Dark Days week 13: we (heart) local

Blueberry waffles with blueberry syrup is a great way to start the day

I’m posting this before I even make the meal:  is that cheating?  No, it’s beating the posting deadline!


For Valentine’s Day, the girl and I got up early to harvest a Monster Carrot.  It’s been a gorgeously sunny weekend, so the greenhouses are quite warm:  warm enough to pull off the Reemay covers and let that sun shine in.  (I spent a lot of the weekend just puttering around in there:  who can blame me, working in a t-shirt in February?)  This carrot, a Long Keeper storage carrot, is the main ingredient in tonight’s carrot cake.

Don’t discount fresh herbs:  they add a substantial kick to what I consider The Good Life.  Par-cel cutting celery (a nice cross between parsley and celery) grows nicely year-round in the greenhouses

And while we were in there, I harvested a bunch of different herbs for the marinade for the evening’s main course.  Morning is often when I start making dinner. When the girl and I made the waffles, I also started a batch of no-knead whole wheat bread, thawed the roast, and started a new batch of buttermilk.  Then, with our carrot and herbs all cleaned up from the greenhouse, she peeled a head of garlic while I stripped the thyme and rosemary from their branches and pounded them, along with a large bunch of the par-cel cutting celery, salt, pepper, olive oil, and homegrown paprika, making a nice paste to coat the pork loin roast.  Fresh herbs are marvelous, and thyme, parsley, rosemary, sage, and savory keep green and ready all winter in the greenhouse.

Alice Waters has a wonderful method for braising those tougher cuts of meat like a shoulder or loin roast.  Including the long marinade, the roast is cooked in a low (350 degree) oven and flipped quite often in its half-bath of cut-vegetable filled broth.  It alternately caramelizes and tenderizes the meat that way, and the resultant pan juices make a wonderful gravy.

The greenhouse’s leeks are thickening rapidly and are quite sweet, so lots of them are finding their way into most savory dishes lately.  Tonight’s treatment was in a milk bath with radicchio.  The milk calms the bite of these chickory hearts, and sweetens the leeks.  Two leeks and one radicchio are halved, quick-seared in brown butter in a skillet, then baked in a casserole and bathed in an herbed cream.  A quick trip under the broiler at the end caramelizes their tops.


  • Blueberry waffles with blueberry syrup for breakfast (Ferris Organic flour, our eggs, homemade buttermilk from our milk share, nonlocal butter, and blueberries from a half mile away; syrup made from the same batch of blueberries with Michigan sugar)
  • Greenhouse salad with homemade buttermilk dressing (milk share milk, our shallots and herbs)
  • Braised loin of pork (Amish-raised piggy, above marinade from greenhouse herbs, Copra and red onions, Chantenay carrots, red potatoes in the broth)
  • Oven-braised Bleu de Solaize leeks and Treviso radicchio in cream
  • No-knead sourdough whole wheat bread (Ferris Organic flour, my sourdough starter)
  • Carrot cake (Ferris Organic flour, our eggs, our buttermilk, our carrot, Michigan sugar; nonlocal spices and cream cheese for the frosting)
Sue J. Smith / LeAnn Morales
Environmental Sciences Technology Program / Calhoun Area Career Center
475 E. Roosevelt Avenue
Battle Creek, Michigan 49017
(269) 968-2271 ext. 5254
(517) 712-8097 cell

11 responses to “Dark Days week 13: we (heart) local

  1. That is a seriously huge carrot. The menu looks amazing. Enjoy your meal.

  2. Wow! That is some carrot. I can almost hear it screaming “I am a carrot – watch out!” LOL. I’m also imagining the tempting aromas that must have come from that dinner, with all the herbs and garlic. Glad you enjoyed!

  3. Gotta get my green house set up! That carrot has driven me to it!

  4. That paints a sweet image of you and your child preparing dinner and chatting about life. I’m jealous, although I did get to see my gardening girl last weekend.

  5. And I saw my republican child a few weeks before that.
    Life is good- some people only get to see their children every few years. I should stop whining.

  6. Have I mentioned how much I love reading your menus?? I LOVE your menus.

  7. Thanks, Mom. Seriously big, indeed. I didn’t weigh it but I should have.

    MC, yeah, home-grown herbs are just so smashing! Especially at this time of year when most of what we have is dried and therefore mostly flavorless. And that carrot was quite hilarious.

    Art! Glad I have tipped you over!

    Pamela, so at this point because she’s so busy with her own stuff, she knows that if she wants Mama Time she needs to hang out with me in the garden or kitchen, and she’s so all right with that. We’ll see how she is in 7 years or so but right now she’s quite helpful, especially with that pesky garlic. And I am very happy for you being able to have some quality face time with your kids: funny how they morph into actual humans, isn’t it?

    Karen, hah, you have, but I don’t mind hearing it twice! We’re really keeping it fairly simple lately; nothing needs much messing-with because it’s all fairly flavorful on its own. Thanks…

  8. Pingback: Dark Days 09/10 Recap :: Week #13 (East, Midwest, South, West) « (not so) Urban Hennery

  9. I’m curious about your bread: I make sourdough and I make no-knead, but I didn’t know the 2 could be combined. How do you do that? I posted on my sourdough bread here http://thriftathome.blogspot.com/2010/02/daily-bread.html

    And I’m jealous of your greenhouse goodies! And working outside in a tee! We’ve got 2.5 feet of snow on the ground yet. . .

  10. Margo, hi! Certainly they can be combined. I have a sourdough starter that I mainly use for English muffins and pancakes…my husband is NOT a sourdough fan, so that means I eat it all, not exactly a good plan during my winter-sloth period! But indeed they can be combined. This requires a fairly long rise if your starter isn’t particularly fiery. My loaf requires 3 cups of flour, 1/2 cup starter, about 1-1/4 cup warm water, 1/2 t salt and–the key–1 t sugar. The sugar gets the reluctant sourdough started I think. And I bake it in a loaf pan. Hope that helps…and we’ve got that snow depth here too, which makes the t-shirt all the more wonderful!

  11. That is seriously one gorgeous looking carrot, and I bet that carrot cake looked fab and tasted delicious.

    I’ve never grown carrots, but the carrots that i have, have always got carrot fly on them. Every year I hope I will beat them, let see how I do this year esp as I’m growing them in pot.

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