Sunday, March 18, 2012

Who's Your Patty?

I follow Blake Shelton's Liver (@blakes_liver) on twitter. I recommend following it if you aren't easily offended. Hysterical. Anyway, that was the hashtag on one of its tweets yesterday. So, I couldn't resist using it as the title. Sorry for the immature cheesiness...

I felt like making my own corned beef was a little too ambitious to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. But one of these days, I'll make it. I've looked into it. Instead I made Irish lamb stew and Irish soda bread. It turned out wonderful. It would have been perfect for a windy, blustery day, typical for mid-March. Instead, today it was 76 degrees. I'm not complaining, though.

I'm counting this as my Dark Days meal. The lamb came from the Monroe Farm Market, but I can't remember which farm. The stew had organic onions, carrots and celery in it. It also had a little bit of flour in it from Reed's Mill Flours in Monroe County. It had some fresh parsely in it that wasn't SOLE, and some white wine. The bread was made from the same local flour, a little bit of baking soda and salt, and milk from Homestead Creamery in Wirtz, Virginia.

The hubs and I couldn't find a recipe we really liked for the Irish stew, so we kinda "winged" it. And it was awesome. So, I figured I'd share it.

St. Patrick's Day Irish Lamb Stew

1 lb lamb stew meat
3 medium potatoes, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 ribs of celery, sliced
flour for dusting lamb
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tb fresh rosemary, chopped
salt and pepper
olive oil
2 beef bouillon cubes

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven on medium heat. Pat the lamb dry with paper towels. Put about 1/2 cup of flour in a plate and season with salt and pepper. Place all the lamb meat in the flour and stir gently to coat. When the oil is hot, put the lamb in the dutch oven in a single layer. Brown the meat on all sides until a bit of a brown crust forms, 10 minutes or so. Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon to loosen up the bits from the bottom. Add the vegetables, parsley and rosemary. Add enough water to cover and two bouillon cubes. Season with salt and pepper again. Bring to a boil. Place the lid tightly on the dutch oven and put in the middle rack of the oven. After 45 minutes, check the stew and stir. Bake another 15 to 20  minutes until meat is done and vegetables are tender.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dark Days Challenge: Weeks 15 and 16

I mentioned here the last few times I posted that things at work have been nuts. I work for our state legislature, and we finished up the regular session last Saturday night in one very anti-climactic crescendo of a two-week stretch leading up to Saturday. I was working 12ish hour days the last two weeks, which is no way to thrive.

Now that things have settled down, I notice that daffodils are up and trees are blooming. When did that happen?!?
By my best guesstimate, I think this is week 16 of the Dark Days Challenge. My efforts were sporadic the past few weeks, although late last week, I was able to put together a fabulous dinner of homemade fettucini, meatballs and pesto.

This was a welcome meal after I'd been living on takeout and junkfood the past few days. The fettucini was made from flour from Reed'ss Mill Flours and an egg from Cozy Hollow Farm, both in Monroe County, West Virginia. The meatballs are made from venison Jeremy killed last fall, an egg, some panko breadcrumbs that weren't SOLE, milk from Homestead Creamery in Wirtz, VA, and some spices. The pesto was some that I froze last summer made from basil I grew, garlic my mom grew, walnuts, oil and parmesean that wasn't SOLE.

This week, I continued with the pasta theme with some fettucini with bolognese sauce I had frozen from last fall. I've been clearing out the freezer and my larder like crazy these last few weeks, but that's why it's there... for when fresh produce isn't available locally and when you need a quick meal.

The fettucini is from the same batch I used last week. The recipe is one that came with my pasta attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer. It makes quite a bit, and I freeze it in 2- or 3-serving portions. The pasta dough is actually easier to work with once it's been frozen and thawed--it dries it out a bit. The bolognese sauce has ground pork from Sandy Creek Farms in Ravenswood, WV; ground venison killed by Jeremy; tomatoes from my local farmers market; onions, carrots and celery, organic and chopped finely; garlic grown by my mom; a non-SOLE can of tomato paste; and some red wine and spices. The salad is what I'm most excited about, however. It's made up of radishes and microgreens from my backyard!!! Last fall, I planted arugula and mesclun mix under my cold frames. Like the past couple years, I kinda forgot about them throughout the winter, and I'm always surprised to see what has survived over the winter when I get ready to plant for the spring. The arugula was amazing. I dressed it with a simple cider vinegar and olive oil mix and some goat cheese on top. I cannot wait until my spring planting comes in.

Speaking of spring planting, even though I was out until 4 am Saturday night (gasp!!!), Sunday was too beautiful of a day to spend it sleeping all day. I got outside and cleaned out my cold frames and planted spinach, arugula, mesclun and black seeded simpson. I also planted beets and carrots and put out onion sets. This week, the weather is in the 70s with little spurts of rain, so it shouldn't take long to be harvesting my first planting of the year.

Last weekend, I also started my tomatos and peppers inside. I am growing my usual roma and jalepeno varieties, but I also picked up some new varieties from Seed Savers' Exchange this year. I'm growing Little Blond Girl, which is a yellow cherry variety and Eva Purple Ball. I'm also growing Pineapple and Pink Ponderosa varieties that I had leftover from last year. I'm also growing
Albino Bullnose peppers, which are a brilliant whitish yellow blocky sweet pepper and Black Hungarian, a not-too-hot variety, in addition to the Sweet Chocolate seeds I had from last year.

Finally, last night, as I continue to clean out my freezer, I made thin crust pizza. When I make pizza dough, the recipe is too much for two people, so I usually freeze the other half. I had some fresh mozzarella frozen from the last time I made pizza also, and some sausage, and I used the rest of the pesto from the pasta with meatballs last week. It was heaven.