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always learning…

These are my Dark Days Challenge meals for weeks 3 & 4…

Week 3 — braised lamb with beans — was a dinner that promised to be quite tasty but I kind of rushed the beans a bit and grossly underestimated the amount of liquid the beans would need to cook properly.  It wasn’t a total disaster because I discovered the need for more liquid before it was too late but the beans could’ve been cooked a little longer.  I don’t use dry beans very often so this was a departure from my comfort zone.


braised lamb shoulder chops with cannellini beans & carrots

  I learned a lot and will try this again because I think it has good bones.  Next time I may use shanks because I think they’d hold up to the longer cooking time.

Here’s what I put together —   Hatchtown lamb shoulder chops from our freezer; cannellini beans, onions, garlic, carrots and celeriac from our CSA (Bluebird Hill, Jefferson, ME); a cup of homemade CSA tomato puree and 2 cups of homemade chicken stock from our freezer; a couple of sprigs of rosemary & thyme, salt & pepper.

The beans were brought to a boil and then set aside and left to soak for about 2 hours. I browned the shoulder chops in a bit of rendered lamb fat and then removed them from the pan. I added the veggies (except for carrots) to the pan and cooked them for a few minutes, then added the herbs, beans and all the liquid.  I settled the chops into the bean mixture and laid the carrots on top of everything.  It then went into a 325 degree oven, tightly covered.  After an hour, I checked it and discovered that most of the liquid was gone.  Here’s where I went wrong… I should’ve heated the extra stock before adding it but I didn’t and I think adding it cold pretty much stopped any cooking. Of course that meant it had to get back up to speed before it started to cook again. After another hour, the lamb was falling off the bones, the carrots perfect, the beans not so good…still a bit al dente.


french toast on the way

Week 4 — french toast & canadian bacon — OK…another breakfast and a repeat performance of canadian bacon but the package our friends at Three Little Pigs Family Farm (Wiscasset, ME) gave us was huge so we’ve been picking away at it…and enjoying every minute of it!

We were scheduled to pick up a load of hay on Boxing Day so I cooked up a breakfast that would keep us going until it was put up in the barn.  The french toast was made from our own hen’s eggs, a little local milk and bread made locally from wheat grown in Aroostook County.  I used Kate’s* butter to fry it and the canadian bacon and served Maine maple syrup from our CSA along side.
*Kate’s butter is made in Maine but buys milk from New England farms. I’ll be looking for a more local source of butter.

4 comments to always learning…

  • Nina

    It’s breakfast time and I just read your breakfast post. I may be over to raid your fridge!!! If you find a more local source for butter, let me know :*)

  • Barbara Greenstein

    If I weren’t a vegetarian, that lamb dish sounds tasty! The trick with beans: put them to soak in alot of water — start with cold and let it sit overnight. Then the cooking doesn’t take as long. Before you cook the beans, drain out the soaking water and discard, because that will eliminate the noxious gases! You can soak and cook a couple pounds of beans at a time, and then freeze them in recipe-sized portions. I take them straight from the freezer and into the recipe liquid when I’m using them. I wish you a Happy, Healthy, Peaceful, and Prosperous New Year — and lots of healthy lambs!

  • Pam

    Thanks, Barbara, for the tips about beans. I love the idea of portioning them and keeping them on hand in the freezer!! All the best to you in the New Year, too!

  • Pam

    I’ll let you know if I find any…