Saturday, December 4, 2010

4th Annual Dark Days Challenge: Week 1

It's officially winter here. Well, not officially. But still. We got an inch of snow today. That counts in my book.

I'm participating in the 4th Annual Dark Days Challenge, and today was my first offering.

I guess I should explain what it is first. For roughly four and a half months, I must eat "SOLE" (sustainable, organic, local or ethical) meal once a week. It doesn't sound too daunting, but don't be fooled. Eating local in the winter in the Mid-Atlantic is a challenge because you have to rely almost exclusively on what you've put up. Or someone else put up.

In the Eat Local Challenge, most consider any food from within 100 miles to be local. I stretch it a bit further, so I can have milk. The closest dairy is in Wirtz, Virginia, approximately 221 miles from me. Homestead Creamery supplies dairy products to my local Kroger's. So, I play by the rule of within 250 miles. It's a good thing, too. I get a huge amount of my food from the Monroe Farm Market. Although, it makes deliveries to Charleston every two weeks, it's just over 100 miles away. Additionally, spices, oils and things like coffee are generally exceptions to the local aspect of the meal.

Every so often, we like to have what we call "Bar Food Night" at the Jones's. Today was that dinner. After taking in college football for the biggest part of the day, it seemed appropriate.

Today's dinner didn't disappoint. Wings and loaded potato skins. Mmm. I should have been drinking Mountaineer Brewing Company beer, or perhaps Yuengling or Starr Hill, which would have all been within 250 miles, but the hubs ran out for some beer and brought back Guiness Extra Stout. It seemed like a good day for it.

Anyway, I am beyond thrilled that I found a local port producer that sells pork products from pigs allowed to roam a bit. Bacon is one of those things that is hard to get around when it comes to cooking. You really can't leave it out and you really can't substitute something else more sustainable (than conventional pork). Late in the summer, I started ordering from Sandy Creek Farms in Ravenswood, WV. The are such nice people and they even met me at my office with my delivery. They have so many products, not just pork, either. I've been beyond pleased with everything I've tried so far. Yay, bacon!

So, tonight, we had wings from Almost Heaven Farm in Monroe County. The potato skins were made from potatoes from Spangler's Greenhouse in Monroe County, with diced bacon (Sandy Creek Farms), organic non-local red onion and garlic, and non-local, non-organic cheddar cheese, sour cream and cilantro. I will say that the sour cream is truly all natural, though. Half of the potato skins had cheddar cheese and half had goat cheese on them. I bought the goat cheese from the Monroe Farm Market, and it was made by Walker Mountain Goat Cheese, an amish dairy just across the Virginia border. I wasn't sure about the flavor combination on the potato skins with the goat cheese, so I did half with cheddar cheese. I should have done them all with the goat cheese, because they were DELICIOUS.
Here's the tag from the wings. Buffalo wings are one of the few foods that I actually hate, so I always make mine Asian. A couple years ago, there was a wing recipe in the food section of the local Sunday paper that I've been using ever since.

5-Spice Asian Wing Sauce from the Sunday Gazette-Mail

1/2 cup hoisin sauce
2 Tb rice wine vinegar
1 Tb sesame oil
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
1 Tb orange zest
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
sesame seeds (optional)
2 lbs chicken wings

Prehead oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients except sesame seeds in a small bowl. Bake wings without sauce on a cookie sheet lined with foil for 30 minutes. Turn and bake additional 15 to 20 mintues. Remove wings from the oven and toss in sauce while hot. Garnish with sesame seeds if desired.
So, now that we're underway, I am realizing that I am a little rusty at this. I will have to put some more thought into the meals to make sure they are more local.

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