Day 355–A Local Holiday Menu

brussel_sprouts

 

I love cooking at Christmastime, but the rush of the holidays sure does make it hard to carve out large amounts of time to really get focused. Still, whenever I do have the time, I enjoy it so much. We have a pretty standard menu for Christmas Eve (our fancy meal) and Christmas supper (more casual), but we do like to change it up a little. This year, I am trying to cook our meals from local foods that are available at this time of year or that I froze/canned this summer. Here is what we’re having!

 

Christmas Eve

 

  • North Carolina seafood casserole (recipe to come tomorrow)
  • Mini tortieres (Canadian pork meat pies)
  • Brussel sprouts with apples
  • Local garden salad
  • Virginia rolls from Great Harvest Bread Company
  • Peppermint ice cream and chocolate pie (not local–just good)

 

Christmas Supper

 

  • Smoked mini boneless ham from Mae Farm
  • Mashed sweet potatoes
  • Collard greens cooked with Mae Farm jowl bacon
  • Field peas
  • Virginia rolls from Great Harvest Bread Company
  • Pecan pie

 

What about you? What are your favorite holiday foods? Do you have a traditional menu or do you experiment each year?

 

Advertisements

Day 78–Starting Week 12–Budget and Menu

I can’t believe we are beginning the third month of our family locavore challenge! This year seems to be speeding by–this is probably helped by our exceptionally warm weather. We were fortunate to start our journey during what we we call “The Year Without a Winter.” Our farmers have had an extended growing season, and I haven’t had a week yet, when I left the market empty-handed or disappointed (well, except for the “Broccoli Incident”).

So, what have we learned in 3 months? Here is a sample:

  1. Eating locally in NC is not difficult, but it does require an adjustment of behaviors.
  2. I like having a social friendship with our farmers and meat producers.
  3. Local, organic produce tastes so much better, we feel like we are being spoiled.
  4. We have been on budget–or close–for most weeks in our challenge so far.
  5. We will never go back to buying store eggs.
  6. Fresh food, cooked creatively is so good that we have dramatically cut down the number of times we go out to eat. Our food tastes better, so why look elsewhere?

Depsite not finding broccoli this week, I did find some beautiful swiss chard at the Western Wake Farmer’s Market. I love chard–it has such a fresh, light flavor that is a welcome respite from our kale and collard diet over the last few months. Lettuce and spring onions are out and other spring veggies are right around the corner! We are very excited that all of our area farmer’s markets crank up In 2 weeks and our Produce Box delivery starts soon as well!

How did we do on spending this week? Our budget this week looks like this:

  • Rainbow Farm (organic, ground lamb): $10.00
  • Farmhand Foods meatbox (pork chops): $12.00
  • Rare Earth Farm (Maple View fresh buttermilk): $2.50
  • State Farmer’s Market (onions, carrots): $3.50
  • Locals Seafood (rockfish, flounder): $32.00
  • Ben’s Produce (organic lettuce, organic swiss chard): $6.00
  • Hillsborough Cheese Company (Greek yogurt, baby brie): $7.00
  • Trader Joes (frozen fruit, soy milk, mushrooms, shallots, pita, tortillas, organic mayonaise): $25.39

Our total spent is $98.39! Just a hair under our budget of $100. I actually feel pretty good about this because we are eating a lot of fresh seafood and salads, which fit in perfectly with our 85 degree days! The only red meat we are eating this week are grilled lamb burgers, so that should shake things up a bit!

Menu for the Week

  • Sunday–Spicy marinated rockfish tacos with chipotle slaw, quinoa
  • Monday–Cornmeal dusted summer flounder, collard greens, quinoa
  • Tuesday–Eggs nested in sauteed swiss chard and mushrooms
  • Wednesday–Salad-pa-looza!!
  • Thursday–Grilled lamb burgers in pita with cucumber yogurt sauce, kale, rice
  • Friday–Out for grandmommy’s birthday
  • Saturday–Grilled pork chops, kale from the garden, beans

Thank you for reading our blog and for being a part of our journey. We have learned a lot about our community and ourselves and it just gets better as we go along!

