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SOLE food

I don’t remember exactly how I heard about the Dark Days Challenge but when I did, I knew it was something I wanted to try.  It’s the brainchild of Laura over at (not so) Urban Hennery.  More about how you can follow along later… 

I don’t think I’ve talked about our thoughts on food here but eating sustainably and (somewhat) organic and local and ethically (SOLE) is something Jim and I try to do regularly.  Actually, we get very excited about food…especially the local kind….maybe because we’re providers ourselves. 

We’re very lucky to live where we can find fresh seafood easily (although I’m not crazy about fish with fins) and there are a couple of nice farmers markets we can visit in season for cheese, bread, mushrooms and other goodies.  We’re also members of a thriving member-owned market that offers a lot of locally grown/made items.  It’s been at least 5 years that we’ve been shareholders in a veggie CSA, too.  All this frees us up from growing veggies ourselves.  We’re full time sheep farmers but we grow our own pigs, roasting chickens and laying hens, too.  We buy a quarter of a beef critter every year from friends who raise and finish them on grass.  None of this meat is certified organic.  It does, however, come from animals that are  raised in a way that allows them to express their natural behaviors and eat the way they’re supposed to for optimum health.

So why sign on for this if we’re already eating locally and all that stuff…where’s the challenge?  Well, I tend to get stuck in a pattern of same-old, same-old because we’re busy, tired or whatever… so I’m hoping this will give me the kick that I need to plan ahead, to prepare something different from time to time and to seek out local foods that we haven’t yet experienced.  There are a few vineyards cropping up in this neck of the woods…we should visit them!

The Dark Days Challenge runs from December 1 through April 15.  I’ll be posting about my Challenge meals regularly. Oh! that’s the other part of the challenge for me.  We all know how bad I am about posting regularly.  Maybe this will get me into some kind of rhythm.  If you’d like to follow along and see what all the other Dark Days Challenge participants are cooking up, you can check out Laura’s site…and watch for an icon you can just click on in the sidebar here…coming soon.

I’m going with the default definition of local being 150 miles, and  I’ll be trying my best to use SOLE foods but I will throw in some non-local spices, oils and salt.

So without further yabbering, I bring you my first Challenge meal…

We were given a really nice looking smoked ham steak by our friends at Three Little Pigs Family Farm in Wiscasset.  They take their pigs to a different butcher so we were eager to taste their pork.  It didn’t disappoint.  I didn’t want to cover up the taste at all so I just cut off a small piece of the outer fat and rendered it enough to coat a frying pan.  I then quickly fried the ham steak — simple!  Meanwhile, I had thinly sliced some beautiful Carola potatoes and yellow onions  from our CSA and layered them in a casserole which I’d buttered lightly (not local).  Some (local organic) MOO whole milk  and heavy cream from Butterworks Farm (leftover organic from VT that needed to be used or tossed) with salt, white pepper and a pinch of nutmeg became the sauce for the potatoes which I baked for about an hour.  Reducing the milk and cream a bit and adding it to the starchy potatoes made quite a nice sauce and I didn’t have to use any flour or butter. That Jersey cream is very sweet.  The (organic) multicolored carrots were also from our CSA and they were just steamed a little bit and dressed with a bit of butter.

meal #1

That was really fun…already thinking about what comes next!

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