The Reluctant Blogger


Dark Days Challenge Week 2: Beet Salad
December 12, 2010, 6:56 pm
Filed under: Dark Days, Salad, Vegetarian, Wheat-free

I was having a harder time coming up with ideas for week two.  Meat is a fairly easy option, but we generally only eat meat a couple times each week, and if I post about meat every week, this challenge will get boring very quickly!  My Full Circle box options this week included a lot of things from California and Mexico, which kind of defeats the purpose of getting a farm box (but I’m not complaining – Full Circle is the only convenient option for a weekly box where I live and my mother-in-law picks my box up for me every week), so I substituted most of their suggestions for beets and sunchokes.  (I didn’t substitute the satsumas, but I never claimed I was going to give up my citrus habit.)

Mid-week, I still wasn’t sure what I was going to make, but then I managed to find time to walk up to Pike Place Market on Wednesday, which meant I could stop at Beecher’s for cheese, and suddenly beet salad was looking like a very doable Dark Days meal.  I bought some Willapa Hills Big Boy Blue, a semi-soft cows milk cheese with a really good flavor.  I had arugula, radicchio, and beets from Full Circle, the makings of a nearly-local dressing, and pecans I brought back from visiting relatives in Alabama (not local, I realize, but…), which would make for a very good dinner-sized salad.  For the dressing, I used wine vinegar I made from a Washington syrah, shallots from my in-laws, decidedly non-local olive oil and honey from my parents (from a local producer near their home in Montana and hand-delivered on my parents’ last visit. They brought me a gallon, so I’m using it before getting any more local-to-me honey, and I figure – like the flour they bring in 50lb. sacks – it fits the spirit of the challenge, if not the precise definition).

The salad was good, though I think the cheese would have been better if allowed to shine alone.  So, a dinner of wine and cheese would probably have been the best use of this particular cheese, but it was a very good salad, if not perfect.  And the cheese introduced me to a local producer I was not previously familiar with, so although this didn’t end up being a home-run of a Dark Days dinner (not 100% local, and not as good as it could have been), it was still nice to have another near-success.  I’m starting to realize just how much of a challenge these next weeks will be, but also how much of an opportunity the challenge presents.  I’m using more local ingredients than ever before, even when our meals aren’t fully local.

The sources of this week’s dinner are as follows:
Beets, arugula, and radicchio – Full Circle Farm, Carnation, WA
Shallots – grown by my father-in-law, just up the street
Blue cheese – Willapa Hills Farmstead Cheese, Doty, WA
Honey – Arlee Apiaries, Arlee, MT (by way of my parents)
Pecans – B&B Pecan Co., Fairhope, AL (picked up on a visit to family in Alabama)
Red wine vinegar – Homemade from the last bit of a bottle of 2006 Dusted Valley Stained Tooth Syrah (Walla Walla, WA) and a mother from Bragg’s Apple Cider vinegar (technically this is outside of my 150 mile radius, but for wine I think I’ll just go with anything from Washington)
Exceptions: Salt, pepper, olive oil, vinegar mother

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[…] On the side, she served a batch of mashed potatoes made from fingerlings grown in her own garden.  Week two had her making a salad of beets, greens and a new-to-her local […]

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