Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dark Days 2008 Post #1

Did I kick off the week with something unbelievable? Creative? Brand-new to my palate?


I made Honeybaked Lentils, which I've made about 100 times before, including my Dark Days Meal #1 for 2007! Ha! They are just so delicious! And easy, easily adapted, healthy, etc. I'm a honey-eating vegan, but you could soooooo easily substitute agave or maple syrup or rice syrup for the honey. Or sugar. Really. It's that kind of recipe.

We were amazingly able to find a bunch of washington grown legumes this summer at one of the farms we visited for the King County Farm Tour. Black-eyed peas, white beans, pink beans, 2 kinds of lentils, some pearled barley - I'm kicking myself for not buying more when we were there! And I know that Washington is a big place and it might be more than 200 miles away. But you know - I'm vegan! We need legumes!! And these were grown in my state. I don't know why more local farms don't grow affordable* legumes, but they don't so far. Something we will investigate further as we look for land to start our commune! Bwahahahaha!

*I've seen some legumes for sale at my local farmer's market but they are $6-8 per pound! OMGWTFBBQ?!?! I think we bought the others for between $2-4 per pound. Not sure if its the yuppie mark-up or what, but I can't afford that, folks.

Back the meal - So the lentils, delicata squash, shallots, and garlic are all local and with the exception of the lentils are from our CSA share (we got a storage share, woo-hoo!). And did you notice that bread there, in the bowl? Didya? I made it! Woo-hoo! And it rose and everything!!!! I'm counting this as 90% local, since the flour is locally sourced (Stone-Buhr, for those in Washington).

Here's a gratuitous shot of my first successful bread experiment in months:
It was soooo good! I can't believe we ate it all in under a week. Eesh. There are only 2 adults and 1 2-year-old in the house, just for context.

I think my success was attributable to these factors: 1) I used a sponge method for the bread, something I've never done before 2)I used leftover grains in the recipe, in this case brown rice (not local, eeks!) 3) I preheated my oven briefly and then turned it off, and let the bread rise in there. Since we keep our thermostat set at 62-64F, it's just not warm enough for the bread to rise in this century.

Local Food Meal Honorable Mentions

Chile-Cornmeal Crusted Tofu Po Boys
So here we have some local tofu dredged in some liquids (non-local) and then locally purchased cornmeal (from when we lived in MI) and some spices. That was baked and then combined with homemade crazy pickles (from cukes from the CSA), some homemade coleslaw from local cabbages and carrots, and the aforementioned homemade bread. Soooo good!

Sloppeh Joes with Smoky Collard Greens
Ok, so the tempeh is NW produced but 229 miles away - still within my local foodshed bullseye. That was combined with some local onions and garlic, ketchup and spices. Over the magic homemade rolls. The smoky collards consisted of local collards, shallots, garlic, non-local mushrooms and a host of spices. Still, the bulk of this meal with local, so I'm pretty psyched about that.

I know I've promised you memes, and now I have TWO to catch-up on! Bethany, you're killing me! I'm kidding. I swear I will do them soon, along with some other non-local food catch-up. My parents are coming this weekend and as our levels of cleanliness are not exactly matched, we have a lot of cleaning to do. Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dark Days Intro and Catch-Up Food

So I took some time off after VeganMoFo to gear up for my new latest fun challenge: The Dark Days Eat Local Challenge. The idea is that of course (almost) anyone can eat local in the summer, but you kind of have to make an effort to do in in the late fall and winter. So here is a challenge to motivate you! It's way less daunting than VeganMoFo, rest assured. Just cook at least one meal per week using 90% local ingredients (or some other percentage that you determine for your location/ability, etc), blog about it and any challenges and post pictures if you can. Easy peasy. For a full list of rules and regs, check out this detailed post by the host of the challenge, Laura, of (not so) Urban Hennery.

The challenge begins yesterday, November 15th. But I have a couple of meals to share with you that helped me get in the mood for dark days. And I just have some regular old vegan food to show you, too. Yay, food!

