Monday, December 13, 2010

Dark Days Challenge - Salmon Dinner

This weeks Dark Days Challenge meal consisted of salmon caught in Puget Sound; potatoes, kale, thyme and lavender grown by me; and swiss chard from my local CSA. I'm continuing to use up foods that are not from a local source and I'm getting close to the end of those stashes.

The salmon was baked with onion, and butter and lemon. The potatoes were tossed in oil, salt, thyme and lavender then baked. The kale and chard were sautéed with garlic from my neighbors garden and butter.

Dinner was delicious!

Flood Season

Yesterday there was a torrential down pour. It rained and rained and rained, then it rained some more. I alway worry when the clouds cease to dry up because the lands that many of the small local farmers use to produce flowers and food will flood. There is more rain predicted for the next couple of days.

Some of the larger farms were also in danger of being completely flooded.

There was also beauty. The delicate tents on these small trees are made of spider webs.

And the reflections on the water are stunning.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dark Days Challenge Lunch - Winter Squash Soup

My first Dark Days Challenge was a simple one. Butternut and acorn squash soup with some homemade bread toasted with cheese. The acorn squash and herbs came from my garden, the butternut squash from a local farmer, with the cream and cheese bought at the Puget Sound Consumer Co-op, I must admit I did used the prepackaged organic chicken broth that I had sitting on my storage shelves in the garage. I feel it is necessary to use what I have on hand before spending money on the local foods. On to the soup!

I recently learned how to peel a butternut squash. The key is to use the tip of a very sharp kitchen knife. It is much easier to guide the tip around the contours of the squash using the end instead of the middle of the knife. Once you get the hang of it, the done can be done quite quickly.

Put the ingredients are in the soup pot and it's about 20 minutes until done!

In the kitchen we have this hand blender that my husband insisted that he have. I thought is was a waste of valuable space and completely unnecessary....until now. This little blender does a fantastic job of pureeing squash for soup and may just become the newest best tool in the place.

Broil the bread, sprinkle with cheese and then enjoy lunch.

This challenge is really making me think about the our food distribution chain and how I, as a consumer need to control my own choices about what I purchase. Thank you Laura at (not so) Urban Hennery for inspiring us with the Dark Days Challenge.

Winter Squash Soup

Serves 8

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 large garlic cloves, chopped

3 14 1/2-ounce cans low-salt chicken broth

4 cups 1-inch pieces peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 cups 1-inch pieces peeled acorn squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

1 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh sage

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 cup whipping cream

For soup: Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add broth, all squash and herbs; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.

Working in batches, puree soup in blender. (This is were I used the hand blender and left the soup in the pot) Return soup to same pot. Stir in cream and bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill. Rewarm over medium heat before serving.)