The Reluctant Blogger

Dark Days Weeks 13 – 16
March 11, 2012, 2:57 pm
Filed under: Dark Days

I’ve clearly lost steam on the Dark Days project this year. It’s not that I’m not cooking Dark Days meals, it’s more that at the end of the day the last thing I want to do is be in front of a screen after sitting in front of a computer all day. I didn’t call my blog the Reluctant Blogger for nothing.

We’ve had some good Dark Days meals in the weeks since I stopped keeping up with blogging, but nothing earth shaking (though I will say that the combination of Kurtwood Farms Dinah’s Cheese and homemade quince paste on fresh baked cibatta makes for a truly stellar airplane lunch); after a long day at work, I’d much rather curl up with a cookbook than with my laptop when there’s nothing so exciting that it absolutely must be shared. I’ll probably keep going on the project, but only write updates occasionally. So, here’s what we’ve done for Dark Days the past few weeks:

Week 13: The aforementioned travel lunch – a sandwich that will definitely be making a repeat appearance since we still have a little bit of quince paste left. This one would have been great with some prosciutto or arugula, but that would have made it less Dark Days eligible. Kurtwood Farms Dinah’s Cheese (via Beecher’s), homemade quince paste (quince from Willowrose Bay Orchard last fall), homemade cibatta with Fairhaven flour; exceptions: sugar in the quince paste, yeast and salt in the bread

Week 14: Sort-of-carbonara with Salumi pancetta, Mountain View eggs, Beecher’s parmesan, and fresh pasta from DeLaurenti (exceptions: salt and pepper); and my favorite stir fry with ground pork from Heritage Meats via Full Circle, baby bok choy from Full Circle (and actually baby this time around, unlike the usual size I see for “baby” bok choy!), garlic from Filaree, and onions from Andersen by way of Full Circle. Exceptions: fish and oyster sauces, rice noodles.

Week 15: My husband’s genius idea to just have green bean casserole for dinner (I can’t help it – I love this stuff, especially once I started making it almost entirely from scratch, and not having anything else with it was a brilliant idea – nothing to distract from the deliciousness). The last of the frozen green beans from my in-laws’ garden, onions from Andersen via Full Circle, garlic from Filaree, flour from Fairhaven, milk from Twin Brook, mushrooms from Champs; exceptions: salt, pepper, French’s fried onions (yes, I know how awful they are. No, I don’t really care, because they are delicious. We eat pretty well 95% of the time; I’m hanging on to a few bad habits.)

Week 16: This morning I threw together a shepherd’s pie to clean out the vegetable drawer, and to leave dinner for Ryan as I’ll be gone to a conference most of the week. I’m not particularly fond of shepherd’s pie, so this is a great one to leave behind when I’m gone, as it’s one of Ryan’s favorites.  Elk, lamb from Evergreen Students for Sustainable Ag via Full Circle, parsnips and celery root from Full Circle, red potatoes from somewhere in Washington via Full Circle (can’t remember which farm they came from, as they’ve been rolling around in my cupboard for a while now), rosemary and thyme from the backyard, garlic from Filaree, onions from Andersen via Full Circle; exceptions: Worcestershire sauce, carrots and celery, salt and pepper

Week 12: Breakfast for dinner
February 20, 2012, 8:35 pm
Filed under: Breakfast, Dairy-free, Dark Days, Vegetarian

Purple hashbrowns, sunnyside up eggs, and not local Dave’s Killer Bread was as local as dinner got this week. We’re still working on cleaning out the freezer, and this bread had been languishing in the back of the freezer for…well, a while. The potatoes came from Full Circle, and the eggs from Mountain View Farm. Not the world’s most exciting dinner, but it will have to do.

Week 11: Salumi, cornichons, and cheese
February 12, 2012, 11:23 am
Filed under: Dark Days, Wheat-free

The title pretty much says it all. Rosmarino from Salumi, Beecher’s cheese curds, and homemade cornichons. Some weeks are hectic enough that blogging is low on my priority list if it makes it at all, and this was definitely one of them. One photo and a couple of sentences about lunch took more than a week to post. So it goes.

