Editor’s Note: This is the 11th week of a 4 1/2 month challenge, Dark Days, a pledge taken by 88 blogs spanning the country, to eat one meal a week as sustainable, organic, local and ethical possible. This week we change it up a bit with Dianna, a FSC guest contributor, working an amazing Dark Days meal with a loaf of bread from homegrown wheat (!!!!!) and potato leek soup. Oh, and she treats us to a bonus recipe: Homemade yogurt… take it away Dianna. – Christina
When we sold our house in Argyle New York a couple of years ago, our organic vegetable garden went with it. My husband was bereft, so several friends of ours offered to let him replace their lawns with gardens. Thus, community sharecropping was born.
One of our friends, Rabbi Jonathan, bakes bread in our temple kitchen every week for the Bread and Torah Project so he asked if we could try growing some wheat in his front yard. We managed to grow about 4 pounds of wheat from a space around the size of our dining room. Not enough to keep us going during the famine but an exciting break-through nonetheless. Last week Jonathan ground the wheat into flour and baked several loaves of bread out of it. He gave us one of the loaves, plus an extra cup of flour. I decided to build my Dark Days Challenge meal around that loaf of home-grown, home-baked bread.
To go with our loaf of bread I made a winter standby from our garden storage crops; potato leek soup. We dry the dill during the summer, store the leeks in our refrigerator for up to four or five months, and keep potatoes in a covered bushel basket in a cool corner of our kitchen. The milk used in the soup and in the yogurt was from local Kings Brothers Dairy, and the butter from Cabot Creamery, which is a co-op for dairy farmers in Vermont and New York near here. The salt and pepper, who knows? But those have been traded for centuries, if not millennia, so I don’t feel guilty about a little salt brought over the mountains on a pack mule now and then. My container says “Made in USA”; close enough. My black pepper was probably grown in India but I bought it from Honest Weight Food Coop, so I get points for that, right? The soup recipe was from a fundraiser years ago when we were part of Concerned Argyle Citizens, a local group that was fighting placement of a BFI regional landfill next to a wetland in our tiny rural town. We won.
CONCERNED ARGYLE CITIZENS’ POTATO LEEK SOUP
5 large or 8 medium potatoes
4 cups water
1 ½ cup milk
1-2 tablespoons dill weed
lots of salt and pepper
2-3 tablespoons sour cream or yogurt
Wash, peel and chop the potatoes into spoon-sized pieces. Wash and chop the white and light green parts of the leeks. Cook together in salted water about ½ hour or until tender. Add milk, dill, salt and pepper, let simmer, stirring now and then, for 20 minutes or until it begins to thicken and the potatoes fall apart. You can puree the soup if you like it that way. Add sour cream or yogurt and a little butter, heat through and serve with crusty bread.
Making yogurt is easy by the way.
This is how I do it: heat a half gallon of milk to around 180 degrees. Cool it down to 115. Add two tablespoons or more of any starter yogurt, even stabilized, lime-flavored, nonfat, nutra-sweetened, store-brand yogurt, whatever you have that hasn’t grown mold on it. Stir it well and then let it sit in a covered, but not air-tight, glass or pottery or porcelain jar overnight swaddled in towels in a warmish spot in your kitchen. I then strain mine through fine cheese cloth to make it “Greek style” rather than runny. That’s it. Easy.