A Midwinter 100-Mile Feast

Leda stirs the compoteThe occasion was Imbolc, a pagan celebration halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It’s a grand time of year to throw a blow-out feast in my opinion, because the holidays are long over but the winter is still stretching ahead many weeks on the calendar, and a gal’s gotta do something to cheer herself up. Maybe it’s similar thinking that puts Mardi Gras on the calendar at approximately the same time.

For the meal I narrowed my local eating radius from 250 miles to 100. Three friends joined me for the feast, Ellen, Rault, and Jenny, ellen, rault, and jennyand doggie bags were sent to two others unable to make it. For the menu, I canceled my olive oil exemption. What did I use instead? Local duck fat, butter, and schmaltz. But before you scream that this was not a heart-healthy meal, you might want to check out this article on fats, and read Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions. I did still allow myself the salt exemption because technically we could produce salt here, but we could not grow olive trees in our climate.

The Menu:Appetizer of sauteed lamb’s quarters greens from my freezer, ringless honey mushrooms that I dried last fall, leeks, and Long Island duck confit served with toasted acorn bread.

Moussaka. moussakaThis is like a lasagna recipe with lamb, tomato sauce, and bechamel sauce. But instead of pasta, mousaka is layered with eggplant. Since eggplant is a summer vegetable, I used the dried eggplant I put up last August. Moussaka also relies on the classic Greek combination of sweet and savory seasonings, particularly cinnamon and oregano. The latter was no problem since I dried plenty from what I grew in the garden last year. For the cinnamon I substituted spicebush and a little honey.

A salad of watermelon radish, apples, lacto-fermented cabbage and carrots, and roasted squash seeds.a winter salad

Warm apple compote served with spicebush ice cream and butter cookies.

The wines were from Long Island’s North Fork region, and we drank plenty of them but I’m still working on the leftovers.

One of the traditional things to do on Imbolc was to throw a feast using up much of what was in the pantry even though winter was far from over. A bit of bravado, a culinary prayer. Still, the days are noticeably longer and there are buds swelling on some trees. I’m sure there are freezing nights and snow ahead, but the Imbolc landscape is saying, “Soon…”leda’s window midwinterWhich is a nice thing for a locavore to hear. Because the change of season will mean a change in recipes, and I’ll get to set aside winter squash and root vegetables and cabbage (my standard non-feast day fare these days) for fresh-from-the-field greens and…Soon.


Not sure what this is about? Read Getting Ready for the 250-Mile Diet and The Rules

One response to “A Midwinter 100-Mile Feast”

  1. lisatorch says:

    Sounds like a wonderful feast!

    I made a great discovery this past weekend…local (within 250 mile) grass fed beef…right here in Georgia.

    For any of your readers in the South:



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