Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gearing Up

This last month has been insanely busy, and I'm embarassed to say, more than a little stressful.  I have all but two of the big-ticket items on my to-do list done now though, and am looking forward to December, for so many reasons!

The Dark Days Challenge starts tomorrow (and the swiss chard in my garden might just have survived that last frost where I forgot to cover it - yippee!), a visit with old friends this weekend and a cross country trip for work next week. That last one is a curse and a blessing at the same time - I look forward to being in San Diego, but it will be the first time away from my little bug of a son in 19 months - can he (ok, can I?) handle it? Then later in the month, Doug's mother will be visiting for the holidays, and of course the holidays themselves.  Two weeks off from work, a house and bellies warmed by Christmas baked goods, the first snow fall, decorating the tree, the chance to visit with extended family... all the wonderful things that come along with the month of December!

Our little bug, catching up on the latest in Backyard Poultry News.
So in between the fits and starts of my computer working, I've been thinking some about what and where I'll get the food from that I'll cook these next months for Dark Days.  I've posted a few sites on the "SOLE Sources" page, and will add to them as I find more. I also have thought more about my local food exceptions (will write about that in my first "official" Dark Days post), and also about how I want to define "local". I wrote before that I'd use 150 miles. I'm thinking now that maybe I'll try something a bit different (and of course, more complicated - typical!). Depending on the food type, I think I'll use different ranges to define local.  Again, I'll spell it out clearly in my first post, but here's a map I made with various different radii that I'm thinking of using: 50, 100, 150 and 200 miles (from Lansing).

OK - gotta go get on those last two items on my list.  Only Four days until the moment of truth and they must be done!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

4th Annual Dark Days Challenge

I know I'm skipping the introduction to this blog I should probably provide for you, but I'll have to get to that next time.  Right now, I need to get this down in writing so I don't change my mind. 

I've decided to participate in the "Dark Days Challenge" this winter! 

As if surviving the cold and darkness in central NY isn't going to be enough, I've committed myself to cooking (and documenting!) one SOLE (sustainable, organic, local and ethical) food meal per week.  I'm not too sure how I'll do on the organic part (personally, I'm more concerned about local than organic, but I'll try), but I'm going to shoot high for the rest.  For instance, we sprayed my tomatos this summer to fight the blight and I plan on eating our canned tomatos as part of this project!  At least in terms of this challenge, "local" is defined as 150 miles from your home.  Here's a map of this radius from where we are:

I'll have some searching to do to find a few key items like cheese (though I could make my own using local sourced milk), yeast and flour (does New Hope Mills still actually mill its own grains?), but the Dark Days Challenge also allows us to make a few exceptions, as long as we define them in advance.  I'm thinking:  sugar, coffee, chocolate, olive oil, herbs?  Any suggestions on what others I might consider? 

I'm excited to try this - some things are going to be easy (eggs, frozen and canned veges from the garden, venison from the freezer...), others will take more work but I think we can do (cheese, butter, bread...), and others still we'll have to search for or do without as I don't think we'll find them local (juice, pastas, fresh fruit...), but it will all cause us to think more about what we're eating and where its from!

We start December first, and I'll post descriptions about each week's meal here twice a month, on the 4th and the 19th.  Links to everyone's entries will be summarized by the hosts on their site, so we can get ideas and be inspired by other participants, which come some time in January, I'm sure I'll need! 

Here's the link to the web page of the hosts, where you can read much more about it.  
Note:  I tried to do a fancy link with a little image and everything, but it doesn't seem to work.  I was only successful at making them show up separately!  This is a sure sign of a neophyte blogger!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Getting Started

Step one:  Sign up for blog site - Check.
Step two:  Make site design choices - Underway.
Step three: Organize thoughts and make first blog entry - Soon to come.