Friday, December 24, 2010

Dark Days Challenge #4

Christmas Eve Soup
Amidst all the hustle and bustle of holiday planning and packing for holiday getaways, I managed to squeeze in this soup and I'm glad I did. It's hearty, delicious and perfect for a nutritious meal on the go. As per our Dark Days Challenge commitment, it was strictly local.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve Soup

1/2 lb bacon, sliced
2 carrots, diced
4 small leeks, cleaned and sliced
1 cup dried yellow-eyed beans
1 bunch kale, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
dash of summer savoury and fresh thyme
5 cups of vegetable broth

Prepare beans according to directions and until softened.  

Sautee bacon on medium heat until crisp and fat has rendered. Add leeks, carrots and onions. until softened.  Add broth, kale, beans, tomatoes and seasoning and simmer for about 20 minutes. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cleaning Out the Pantry

I'll Miss You, Authentic Thai Taste
The big clean out is proving to be a much bigger task then I imagined.
So today I started with my closet pantry. Oh goodness. First of all, my pantry was crazy disorganized! We made a late night run for plastic wrap yesterday only to discover this morning that I had a roll kicking around!
Honey Bear "helps" 

A few things were thrown out, such as taco shells. On a tangent, but why are there always two taco shells kicking around? Can't we manage an extra taco a piece and not leave a box opened for months?

So with this great pile of food, some got put into a box and hidden away and some moved to a box ready for the food bank. No point in pasta wasting away for months when someone could enjoy it. Honey Bear was most helpful, grabbing items and hiding them in pots.

On the upside, shelves are getting cleaned and expired popcorn is getting the heave-ho (remind me never to buy microwave popcorn!). The spice rack got cleaned up, filled up and hidden away and the bottles of oil are discreetly hidden on a shelf. The fridge is next! Buh-bye ketchup!

For more fun, check out our Great Pantry Clean-Out:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Check Out my Banner!

How cool is that?

My thanks to Will Sheppard of SheppardImaging for this fantastic banner. He's got some great local photography and does excellent graphic design. Etsy site soon to come!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dark Days Challenge #3

Potato and Leek Soup
Being away on holidays, I've decided to whip up a batch up soup and blog about it before leaving. Once again, I'm not fully prepared for the challenge and realize I need to get moving on making some staples, like stocks. I love making stock, but jeez, it takes forever and I use it up so quickly. I keep meaning to make at least a vegetable stock, but haven't gotten around to it so this week's soup had only the benefit of salt and some fresh window box thyme. Topped with crisp, local bacon and some sharp shredded cheddar, it was still pretty tasty. Frankly, bacon and cheese on top of anything is delicious.

The recipe belongs to Canadian Living

Thursday, December 9, 2010

100 Mile Challenge - Looking Up!

Very exciting news about the 100 Mile Challenge! My CSA has extended it's winter service into February. Initially, it wrapped up in a couple weeks and I've been stockpiling cabbages, turnips and leeks in our fridge for when the challenge begins since I'm not convinced there will be enough local vegetables for us at the grocery store.

We might not starve after all!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dark Days Challenge #2

Poached Eggs on Carrot Potato Latkes
So tonight was a mixed-bag. We forgot to buy meat from the market on Saturday and rather than contend with dried beans on a tight schedule, we opted for Brinner - breakfast for dinner.

Jeff made some delicious latkes with potatoes, onions, garlic and carrots that were topped with poached eggs. Delicious, simple and perfect for a cold December night. For dessert, we kept up the cold night's theme and made a delicious yogurt ice cream, sweetened with an uncanny preserve (Vanilla Cherry and Peach Jam). The yogurt is homemade with local milk and eggs and required nothing more than making a custard, letting it cool, adding the jam and yogurt and putting in the ice cream maker until thickened and freezing it for about an hour for it to firm up.

