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.

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

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.