Thursday, January 10, 2008

There Be Dark Days Ahead . . .

and behind us too. We are in the middle of winter but there is still some damned fine food to be had.

I'm a newcomer to the Dark Days Eat Local Challenge which has been extended through March. According to the rules, I need to serve one 90% local meal once a week during the leaner days of winter. Since I just came back from a regenerating jaunt to the farmer's market, this week's local meal was a breeze.

Despite the dreary drippy-ness of a Northern California winter, the produce is brighter and cheerier. Maybe eating fruit the color of the sun - mandarins, blood oranges, cara caras, tangerines, and lemons - offsets the glumness that set in after days of rain. Maybe the jewel-toned beets, potatoes and carrots and the vibrant pink of a watermelon radish hold despair at bay. Whatever it is, a seasonal winter meal is a thing of beauty.

Tonight, we popped open a bottle of wine (made with organic grapes) from a local winery. We enjoyed a psychedelically colored salad of lettuce, tomatoes (truly the last of the season), carrots, watermelon radish, broccoli, kohlrabi, crumbled cheese, and roasted pumpkin seeds dressed with Big Paw's Cherry balsamic vinegar. 100% local and organic.

Home-grown mustard greens simmered in home-made vegetable broth (from saved vegetable scraps) and store bought Thai chili sauce (spicy!) accompanied the salad. I love these because a whole mess of mustard greens count as 0 weight watchers points and I'm busying trying to not overeat while saving the environment. 90% local and organic. Hey, this dish would qualify as 100 foot diet food (see sidebar)! Now that's local.

I also roasted some brilliantly hued root vegetables - golden beets, purple potatoes, bright orange sweet potatoes, Yukon Golds, and yellow fingerlings - tossed in Olivas de Oro olive oil, non-local salt and pepper. Here they are before they went into the oven. They come out looking less colorful but so flavorful that I eat them cold, out of the fridge, for snack. 90% local and organic.

It would, of course, be too much for the kids to actually eat all this too. I can coax the smaller one into eating the potatoes and sometimes the salad but the mustard greens, no way! So they ate carrots sticks, apple slices and burritos with farmer's market cheese, dried cranberry beans and a corn tortilla. Only the tortilla was not local. 75% local and pesticide free.
I capped off the meal with non-local (but fair trade and organic!) hot chocolate with local milk. Hey, dark days but cold nights.


Fake Plastic Fish said...

Hi. Your food looks beautiful. We are so lucky here in the Bay Area.

I wanted to respond to the comment you left on my blog, but I don't have an email address for you. You asked for a list of 10-20 top plastic-free products. I am working on putting together a database. But in the meantime, have you look at The List?

Chile said...

Those roasted vegetables look awesome! Good going on all the local fare.

Melinda said...

Welcome to Dark Days! I've been participating for 4 months - it has made a HUGE difference in what we eat. It really pushed us.

Your meals look fabulous. And I think you get points for two local meals, as you fixed yourselves one and your kids another - wow!

Mommy off the Record said...

All I can say is, Yum.

Green Bean said...

Thank you all.

Melinda, we are so lucky to live in California with all this wonderful produce but, honestly, seeing what folks do all over the country on this challenge is inspiring. Everyone seems to be eating pretty delicious meals. :) I'm really excited that they extended the challenge - I wanted to do it the first time but didn't sign up in time.

Jennifer said...

No local corn tortillas in California?

We are lucky in Colorado... they make them right down the street from us. I want to search out a local maker who uses local corn, but haven't found any outside of Denver yet.

What a good looking meal... even in the middle of winter! I'm jealous that you have farmer's markets all year round. :)

Kim said...

Welcome to Dark Days! I look forward to seeing what you whip up out there (even if I am inordinately jealous that your tomatoes are actually just going out of season in January)!

Donna said...

Welcome to Dark Days! I love your blog & especially the title. You should win a prize for the most colorful food this week!

Green Bean said...

Jennifer: ah ha! I found local corn tortillas today. Thanks for mentioning them - as hard as I try to eat local, sometimes I just blank out on something as simple as a tortilla. Of course, we'll finish up our non-local stash first.

Dark Day Gals: Thanks so much for the welcome. I'll have to mosey on over to check out the recap and see what you gals have got cookin' up. :)


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