Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Dark Days Challenge

I’m very pleased to announce I'm helping with the 5th Annual Dark Days Challenge. Along with my fellow writers at Not Dabbling in Normal we'll be working with (not so) Urban Hennery to manage it this year.

What’s the Challenge?
Cook one meal each week featuring SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) ingredients, write about it on your blog (or in the comments here, on Not Dabbling or at Urban Hennery) and email your happy recapper a link to your post.  There's more details in the post and in the right sidebar at the Urban Hennery blog.

We’re still finalizing all the details, but there are likely to be THEME WEEKS and PRIZES and a whole lot of other reasons that this will be the best challenge ever. I'll be recapping participants in the Upper Midwest/Great Lakes region, since I share your challenges.

To sign up, head over here and fill in the form at the bottom of the page.  You need to sign up by December 4, although if you miss the deadline you can still follow along; you just won't be part of the recap.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up! Join in! Cook the winter blahs away with fabulous local food all winter! But seriously, I hope you’ll join us in eating locally, sustainably and fantastically well this year!

The challenge runs from Sunday, November 27th, 2011 to Saturday, March 31st, 2012; check out the Dark Days post (here it is again, in case I haven't linked it enough) for answers to questions on what constitutes "local," how to participate if you don't have a blog, etc.

How do I sign up?
Use the form here (okay, that's 5 copies of the link, if you haven't managed to find it by now, I give up) to join; and make sure to include your location so you get put into the right geographic group!

And finally, remember that pumpkin maple bread I was bragging about? Here it is--made with home-grown pumpkin, local flour and local maple syrup.

Pumpkin Maple Quick Bread

1 cup evaporated, raw, or granulated sugar
1/2 cup maple sugar ($16 a pound. Substitute regular sugar to save money)
1 cup canola oil (if you know that no one with a nut allergy will be eating it, use walnut or hazelnut oil)
1/2 cup maple syrup
½ teaspoon maple extract
3 eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree

3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (or 1 teaspoon pre-ground)
½ teaspoon allspice

Optional: 1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts or hazelnuts and/or plumped raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour two 9x5 inch Pyrex loaf pans. Tap off excess flour from the pans.

Combine the dry ingredients and set aside. Beat together the sugar, oil, maple syrup, and maple extract until smooth and completely combined. Add the eggs and beat until combined. Add the pumpkin and mix until combined. Then add the flour and mix on low speed until just combined. To plump raisins, cover them with water, then microwave for one minute. Drain thoroughly, then add to batter.

Divide the batter equally among two pans. (I made a double recipe, and used mini pans because I had them.) Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place in the pans on a cooling rack, and allow to cool about 10 minutes before removing the loaves from the pans.

Serve with maple butter:
1/2 cup softened butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
pinch of salt

whip until completely combined

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