The 2009 Dark Days Challenge doesn’t officially begin until next week, but a sick child at home today gave me the day off from work so I got a lot done around the house. (In case you were worried, she doesn’t have the Swine Flu and has seemed fine since lunchtime.)
Because I was going to be home all day, I decided to make the most of all my extra time. I scrubbed the kitchen and wiped all the counters down with thieves’ blend. Then I spent the rest of the morning and afternoon processing apples in the dehydrator; baking a loaf of bread and an acorn squash and making chicken stock and then just over two quarts of broccoli soup. I was feeling particularly productive and decided that a test drive of the Dark Days was in order! So, what to make for dinner?
The kids and I had an appointment with Dr. Jena this afternoon, so on the way home we stopped at Oryana. I picked up some basics for my fridge and pantry, a six-pack of North Peak Brewing Company’s Majestic Wheat Ale, a plain yogurt to use as a new starter and a pound of boneless chicken thighs to cook for dinner.
North Peak Brew Pub makes some really great beer but you’ve never been able to buy it anywhere but the restaurant. Imagine my surprise last week when I found three different varieties of North Peak Beer in Oryana. I tried Siren last week and brought home the Majestic today to round out my dark dinner. Not only is the beer brewed in Traverse City, but they are using local hops!
So, are you ready to see the first of many local dinners???
I’ll have to work on my plate composition for future photos, but the prequel dinner consisted of sauteed boneless, skinless chicken thighs, mashed yukon gold potatoes with chicken gravy, homemade artisan bread, mixed greens with late tomatoes and homemade dressing, and steamed broccoli.
As I mentioned before, I purchased the chicken at Oryana who distributes it for a local farm. The gravy was simply pan drippings from the chicken and flour. The potatoes came from one of three fifty-pound bags on my back porch that I bought at the Farmers’ Market downtown. I made the bread this morning. The lettuce and tomatoes for the salad came from the indoor Farmers’ Market in the Mercato on the State Hospital Grounds. I made the dressing myself. Everyone liked it and it was super easy. I took a big spoonful of the feta cheese I made this summer, a minced clove of garlic from my CSA share, and all the homemade yogurt left in my jar, mixed them together and added some cracked pepper. The broccoli also came from the Market at the Mercato. I bought 3 quarts. I used most of it in the soup I made this afternoon and the rest for dinner. Saturday I’m going to buy some more and freeze it so we can have it this winter.
To finish off dinner I made an acorn squash pie. I would have made pumpkin, but all my pumpkin is already in the freezer and a friend gave us an acorn squash from her garden recently and it needed to be baked. The pie was really tasty. Acorn squash seems lighter to me than pumpkin, but none of my family knew the difference. The eggs in the pie came from my egg-lady since our chickens aren’t laying yet. The cream was whipped with apple cider reduction that I made this morning. I simmered a half gallon of cider down to a cup and then used a tablespoon of that to sweeten the cream.
Disclaimer: Spices weren’t local, but some herbs were grown in my garden. I didn’t use local cream in the pie because I had a quart of cream in the refrigerator that needed to be used. My flour wasn’t local. I’m looking for a local distributor of flour and I think I found one that is within the 150 mile radius; I just have to see about ordering and how much it will be to ship. If the cost is prohibitive, I’ll be using the Wisconsin milled flour that I can buy at Oryana for the rest of the challenge. I used my regular butter today, but in the future I’ll make my own from Shetler’s cream.