{Dark Days & GIVEAWAY} Week 6


Editor’s Note: This is our fourth 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. I’m talking gluten-free sweet potato gnocchi, my very own quart of canned tomatoes and some sautéed broccoli rabe. Read through to the end as we are running our first giveaway of 2011. -Christina

Like the ladies before me, Alexis, Leslie and Sarah, I too am all about local, seasonable and organic but usually only during the summer. What?! I can’t buy green beans and tomatoes from the grocery store for this challenge!!! In all seriousness, I did do a bit of planning during the summer as I have a lofty goal of being at least more seasonally conscious, so this challenge is a wonderful vehicle to test my work I did over the summer. Along with Sarah, I learned how to can & preserve via Sherri Brooks Vinton’s Put ‘Em Up. We have many, many posts praising the author’s fabulous book. If you want to learn how to can, you can do it with this book- no joke. I didn’t use any additional material; like a video, blog post, website, or another book to learn. I read the book cover to cover and canned a bunch of items: roasted pepper ketchup, whole tomatoes, apple chutney, pickles, Chinese plum sauce, applesauce, peach jam, salsa verde and corn relish, while also blanching and freezing various produce like three types of homemade pesto (spinach, ramp & basil), fennel confit, green beans, corn, potatoes, chives, and grated zucchini.

In our first post were asked to outline our exceptions; items you will not be trying to find locally. I have the same as others, mainly spices including salt & pepper and beans. Because of my son’s severe life-threatening food allergies I don’t have the luxury of using local milk or value-added products like butter, cream, yogurt and cheese. In addition, I can’t use local wheat flours. That’s not to say that next time I head to the bulk-bin-haven Honest Weight Food Co-op, I won’t investigate where my various GF flours and starches are sourced from. So stay tuned I may be surprised. I do have one item up my sleeve, semi-local olive oil. I’ve spoken about Dancing Ewe’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil CSA before, as I urge others to sign up. My bottle is not apart of the CSA, I’m signed up for the upcoming year March 2011. I purchased the bottle from Jody & Luisa, I wanted to try it before I purchased the 2011 share. It does not disappoint. Basically, Jody & Luisa make sheep & cow’s milk cheeses while also creating an olive oil from trees on Luisa’s family farm in Italy. They personally harvest and create the olive oil and bring it back to us, the consumers, in March of every year. I don’t know the full extent of the story and details, I’m planning on interviewing them in the future… In the meantime, The Dairy Show profiled them two years ago in their first show. Watch on Vimeo here.

Okay, back to my meal for the challenge. Due to Christmas and New Year Day falling on a Saturday we went about 12 days without a farmer’s market. I didn’t plan that well, so I didn’t have any local protein to use. I was starting to have a mini-mental breakdown when I remembered that I had tried my hand at gluten-free gnocchi making in October and had frozen a whole meal’s worth. I am still planning to do a detailed post on my gnocchi experimentation, that totally rocked, but for now let’s say I used this recipe from the San Francisco Examiner as a base but adapted the ratio of potatoes to include sweet potatoes. Both potatoes I used where from my fall Kilpatrick Family Farm share.  The eggs were from Elihu Farm and the olive oil was from Dancing Ewe but the rest of it; white rice flour, salt, potato starch, xanthum gum and corn starch were not anything but generic, big grocery store fare.

Next was the sauce: canned whole tomatoes from my special order 30 pounds of tomatoes from Denison Farm! A quick side note: the pre-canned tomatoes shown above as part of our logo banner. Next what do I do?  You see, I have this WONDFERFUL book on my cookbook shelf (spanning the top of our sideboard) that I have ignored for far too long; Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen. Why why why me?! Well, it’s because until I had to cook for my son due to his food allergies, I really didn’t know what I was doing in the kitchen and soups intimidated me. I bought the book to “read up” and try to impress my husband, post-marriage. The book simply collected dust.  I laugh at this concept now, as I make soup at least once a week but I bought this book to show me the soup ways of the world. I “skimmed it”cover to cover in December and I have rediscovered by I loved this book so much. Now I reference it whenever I’m making a soup. So I pulled out the beauty off the shelf, and looked in the index under Tomato and decided to make her Smokey Tomato Bisque (pg 157). The ingredients are simple & clean: One shallot from KFF (I adapted on this- wanted to put it in), one white onion from KFF, and 2 cloves of garlic from my summer stockpile from Wing Road Farm, 2 teaspoons of Dancing Ewe olive oil and my can of whole tomatoes. The non local ingredients are: 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika (again I adapted, the recipe states 1/4 t), 1 thyme sprig, salt & pepper, 1/3 teaspoon of sugar and 1 T cream. Here’s the deal: I forgot to add the sugar and rice milk. It was still AMAZING. My audience, Miles & Charles, gobbled it right up! So I can only imagine how amazing this soup is if I had followed the actual directions.

I rounded out the meal with two things. First, I sautéed some broccoli rabe from this past week’s first winter share from Kilpatrick Family Farm with olive oil, s&p, garlic from Winged Road Farm, a few red pepper flakes and some lemon juice. Delish. Lastly, since we don’t have wheat-anything in the house, I grabbed one brown rice tortilla made by Food for Life and toasted it to make crackers and dipped the pieces in Clifton Park’s own Gar-La-La’s Horseradish & Dill . I really hope this family exceeds with this excellent product and goes national because it-is-awesome. Its basically made of fresh raw garlic, potato, lemon, canola oil, sea salt, and pepper with varying herbs & spices based on their different flavor offerings. Its perfect for us as its completely allergy & gluten-free.

