I NEED the dark days challenge…

8 Dec

From Rachel

Sigh.  That’s how I feel about my local eating lately.  Since the end of September, Rochester has still been awash in great local and organic produce, and I’ve definitely been relying on the farmers for fruits and veggies.  We’ve been fortunate with really mild weather, and it’s almost DECEMBER!  Still, despite the good habits I formed during September, including purchasing local only flours, etc. I do feel I’ve lapsed a bit.  It doesn’t help that my inventory of local polenta, freekeh and oats ran out, but I’ve still been using local wheat flour and eggs.  I lapsed on making my own soy milk, I’m using (fair trade) white and brown cane sugar more than local sweeteners, etc.  So I’m SO glad there’s a new challenge to kick me into gear.  I like the Dark Days Challenge because it’s the moderate approach to locavore…I wouldn’t be a content locavore every meal of every day, as we all know.  But my favorite foods are the ones that star local organic fair produce, so this is a great choice for me to use as sort of a practiced meditation on that concept during the winter. It’s like going to that really intense yoga class even though you sort of do yoga in your living room most mornings or something like that.

“Good Enough Reason”

Though eating local is instinctively a good idea, I find myself faced with when to use the results of long summer afternoons storing food for this very occasion.  I don’t have enough stored to eat these foods all winter, so they become extra special to me.  They become like a collection of good wine for some people…wine that never gets enjoyed because it’s so special.  I dehydrated, pickled, canned and froze foods all summer and fall so I would enjoy it, not just enjoy looking at it, but I know that a lot of that food will not get opened if I don’t have a “good enough reason.”  I sort of rang a starting bell on opening jars at Thanksgiving.  Seemed like a special enough occasion and like it was late enough in the year (never mind the non-frozen ground outside that is yielding heavenly sweet kale and big ol’ carrots and more).  When I post about Dark Days, I plan to give a run-down of the stored foods opened and the fresh foods used, which will encourage me to open and celebrate the fresh taste of summer and fall while snow (maybe) falls outside.

On Thanksgiving and next day:

  • Pickled green tomatoes (canned Sept. 2011)
  • Ginger-Pear-Lime preserve (canned August 2010–only three jars were made of this heavenly stuff, and I thought a first holiday meal with a significant other’s family was “good enough reason” to break out the final jar)
  • Delicata squash (brought in a huge bin into the NOFA-NY office by our at-large technical assistance specialist, who is a lifelong farmer who obviously knows just how to grow and cure winter squashes, that flesh was dang dense and sweet)
  • Rosemary and parsley (my windowsill)
  • Beets and Turnips (from last CSA pickup back in October)
  • Carrots, potatoes, garlic, onions (local farmers)

Annnnd forgot to take pictures of how all this glorious food came together.  There was a pickle tray with Lea’s refrigerator pickles, beans, garlic scapes and my green tomatoes.  The ginger-pear-lime went on bread on Friday, next to cranberry relish.  Squash and veggies were roasted and mixed into a quinoa salad (dressing included South River miso, soy sauce, organic orange juice, windowsill parsley, butternut squash seed oil) for Friday.  The rosemary roasted potatoes that I made were probably the winner in the local-ingredients content, as only the olive oil, salt and pepper were not local.  So, not doing too bad without really trying, but I’m all fired up reading some other blogs, ready to challenge myself to highlight local non-vegetable ingredients again.

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