Week 10: Green chile cheeseburgers
January 31, 2012, 7:30 am
Filed under: Dark Days, Grilling

A dry (and briefly sunny) day made grilling dinner on a week night more appealing than it has been in recent weeks, and since we’re still making a concerted effort to eat down the freezer this month and the single largest space hog in the freezer right now is ground elk, it only made sense to grill burgers. We’re making good progress on the freezer, so much so that there’s an entirely empty shelf now! The last time that happened was before this elk found its way into our freezer more than a year ago, and it’s been a good exercise to utilize what we have in there before buying new stuff (which I realize should be obvious, but I have a bad habit of buying more food when we already have more than enough at the house).

These were pretty straightforward burgers, topped with roasted green chiles and some Beechers’ cheese, with roasted potatoes on the side. Not enough to fool us into thinking summer is just around the corner, but nice to have a taste of summer in January. I’m particularly proud of the buns, made from the starter I’ve had going for a month or so now, and the perfect combination of crispy and soft.

Sources for this week’s dinner:
Peppers from Tonnemaker Hill Farm, Royal City, WA, by way of the freezer
Cheese from Beechers, Seattle, WA
Elk burger from the freezer
Potatoes from our garden, by way of our basement cold storage
Garlic from Filaree Garlic Farm, Okanogan, WA
Flour from Fairhaven Mill, Bellingham, WA
Exceptions: olive oil, salt, pepper, yeast

Week 9.2: Shrimp and toast
January 30, 2012, 11:01 am
Filed under: Bread, Dairy-free, Dark Days

While going through our dinner photos from last week, I remembered another Dark Days dinner we had: Hood Canal shrimp and toast. Another very quick and simple dinner, but worth mentioning here because the shrimp is so good. I may have mentioned we are trying (more than usual) to clean out the freezer, and these shrimp were a happy discovery, buried under partial loaves of bread, vegetable trimmings for stock, and more.

I try to buy a couple pounds of shrimp every spring during the very short season they’re available, and though they’re not cheap, they’re absolutely worth it. We don’t eat much shrimp anymore, so these are a treat. After peeling the shrimp, I made a broth with the shells, some white wine, and some garlic. I simmered that for about 25 minutes, then strained it and quickly poached the shrimp in it. It was a light dinner, but a delicious one!

Shrimp from Hood Canal, purchased at Patti’s Seafood, Skokomish, WA, then lost in the freezer for months
Idilico Albarino from Full Pull Wines
Garlic from Filaree Garlic Farm, Okanogan, WA
Flour from Fairhaven Mill, Bellingham, WA
Exceptions: olive oil, salt and yeast

Week 9: Freezer Minestrone
January 29, 2012, 9:05 am
Filed under: Bread, Dark Days, Freezer, Soup

Another week in which the freezer came to the rescue, this time with a batch of minestrone (and a truly awful photo – sorry about that – just keeping it real) I made a month or so ago, and exactly the quick dinner I needed on an under-the-weather week. Not much to say about this one, though I will mention that the bread I’ve been making (with a starter I’ve had going for about two months now) is getting better every week. The starter makes such a difference in the flavor, and it’s been good practice to have to make bread every week so I can feed the starter. I’ve been making bread most Saturdays, and often end up just slicing the loaf and putting it in the freezer, which is exactly where this bread came from. In fact, the only part of this dinner that didn’t come from the freezer was the cheese on the bread. Some weeks this is our reality…

Sources for this week’s dinner:
Celery root, kale, carrots, and celery from Full Circle Farm, Carnation, WA
Onions from Andersen Organics, Othello, WA, by way of Full Circle box
Potatoes from our garden
Tomatoes grown at Tonnemaker Hill Farm, Royal City, WA, and canned
Green beans from my in-laws’ garden up the street (by way of the freezer)
Garlic from Filaree Garlic Farm, Okanogan, WA
Slow roasted tomatoes from our garden, by way of the freezer
Sage from our garden
Vegetable stock made primarily from Full Circle vegetable trimmings
Flour from Fairhaven Mill, Bellingham, WA
Cheese from Beechers, Seattle, WA
Exceptions: Rancho Gordo borlotti beans, olive oil, salt, pepper, parmesan rind and prosciutto end; yeast and salt in bread

Dark Days Week 8: Nicaragua
January 23, 2012, 3:33 pm
Filed under: Dark Days, Travel

Breakfast. Also known as a Nica tipico or desayuno tipico. See also: delicious. Gallo pinto (mixed red beans and rice), eggs, and cuajada, a salty white cheese with a texture somewhere between feta and mozzarella.

