Monthly Archives: January 2010


While working from home this afternoon, I realized that since it’s dark when I get home on weeknights, today was my last chance to go meet our pig — they are scheduled to meet Farmer George, the butcher, sometime on Saturday. So we called up Rolling Bay Farm, got directions and went on by to scritch their backs. (I wanted to pat their heads but she said that was not a very good idea.)

They seemed happy and came up to the gate to say hi. We got a stick and scritched backs while they all jostled for places by the fence (including one or more who seemed to be trying to eat the fence). They wiggled their noses through the fence at us and I was surprised to note it was hard to restrain myself from touching them! I kept looking at their soft-looking pink noses and wanting to poke them, just a tiny bit, but then remembering how much I like having fingertips.

laurenipsum's Pigs photosetlaurenipsum’s Pigs photoset

Next time I see these pigs they will be all cut and wrapped and ready for the freezer or smoker. Thanks, pigs! Thanks, farmers Adrienne and Mark!

Belated Dark Days Week 9: Doing the best we can

Oh no, I just found this post that I wrote last Tuesday (so, still late for week 9) and thought I published, but apparently didn’t! It was late already so I guess a week and two days late isn’t any different from just two days late.

We were out of town this weekend, in Reno to visit family. Reno’s always a bit hard for me as I have apparently-arbitrary criteria for the meat I’ll eat, and it’s always seemed to be not a terribly diverse town, food-wise. But this time, formerly-vegetarian friend Phoebe came over from Davis to hang out, and took us to the enjoyable Pneumatic Diner. While there, I asked the staff about the food co-op I’d heard existed. We got directions and headed over to try to figure out what to make for dinner for my dad’s household.

After wandering — pacing is more like it, really, given the store’s teensy layout — for a while, we ended up with the localest versions we could find of: potatoes; leeks; garlic; kale; carrots. I don’t know what was from Nevada and what from California, but I opted to bypass the versions with the purple big-organic plastic labels, and get the ones with no labels … somehow that makes me think that it’s more like what I’m looking for (I may be a sucker). We also snagged a nice-looking steak from a Nevada rancher, and some locally-bagged (i.e. not Earthbound) baby greens, and some little chunks of parmigiano imported by a California company, Cowgirl Creamery.

The whole grocery bag full turned into a delicious soup, except the greens and parm of course, which were a nice salad. Even the resident kid liked the “green thing” (the kale, which I had let him know he might not like, and that that was OK with me).

Anyway, I was pretty proud of with how we ended up, as well as with Reno’s apparently growing local food scene. Go, co-ops, go!

We also had a field trip to a farm, on which more to come later.

Dark Days Week 10 (?): Comfort Food (part 2)

Still no pictures, as my small camera is full and I am still too scared of the new big fancy camera.

We have been talking for years about making meat loaf, which Garth remembers fondly from his childhood. But his mom used the recipe from the back of the Quaker Oats box, and I wanted to do something a bit closer to home. I looked around a bit for recommendations, then mostly made it up as I went along, using what was on hand. I did have to compromise a bit though as he was not willing to give up the ketchup on top.

The mostly-local part: the loaf.

I caramelized some onions for a long time in butter (organic, co-op, non-local). When they were nice and brown I put a bottle of Pike Pale Ale, brewed at Pike Brewing, and let it sit on low heat for a while, just barely simmering, then dumped in the remains of a freezer bag of home-ground bread crumbs so they could get moist before mixing, to keep them from drying out the meat loaf.
While that was happening, I grated a giant carrot from the garden in the food processor, as well as a few cloves of garlic. I removed two Skagit River Ranch sausages from their casing and put them in a bowl with two pounds of ground beef from our cow. The beef is pretty lean so I also melted a spoonful of home-rendered lard from a local pig.
I carefully mixed everything together in a big bowl, stirring with a spatula instead of kneading with my hands, as I read that kneading dries it out also. I also added two little eggs from our hens as a binder.

Onion, garlic: Laughing Crow Farm, Bainbridge Island
Beer: Pike Brewing, Seattle
Eggs, carrot, thyme: the yard
Ground beef: from our quarter cow, raised by On the Lamb Farm in Arlington
Pork Italian sausage: Skagit River Ranch
Lard: home-rendered from a pig grown on Bainbridge Island
Bread crumbs: the last of several months’ worth of home-ground crumbs from both home-grown and store-bought bread, kept in the freezer

On a silpat-lined sheet pan (with edges!) I shaped it into one small loaf of about 1/3 of the meat, for dinner, and one large loaf, composed of the rest of the meat, for future sandwiches. Following Alton’s instructions, I put it all in the oven at 325° and set the timer for 10 minutes.

The not-local-at-all part: the glaze.
In my favorite tiny cast iron pan, I mixed the following:
Ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, sriracha, and I don’t even remember what other things, all from jars of indeterminate origin. Oh, and a little bit of local honey from Pike Place Market.

Alton said to brush the glaze on after it had been cooking for ten minutes, so I did. I did it again a little while later when I checked on the temperature. The little loaf hit temp first, of course, so we took it out and served it up while we waited for the big one to finish.

My verdict: Yum! Not dry at all — plenty soft and flavorful.
Garth’s verdict: “Not much like my childhood meatloaf. It was better. It tasted like food.”

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to come between him and his ketchup, though.

Sitting this week out

I missed a Dark Days meal this week — not because we weren’t eating delicious local food, just that there was no one big meal, and we were out of town for the weekend. We’re out this weekend too (and the next, ack) but I may write up a generic soup (“Piles part 2″) if I get a chance.

By the end of the month we’ll have a half a pig! I look forward to tasty pork recipes coming up.

(like posole!)

Dark Days week 7: Leftovers

The fridge was full and I was overwhelmed with options … How to divide up one serving of fried chicken, one serving of pot roast, four leftover egg whites, and 2+ servings of potato parsnip gratin? I was just starting to try to figure out how to decide who gets the pot roast sandwich and who gets the fried chicken sandwich, when Garth reminded me we could just split it all up and have a Very Trendy Small Plates meal instead of just leftovers. Hooray!

Fried chicken:
homegrown chicken fried à la Alton Brown, with Organic Valley buttermilk and organic, non-local flour and miscellaneous spices

Pot roast:
Made by Anne at Small Potatoes with a roast from the cow we shared; some carrots from our garden and some from the Bainbridge Island farmers’ market; mushrooms from BC; herbs grown and dried by Anne’s mom.

Scrambled eggs and cheese:
Four homegrown egg whites reserved from Ruhlman’s cooked egg nog, combined with two more whole homegrown eggs and a mess of grated (non-local, non-organic, but rBST-free at least) Tillamook cheddar.

Potato parsnip gratin:
Made-up recipe inspired by a meal at Agate Pass Café, with potatoes from Soup Garden Farm, parsnips and garlic from Laughing Crow Farm, leeks from Persephone Farm — all from the Bainbridge Island farmers’ market; homegrown parsley; and Fresh Breeze Organic milk as usual.