I spent the weekend hunting for locally grown vegetables and grass-fed/pasture-raised beef and chicken, which I found at the Dupont Circle Farmers' Market in DC on Sunday. This is my new favorite market. Dupont Circle only allows producer-only farmers and most of them are from VA and MD. The market website lists all vendors, so I can research them to learn about how they grow their products. The market goes year-round, which will come in handy for the Dark Days Challenge. I stocked up on some vegetables for my meals this week, and bought a little extra to freeze for later this winter.
I learned something unfortunate too--the farmers' market near my house allows re-selling, which I find extremely disappointing. And the site doesn't list vendors, so I'm unable to distinguish between those who are producer-only and those who are vendors. My grass-fed beef seller is the only vendor whose products I trust there now, and that's because I can find his farm on the internet and see how he raises and cares for his animals. So I won't be going there anymore, and even though Dupont Circle isn't as convenient, at least there's a wide selection and can rest assured that the products are locally grown and organically produced.
This weekend I bought onions, garlic, broccoli, spinach, carrots, celery, potatoes, bison, and some of the last few chicken breasts I'm likely to see this season. Best of all--I found cheese! I found locally-made cheese that I like. I spent the weekend planning menus for upcoming Dark Days local meals and freezing vegetables for the later winter months when the selection at the market won't be as varied.
I froze broccoli and spinach. Both have to be blanched before freezing. I steamed the broccoli for 5 minutes, then dumped it all into a bowl of ice water for a couple of minutes before separating it into containers for freezing.
I steamed the spinach for only one minute--any longer will cook it too much. I then placed the spinach into an ice bath right away, and put it in a salad spinner to drain the excess water out. (You can use paper towels to dry off the water if you don't have a spinner). I then separated the spinach into serving sizes for future use, and bagged the leaves before freezing.
I have some squash and peppers from my own garden that I can use, but not nearly enough to get me through the winter. I'm excited to do this Challenge and hope I can come up with creative meals, even in the "Dark Days" of winter.