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

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:
Chicken broth (for mashed potatoes)
Apple cider molasses (home canned from Markle Farm cider)

Thistle Byre Farm:

Leg of lamb

Non-local Ingredients:

White wine
Olive oil

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Making Chorizo

It has been a long time since I have posted.  It is certainly not for lack of material, but rather because of lack of time.  I have about a dozen new posts in my head, but have not had the time to put them down.  I have decided I can’t catch up all the happenings on the farm, so I will post what I can and just jump back in.  Farming in spring is crazy busy.  With the high tunnel, it is double the work. Add to that the busiest time of year for the restaurant, having to get both new lunch and dinner menus to bed, and serious school commitments and it was the perfect storm.  A great storm, but a storm that had me staying up late and getting up early.  A storm that forced us to create a part-time job here at the farm.  Planting, harvesting, weeding, etc. is nothing compared to spreading 8 yards of compost, turning downed trees into logs, building 30 4 foot tall tomato cages, and putting up more fencing.  It just was not possible without help.  For a year, there have been 50 beautiful wooden chairs that need some TLC sitting in our garage. They will be given a new life at the restaurant where they are desperately needed.  Tile for the new fireplace surround was purchased a year ago and is still sitting on the back porch.  I am not complaining. It is great to have so many things you want to do, but sometimes we feel we are being pulled under.  Now it’s June and much has been accomplished.  I still have two flats of annuals that are not int he ground yet, but this 95 degree day is keeping me indoors baking.

The slideshow goes through the process of making chorizo.  We love it (who doesn’t if they are a meat eater?), and local farmers do not offer it.  I decided to try my hand at charcuterie.  So we got 10 pounds of ground pork through our friends at Thistle Byre Farm and made a batch.  Their pork is so flavorful and wonderfully lean. We use their sausage at the restaurant as well.  Paco spoke to his mom and she said get a recipe online for chorizo from Toluca—where it originated.  I used the recipe from the website Lo Mexicano.   The process was simple enough.  The verdict: Ok, not great.  I think I was heavy handed with the cinnamon.  I think next time we will add some spicier chilies as well.  The can’t all be winners the first time around.  We will use it up and them try another batch.

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