Monday, January 4, 2010

Dark Days Challenge Week Seven

Week Seven brought a Pumpkin Soup and Acorn Squash Meatballs to my table, but also led me to the realization that I'm leaving the Dark Days Challenge behind in 2009. I've learned a lot over these past seven weeks, but also figured out that the challenge wasn't completely working in my family.

In retrospect, I really needed to have my whole family on board with the idea before I committed to the challenge of one all-local meal each week. My kids are not huge veggie lovers so throwing them something like leeks and kale in the same meal was a bit much. My husband, who cooks a lot, was also starting to resent all the weird looking vegetables popping up in his fridge and on his plate. He has gotten into the spirit of eating locally, but wants it a little more on his terms and I can go along with that. For my part, cooking has never really been my thing and the added stress of trying to make every single ingredient local was definitely more work (particularly in the winter) than I had anticipated.

On the other hand, it has brought about a number of great changes that I plan to continue. I'm shopping weekly at a co-op with great local food and I've found substitutes to some of the non-local fruits that I once deemed essential. My local pears are working just fine in my smoothies instead of bananas shipped from thousands of miles away. I'm keeping my Community Supported Agrigculture (CSA) membership with Klesick Farms and looking forward to my next delivery tomorrow. To find a CSA near you, click here.

I'm still eyeing the one sunny, flat spot in my yard and trying to figure out if I can convert it to a garden next year. It currently holds the jungle gym, and we're trying, as a family, to decide if the kids are ready to give that up. I'm thinking maybe we could compromise and do a garden with a little skateboarding track around it. Hmmm...

One last note... I was very inspired to write this last Dark Days post after watching Iron Chef America last night. You know eating locally is gaining some traction when one of the hot reality shows pairs up with First Lady Michelle Obama to support the message. The show featured Iron Chef Flay/White House Super Chef Comerford vs. Iron Chef Batali/Super Chef Legasse and the secret ingredient was anything from the White House garden. The First Lady showed them around the garden where the chefs had their choice of the winter vegetables - sweet potatoes, kale, leeks - all the same things showing up in my local farm box this month. If you're interested, the 2 hour special airs again at 8pm on Thursday, January 7th.


  1. How do you make Acorn Squash Meatballs? I'd love a recipe.

  2. I didn't post an official recipe because it was more of an evolution. It started as stuffed acorn squash, but as I was cooking the squash I realized, my kids were never going to eat it so I changed my mind and decided to mix it all together. They did come out really yummy!

    Roughly speaking, here's what I did:

    Cut the acorn squash in half, clean out the seeds, coat with olive oil and bake for 45 minutes.

    Separate the flesh from the skin of the acorn and then strain. Mine ended up with too much moisture so I was wishing I had strained it through cheesecloth or something.

    Mix with 1 pound hamburger, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, and seasoning (I used oregano, pepper, and garlic powder).

    Form into meatballs and cook in olive oil on the stove.

    Sorry it isn't a more official recipe!

  3. Great job Erica...7 whole weeks.
    Glad the Farmer could help.
    I agree...kale and leeks in the same meal is alot to ask of kids...try chard and beets in the same week!

  4. Thanks Theresa! The farmer was a great help and surely one day, my kids' palate will expand to accomodate more of those veggies! I made chard chips last week (taste good as long as you don't expect them to taste remotely like potato chips) and just froze some of my beets b/c there are only so many of those you can eat in a week. I love them, but haven't convinced anyone else yet!