Now, onto the GIVEAWAY. We are giving away one (1) copy of Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen to a US resident. My apologizes to our international readers but I just calculated shipping and its equal to or more than the actual Amazon price of the book. Sorry!


  • Open to US residents only
  • Giveaway ends at midnight Thursday, January 27th, 2011 (running for 2 weeks)
    The winner will be announced by midnight Sunday, January 30th, 2010.
    The winner will be sent their book, by us, no later than February 5th, 2010.
  • If we get less than 15 people entered, we will be picking the winner from a hat. If we get more than 15, we will be picking the winning comment randomly via random.org.
  • All entries will be in the form of a comment BELOW. You can comment up to THREE times by doing the following:

1st comment: Answer this question: Do you or will you try to eat seasonally, even during the “dark days” of winter?

2nd comment: “like” us on Facebook, then comment below that you did so or tell us you already are!

3rd comment: Friend us on TWITTER or tell us you already are! We are very active on Twitter.

Again, ALL entries (up to three total) need to be in the form of a comment below on this post only. Good luck!



21 Comments Add yours

  1. Thea says:

    Great post. Winter share? Broccoli Rabe? Cool. Must look into this.I am a member of Roxbury Farms and they have a winter share box you can get at the end of the season but it is mostly root veggies.
    The meal looks delish.

  2. SallyA says:

    My mouth is watering. Everything you made sounds so delicious. I can’t believe how much you canned! Amazing. Good for you. I’ll be you’re really enjoying it now. Even though it doesn’t get that cold down here in Houston, it was 29 last night and soups are welcome. I’d love to win the book! Thanks for the contest!

  3. Connie T says:

    I once canned salsa. I like to can beets too. Those taste wonderful.

  4. Marci J says:

    I do try, but I know a lot of the fruits and vegetables in winter come from far away. I love to eat oranges for example and they are shipped all the way from CA or FL (I live in NY). On the other hand, my family does eat a lot of potato meals in the winter, and potatoes are a root vegetable that we can store from our garden.

  5. Kim O says:

    The photos of the canning and the broccoli rabe are inspiring. I so want a big bowl of those right now, and the ability and knowledge to can all of that goodness for my family. Great post! Thanks!

  6. Susan says:

    My husband and I have made a resolution for 2011 to eat healthier and lots more veggies and fruits. So far, we’re doing really well, but I can see how it might be easy to run out of fresh ideas in these “dark days” of winter. Thanks for the chance to win this very nice cookbook.

  7. Celia says:

    I try to eat seasonally and locally whenever possible. It’s a little easier, living on the edge of farm country in northern Virginia. We have a farmers market a town over that runs all year, so I can get winter greens, sweet potatoes, and apples. I also love winter produce–especially squash!–so it’s not a terrible chore.

  8. nik says:

    We do try, especially by supporting local farmers markets.

  9. Kris says:

    The vast majority of our veggies (roots and winter greens) are local all winter and we eat a lot of local meat all year long. Unfortunately I didn’t can anywhere near enough tomatoes and there is a lot of other stuff (starches, oil, butter, spices, beans, snack foods, etc.) that come from the grocery store.
    Love the photo of all your canned goods! I want that to be my pantry.

  10. Jenny H says:

    I really hadn’t thought about eating seasonally and locally until I had kids. I’m not much of a cook, but I am tring to become one now that I have to cook at home and feed a family of five. Our farmers markets don’t run year round but my goal is to at least be mindful of eating seasonally and then I hope it will just become the way I purchase food. So, long story short, I will try!

  11. Jenny H says:

    Oh, and I already do “like” you on facebook!

  12. Wendy says:

    My name is Wendy and I found you through the Dark Days Challenge. I too am from NY (Finger Lakes Region) and am trying to make one SOLE meal a week. I’ve love the inspiration I find from others like you doing the challenge, and I’m also amazed at how forcing myself to do one meal a week as really opened my eyes to where all the other food we eat comes from. We’re lucky here in Ithaca to have a winter market, and I’ve put by a little food in our own pantry/freezer to help us through until the garden starts producting again.
    Thank you for your great website – I’ve really enjoyed following your posts!

  13. Wendy says:

    and there, now I will follow you on Facebook too!

  14. Joanna says:

    Wow, this is all so inspiring! I am a “Facebook friend”…and I want this cookbook, yum! =)

  15. Jillian says:

    I do eat seasonally and these ARE becoming the dark days, aren’t they? It’s odd, I find that I appreciate local eating more at this time of year than at any other time. It’s kind of comforting to be restricted to a few choices, knowing that if I can make it through this time and appreciate what we have, I’ll be rewarded with the bounty that summer brings.

  16. Jillian says:

    I do already like you on Facebook, and I’m glad I do because your updates are the BEST!

  17. Meryl says:

    Yes, I try to eat seasonally.

  18. Paula says:

    I try to eat as locally as possible even with winter. One of the lucky parts of living in Houston is that I’m Zone 9 and can garden pretty much all year around. I have cabbage and broccoli in the ground right now and just planted lettuce, spinahc and peas last weekend. I’m getting ready to plant more this weekend.

  19. Paula says:

    I already liked you on facebook a long time ago 🙂

  20. Paula says:

    And now I’m following you on twitter. 😀

Start a conversation --> We love feedback!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s