Category Archives: challenge

Eat from the Larder

Erica at Northwest Edible Life threw down an Eat From the Larder Challenge for the month of April. I think this is a perfect activity for this time of the year, to clear out the old and make room for the new. Erica’s going for 100% of her meals out of her own pantry stores, but she said we could set our own rules. So I’m setting exceptions for fresh milk and eggs and Easter. Easter is a family day and we have a fabulous menu planned and it’s not from my pantry (except for maybe a few items I feel like sharing).

A very cool thing indeed!

Chocolate Chili

I really like this chili recipe! It’s a great winter meal and the flavors are incredible. I like that it’s so easily adaptable to local sources and it’s perfect for using up the foods I put by for the winter. (I really do need an upright freezer!) It’s also an easy and fun recipe to change up a bit each time, based on my mood and what’s on hand.

This time, I swapped out the jalapenos for a poblano pepper and added a bell pepper and swapped out the maple syrup for honey. I left out the beans. Last week, I got chipotle bacon at the farmer’s market and that worked out excellently in this dish.


I wasn’t in the mood to bake the corn bread, so I just had corn instead. I really do prefer having my corn in the winter! It seems like there’s so much of it and I take it for granted in the summer, but nothing brings back the bounty of summer like hot buttered corn in January!

This is not a “challenge meal.” For the first time since I became a locavore, I’m not participating in a Dark Days Eat Local Challenge. The regular challenge isn’t running this year (though there is a small group from another region doing their own thing). I will still be eating locally throughout the dark days but actually, finding local food in the winter no longer the challenge it once was. I am lucky to have many nearby farms and farmers markets that go through the winter. Meat and dairy are easy to come by in these parts. And I collected and put by enough veggies and those “ancillary items” you need to make soups, stews, one pot slow-and-low meals (like tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs). The challenge remains cooking from scratch while living and working in the 21st century!

I did come across the Pantry Challenge, which is about using what you have before you go out and buy more stuff. I like the idea of using up the things I put by and clearing out the freezer to make space for the new season. Truth be told, I still have a lot of food from last year in there. (Cut me some slack—it’s a chest freezer and I have to empty it out to find anything! It’s not like I haven’t been pining for an upright freezer for like forever.) Since I found this challenge a bit late and it isn’t exactly what I’m looking to achieve, I’ll be doing my own little “use up my stuff” challenge.

In fact, the corn, tomatoes, and poblano pepper I used in tonight’s chili are from my 2011 collection!

Challenge Meal: Beef Short Rib Ragù

I’m a little behind in my Dark Days Eat Local Challenge posts. It’s currently week 8, nearly 9, and my last post was week 5! Still, it’s local almost all the time here—easily 80-90% on a daily basis. Unfortunately, it’s come down to choosing between doing local vs. writing about local lately. Here’s to hoping I can wrestle the schedule monsters going forward.

For week #8 of the 2011-2012 Dark Days Eat Local Challenge, I made a beef short rib ragù. I loosely based my recipe on this recipe, with some local substitutions and a couple of additions. Also, this recipe serves the ribs, while I pull the meat from the bones and return it to the ragù. I served it over homemade fettuccine noodles.

This was my first time using beef from Apple Ridge Farm, a small farm in Ridgefield, CT. They were highly recommended by Jacqueline, the manager at Holbrook Farm, where they carry Apple Ridge beef. The beef was well-deserving of Jacqueline’s praise.

Food sources:

Note: These challenge posts will be recapped with the other Mid-Atlantic region participants every two weeks, over at Not Dabbling In Normal by Emily of Tanglewood Farm.