Monday, December 6, 2010

Dark Days Inspiration

Week One of the Winter CSA yielded swiss chard, beautiful carrots, a half dozen apples, purple-top turnips, garlic, chevre, eggs, yogurt, and chorizo. All of the items were from farms in PA, and the chard and carrots were actually grown right at Greensgrow. I am loving that we get dairy and meat with this CSA, and that the bi-weekly take is do-able for just the two of us. We also picked up a beautiful wreath, to adorn our front door, as well as some hand-made pulled pork pierogies from Polish Goodness.

I read a number of "eating local" blogs, most of which also talk about cooking the variety of seasonal items you can find close to home. A couple bloggers have mentioned the Dark Days Challenge, which encourages local eaters to try to cook at least one meal each week that focuses on local foods. It does indeed become a challenge in the winter months because a) there are less fresh produce items to choose from and b) they are harder to find as some farmers markets close up for the winter. There's a high level of burnout when trying to meet this challenge in the coldest months. After all, there's only so much you can do with potatoes, cabbage, and turnips. But I figured I'd at least take a stab at it, especially since our new CSA offers such a variety.

My attempt at this week's meal could have been better, had I decided to do it earlier in the day when I could have gotten my supplementary materials at the local Farmers Market. I knew I wanted to use the chorizo and the chard, since that was the veggie that would spoil the fastest. (Did I mention that Greensgrow also gives you the biweekly produce list in order of fastest spoiling to least? Brilliant, isn't it??) I found this recipe, which was perfect because I wanted to use up some wine that I had opened for some other cooking a couple weeks ago. I probably could have gotten the onion and the beans at the farmers market but I had to settle for buying them at the store, along with the tomato paste. The dish came out beautifully, though, and I threw it over some leftover pasta and sprinkled a little bit of parmesan on top before serving. I've never had chorizo that was so perfectly seasoned; it had a bite without being spicy-for-the-sake-of-being-spicy. And the chard had its share of flavor, too. The benefits of super fresh food!

Now that I've committed to trying this at least once a week, I'm looking forward to going back to the No Libs Farmers Market after rarely going this summer since our CSA share usually kept us busy enough. M&B Fairview Farm makes an amazing smoked sausage that I love to use in stew-like wintry dishes. And the bread from Big Sky in Delaware is always a treat! It helps that the market is at the Schmidt's Piazza, with cool boutiques and eateries lining the outdoor area. I'm already imagining a tasty cassoulet with smoked sausage and a delicious loaf of sourdough for week perhaps.