Monday, February 14, 2011

DARK DAYS Week 10: Valentine's DAY

Well, the hubs and I decided to celebrate Valentine's Day on Saturday, and we did, officially. But, Valentine's Day really was today, and neither one of us had to work late (an rare occurrece this time of year), AND I had some steaks, that I just so happened to put in the fridge to thaw...

So, I supposed we got to celebrate it again, or maybe it was by design. At any rate, this Valentine's Day was definitely a caloric one of us. Today was another "local-ish" meal.

 The steaks were sirloin steaks from Swift Level Farm, via the Monroe Farm Market in Monroe County. The potatoes are from Spangler's Greenhouse via Monroe Farm Market, the sour cream is not SOLE, but at least it's all natural (as in 3 ingredients... all of which I can pronounce), the butter is not SOLE either. The bread is from my Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book, but didn't really turn out as good as I'd hoped. At any rate, it is made from flour from Reed's Mill Flours in Monroe County and yeast from the grocery store. The dough is too wet, and I think I might just throw it out and start all over.

Look, my steak is red... for Valentine's Day! It tasted like a steak should taste. I put a little Montreal Steak rub on them, and that was it.So juicy and rich.

It paired nicely with the glass of boxed Franzia I drank with it. Sunset blush, no less. I can't complain, though. It was pink, for Valentine's, and it was a gift from a good friend. It and a box of garlic spam. No kidding.

I'm not sure what about me says I like garlic spam and Franzia, but I was grateful nonetheless. I like my wine. I don't discriminate if it's in a box.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dark Days Challenge Week 9: Valentine's Weekend!!!

The hubs and I aren't much on restaurant reservations, flowers and jewelry when it comes to Valentine's Day.  A few years ago, we ran across a recipe that we've made every year since for Valentine's Day. Now it's a tradition.

Aptly named Rachel Ray's You Won't Be Single for Long Vodka Cream Pasta, it seems super-elegant, but it's actually pretty easy. And delicious. Unfortunately, we gobbled it up before I had a chance to snap pics.

Here's the low down...
Fettucini pasta: all-purpose stone ground white flour from Reed's Mill Flours in Second Creek, WV; egg from Breezy Knoll Farm in Monroe County, water and salt.
Vodka cream sauce: extra virgin olive oil, Land O'Lakes butter, minced garlic, shallots, Ketel One Vodka (all not SOLE), chicken stock made from wing tips leftover from Almost Heaven Farm in Monroe County, tomatoes I canned last summer, heavy cream from Homestead Creamery in Wirtz, VA.

For dessert, as goes our tradition, I made cream brulee.

And, just like the pasta, I didn't even get a pic before we ate them. I suppose it would've ruined the mood if I'd stopped our romantic Valentine's dinner to snap some pics. Cream brulee is so easy. Four ingredients: cream from Homestead Creamery, eggs fro Breezy Knoll Farm, organic raw sugar and REAL vanilla extract. Not the $1.29 chemical crap...

I'll bet you didn't know you'd get a two-fer Dark Days in one post? Yes, the Valentine celebration continued in my kitchen Sunday morning. Waffles with blueberry mint sauce and whipped cream. All. From. Scratch. I swear, I think it made them taste better. I did get a pic of these.

The waffles are the recipe that came with my Kitchenaid mixer. The blueberry mint syrup is some I canned last summer. And did you know that you can make whipped cream from ... well, cream? I've made it before from whipping cream, but I didn't have any . So, I asked "Bing." Sure enough.

The flour is Reed' Mill all purpose stone ground white flour, the eggs are Breezy Knoll Farm eggs, and the milk is from Homestead Creamery. The sugar is organic raw sugar. The butter is not SOLE.

The blueberry syrup is made from mint from my backyard,  blueberries from my Mom's home, and sugar. I added cornstarch to thicken it this morning. (You can't can it with the cornstarch.)

Here's how I made the whipped cream:

1 cup heavy cream
1 Tb organic raw sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Add the sugar and vanilla to the cream in a bowl. With a mixer, beat the cream on low, gradually building up the speed as the mixture thickens, until your mixer is wide-open. Now, this part is tricky--knowing when to stop. Beat it too long and it will seperate, and you're on your way to making butter. Don't beat it enough, and it won't hold it's shape. The directions I found online today said to beat it until the surface is no longer shiny. And err on the side of not beating it long enough.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The USDA's new dietary guidelines

Is anyone else as excited as I am that the USDA unveiled new dietary guidelines yesterday???

Here's the link to them.

No? Well, I was really excited, because they seem to be moving in the right direction. Basically, it says to drink more water, less pop. Enjoy your food, but eat less of it. Also, reduce sodium and fat. And half of your plate should be fruits and veggies.

When I told Jeremy about it, he said "Duh!" Well, it's just not that simple. We all know that was good advice, but I was so surprised because the USDA has historically been supportive of Big Ag. Like Tyson, Cargill and Monsanto. That's why these guidelines are so astounding. They are saying we need to eat less of the products made by Big Ag.

Now, if we could only make the foods they say we should be eating more affordable and accessible...


Guess what I ordered from the Monroe Farm Market yesterday. Smoked Trout! I am so excited to try it.