Dark Days Challenge #1

Scarlet Turnip and Green Onions make a yummy salad.

Well, so far it does not seem that this is so difficult.  I have not actually made the meal but am reporting as I go.  First thing on the stove is a pot of yummy mixed greens from our Locally Grown service.  The greens include, mustard, Swiss Chard, kale, and collards.  There are Locally Grown groups all over.  The link to the one here is http://conyers.locallygrown.net/.  It works like this:  They post the list of what is available in the area on Sunday night and you have until Tuesday evening to choose what you want.  They go around and pick up the items from the producers and you go pick up your stuff from them on Friday evening.  There are many farmers and other producers that are involved in the program, so you get a lot of variety.  The people who run it here really do a good job of providing lots of good produce and other locally made items like cheese, and meat and craft items and bread and salsa and even canned goods that are made from locally grown food.  So that is what makes my winters much easier.  Also there is the fact that I live in North Georgia, near Atlanta, where it does get cold but we are pretty much able to have something growing in the garden year round. 

My CSA has stopped except for a couple of holiday deliveries.  I have some scarlet turnips from the last delivery.  I am going to use some in the salad and roast some in the oven.  It should start back up in April or May, but that will be long after this challenge is over.  I also still have some sweet potatoes from the CSA.  They will go into this meal today. 

Scarlet Turnips and Sweet Potatoes roasting in the oven.

These are my rules for the Dark Days Challenge.  I won’t rely on lots of canned goods because my summer just did not allow me to do that this year.  I consider local to be  anything grown in Georgia or grown within 150 miles of where I live.  Because I am in North Georgia that will mean that I could get items from the edge of Tennesse or South Carolina.  I have not done that, but I could.  I will use a few non-local items in these meals and they will be:  olive oil or other vegetable oil; salt and pepper; vinegar; boxed organic chicken broth when I don’t have a local chicken from which to make stock.  I will try my best to have those local chickens and their stock for these meals.  I have locally grown and milled polenta and I may use corn meal, flour, polenta and rice from Anson Mills.  You should see a link to their website on the side.  They grow organic, historically authentic grains that would have been grown in the Southeast from Colonial times up until the Civil War.  They do grow many of their items in Georgia and the Carolinas, in fact a farmer I know here in Newton County is one of their growers.  What I use from them will not be the main part of the meal, only used for thickening or such.  I’ll check on where the rice is grown; that may be within my limits set out above.  If I need some parmesan cheese in anything, I will use that.  There is no good local substitute for that.  I expect that I will not choose recipes that call for parmesan.  I will use local honey for a sweetener when that makes sense.  For all my cooking, I use the local honey or organic sugar made in Florida, so that is not as bad as sugar from Brazil.  It’s not Georgia, I know, but I don’t use a lot of it and probably will not use any for this challenge

Today, I am trying my hand at making butter from the local cream that is available.  It turned out to be very easy.  I did it in the food processor.  I ended up not having anything to put butter on, but at least I have some for toast in the morning.  I think I got all the milk out of it.  You really have to mash it a lot. 

Butter in a bowl.

So everythng was pretty simple.  I fried some locally grown and made sausage, which was very tasty.  It was not so hot as indicated on the package, but it was good.  We had a simple salad of mixed lettuce, diced scarlet turnip and green onions, with just a little olive oil and Bragg’s organic cider vinegar on top.  We had a bowl of greens and the roasted root vegetables.  I like this Dark Days Challenge.

A plate and a bowl. A satisfying meal.



3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Molly on December 6, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing this! I like how you turn the frown of the “challenge” of the Dark Days into a smile, embracing the “challenge” of staying organic, making it a game with a sense of accomplishment rather than an oppressive list of rules to follow. While it is difficult to find locally grown produce in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas now (the farmer’s market that came to campus at St. Cloud State, where I have taught this semester, stopped in October), I know that many locally owned restaurants in the Cities are responsible about what they buy, prepare, and serve. The trick is going to be when I want to cook from scratch, but we have tons of organic options at the grocer’s– got to learn to look for that distinction among my groceries!


  2. I had not thought to try making my own butter. Yours looks great! So does your first DDC meal!


    • Posted by duckandjunebug on December 7, 2010 at 3:30 am

      It is really easy. There is a dairy here in our county that does not use antibiotics or hormones. They don’t feed grain either. Their milk is really good and you can get cream. I did one pint of cream, in the food processor. When it separated into butter, I poured off the buttermilk and pressed it with a spatula until I had gotten all the milk out, then rinsed it with ice water several times until the water ran clear. Afther than I worked in 1/2 tsp of salt and packed it into a jar. It tastes better than the butter at the store.


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