I almost quit this week. I’ve actually already achieved the modest goals I set out for myself in the Dark Days challenge since I only planned to go through November. In addition to local meals, I wanted to find one new local ingredient each month. October’s was grapes, and for November I’d have to say the winner is walnuts. I bought way too many at my new favorite farm stand, and Munchkin and I have had a lot of fun cracking them. (He uses any perfect half shells as "bike helmets" for his Little People.) I've also found a source for local flour, but haven't placed an order, yet.
Still sick at the beginning of this week, I felt like I was running out of local possibilities. It’s been a month since our CSA ended and I actually had to buy onions at the grocery store. I’ve purchased almost no vegetables at a regular grocery store since last June and it was a little painful. (Cheaper, but painful!) I also bought some local, but undoubtedly CAFO, chicken because I was too tired to make an additional trip to the meat market. Monday night I cooked a meal that used to be a regular standby once/week. I don’t want to admit what was in it, except to say that after eating all so much local "real" food, my old recipe didn’t taste so good anymore!
Feeling a little better on Tuesday, but thinking that local cooking was hopeless until next spring, I took inventory of what local foods I had left. To my surprise, my list kept going, and going, and going...
Still left are local: honey, walnuts, apples, pears, grape juice, garlic, a red onion, squash, potatoes, leeks, celery, beets, pickles, milk, cheese, butter, and half a cabbage I’m not sure is still good. In the freezer are local: broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, shredded zuchini, pumpkin puree, strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, 3 types of freezer jam, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, chicken broth, lots of beef, half a pig including bacon and sausage, and a wild salmon steak from a salmon caught by my father-in-law at the Oregon coast. I can easily get more local dairy products, but both my local egg supplies have ended until next spring.
There’s not much left of some items, but I figure, what kind of cook am I if I can’t make a couple meals with all that?!!! So I’m still in. (But If anybody has any menu ideas, please drop me a comment!)
This week’s official local meal was simple, but tasty: pork chops, fingerling potatoes, Thanksgiving cranberry sauce (containing the only non-local ingredient: sugar), and a broccoli/cauliflower mix I froze from last summer’s CSA. It was a hit with my husband who loves meat & potatoes and so I guess I had enough local stuff to make a good meal, huh!
What I learned: For my first summer/fall of trying to get more "direct from the farmer" foods into our diet, I guess I did better than I thought!