Monday, December 12, 2011

dark days of winter, meal 2: dinner with a friend

this week, i ended up cooking a last minute dinner for a good friend who came into town unexpectedly. this means i had less time to think about what to make, and had to rely on what i already had in the house. as a result, this week's meal has more non-local ingredients than last week's, but i am happy with how much of it IS local, with very little effort!

dark days meal 2, plated

on the menu

  • chicken and 40 cloves
  • whipped sweet potatoes with ginger
  • salad
  • rosemary olive oil bread

dark days meal 2, local ingredients

local ingredients
  • whole chicken from fickle creek farm (efland, nc, 44 miles)*
  • thyme from our yard (apex, nc, 15 feet)
  • butter from homeland creamery (julian, nc, 57 miles)
  • honey from our family's bees (20 miles)
  • sweet potatoes from ben's produce (clayton, nc, 33 miles)*
  • fresh ginger from redbud farm (burlington, nc, 62 miles)*
  • milk from maple view farm (hillsborough, nc, 34 miles)
  • french breakfast radishes from ben's produce (clayton, nc, 33 miles)*
  • lettuces from screech owl greenhouse (moncure, nc, 19 miles)*
  • cucumber from screech owl greenhouse (moncure, nc, 19 miles)*
* purchased at western wake farmers market

dark days meal 2, non-local ingredients

non-local ingredients
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil (organic)
  • celery (organic)
  • grape tomatoes (organic)
  • garlic
  • red bell pepper (organic)
  • cinnamon
  • rosemary olive oil bread (not pictured) (baked locally, but sourced from ???)
as always, the meat and produce is mostly easy for me to get locally. everything you see here i already had in my house with no planning at all.

this week i was traveling and very busy, so there was not as much time to plan my meal. as a result, this one is mostly local--all the spotlight parts are local. but it still feels a little cheater-y to me. this is especially true for the non-local salad produce, the bread we had with dinner, which was a last minute purchase, and the salad dressing, which was whatever we had in the fridge. i didn't even think about dressing until dinner was made and on the table.


chicken and 40 cloves:
this is a tried and true recipe from alton brown. it's posted on the food network website, so i think posting it again here might be a copyright violation. you guys know how to click a link though, right? go make this right now! it's awesome!

whipped sweet potatoes with ginger (made up on the fly)
9-10 small sweet potatoes
~2 tablespoons butter
3-4 tablespoons honey
~1.5 tablespoons chopped gresh ginger
(note, i used uncured, super-fresh ginger from a local supplier, and NOT the ginger from the grocery store, which is much stronger. if you use that, i'd recommend cutting this amount in half.)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
milk to texture (added gradually while whipping)

preheat oven to 450. bake sweet potatoes for ~40 minutes until soft, piercing with a fork after 20 minutes. remove skins and place in a large bowl. add butter, honey, ginger, cinnamon, and about 1/4 cup of milk, and mash with a potato masher until well mixed. then, using a hand mixer, beat until fluffy. add milk if necessary to obtain the right texture/moisture.

um--i can't say i have a recipe for a salad. i just put everything i can find in the fridge that looks like it would be good in a salad. this one contained mixed lettuces, celery, radishes, red pepper, grape tomatoes, and cucumber.

dark days meal 2, ready to eat

family ruling
everything was awesome, especially the sweet potatoes. my friend who was visiting seemed stunned that this is what i ended up with when i just threw something together, so that's a good ruling as well--he ate everything with gusto.

further thoughts
cooking on weeknights is a challenge for me. i work full time and have two small (hungry) children in daycare. i have to leave work, get them, drive home in a boatload of traffic, and THEN address dinner. i get around this most of the time by planning ahead and cooking and prepping as much as i can ahead of time. some weeks it's great--others, it falls apart on me. this past week, i had the added travel stress on the table, and then my friend showed up out of nowhere--this was literally the best i could pull off. i am not as proud of this as i was of my sunday brunch last week, but then i didn't have the time for the same level of planning and thought as i did for that meal. i will say this, however: i am very proud of my pantry and my freezer for getting me this close to an all local meal absolutely on the fly.


Anonymous said...

Jackie - I think your meal is a success. You had a lot going on, including a surprise guest. With all that in mind - you were very aware of what you had that your could use and how you filled the gaps were fine. Thanks of the sharing all the links to the places you food came from. I think it is neat to see that and also the distances they are from you. Cool View!

Jes said...

I've always wanted to make chicken and 40 cloves and now I do even more--yours looks amazing! Awesome job whipping up a delicious weeknight, locally-sourced meal!

Makanani said...

Again you amaze me ;)

Anonymous said...

Dinner was awesome and with gusto I would repeat such an event, hopefully without stressing my clever and marvelous friend. Cheers!