Yes, this is yet another Dark Days post sans pictures. I can’t seem to pick up the camera lately when I am cooking. Add to that the fact that we’ve been pretty active with projects this week so by the time dinner is ready we fall upon it ravenously – no time for a photo shoot. Nevertheless, we’ve been eating very locally lately, and mostly from our own stores (with the exception of two dinners out). I keep a pretty religious tabulation of my spending each month. While updating my anal-retentive spreadsheet this morning I realized that I had only spent a grand total of $17.46 on groceries this month to date. Granted, that amount is about to go up as I am heading out to the farmers market shortly – but under $20 for 22 days ain’t shabby.
This weeks Dark Days featured meal brings back fond memories for me. When I was younger, my brother and I spent a summer traveling around Alaska with my Dad. We camped, canoed, berry picked and even spent a few nights in an Inuit whaling camp. One of the meals we frequently had at night after we set up the tents and my dad fired up the Coleman stove was Shepherd’s Pie. I suppose a true shepherds pie would usually be made with lamb – but to tell the truth, I don’t believe I’ve ever had it with lamb. Ground beef is much more prevalent in this house at the moment. We didn’t order a lamb this year and our quarter beef included over 60 pounds of ground.
I constructed the meal in a cast iron skillet (only fitting as that is the way we ate it in AK). I sauteed an onion and some garlic with the remains of a log of seasoned butter I had stashed away in the fridge. I honestly can’t remember what all I put in the butter when I made it. But there was a definite coriander and cumin element. I added a pound of ground beef to the pan to brown and also threw in the remains of a jar of tomato paste canned from our garden. The last bit to go into the mix was a bunch of diced chinese broccoli, frozen from last summer.
While the beef mixture was cooking I boiled up several russet potatoes then drained and mashed them with a bit of milk (always with the skin left on). I topped the beef and veggies with a fluffy layer of mashed potato and covered the top with some sharp cheddar cheese. The skillet went into the oven for around 45 minutes to meld and melt the cheese. It was a easy, two pot meal and there were no leftovers.
Local Ingredients – Milk, Beef, Tomato Paste, Garlic, Onion, Potato, Butter, Chinese Broccoli.
Non-Local Ingredients – Coriander, Cumin, Salt, Pepper, Cheese (Tillamook, OR. Not so far away – but could be closer)