Eighth of an Acre Bounty

Random thoughts and anecdotes on cooking, critters, gardening and life on our small city lot.

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Dark Days Week One

November 20th, 2009 · 6 Comments

Despite my best intentions of increasing my posting frequency this summer, it seems the year got away from me. However, I resolve to do better over the dark days of winter and part of that entailed signing up once gain for (not so) Urban Hennery’s Dark Days challenge. For those unfamiliar – a quick synopsis is here.

So – to kick off the brand new winter season and first in a long line of Dark Days posts, I bring you…..leftovers. A bit anti-climactic, I know. But somehow when you think about it, a meal comprised of leftovers that meets the Dark Days requirements is exactly what the goal is, right? Local, wholesome, ethically raised and sustainably grown food should be the norm and not the exception in our roster of weekly meals.

We just purchased a new (to us) freezer in anticipation of our 1/4 beef coming from Prairie Springs in December. As part of the transfer and clean out I’ve been preoccupied with using up all of the various odds and ends that were stashed in the freezer over the past year. A brief perusal of the ready made and frozen shelf a couple days ago yielded a few containers of bolognese, a half tub of bechamel, a container of roasted garlic ricotta and some additional marinara sauce.

The bolognese I made a big pot of earlier this year, from our own canned tomatoes, beef from Prairie Springs and pork from Whistling Train. The bechamel was comprised of Golden Glen milk and Wheat Montana flour (purchased from the cooperatives store in MT while on vacation). The marinara was our own tomatoes and the ricotta was homemade with a head of roasted farmers market garlic thrown in for flavor.

With almost all of the makings for lasagna staring back at me from the freezer, all that really remained to be done was the noodle element. I used some of our new bag of Shepherds Grain* flour and a few eggs to make lasagna noodles and also pulled out a bag of frozen lambs quarter that I harvested from the backyard earlier this summer. Layers of marinara, noodles, lambs quarter, ricotta, bechamel and bolognese found their way into the casserole dish and an hour later we had dinner.

Last nights dinner did constitute a bit of assembly, but I do love it when a meal just comes together with a minimal amount of effort. And what the meal lacks in photogenic appeal it more than made up for in taste.

Local Food: Beef, Pork, Flour, Milk, Garlic, Lambsquarter, Tomatoes.

Not Local: Olive Oil, Eggs**, Salt, Nutmeg.

*I cannot rave enough about this product (and company). I had been searching for quite a while for a more local source for flour – and found that and even more in Shepherds Grain. Their whole wheat flour is delicious and a fantastic product for baking 100% whole wheat goods that don’t weigh half a ton. In addition to the quality, this is a cooperative of farmers committed to sustainable agriculture. They practice direct seeding (no-till) and are Food Alliance certified. For those in the Seattle area, their products can be purchased in 50 lb sacks at Merlino Foods (you have to call ahead to order). Try it, you’ll like it and support folks on the other side of the mountains trying to do the right thing.

**Questionable, they were organic – but derivation was unknown. Our girls have been on strike for months now and this was a carton picked up from Costco in a moment of weakness.

Tags: General

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mangochild // Nov 22, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Impressed that you make noodles yourself! And I agree, leftovers can be the inspiration for many a delicious meal. Plus, they are one of the most resourceful uses of food in my mind – forcing the cook to use creativity (or just a wish not to waste good food) to make a meal out of what is in the fridge/pantry from previous days. Shephard’s Grain does seem like a great company.

  • 2 Lauren // Nov 22, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Yum! I have been meaning to make lasagne forever. Garlic ricotta might tip me over the edge. How did you make it? Food processor to combine them, or something else?

  • 3 maya // Nov 23, 2009 at 8:01 am

    Hey Mangochild – I’ve become a big fan of homemade noodles. I have the Kitchen Aid pasta roller attachment and it makes it super quick. Especially for something like lasagna. In the time it would take me to heat up water and parboil dry store-bought lasagna noodles, I can whip out fresh ones.

    Hi Lauren – The ricotta was dead easy. Standard ricotta/queso fresco recipe (milk +acid+heat, then strain) and a head of roasted garlic. I peeled and diced the roasted garlic and added to the ricotta with salt and pepper (just mixed with a spatula).A food processor would incorporate it even more. I made a big batch at the time (starting from one or two gallons of milk IIRC) and froze most of it in recipe sized portions. Ricotta freezes beautifully.

  • 4 Dark Days 09-10 :: Week #1 Recap « (not so) Urban Hennery // Nov 24, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    […] might call it leftovers, but I call it strategic use of the freezer contents. Her lasagna used up bits and parts of local foods tucked into the freezer combined with homemade lasagna […]

  • 5 Sustainable Eats // Nov 24, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    Yum! I’d like to learn more about the lambs quarters. What is that?

  • 6 maya // Nov 25, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Hi SE – Lambsquarter (chenopodium album – also sometimes called pigweed or goosefoot) is usually considered a weed around these parts. It reseeds and volunteers almost everywhere. The leaves and seeds are edible and resemble spinach in taste. We usually let at least a few of the larger plants that volunteer every year go to seed because the chickens do somersaults for the seeds. It appeared in our own yard the year after we moved a bunch of dirt around (apparently we brought some long buried seed to the surface) and has persisted ever since. I usually just let it be. Weeding it out where I want something else planted, but otherwise harvesting as I see fit for fresh salads, cooked greens and chicken treats. It has a great nutritional profile as well and takes absolutely zero care. I don’t water, feed or cultivate for it. More info and a picture can be found here http://www.diamon-naturals.us/lambsquarters.htm.

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