Before I tell you about our first DDC meal, I’d like to describe our definition of local. When I eat locally, I’m aiming for food originating within 100 miles of our Everett home. But if ingredients are grown in Washington, I’m going to count those as local too because you just can’t grow everything we want to eat within a 100 mile range. I also make some exceptions: salt, pepper, some spices, and staples such as oil, vinegar and cheese. I know I can get local vinegar at the Ballard Farmers’ Market in Seattle and I’ll try to get down there to get some, but mostly we buy our vinegar in bulk from Costco. We go through quite a bit of oil and vinegar because we always make our own salad dressings, and it doesn’t make sense for us to make a special trip in the car to get “local” vinegar from Ballard. Also, I know there are some wonderful local cheese producers in WA, but we eat a lot of cheese and I buy most of it at Costco. They carry Seattle’s Beechers cheese and we keep that stocked in the fridge, but most of our other cheese is not local. Ok, with that out of the way, let’s talk about our first meal!
This year has been good to us. In addition to our large backyard garden we transformed our front yard into productive growing space as well. We purchased 50+ chickens through Pastured Sensations to share with family and friends, we split a side of beef with family and we foraged wild foods with friends including geoducks, chanterells and nettles. All that adds up to a well stocked pantry and freezer going into my second year of the Dark Days Challenge. When it came time to cook my first DDC meal, I picked an old favorite: Laura’s meatloaf.
I don’t remember having meatloaf too often growing up, but when we did my mom made it in a bread loaf pan. My mom is an excellent cook, but I don’t remember ever requesting her meatloaf or even liking it that much (sorry Mom!). I think I initially tried making Laura’s meatloaf because it required a minimal number of ingredients which I already had on hand, and because she called it “40 Minute Meatloaf”. It’s always good to have some quick and easy mid-week dinner recipes in your back pocket.
The reason I keep making this meatloaf is because it’s SO GOOD. The recipe makes 6 to 8 individual loafs and you brown them before they go into the oven. This allows each loaf to sear and seal in the juices for better flavor. I chop the onions coarsely, which for me really makes this meatloaf great. The larger onion pieces still get cooked tender, but they also retain some of their distinct flavor and crunch. This recipe really can be made quickly and makes delicious leftovers for the rest of the week!
I served the meatloaf with potato/parsnip mashers, sauteed kale and a favorite local Merlot. Almost all the the produce came from our garden. There were a few non-local ingredients, but I’ve listed them below. This was a very satisfying and successful first DDC meal!
(Adapted from Laura’s Meatloaf)
- 1 lb. ground beef (Wild B Ranch, Ethel, WA)
- 1 lb. ground pork (Hempler’s, Ferndale, WA)
- 1/2 medium onion – chopped (organic, WA)
- 3 cloves garlic – minced (backyard)
- 1/3 cup milk (Golden Glen Creamery, Bow WA)
- 1 egg (backyard)
- 3/4 cup bread crumbs (not local – leftover Costco croutons)
- 1/3 cup parsley – chopped (backyard)
- 2 tbs oil (not local – Costco)
- 1/2 cup ketchup (not local- organic Trader Joe’s)
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (not local)
- 2 tbs brown sugar (not local)
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees, heat oil in cast iron skillet until shimmering.
- In a large bowl, mix together the beef, pork, onions and garlic. In a small bowl, whisk together milk, egg, bread crumbs and parsley;
- Combine milk mixture with meat mixture, mix well. Form meatloaf mix into 6 – 8 small loaves, about 4″x2″x2″.
- Put the loaves into the skillet and brown on top and bottom.
- While the loaves are browning, whisk together ketchup, vinegar and sugar. Place browned loaves on broiler pan, top each with ketchup sauce and put into oven.
- Cook at 500 for 8 minutes, adjust heat to 450 and cook an additional 10-20 minutes until thermometer inserted into center of loaf reads 170.
- Let rest 5 minutes and then serve.
- 1 1/2 lb potatoes (frontyard)
- 3/4 lb parsnips (backyard)
- 3 TBS butter (non local – Trader Joe’s)
This is a lazy mashed potato recipe, but it’s really good.
1. Scrub potatoes and parsnips well. Trim ends or blemished areas, but don’t peel.
2. Boil potatoes and parsnip in medium pot until tender. Drain and add back to pot.
3. Add butter and smash with a wooden spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- 1 TBS olive oil (not local – Costco)
- 1 bunch kale (backyard)
- salt to taste
1. Wash and trim the kale.
2. Add olive oil to saute pan. In this case I didn’t wash the skillet from searing the meatloafs and just used the pan dripping to saute the kale. Easy and good!
3. Saute until kale is wilted, but still bright green. Season with a bit of finishing salt to taste.