Dark Days Eat Local Challenge

The winter challenge is officially over. And we didn't go hungry.

What I learned about eating local from November until the first asparagus in California is that it's not the challenge I thought it would be. The farmers' markets were less crowded with buyers but there continued to be plenty of fresh food; eggs, cheeses, meat, jams, nuts, yogurt, too many greens to name. I almost forgot to mention winter squash, potatoes, citrus fruits in a fifty shades of sweet and sour.

Having a bit of produce put up in the freezer was a bonus. The challenge now however is to finish what's left. There's one bag of peaches, one bag of corn. There's a few raspberries, some applesauce, half a dozen slow roasted tomatoes. We barely touched the pesto and didn't touch the frozen grapes that were so delicious in the summer at all.

The strawberries, blueberries and blackberries were the first to disappear. Next year I'll freeze more tomatilla sauce, more roasted and pureed pepper cubes. I'll skip the tomato sauce and stick to the whole roasted tomatoes with the skins that slide off in seconds with a quick introduction to hot water.

I'd like to say I'll store less winter squash but I doubt that will be true. I love crowding the table with them, their saturated colors and thick skinned personalities. I love their witch like warts and their Cinderella carriage curves. I eat them only out of obligation for having bought them.

My favorite find earlier this year were the wildly spicy pickled peppers from Happy Girl Kitchen. Next year I will can my own or a buy a case of theirs. I don't know how we've survived without them.

And my favorite recipe find was the no knead bread. I've loved serving it toasted and wrapped in a cloth on the table, local jams beside it. It makes me feel like we're in Italy although we've never been.

Mostly what I enjoyed about eating locally through the winter was this. When it rained I knew I would eat it, the same with the frost and the wind. I ate the southern afternoon light, the dark clouds, cloudy shadows. I devoured the late sun rises and early sunsets. Every winter pink sunset was in the food I found on my plate. And the mud and the cold and the quiet were there too. All the elements informed our food, strengthened our sense of place. Spoiled me for anything less then grown here.

Heartfelt thanks to Laura at the not-so Urban Hennery for dreaming of the Dark Days Eat Local Challenge and then tending to it so thoughtfully these last months. And radish bouquets to all the challenge takers that have also spoiled me with their own sense of place, good food, ideas, humor, care and knowledge.

The challenge is done but the celebration continues.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Katrina, it's been a joy reading your posts and having you participate.

Theresa said...

Ahhh...that no-knead bread. I have just had some with my lunch. There is an elegant simplicity to that bread that is matchless. I love to just stare at it when it comes out of the dutch oven, and listen to the crust make crunchy sounds as it cools down....

Kale for Sale said...

laura - Thank you.

theresa - I made bread today and stood there listening to the crunchy sounds. It was saying, eat me, eat me, eat me. So I did.