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!

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