The 2011-2012 Dark Days Challenge

Dec 27th, 2011 Posted in Gaelen's Kitchen | Comments Off

Pork ribs with pesto and cherry tomatoes

Although it’s not strictly canning and preserving, I’ve decided to formally participate in this winter’s Dark Days Challenge, preparing at least one meal each week that is sustainable, organic, local and ethical. Sounds simple, right? Well – yes and no.

Because Siberacuse and its immediate environs aren’t exactly a hotbed of produce after harvest turns to solstice, and in consideration of the dietary restrictions I deal with because of cancer treatment, my “local” area will range from 150-200 miles. I can stick to sustainable, and to organic. As for ethical – well, ethos is a very personal thing. ;) I’m not sure if it’s more ethical to support a local business that imports some of its stuff from outside the 200-mile limit, or more ethical to toe the line and use only within-boundaries items that are produced ethically. After all, the local businesses are struggling, too. I’m still working that ethical part out in my head.

To be honest, I don’t know if I can be fully DDC compliant, even for one meal. But I like the idea of trying.

Tonight’s dinner was pretty close to DDC compliant (I think) – boneless country pork ribs braised in olive oil (exempt), some of Albion, NY’s Intergrow hydroponically grown tomatoes and frozen pesto I made this September from the last of the farmer’s market locally grown organic basil. Yes, the Pecorino Romano cheese in the pesto came from Italy – but it’s less than 10% of the pesto recipe, which is less than 5% of the braise. The cheese is sold at the Mediterranean Deli at CNY Regional Market Shoppes, so its use supports a local business (do I get points for that?). And since pine nuts were so expensive and then went into recall at that time, I roasted local squash seeds and used them instead.

I suppose I should get myself a badge. Meanwhile, check out Not Dabbling in Normal every week for recaps of other Dark Days Challenge meals from around the country.

Which wine for me (or you?)

Nov 6th, 2010 Posted in Fun with Food, Gaelen's Kitchen, Resources | one comment »
Jorge Ordoñez

Image of Jorge Ordoñez via Snooth

My friend Az, who gives amazing Tapas Tours in her adopted city of Sevilla, Spain and writes an engaging blog called Casa Az discovered this Vinquiz on the Borracha wine site. It promises to pick your wine personality, and then you can buy those bottles if you like.

No registration, no fuss, no obligation – and a fun peek at new kind(s) of wines you might like. Just click the “Vin Quiz” logo on the website and answer the “Are you 21?” question with the right answer.

My wine personality came up the Muscato Bottani, Spain, 2009, a very dry white. Guess I’ll have to hunt that one up at my next visit to the local wine shop. The description:

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July Can Jam: Melons & zucchini and a pickle #fail

Jul 23rd, 2010 Posted in Jam & Jelly Recipes, Pickles, Salsas, Condiments | Comments Off
Seedless watermelon Purchased Feb. 2005 in Atl...

Image via Wikipedia

I wanted to experiment with pickles, and the July Can Jam challenge’s focus on zucchini was going to give me a great opportunity. Zucchini is coming into the farmers markets and grocery stores, and the simple zucchini relish recipe in the 75th Anniversary Ball Blue Book from 2009 seemed like the perfect chance to try pickles.

Then, after I tried the relish – well, my pickling skills need work. I must have done something wrong, but the relish isn’t the crispy hot-sweet relish I was aiming at. It’s kinda mushy – so maybe I cooked it too long? Not sure, but not the taste or texture I wanted – a pickle relish ##fail.
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June CanJam: Berry-licious!

Jun 25th, 2010 Posted in Jam & Jelly Recipes | 2 comments »

Local strawberries from Reeves and Gaerelick farms near Syracuse

Last summer, I was in a chipotle phase, adding a touch of pureed chipotle peppers in adobo to several jams. This summer, my low sugar jam experiments are going to include Pomona’s Universal Citrus Pectin.

I didn’t forget the chipotle – in fact, after tasting rhubarb mango and rhubarb strawberry (which became more of a sauce than a jam…note to self: do not use frozen rhubarb for jam!), I decided that the beautiful local strawberries that made their appearance a couple weeks ahead of schedule deserved at least one taste of chipotle.
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Food Jam: My Syracuse Food Examiner column

May 29th, 2010 Posted in Gaelen's Kitchen, Resources | Comments Off

Syracuse NY skyline - Photo by Gizzak

Over the winter, while the jammin’ season has been a little slow, I began writing a dog training column for the Syracuse edition of That column’s readership has been growing, and I did a few restaurant articles to share some of my favorite affordable restaurants with out-of-town show and trial exhibitors. Those articles were so much fun that I decided to apply for the Syracuse Food Examiner column, which launched on May 15.

So (shameless plug alert) c’mon over and visit me at Syracuse Food, where I share local food news and the special food finds I discover (or re-discover) in central New York. I get paid for traffic – so click early and click often. ;)

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