I’m just home from a week-long work trip to Nicaragua, where pretty much all of the food is local. I’m still processing the trip, and am not sure what to say yet, other than Nicaragua is an amazing country with wonderful people, and if you’re even considering a trip, do it. You won’t regret it. Continue reading

Dark Days Week 7: Meat and three
January 12, 2012, 9:34 am
Filed under: Dairy-free, Dark Days

Apparently Sunday has become unofficial “pan-fried elk steak night” around these parts. I could think of worse Sunday dinners. I know that the typical meat and three plates in the South actually have three sides on the plate, but wine can count as a side, right? This was a fast and fairly basic dinner. Garden peas from the freezer, elk tenderloin, and a couple of delicata squash that have been hanging out in the basement for at least a month and were threatening to go soft, with a favorite summer wine on the side. Nothing particularly exciting, but real, good food, and fast at that. Not really worth rambling on about, and it really shouldn’t have taken me the better part of a week to post this, but sometimes that’s how it goes.

I’ll be late posting next week as I leave for Nicaragua for work (my job does not suck) first thing Saturday morning and doubt I’ll have easy access to the internet while there. You can picture me eating tropical fruit as my week 8 contribution, and I’ll try to post about the trip when I’m back. Week 9 will almost certainly be a soup-from-the-freezer meal, since I get home and head straight back to the office for the week.

Elk tenderloin from the freezer
Peas grown by my in-laws up the street from the freezer
Delicata squash from Inaba Farm, Wapato, WA (via Full Circle box)
Flour from Fairhaven Mill, Bellingham, WA
Syncline Rose, Columbia Valley, WA (via Full Pull Wines)
Exceptions: olive oil, salt, pepper

Dark Days Week 6: Tortellini
January 3, 2012, 7:21 am
Filed under: Dark Days, Pasta, Vegetarian

I’m not sure any Italian would recognize these as tortellini (maybe tortellini made by a child?) but nonetheless that’s what I’m calling them. I’m on a mission to clean out my freezers this month, so when I found a bag of nettles I’d harvested from the backyard last spring stashed away in the bottom of the freezer, I pulled it out to start defrosting while I turned a quart of jersey milk from Dungeness Valley Creamery into ricotta. Mixed with a little salt and a couple of cloves of finely minced garlic, I had the perfect filling for pasta. After a less-than-successful attempt at ravioli that left me with a split open, gloopy (albeit delicious) mess the last time I attempted filled pasta, I decided to try my hand at something that seemed a bit sturdier. Continue reading

Dark Days Week 5: Oysters, bread, and cider
December 31, 2011, 11:37 am
Filed under: Bread, Dairy-free, Dark Days, Holidays

[I fully intended to post this earlier in the week, but a trip to Portland proved to be far more entertaining than blogging. Who would have guessed?]

Happy dogs at the beach on a sunny (!) Christmas Eve

We’re on a two-year run of spending Christmas Eve at home, just the two of us and the pup, and I think we’re starting a new tradition. Saturday morning we loaded up the car, picked up my in-laws and their two dogs, and headed out for a mini road-trip, stopping at some of my favorite places on the Peninsula: Beaver Valley and Chimacum – where I always say I want to move – lunch at the Geoduck in Brinnon (if you ever find yourself in the area, it’s totally worth stopping for some incredible people/bird watching – this trip’s sightings included an Elvis impersonator, regulars who travel with their own can cozies, and a flock (?) of eagles just outside – and the oyster sandwich), retrieving and exploring the shoreline with the dogs, and finally to Hama Hama Oyster Company for crab and oysters, except the people in front of me got the last of the crab. More oysters is not a bad consolation prize, especially when it’s Hama Hama oysters. Continue reading


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