Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dark Days Challenge Week Four

Now that I'm into week four of this eating local Dark Days Challenge, I'm finally taking some steps to having more local food on hand. If I'm going to cook one local meal a week in an effort to shorten the distance my food travels before it gets to my plate, I definitely need more advance preparation. For starters, I received my first delivery from a Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) local farm. On the recommendation of a friend, I chose Klesick Family Farms in Stanwood, WA. If you're interested in finding a local farmer near you, check out Local Harvest.

I purchased the all-Northwest box of food and received tuna, cabbage, leeks, potatoes, Pink Lady Apples, Concorde Pears - and a jar of enchilada sauce as a gift for my first order. The potatoes and leeks made it into a soup for my weekly meal (see below).

My next step was to spend a leisurely amount of time (i.e. no children with me!) at my local co-op browsing the aisles and seeing exactly what they have and where all the food comes from. I ended up with local chicken stock (which is good if you're not one of those cooks that has a lot on hand!), vegetable stock, tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, butter, and cream. I also scored a jar of miso that wasn't local, but does meet my kids' recent request for homemade miso soup.

For my meal this week, I actually borrowed a Potato Leek soup recipe from a fellow Dark Days participant who blogs at Married...with Dinner. Thanks for the recipe! It came out well and was perfect for a cold winter day. I'm happy to report that the soup elicited a "That's pretty good," from my 9-year old. My 7-year old is still a harder sell on new foods, but he was okay with it dipped in bread. Baby steps... The best part about it was that my husband played sous-chef and cut up all the vegetables for me. He still can't figure out how his wife ended up in a challenge that involves cooking!

Potato-Leek Soup - adapted from Emeril Lagasse
1 pound leeks
2 bay leaves
20 black peppercorns
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 T butter
2 strips bacon, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock
1 pound starchy potatoes, peeled and diced
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 cup cream
2 T finely minced green garlic, chives, or tender leek greens

Tie together bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme into a cheesecloth bundle or infusing ball. Cut the white part of the leeks lengthwise and rinse well under cold water. Slice crosswise and set aside. Discard the greens, or save for making stock.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat; when melted, add the bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is soft and has rendered most of its fat; do not brown. Add the chopped leeks and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add bouquet garni, chicken stock, potatoes, salt, and white pepper, and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are falling apart.

Remove the bouquet garni and puree the soup with an immersion blender (or in batches — carefully — in a standard blender; then return to pan). Stir in the cream and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately, with minced chives or green garlic sprinkled over each bowl.

All was local, except for the bacon and a few of the spices. The potatoes and leeks came from Klesick Family Farms. The chicken stock was from Pacific Natural Foods. The butter and cream came from Organic Valley.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you liked the recipe, too. It's a nice late-fall/early-winter soup that I'm sure we'll make a lot.