Dark Days Dinner: Week 3

Dark Days Challenge 2011-2012

So far, I have been doing fairly well during the Dark Days Challenge. If you have been following along you will remember the local pork roast I made during week 1. I saved the bones and the drippings and froze them so they could be stretched into another meal by making broth and turning it into a nice healthy soup.

Searing cubed beef

I want to use as many vegetables I can from my own garden. This past summer I increased the size of my garden growing space and was able to plant a nice big area of southern-type peas. I talked about those “peas” here and here this past summer. It took me a while to figure out what exactly I was growing. The seeds came from my neighbors and they originally got the seeds in Florida. They referred to these are “a southern-type pea.”   Whatever it truly is, I am SO happy to have many bags of them in the freezer to be able to use throughout the winter.

I also have some nice chard growing right now. I planted it this past spring. I planted it on the east side of some of the tomato plants to help shade it during the hot summer. While the summer was hot and dry and the tomato plants didn’t make it, the chard managed to limps its way through the summer and spring to life this fall. It has really taken off as the temps started to cool here.

Beef Soup

As I search through the freezer I decided to add Anaheim pepper and green and red bell pepper that I had frozen from the garden. These were great additions. The Anaheim pepper plants that I planted at my neighbors didn’t produce much this spring and summer this spring, but they held on through the summer heat and produced a HUGE crop as our temps cooled. I have tons of them in the freezer to use!

I cubed some beef to add to this soup. The beef is from the same rancher where I get the feral pork that we are enjoying. Right before I served the soup, I tossed in chopped chard.

Over the past 2 years I was really struggled to find local meat and milk. I would ask everyone… people in line at the grocery store. Guys at the gas station filling their big truck with gas. The lady at the post office. Anyone sitting in the lobby at the shop where I have my oil changed. Nothing. Couldn’t find any leads or contacts. I hit upon the right person (eventually) while at one of the herbs groups I was with. RealFood SA was the answer. It is a local co-op organized through a yahoo group. People share information, they have set up links and organize group purchase for a better price mainly buying in bulk. Not everything is local, but some of it is. Not everything is organic, but some of it is. I pick and chose what I want to buy. I happened to join up when there was a post from a local rancher about meat. Not only is the ranch within 100 miles (65 miles from me) but she does a delivery about 15 miles from my house.

  • Bandera Grasslands beef  – (65 miles)
  • Chard – walked out back
  • Zipper Peas – from the freezer (from the garden this summer)
  • Anaheim peppers – from the freezer (from the garden)

Sincerely, Emily

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4 Responses to Dark Days Dinner: Week 3

  1. Jes says:

    Beautiful soup! Love the garden goodness–especially the saved peas!

  2. J. Searcy says:

    YUM, YUM! I wonder if the “peas” are crowder peas (not sure if that’s the technical name or just what they call them here in SC)? They are very good southern growers….we have tons of them growing here from early summer to fall. I believe they are related to the black eye pea, but are green in color.

    • Hi Jessica – from what I can gather – my neighbors have called this “pea” by a few names. Southern pea and zipper pea. Then when I did research and went back to them and asked if it was a cow pea or a field pea they just said yes. It is a bush type plant, no climbing at all, no little tendrils that want to grasp and climb. The pod can be shucked for fresh peas or unshucked young for snap peas. the pea itself is green, a light green. My neighbor also has one called “purple hull” that is completely different from the one they gave me. They sure are good growers in the heat we have. Spring to fall, just like you said and don’t take a lot of water (so nice!)

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