Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Dark Days Eat Local Challenge: Week 11

The weekend before Christmas, I got myself up and to our local farmer's market on the off chance that I might be able to get some staples. In particular, I was looking for carrots, onions, and potatoes.

I say "on the off chance" because our farmer's market rarely, in fact, actually has any kind of produce whatsoever—seriously. Our county has the worst farmer's markets I've ever had the displeasure to peruse. The year-round indoor market is filled primarily with stalls of craft items, some baked goods, and stuffed toys that were clearly made no where near Maryland, never mind in our particular county. The seasonal outdoor market is much better in terms of locally produced food items, but it allows only one producer per item, meaning monopoly and no consumer choice.

All that aside, however, I was pleasantly surprised on Saturday. I was able to purchase a half bushel each of yellow storing onions, white potatoes, and sweet potatoes. No carrots, but I had hit the mother-lode nonetheless, and I was quite pleased. I brought home my early Christmas present and promptly put them in the larder downstairs, pleased as proverbial punch.

For Christmas Eve, we made breadsticks, seasoned with homegrown herbs; sauteed kale from the garden; and crab cakes from locally caught and packaged blue crab. To go along with the crab cakes I made a tartar sauce with the last of my canned pickles. Of course the mayonnaise I used wasn't homemade or local, but it was tasty all the same, and the pickles and locally-grown onions lent it a local flair.

Christmas morning we had homemade monkey bread while opening presents and afterwards enjoyed a delicious brunch of eggs benedict and country home fries, all local but for the English muffins—the eggs, bacon, and herbs being homegrown. My goal for 2008 is to learn to make my own muffins and bagels, two bread products we still rely on being produced outside the home. The bagels we get when the in-laws visit from New Jersey, however, count as local because they are made at the small bakery where my in-laws buy them. Still, it'd be very nice to have bagels in between visits!

Christmas dinner was 100% local this year. We roasted two of our geese, which were absolutely delicious, but had almost no fat of which to speak. While this may seem like a good thing to some, I was sorely disappointed not to have my year's supply of goose fat to pull from the freezer. We had homemade ciabatta bread, roast goose, and white/ sweet potatoes roasted in goose fat. I stuffed the goose with local onions and apples as well as herbs from the garden. The apples gave the gravy a sweet flavor, which I thought went very well with the sweetness of the pecans in the salad and the sweet potatoes. Jim and Emily, however, weren't nearly so fond of the sweet gravy.

Jim's family arrived a couple days after Christmas, and for our family celebration we enjoyed a delicious, local standing rib roast, with mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and a homegrown salad. The Yorkshire pudding was a recipe out of the River Cottage Meat Book, one of our Christmas presents to Jim, and it was absolutely amazing—even the kiddos loved it, not the least because of the way it grew up and over the sides of the roasting pan.

6 comments: said...

Yum, Danielle! (I got that meat book too for the holidays. Exciting; will have to try the pudding.) I seem to always run out of what you mentioned, too: onions and carrots especially. So I planted a ton of them last year, and a really wet August killed 80% of my carrots! I ended up emailing every organic CSA and farm in the area to remedy this failure, and had to go pick about a bushel from one outfit myself. Sigh.

English muffins are pretty fun to make, and easy enough I think you could have your kids do them. I use the ubiquitous no-knead bread recipe and kind of let them rise by themselves after the punch-down phase. I put them in the oven atop a super hot baking stone and they cook up in about 15 minutes.

Too bad about your goose grease though! I can't imagine what you could do to get more, barring an all-corn diet for them.


jenny said...

The farmer's market here isn't very good either, but there are so many farm stands popping up all over the place that going to the market almost isn't worth it. When I can't grow what I need ( or the animals beat me to it) I head to one of my fave stands and they grow all their stuff locally not too far from me.

As for bagels, I made some bagels not too long ago and posted the recipe for it. Here's the link:

It was really easy to make and they taste very similar to Lender's frozen bagels. I haven't figured out how to make those nice big ones yet.

Hubby always says "a house isn't a home without onions!" So we ALWAYS make sure we have plenty of onions around here. I could say the same with potatoes.. I can work potatoes into every meal if I wanted to.

Christy said...

We also ran out of onions, potatoes and carrots. The CSA gave us very few of those things, I guess the weather just didn't cooperate for those this year. I've had to resort to buying non-local of those 3 things. I'll make sure we have enough next year!

Danielle said...

Thanks El, I'll definitely try making the muffins soon!

Jenny, thanks for the link. I'm looking forward to trying a couple of recipes, as we're pretty spoiled when it comes to bagels. Lenders just won't cut it—we'd rather go without until the next Jersey run.

Christy, I feel the exact same way. Next year there's no way I'll not irrigate my potatoes—they're way too much a staple around here!

SegoLily said...

What wonderful local holiday eating!

Melinda said...

Ok, my meals look totally boring now. Yours look fabulous!