Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dark Days Challenge

I know I said I was taking a small break from posting, and I am, however I wanted to share this quickly in case anyone else is interested in joining up as well. Starting on November 27th, I will be participating in the Dark Days Challenge, hosted over at the Urban Hennery.

Follow the link for the full info (and sign up form), but the gist of the challenge is to cook at least one meal per week that focuses on sustainable, organic, local, ethical (or SOLE) ingredients. Luckily there is some flexibility, this is not a strict 100-mile diet, but the emphasis is on turning our eyes (and mouths) homeward and exploring what local producers have to offer. Some items like spices, some grains/pasta, coffee, sugar, etc may fall outside of the SOLE guidelines, but I will endeavor to use as many local products as possible in my weekly recipe. 

This is likely going to be a serious challenge for me... as far as produce goes, there isn't a heck of a lot to be had in Quebec in the winter, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. We do have a number of excellent markets in the area (like the Jean Talon market), so I will be checking out what the local growers have to offer. There is also a lot of artisanal cheese made in Quebec (something like 75% of Canadian cheese originates here), as well as some renowned meat and fowl producers and even a few wineries. And of course no shortage of beer... this is Quebec after all, we take our alcohol seriously ;) 

The challenge runs from the end of November through March so it will certainly test my skills... I'm a little intimidated by the length of it, honestly... I'm envisioning many root vegetable stews in our future ;) Seriously though, once I get started, I think I'll be able to find plenty of recipes to try... it will just require a little more effort than swinging by the grocery store on the way home. Might be a good excuse for some field trips, though! :D

As far as what will constitute "local", I will try to stay within the normal definition which is within 100-150 miles. Luckily for me this includes Eastern Ontario, the Eastern Townships in Quebec, northern New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire, as well as up towards Quebec City. Sadly though we're past the season for all that glorious fresh summer and fall produce. There will still be greenhouse produce that can be sourced within that 100 mile range, but really, there is no point eating a 'fresh' tomato in Quebec in the winter. But thankfully I can rely on preserved/frozen/canned goodies that may not be in season, but fall within the proper radius. And with the exception of my citrus marmalade, I believe everything I preserved this summer is in fact local! Yay! (well, ok, except the sugar... let's not get picky :P )

So, if you'd like to join the challenge as well, make sure you sign up before the end of the month. Otherwise, keep an eye out here for my weekly updates. I will be posting recipes, pictures and info on the products I use/discover each week as the challenge progresses... wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Just wanted to let you know I will be taking a small hiatus from posting. Life has gotten in the way a little more than usual lately, so I need to get things settled before I resume writing. Nothing bad, don't worry :) Just a number of things that have appeared on my plate unexpectedly. I will be back in a week or two with plenty of stuff to share!

In the mean time, I leave you with the amazing food photography of Aran Goyoaga who shares her recipes and pictures on her blog, Cannelle et Vanille. Amazing stuff, though sure to leave you with a hungry tummy ;)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Indulging in autumn

The weather is swinging between crisp and soggy lately... the leaves have turned and the trees are slowly growing more bare, and the smell of approaching winter becomes a little more pronounced each day.

Gone are the days of market-fresh tomato sandwiches and sweet, ripe figs by the flat. Ahead lay... well, I prefer not to dwell on what lies ahead just yet. :P So for the moment I'm indulging in the goodies of autumn... pumpkin (in _everything_!), apples (preferably dipped in caramel), stews and casseroles and mugs of hot tea or cider.

For dinner, I made some serious comfort food, Chicken Lilly. I think most everyone has made (or at least tried) a variation of this recipe at some point... chicken cooked with some combination of cream soup and cheese and a starch. In this case, cream of mushroom soup, swiss cheese and some stuffing mix. I got this recipe from my mom years ago and I do not make it often... it is dangerously caloric and not very friendly to the lactose intolerant. But is it ever good.

For dessert, I decided to take advantage of the bounty of pears at the store right now and try something new... Wine Roasted Pears. I've always wanted to make them but have never really had the chance (or found the excuse). We had a half a bottle of leftover white wine in the fridge and at the store they had Abate Fetel pears on sale... i think it's a sign the universe wants me to have them for dessert tonight.