Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dark Days - A Local Harvest Challenge

I'm trying some new things this winter.

1) I planted basil, arugula, lettuce and spinach indoors to see if I can grow my own micro-mix. The idea is to harvest the sprouts once they put out their first set of true leaves - and use it as a flavorful garnish for soups/salads. We will see how it goes...

2) I'm trying to keep some very sad-looking rosemary alive. It's so depressing I didn't even want to take a photo.

3) And, because winter is a slow time in the garden, I've signed myself up for the 5th Annual Dark Days Challenge, which is about cooking and digging into where our food comes from. I can dig that. Even when the ground is frozen.

hosted by the great folks at Not Dabbling in Normal

Basically, the Dark Days Challenge is to cook a meal once a week with local ingredients and then to write a blog post about it. It's called Dark Days because it's held during the winter (end of November to end of March), when most of us can't run out to the garden, pick some greens and call it done. It's called Challenge because we are surprisingly reliant on non-local foods - to my great sadness, olive and citrus trees do not grow in New England.

This is the fifth year in a row that this challenge has been posed - but it's my first year and I really have no idea what I'm getting myself into.

Local is defined as within 150 miles, generally speaking. Everyone gets to set their own goal, which is nice.

The rules of the game allow participants to list out a few exceptions up front, to make this fun and achievable, rather than insurmountable and depressing. Here's a list of my exceptions and explanations of why I am making exception for these - 
1) Spices and Citrus - Definitely not local and definitely delicious. Also good for the immune system.
2) Salt, vinegar and yeast - These all fall into the category of "I could make this myself" but my other life commitments may trump making my own sea salt or trying out wild yeast fermentation.
3) Flour - I just bought 50 pounds of organic flour from two locally-owned flour mills in New York. I feel that it would be excessive to buy more flour just for this challenge.

To make things more interesting and to maintain the theme of this blog, I have two more rules:
1) At least one ingredient each week must have come from my garden, yard or nearby woods.
2) My blog posts must in some way be related to gardening - this is a gardening blog after all.

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