Friday, November 20, 2009

Dark Days Challenge - nightshade fruit

week 1 of 20
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The edible nightshades are all pretty much warm weather foods, more tropical than temperate.
This first week I decided to use the very last of the eggplantlets that were hanging on - homegrown eggplant, in November! My very favorite thing to cook with eggplant is the very first thing that I ate with eggplant - Melanzane al Funghetto*... The variation that I use adds tomato, garlic, and fresh parsley. Since I only have a very small amount of eggplant, it will be a side dish, a topping over some "fauxghetti" made from shredded steamed squash. I'll add a cheese omelet, and some mashed potatoes, and that will be a rather nice dinner.

homegrown eggplant
homegrown squash
homegrown herbs, including onion "greens"
homegrown potatoes
homegrown sweet pepper

local eggs - my hens won't be laying till there is more daylight
local butter - from Tillamook
local tomato - gift from friends, stored in freezer

local cheese - Rumiano's Dry Jack, from Crescent City
this is outside my 150 mile limit, but I brought this cheese back myself from a trip several years ago

I've been thinking about the parameters of this twenty week challenge, and how best to adapt myself and the rules to each other... there is a lot of talk currently about is it better to choose organic that is grown faraway vs local and sustainable but maybe not registered as organic... and there is the issue with a lot of the smaller organic companies being bought up by various less savory larger corporations.

In addition, unlike every other place that I have lived, in lovely, green, sustainably minded, Portland Oregon, the farmers markets here are the most costly place to buy food, being even more expensive than the upscale groceries. Not that I begrudge the farmers getting paid well for their efforts, but I wonder why in Seattle or Olympia the small farmers are successful year after year and still manage to sell at a more affordable price point. (end of rant)

So, my current thoughts on the guidelines are basically the way I try to shop anyway: sustainable and local will trump corporate organic, though I will attempt to find sources that are organic and affordable. Since butter is available locally, I will use that for the cooking fat. I will exempt spices. (I'm not going to bother to exempt coffee and chocolate, since I don't indulge) Basically I will shop imagining the way that things were available to our medieval ancestors, maybe something special was available in the marketplace and could be purchased and preserved for use later... That is how I feel about including the salt jack, stored cold it lasts for years. I've also just started making a batch of salted lemons, a Moroccan condiment and seasoning, organic lemons preserved in their own juice and salt. I would include this, as a "one time bounty" of six lemons can be preserved to last for months...

* Italian: eggplant, mushroom style


  1. Just hopped over here to let you know that you are the winner of the amu butler pattern. I simply need your address to mail it off to you!

  2. I only like eggplant when it's cooked to perfection! Looks great!

  3. Eggplant right now sounds garage is full of squash and taters! Just wanted to let you know that it's way more expensive to shop the farmer's markets in Seattle than grocers.

    That is why I've chosen to grow so much of our veggies myself and have forged relationships with farmers that don't man the markets. There are many small farmers who don't have the desire or time to staff booths and don't want to hire employees to do it for them. I've approached several this year and organized large buys by banding friends together. The farmer sells the same amount he would have in a day at the market so he gives us slightly more than wholesale price. We all win!

    I just had a farmer deliver 460 # of squash, carrots and potatoes to my house tonight. Now I need to weigh it and distribute to everyone. It's like Costco for the people. If you ask many of those vendors if they have wholesale buying clubs they just may say yes. It's the only thing that has made this year affordable for us. Good luck!

  4. The eggplant was an unexpected treat for starting off the challenge...I haven't had it still on the plant so late in the year before.

    The "buying club" for produce sounds like what my mother was involved in when we were growing up. It was a kind of precursor to the food coop movement; every other week a whole group of folks would buy foods together from a farm, or the wholesale market, and divvy it up. I have a vivid memory of the two times that we were able to get shrimp fresh from fisherman in Maine. Huge baskets of iced raw shrimps arrived at our house to be divided out for everyone!

  5. It's so funny because I have been asking myself the same questions for two days running now. I continually shift my thinking on this. The thing is I don't think there's one best answer. I think local is the only sustainable way and we should do everything in our buying power to buy the organic produce and groceries that we can. Money, for most of us, is definitely an object. I think we have to be flexible while trying to move towards the ideal. Loved this post!!