Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dark Days Eat Local Challenge Update

This photo of the Hillsdale Farmer's Market pretty much says it - Dark Days in the Pacific Northwest! I went there for the first time today. The good news about them is that they are open year round. The not-so-good news is that they just open up every other week. And, for some time now, I have kept missing the "on" week. I also learned today the hard way that you need to get there early before the vendors run out of most things.

At any rate, our eating local efforts this week went pretty much as I had predicted. Most of the weeknight meals were leftovers of the Moroccan squash soup and the chicken chili I'd made last weekend. Otherwise, we ate out one night and had swordfish (definitely not local) another. Last night I tried a chicken and soba noodle dish. Those two main items were not local (still the California chicken), but I did "beef it up", so to speak, by adding quite a few vegetables that were almost all local - Asian greens, Walla Walla sweet onion, shitakes. That kind of partial effort is more often what I am able to do these days.

Tonight's dinner will be quite a bit closer to the goal, however. I am going to try out a recipe from Anita at Married with Dinner. When I was growing up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (yes, I am actually am one of those), we used to eat Cornish pasties, a holdover tradition from the Welch miners. And, I've pretty much not seen them anywhere else since. So, I was quite intrigued when I saw that Anita was making them. All the inside stuff will be locally grown - beef, potatoes, rutabaga, onion, and I'm going to try some shitakes in one of them to see how that tastes. The pastry, though, uses ingredients that I either don't know about or are from elsewhere. Anita recommended either rendering the fat myself or getting manteca fresca. Rendering pork fat seems like a challenge I'm not quite ready for, so I headed to a Mexican market for the lard.

After the visit to the Hillsdale farmer's market today, though, I will have a few more choices for local meals this week. Here's a picture of the chicken, soba, and vegetables. I thought it was quite pretty even if only half within our 200 mile radius.


Anita said...

Oh, yay -- pasties are the perfet winter indulgence! We're having two from the freezer later this week, ourselves.

Rendering your own lard is pretty simple, and very gratifying -- it's so much fun turning scraps into useful food. I should write a post about it the next time we do it. But basically you just take pork fat, cut it into small chunks, and gently simmer it in a small amount of water until all the fat comes out. Strain out the connective tissue, then refrigerate the lard/water mixture. Once the lard is cool, you can lift it right off the top of the water and freeze it in a zip-top bag for later use. The water underneath the lard is usually very gelatinous, and you can use it to make pan sauces, like you would chicken stock.

Joan said...

I have to admit, Anita, I thought fat rendering was going to be something far more onerous, for some reason. That doesn't sound too bad at all. Meanwhile, I had thought to try adding some shitakes to one of them just because I'm trying to get more vegetables into everything we eat and there are lots of them available locally. But, I forgot to put them in! So, maybe next time. Of course, up in the UP, we didn't have anything so exotic as shitake mushrooms and I would guess the same would be true for those Welch miners. The pasties are currently in the oven and I am sitting with my feet up having a nice glass of red wine.

Ann said...

you know, you can just order those pasties online from Dobbers in escanaba.
why you would i don't know.. as i recall there was not enough ketchup to make them edible. but i'm sure your guys' (?) version are much tastier

kale for sale said...

I visited relatives in Portland this summer and bought the most beautiful pink marbled beans at the Hillsdale Market. The University market is my all time favorite though. I'm still dreaming of the woodfired pizza there.

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