For this week's Dark Days meal we decided to free up some space in both the refrigerator and the freezer. Gail was feeling a bit under the weather and mentioned that some stew would hit the spot. Back in October I made lots of brisket and a wonderfully hearty beef stew with the leftovers! All I had to do was thaw out the two portions I froze in October and warm it up. To give the meal a little more bulk and free up some additional space in the refrigerator I added a helping of leftover mashed potatoes with the addition of some fresh made horseradish!
Nothing fancy or special here, just warm comfort food. Horseradish was the 'fanciest' ingredient.
For me part of the challenge is using up the great ingredients in all of our canned chutneys, jams, frozen meats, and other food we've preserved.
Back in August Gail and I made a few loaves of chocolate and plain zucchini bread and muffins when the farmers markets were overflowing with zukes, so this week we are enjoying a loaf with our morning coffee. Various relishes, chutneys, jams and sauces find their way into many of our meals. We canned 4 1/2 gallons of tomato sauce and there is no telling how soon we will run out of our home made sauce! We bulk it up with the addition of various root vegetables or saute greens that we pick up at the winter markets. Thanks to some great producers we have access to handmade pasta and ravioli's full of local ingredients. The increase in availability of local food year round is noticeable. Even looking back just a year or two there are at least a half dozen new winter markets in operation or starting up this season!
A big part of supporting local farms, markets, and producers are the personal connections Gail and I have made. We've turned to these farmers for cooking tips and advice for our own garden, learned about making pasta, roasting coffee, and beekeeping from the great vendors at the various markets we visit. Gail and I are naturally curious people and love engaging in conversation with the different vendors, learning a little bit about what goes into their worse gives us a much greater appreciation for the food while we are eating it.
As we sit on the doorstep of the holidays and new year consider thanking a local farmer or food producer for the work they do!