Monday, January 4, 2010

Dark Days Challenge - is challenging

week 7 of 20
Although it is too late to officially sign up, I'm going to be canning along with Tigress in a Jam. She is sponsoring the Tigress Can Jam, a year long monthly canning extravaganza-challenge. I'm thinking that more home canned food will be a great assistance in eating more locally, which is one of my stated goals for Acorn Cottage. The can jam focus for the month of January is citrus; (while not local to PNW it is currently in season in the places where it grows, and as cheap as it ever gets. It is very very important to use organic citrus for foods, like marmalade, where you are eating the peel) my dear friend Rois and I will be getting together next week for "marmalade made easy".

This last week there was no meal specifically planned for this Dark Days Challenge, I didn't think that another photo of hens eggs and omelet would be really entertaining or useful. I am however, truly grateful for the unexpected almost daily single egg. Until the girls ramp up to "full production" none of the eggs leave my little homestead.

The only homegrown food right now here is herbs. My winter greens were pretty much destroyed by the cold snap earlier this winter. If that was my only source of vegetables, I'd be sunk; what I learned is that I need to come up with a more sheltered solution for next year. The kale will eventually grow some new leaves, the chard is not so lucky. I may take a trip to the farmers market that is open in the winter every other week, but that will entail most of a day to get there and back on transit.

This next week I intend to do something with the small butternut squash that my neighbor Kris gave me, I'm thinking about baked with some local onion and ground pork sausage from the local market, and sage from my garden. And I am working my way through the contents of my freezer, finding packaged goodies that while they aren't exactly local, do meet the other criteria. This last week I found a whole frozen organic chicken, (that had been a gift from visitors last year), and turned it into four meals: roasted dark meat, brined and roasted white meat put aside for two separate meals, and the bones-n-bits made soup, which became two more meals.

SOLE is a real challenge without financial and transport resources, not impossible, but really difficult. To balance between the necessity of the coinpurse and the desire of the mind/body for healthy food. One thing that I have found useful is this "shoppers guide to pesticides" which lists which fruits and vegetable are the most or least likely to be contaminated. With this information, I can avoid poisoning myself, and plan which foods are the most important to source organically or produce here at home. I've already planted two apple trees, a persimmon, a plum and a pear. There are two tiny fig trees in pots. It will take years before I see much fruit from any of them, but it is a start. I hope to eventually add soft fruits (berries) as well, once I can find a way to protect them from the wild squirrels and crows that abound here. And this is the time of year for planning out the vegetable garden-to-come for 2010...

While I'd like to eat all organic all the time, unless I grow everything myself that isn't possible. It would be a lot easier if I could safely eat a high-carbohydrate diet, and it will become a bit easier as I become a better gardener year by year, (though what can be grown in a small city yard, by one person who is also working four jobs, is, of necessity, somewhat limited by circumstances)


  1. I say the same thing every year I'm gonna get some good protection for my winter greens...But then in the Fall when it's time to set it up, I kinda forget about how important it is to do it right. This year we have a mediocre hoop house with plastic, but soon after I set it up in the fall, it became overrun with chickweed, grass, and slugs. Now it contains vestiges of still-living choys. I'm hopeful that come spring some things will put on growth. But all the kales and chards were out in the open and not looking so great.
    Our ducks have started to lay again, which is super exciting.
    I'm thinking of making the all-day trek to the Hillsdale market, too. Too bad we live in opposite directions!
    We have lots of blueberries from our farm in the freezer, and lots of fresh in season...if you ever want to make a trade let me know

  2. We can DO IT ! Grow more of our own.I'll keep supporting you and you support me and things will be yummy in the end.I thought it was amazing today on the phone with how we are so on the same page about all of this. This is the year my dear more WILL happen because my stubborn Aries self says so. Don't try to argue we will all come out better this year.

  3. hi alison!

    i've kind of 'unofficially' kept registration open for the can jam for people who email me - at least until just before the first recipe needs to be posted. so if you you do want to be a listed participant and post each month please do email me at


  4. I have chickens too!
    Each egg is really precious - isn't it?
    Can't wait to see what you make for the CanJam!