Editor’s Note: This is our third installment of a 4 1/2 month challenge, Dark Days, taken up by 88 blogs spanning the country, to eat one meal a week as local, sustainable, ethical and organic as possible. Sarah discusses the process from phone call to table of a half pig they purchase from a farm in Central New York. A quick housekeeping note: Due to the holidaze, we decided to skip week three and week four, so we are adding two weeks to the end of the challenge. – Christina
I’ll be the first to admit that cooking for the Dark Days Challenge is pushing me completely out of my comfort zone. In the summer, I am all about cooking local, organic, etc., etc. but as I’ve found out in the last couple of months, I stray from this concept drastically in the winter months. Same as Alexis said in her first Dark Days post, I cook with quite a few things that come from I don’t know where. Anyway, I’m straying….. the local aspect of this challenge gives me the opportunity to discuss one of the ways that we acquire some of the meat that enters our home.
Each year, in the spring time, my dad usually gives me a call to find out if we are interested in purchasing a pig. Yes, an entire pig from one of the local farmers near their home in Central New York. For the last two years we have said yes. A whole pig is quite a bit of pork for our house, so we have found a former co-worker who is willing to share the costs and the pork. So, we pay for the pig and once they are at a size that the farmer deems appropriate they are sent to slaughter. We are then contacted by the butcher to see how we would like our meat. By this I mean things such as how many hams do you want, do you want them smoked, do you want sausage, would you like the hocks for making soup and the list goes on. One of the things that we always get are pork chops. I have to say that I love the chops that we get from our local pig & butcher. They are so meaty, tasty and just yummy. So yummy in fact that when I cook them, I tend to keep them pretty simple so as not to try to mask them over with other flavors.
For our Dark Days dinner I cooked the pork chops with a little bit of non-organic, non-local olive oil. I also used salt & pepper direct from the store non-local, non-organic. I sautéed the chops in a pan with the oil, salt, pepper and a little bit of remaining garlic that we had kicking around from my mom’s garden. That’s it. As side dishes, I steamed some broccoli and cauliflower that I had blanched and frozen during the summer from our CSA through Denison Farm. I also made mashed potatoes with some blue potatoes from one of Denison’s winter boxes that we purchased at the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market. For the potatoes I did add some milk that we also get locally from Battenkill Valley Creamery. The meal was warm and hearty. Nothing fancy or over the top, but it definitely hit the spot.