Dark Days challenge, week one

To start off this challenge with a big bang, how about a local dinner for 50?


Granted, this dinner was in the works long before I signed up for the Challenge.  As some of you may know, I am very involved with food and food issues at our daughter’s school.  We have a garden, we source local foods, we spend the entire summer (or so it seemed) picking and freezing fruit, canning jams and salsas and pickles for the school’s Slow Snack program.  This dinner was a big “thank you” for those intrepid tomato-stained volunteers as well as for our darling teachers and students.  Mid-morning every day, the classes have Snack as an appreciation of sharing, the courtesy involved with it, and the appreciation of food.  It’s really just a bite or two of something good, but the big news this year is  Snack now includes Friday Classroom Snack.  On Thursday afternoon, the teachers come to our full pantry to get the foodstuffs and equipment (electric skillet, crockpot, toaster oven, bread machine, etc.) to prepare the day’s snack with the children.  Stone Soup is often an option.  Dal, chili, applesauce; corn pudding, whole-wheat bread, pumpkin cheesecake; zucchini muffins, colcannon, hummus have all been made in the classrooms this fall.  Whew!

_DSC9943We held the party at a 1930s lodge in a local park.  Beautiful day in the 60s, everyone played until supper

This dinner was a bit more simple.  Mostly, meat was on the menu.  I roasted one each of our geese and chickens, a friend roasted a local organic turkey.  For the vegetarians, I made two frittatas with eggs and goodies from our home gardens (red pepper/potato/garlic with Wisconsin cheddar, leek/chard with EverGreen Lane Farm goat cheese).  Kielbasa sausage from an Amish farmer across the border in Indiana went on the grill.  Two butternut squash got sacrificed for some soup.  I made two loaves of whole-wheat bread (hard red spring from Ferriss Organic Farm, Eaton Center MI) and the middle schoolers made rosemary foccacia with flour from the same place.  Salads weren’t local but were made in the spirit of “Slow Snack,” as were the roasted sweet potatoes and cornbread.  Local wine, some even homemade, for the adults; local cider from Grandpa’s.

I’m sure I am forgetting something!

But…it was tasty.

12 responses to “Dark Days challenge, week one

  1. The food sounds amazing. I grew up eating goose, one of my favorite foods as a child…goose and duck. I am a huge fan of dark meat to this day.

  2. fantastic! I am doing an as-local-as-I-can thanksgiving: local pasture raised turkey, cabrito (goatling) from our own farm, local squashes, potoatoes and greens. Non-local items that I can’t omit include sweet potatoes, wild rice, and any wheat products.

  3. Delicious! I love how involved you are in your community and especially the schools in your area. In my mind, that is one of the furthest-reaching activities possible, and I’m sure that it gives a lot to the children.
    I’m looking forward to the Dark Days challenge too. One thing I wish is that we had local grains in this area that I can eat, but since we don’t, it’s an exercise in doing the best one can.

  4. Did you say ‘dal’? : ) really? Great kids!!

  5. hey – forgot to ask you. Its not too late to plant garlic …is it?

  6. That sounds so wonderful. Lucky you and lucky students.

  7. Great post! Teach those kids. The time is right. Thanks for you, El.

  8. Wow, that’s really impressive! Even more impressive to me now that I’ve arrived at my new home here in MI.

    Went to the Fulton St. Farmers Market last Sat to meet the Crane Dance Farm folks and get some meat. Have found a raw milk source. Getting integrated into the network and locating things has been a real challenge!

  9. That’s so beautiful. Doesn’t even look pot-lucky.

  10. It all looks and sounds so good!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Hafiz – I don’t know where you’re at, but I planted garlic in mid-November last year here in central Wisconsin. I remember it being really cold, my fingers would barely work, and I was berating myself for planting it so late. But the garlic turned out wonderfully well this year. So it’s not too late!

  12. Mike, then you’d have liked the goose: very dark! I find it quite tasty. Most people avoided it though. Which is sad.

    Aimee: good luck with the goat! I know it’s going to be a tough step for you, but then again, that’s a lot of hayburners out on your farm otherwise. I am likewise out to “get” Baby Turkey, especially now that he’s become such a menace. Local is great. I am sad to hear you guys don’t have access to local grain, though…maybe over the mountains east of you?

    MC, glad to hear you’re doing it, too! I think corn will be on your menu in the coming months, then, right? And could you get rice from the Carolina coast? They make some great rice down there. It’s not 100% “local” but goodness it’s lots closer than California.

    WF, is there anything easier than dal? Really, quite a fast and delicious dish. It’s one of the things I always make when I am camping as red lentils are lightweight and cook quickly! But YES you can certainly still plant your garlic now!! Hop to it! 😉

    Stef, we all had a lot of fun.

    Sharon! why thanks. Lots more work to be done though!

    Hayden! Glad to learn you’re now a neighbor! There are a few places to look into now that you’re here. Are you closer to GR or Kzoo? GR has a co-op that you can join (Crane Dance is a member) that we used to belong to: it’s a once-a-month thing, you order on line and pick it up once a month. It should help you to find farmers and CSAs etc. And there’s a Yahoo group called Eat Local SW Michigan that you can join that’s centered in Kzoo but handles GR too. They have an extensive list of local growers. I know it seems tough going, moving here from CA, but it is MILES better than it was when we moved here 5 years ago. And, next year, you’ll have your own stuff!

    CC, yeah, we made everything there, which was pretty fun. Got there at noon and just began cooking, dinner at 5, everyone bring tablecloths, silverware, plates and candles!

    John, it was!

    Dennis, thanks for confirming! Indeed, all it really wants to do is get in the ground, period.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s