Day 22–Starting Week 4–Budget and Menu

Well, Week 3, despite my less than stellar shopping experience, ended up a great success. Pizza challenge night and “breakfast for dinner” with our farm fresh eggs were both popular events that we’ll repeat! We even made our 75% challenge! The shopping experience went much more smoothly this week, although we have a TON of greens. We will definitely be getting our fresh greens in! We also picked up our first meat box from Farmhand Foods. The box included a braising cut (2 beef shanks), a grilling cut (hangar steak) and a roasting cut (mini boneless ham) all from local farmers. Since that’s a lot to eat in one week, we’ve frozen the steak and ham and are having the shanks this week. To make budgeting easier, I cut the cost of the box ($45) into thirds and will add each third into my budget as we use the meat. So how did we do budget-wise? Here is the breakdown:

  • Farmhand Food (beef shanks from meat box): $15.00
  • Mae Farm (Italian sausage, eggs): $12.00
  • Farmer’s Market-various vendors (onions, carrots, locally ground grits): $6.00
  • Farmer’s Market-Heaven on Earth Organics (collard greens, kale, salad mix, pea shoots, broccoli, sweet pepper): $23.00
  • Trader Joe’s (organic canned tomatoes, organic garlic, organic apples, soy milk, frozen fruit, wild caught salmon, yogurt, wine): $45.13

Total this week: $101.13 (YAY!!!!)

What good eats are we having this week? Here is what’s on tap at our house:

Sunday–Braised beef and sausage ragu over creamy grits, sautéed collard greens (Recipe will be posted this week)

Monday–Broccoli quiche and salad greens with pea shoots

Tuesday–Poached, wild caught salmon with sautéed greens and red quinoa

Wednesday–Leftover quiche or sandwiches (scout night–everyone fends for themselves)

Thursday–Leftover ragu over whole wheat pasta

Friday–out (date night!)

Saturday–Pizza challenge using leftover vegetables and cheese carryover from last week

As usual, breakfasts are toast, bagels, oatmeal and lunches are sandwiches or leftovers. I see more kale chips in our immediate future!

Have a happy and fulfilling week!

Day 6–The Winter Farmer’s Market, Part 1

The winter farmer's market still has plenty to offer!

Assumptions. I know better than to make them, yet I still do. In my mind, the winter farmer’s market was a place of leftover collard greens, cabbage and sweet potatoes. Sad. Lonely. Bereft of good eats. I should just give up and head to the grocery store, right? Wrong!

I decided to check my assumptions at the door and visit the State Farmer’s Market on my lunch hour yesterday. I am so glad I did!

Not only was the State Farmer’s Market busy, but I was really amazed at the variety of fresh vegetables and fruit (apples) that were still available. Thanks to a very mild winter (at least in NC), farmers are still growing and harvesting white potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes (mostly locally grown hothouse), salad greens, turnips, kale, spinach, green peppers, apples, fresh beans, broccoli, collard greens, beets and more. And the prices were definitely lower than the grocery stores on just about everything.

Wilmington-based Scott Smith of Heaven On Earth Organics

I was glad to find Scott Smith of Heaven On Earth organic farm at the market. He was awesome! He and his wife have a farm outside of Wilmington and they love organic farming. Farmer Scott let me taste test my way though his vegetable stand so I could discover the difference between dino kale and curly kale (dino kale is thicker and spicier), how turnip greens with a little bit of yellow (from frost) are sweeter than the bright green leaves (the frost brings the sugar to the tips of the leaves) and more.

In the end, I did buy vegetables, including the dino kale (the name alone makes it interesting). Scott suggested that the dino kale makes terrific kale chips, something I had heard of, but hadn’t tried before. OH. MY. GOODNESS. They were devoured by my family and my pre-teen daughter (who eats vegetables grudgingly) decided they were amazing. Light, crispy and salty, these are the perfect antitode to potato chips. The recipe is below.

Kale Chips! Crunchy little antioxidant chips--howgreatisthat?

  • 1 bunch fresh kale (we used dino kale, but any kind would work)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar (we used balsamic)
  • Kosher salt to taste (we used about 1 Tbsp.)
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Wash and dry the kale.
  3. Cut off the lower woody stems and compost.
  4. Cut the kale into pieces about the size of potato chips (2-4″ or so).
  5. In a bowl (or a plastic bag, if you don’t want your hands oily) put the chopped kale and add 1 Tbsp of the olive oil.
  6. Toss the greens with the oil until leaves are covered. (If you use the bag, massage the bag until the leaves are covered).
  7. Add the vinegar and toss again to coat.
  8. If needed, add the remaining Tbsp. olive oil (depending on the thickness of the leaves, you might not need this).
  9. Carefull place leaves on an oven safe baking rack or on a cookie sheet (I used a rack). Don’t overlap leaves.
  10. Sprinkle leaves with salt.
  11. Put rack/baking sheet in the oven and roast leaves for 20-30 minutes (this will depend on how thick your leaves are, so check on them after 20 min.)
  12. Remove from oven and enjoy immediately!

Next post, local meat producers at the farmer’s market!