5th Annual Dark Days Challenge: Week One

I am once again participating in the Dark Days Challenge, now going into its 5th year. It challenges its participants to “cook one meal each week featuring SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) ingredients.” At the same time, each blogger determines what SOLE means to them.

Like last year, I am lucky to have the Coventry Regional Farmers Winterfresh Market quite literally down the street. Somewhat unluckier than last year, I once again find myself incomeless. Such is the life of a recent grad searching floating internship to internship.  While I have planned accordingly – it is going to be harder than ever to eat SOLE.

So what does SOLE mean in Connecticut this time of year? Prepare to be linkified.

Cooking Fat: Well – I am going to use olive oil. At times I am sensitive to dairy so exclusively butter as a cooking fat is out. And I am just not ready to use bacon grease for everything. The butter I do use will be from Cabot Creamery Cooperative or Wildowsky Dairy.

Flour/Bread/Pasta: I will be using flour from King Arthur Flours in Vermont. There are more local sources of wheat – it is grown in the town where I live and milled not too far away in Massachusetts – but the price is not achievable on my current budget. King Arthur has a great range of flours that I really like to work with. And when I don’t have time to bake, Farm to Hearth out of Salem, CT has fabulous breads, scones and cookies made with the local organic stuff. As far as pasta goes, I took a pasta class this summer and have not made pasta since. That’s something I want to work on as part of this challenge.

Milk/Yogurt/Ice Cream: Farmer’s Cow and Mountain DairyLadies of Levita Road when I don’t want to make my own yogurt.

Beef: New Boston Beef in Thompson, CT. Amazing short ribs and soup bones!

Seafood: The Fish Market in Willimantic, CT. Most of their seafood is locally sourced, we will be concentrating that as much as possible.

ChickenGormAvian Farms in Bolton, CT. I haven’t had the pleasure of their chicken yet, but I am excited to try it soon.

Produce: Wayne’s Organic Garden, 18th Century Purity Farms, Highland Thistle Farm, Chaplin Farms and the other vendors at the Winterfresh Market. Beautiful chard, spinach, squash, onions, apples, greenhouse tomatoes and more – all winter long.

We did two quasi-DD meals this week, though only one of them was eaten whist remembering to snap a photo. First: PEI mussels from The Fish Market in a Windham Gardens (Granby, CT) garlic, wine and herb sauce, with local Cabot Creamery butter and Hopkins Vineyard (New Preston, CT) Duet wine. Oh – and a generous dash of Dragon’s Blood Elixir thrown in for good measure. The mussels aren’t particularly local, but truth be told I am unsure about shellfish harvesting in Long Island Sound, and even if they are allowed to fish this year. It’s come a long way and is fishable now, but I am not sure about mussel harvesting – I know they have been changing the lobstering regulations. I know they do oysters. I really should know that in my current line of work…  anyway served alongside F2H bread it made an excellent dinner.

The second meal was totally an easy way out. Summer Hill Catering out of Madison, CT is a vendor at the Coventry Winterfresh Market. Their fabulous chicken pot pies are just the thing to throw in the oven when I get home from a long day at work. Though it’s a little dairy heavy for every night of the week, I can adjust my diet elsewhere to compensate. Alongside a salad and a glass of wine, this meal requires almost no effort and sometimes, that’s just about perfect. Especially this time of year.

Looking forward to what the DD challenge has in store for this year! Are you joining in?

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