Vanilla Cherry Peach Frozen Yogurt
So for this meal, dinner was just the opening act. While dinner was tasty, we knew that a delicious dessert was really the highlight of tonight's meal. This was hands down the most delicious frozen yogurt I've ever had. It was more tangy than sweet, so that little hint of vanilla cherry goodness teased through the yogurt tang and made it so incredibly tasty. When I made the preserve, I kept the cherries halved and the peaches chunked and added two vanilla pods, so it's bursting with vanilla flavour. Stretched out in an ice cream, this preserve still shone through and I could not stop eating it. A dark day challenge success, I'd say.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dark Days Challenge #1

Shepherd's Pie

In addition to our 100 Mile Challenge, which begins in January, we've signed up for the Dark Days challenge, organized by Urban Hennery. The challenge begins December 1, 2010 to April 15, 2011 and once a week, you cook up a local meal focused on SOLE (Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical) ingredients.

While we've committed to the 100 Mile Challenge at 75%, the Dark Days challenge is a creative way to prepare a meal solely using the food around you.

For our first challenge, we're playing it a little safe until we get our footing and have prepared a comforting Shepherd's Pie. Here's the rundown of the ingredients and how we prepared this tasty pie:

2 lb frozen garden tomatoes
dried sage and fresh thyme
2 lbs grass-fed local ground beef
1 local onion, diced
2 cloves local garlic, chopped
2 cups local mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
4 slices local bacon
1/2 cup local red wine
1.5 lbs local potatoes
summer savoury sprinkled on top

First I made a sauce from the tomatoes and wine and reduced it so it wasn't so watery and I seasoned it with fresh thyme and dried sage. I put it through the food processor to get it smooth. While making the sauce, I browned the beef. In a separate frying pan, I fried chopped bacon and removed the bacon once crispy. In the remaining fat (oh yah, baby), I fried the mushrooms until golden and the onions and garlic until the onions had lightly browned.

While the sauce, beef and bacon are doing their thing, I boiled the potatoes and  mashed them with some milk and butter.

When all finished, the beef went in the bottom, sauce over top, sauteed mushrooms/garlic/onion/bacon mixture and finished off the the mashed potatoes. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

I served it with a glass of local red and steamed carrots tossed with local honey. It was delicious and the bacon and wine added that nice depth. Still, I missed a bit of salt to the dish, but it was definitely not a bad way to start the Dark Days Challenge!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Suddenly Terrified!

As I finish whipping up a batch of coconut flour cupcakes, a la Elana's Pantry, I'm suddenly struck with how much I have to give up. Maybe it's cold feet or approaching the challenge jitters, but I'm longing for my coffee, tea, cocoa and chocolate already!

We've decided to ease into this challenge gently by reducing our coffee drinking, buying only local produce and meat and eating up food in our pantry instead of buying new items. I've realized just how dependent we are on certain food and ingredients and the sheer convenience of certain items. What's my morning porridge without raisins and cinnamon? Mornings without coffee? Mid-days without tea?

Aside from the simple items that make ordinary food extraordinary (read: nutmeg and vanilla) is the practical side of how I'm going to manage being fairly gluten intolerant when the only grains available to me are oats and wheat. While Jeff and Honey Bear benefit from the creativity of a pasta maker, I'll have to settle with pouring contents over mashed potatoes, since homemade rice pasta seems near impossible to make. I've decided to compromise with purchasing locally ground (but imported) rice flour, which will at least open up some possibilities for baked goods, but I already miss having gluten free ingredients at the ready.

All whinging aside, there has been some positive steps forward already. Having limited ingredients forces you to become creative. Without canned soup and needing to use up some canned tuna, I decided to make a tuna casserole with bechamel sauce. Instead of who-knows-what-is-in-it canned creamed soups, my bechamel sauce benefited from a big flavour boost from my own uncanny Lemon Wine and Sage Mustard. A big spoonful of that in the sauce was the citrusy tang the sauce needed and perfectly complimented the tuna. I threw in a combination of frozen cheeses I needed to use up, diced any vegetable I saw and called it a casserole. This was easily the most delicious tuna casserole I've ever had. I will never resort to canned soups again.

So, as we hit the holidays, I'm feverishly baking and cooking and savouring the last few days before the challenge hits. Soon, we'll clean out our cupboards and take stock of our inventory and keep our fingers crossed that the 100 days pass by without too many difficulties and temptations.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Welcome to Our Blog!

Welcome to our blog and the adventures of our family as we're about to embark on the 100 Mile Challenge in the dead of winter!

Feel free to browse our pages and learn more about us, why we're doing this and our level of commitment. We plan to blog frequently, share our recipes, our struggles and hopefully, our new insights as we eat closer to home.


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