This year I signed up for Urban Hennery’s Dark Days Challenge where you commit to eat at least one meal a week from SOLE (Sustainable Organic Local Ethical) ingredients from December 1 – April 15.  For this challenge I am following the standard rules – using a 150 mile radius for the definition of local and not worrying about SOLE for items like spices and oils. 

The only “twist” I am adding is that I am doing this challenge Paleo.  Paleo isn’t difficult – basically you eat meat and vegetables with a little bit of fruit and nuts/seeds.  To get the full benefit you should focus on high quality foods; grass-fed beef, free range organic chickens and eggs, lots (and I mean lots) of organic vegetables.  Eating paleo also means no gluten and other grains, dairy, legumes and sugar (ok I am making a small exception for the chutney I put up this summer that has small amounts of sugar in it).  I know this may put me at odds with some of the vegetarians out there and while I appreciate the moral arguments for moving to a plant-based diet, a vegetarian diet does not work for my body.   After gall bladder disease caused by gluten intolerance and post knee surgery inflammation issues – I had to find a different way.    If you want more information about paleo eating I suggest checking out Robb Wolf and the folks over at Whole Nine

With my ground rules out-of-the-way …. here’s how I hope to manage this challenge – first resource New Seasons Markets, a Portland treasure, which lets you know where your food is from.  We also have a  freezer full of grass-fed beef from the folks at Bald Hill Farms.   Finally, we have some stuff preserved and in cold storage from the summer – but the summer of 2010 in Portland wasn’t much of a summer so I will be getting creative with locally grown greens and adding cold frames to our vegetable garden as this challenge progresses (just waiting until we get enough daylight to actually grow something).  I can guarantee you will see at least one (if not more than one) recipe involving green tomato chutney because well … my tomatoes never ripened so we have lots of it.

On to week one of the challenge…for dinner we grilled up some flat-iron steaks  and made a saute of mustard greens (locally grown) and shallots (from our garden) with local nitrate free bacon.  The meal was finished off with some Hood River pears.

Flat iron steak - grass fed

Not much to this recipe – season the steak with salt/pepper and grill until your desired doneness is reached.  While steak is resting – heat up some olive oil in the same skillet, add in chopped bacon slices and cook until almost done, add in chopped shallots, wait 30 seconds and then the chopped greens.  Be careful – I had some flames shooting as the water on the greens hit the oil.  Also – this part goes fast – it doesn’t take long until the greens are just wilted – you do not want your greens cooked to the point of being gooey.  Remove from the pan and plate with the steak.  For two of us I used two small steaks, a full bunch of mustard greens, two slices of bacon and one shallot.

Lots of greens with just a touch of bacon to go with the steak