Spaghetti and Tofu-Balls

These balls were from the oldskool Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler. They were ok. The semi-deep-fry action kind of skeeved me out, they were pretty greasy. And not dense at all like meatballs should be. They were tasty in their own right (and I LOVE spaghetti and red sauce) but they were not like meatballs. I will definitely try making Vegan Dad's version next time.

Chickpea Noodle Soup
From Vcon, but the recipe can be found here. I added some kale and we were out of soba noodles, so I subbed some spinach ribbons. It was tasty! I love noodle soups. They're kind of the only soup I like. Other than lentil.

Mac, Oh Geez!
I just get in these undeniably moods for mac and cheese and nothing else will cut it. I've been wanting to try this recipe from Dreena Burton for a while, but I always forget to buy Brazil Nuts. Well, that didn't stop me this time. I subbed a few macadamia nuts and called it good. It was really tasty! The macadamia flavor came on way too strong, though, so next time I would use all cashews. It was really tasty and creamy and another great nooch-free mac and cheese recipe. Make it! I'll be making again very soon.

Dark Days Test Run: Savory Lentils, Roasted Delicata Squash and Smoky Collards
This was sooooooooooooo good. If local eating could be this delicious all the time, I would eat local all the time! The Savory Lentils are from a recipe in Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. If you haven't tried Delicata Squash, you are missing out. It is so sweet and creamy. And easy. And I think I have extolled the virtues of these collard greens in the past. Make them! They are so good. I can't wait to eat them again.

Gratuitous Biscuits and Gravy Pic
This was kind of hard-core biscuits and gravy, because instead of using Gimme Lean sausage for the gravy, I made tempeh sausage using the recipe from VWaV. It was a great substitution. And I feel better about it, since the tempeh is local and the sausage is not. Not to mention the tempeh is a fermented food, and the gimme lean has soy protein isolates, which I try to avoid. Go Team B&G!

Lazy Supper: Local Bread with Olive Oil and Smoked Salish Salt

And Panfried Tofu with Chipotle Cashew Cheese for Dipping
The tofu was from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan - the original recipe uses tempeh, but this time I subbed firm tofu. It's basically marinated quickly in tamari and brown rice vinegar, dusted with cornstarch and fried in coconut oil. The combination of the crunchy, coconutty tofu dipped in the hot-sweet chipotle cashew cheese was OUTRAGEOUS. Yum. The cheese was just the normal cashew cheese with 1-2 Tablespoons of pureed chipotle in adobo stirred in. It was sooooo good. It's also killer as a sandwich spread with avocado on baguette.

Dark Days Test Drive #2: Panfried Sunchokes (left), Braised Lentils and Winter Squash (right) and Kale with Raisins and Almonds (center)
So I had never had sunchokes before (a.k.a. Jerusalem artichokes). I panfried them in olive oil, with some garlic, s&p, then added a dash of lemon juice at the end. They were pretty good - kind of like a potato-artichoke heart combo flavor. They were a nice change from regular potatoes, but I wouldn't want them all the time.

The lentils was a combo of local roasted delicata squash, mixed with local shallots, carrots and garlic, some white wine, salt and pepper. Really tasty and pretty easy.

The kale was just braised in some water and oil, then added some raisins soaked in hot water and some sliced almonds. The almonds, raisins, oil, s&p and lemon juice were the non-locals in this meal (the lentils were locally purchased while living in Michigan - so even though they're not local here, they were purchased locally, so I think they count.) ;)

New Favorite Breakfast: Sweet Couscous with Pistachios and Raisins

I got this idea from an episode of The Minimalist, by Mark Bittman (love him!). The recipe can be found here. It is simple and sweet and delicious. A REALLY nice change from oatmeal, if you're getting burnt out.

Stay tuned for another meme I got tagged for (I'm talking about YOU, Bethany!) and of course, my official first Dark Days posting.