  I freeze them in bags in meal sized portions.  I add these to various dishes.  This preparation is one of my favorites.  Unlike the Simply Recipes recipe, I do not stuff the chilies here.  Since I am working with frozen chilies, I cook the chorizo, onion, and garlic and then add my homegrown tomato salsa.  I use this as the bottom layer and then add the chilies on top, followed by local cheese (instead of the cotija listed in the recipe), and then our own eggs.  I do add the small amount of flour and baking powder. For us, the flour is our GF blend.

This is a great make ahead recipe.  You can prepare and then stick it on the fridge–baked or not.  It also keeps well and is great reheated in the microwave.  You will notice, I made a portion without cheese to accomodate my daughter’s dairy allergy.

We added a green salad with radishes and carrots (harvested from our high tunnel), and homemade applesauce made from local apples.  Here is the complete tally of sources:

Our Farm:  garlic, onions, eggs, poblano peppers, tomato salsa, oregano, radishes, carrots

Goose the Market: chorizo sausage

Cheese–can’t remember farmer’s name, but it’s a Munster from local Amish farm.

Other items: GF flour blend, baking soda, olive oil

Dark Days are Here

This week we kicked off the Dark Days of Winter Eat Local challenge. Don’t know about the Dark Days Challenge?  Follow the link above.  Over 100 bloggers and others will be presenting their local meals on a weekly basis and the recaps will end up at Not Dabbling in Normal.

At our house the challenge is further complicated by the fact that we eat gluten, soy, dairy, legume, corn, and fish free (those are just the highlights) due to our daughter’s food allergies. I know of a few grains I can get locally, but when it comes to making sure I am stocked with GF certified oats and specialty flours like tapioca and sorghum, I turn to our local co-op and natural foods store. The GF oats used in this recipe come from Bob’s Red Mill via our local food buying co-op.

We kicked off the challenge with a meal of maple meatloaf, sweet dumpling squash, and roasted tomatoes. The maple meatloaf I make is based on the recipe from The Gluten-Free Goddess–one of my go-to sources for allergen free recipes. I pretty much followed the recipe, but did not make the glaze.  The addition of our own tangy ketchup was a delicious substitution. Everything in this meal was already in my pantry or harvested fresh from our farm. These products were from our own farm:

Eggs
Carrot
Parsley
Rosemary
Ketchup
Garlic
Onion
Tomatoes (some of the last of those picked green from the high tunnel that have been slowly ripening on the kitchen counter)

Products from other local producers:
Ground beef from This Old Farm
Sweet Dumpling Squash from Markle Farm
Maple Syrup from Middleton’s Maple Farm and Longhouse Farm (we do make our own but have gone through all of it)

Other items used: olive oil, spices, GF oats

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This was a meal I prepped in the AM since I taught that day and my daughter had an after-school art class.  I set the oven to come on at the right time, left the squash in the oven, and my husband (home first) just had to take the meatloaf out of the fridge and put it in the oven.  I put the tomatoes in when I got home and we ate about 20 minutes later.  Instead of trying to open and scoop out the squash before baking, I placed them whole into a shallow pan with some water in the bottom, covered tightly with foil, and baked.  After letting them cool off a bit, I opened the tops as if to carve a pumpkin and scooped out the seeds.  Worked like a dream and those squash were the sweetest I have ever tasted.

It was wonderful to eat so many things that we knew originated in our backyard, but also to know and be friends with those responsible for the beef, squash, and maple syrup.  There is a level of respect you have for your food when you produced it and/or know the hard work of those who did.  Meals like this are a reason for Thanksgiving every day.