This is the first week in the Dark Days Challenge, a challenge which asks that one meal each week is cooked using sustainable, local, organic and ethical ingredients. Seeing that I am already challenging myself to switch over to local foods in general, I liked the idea of having support from like-minded individuals during the toughest time of the year to be sourcing locally!

For this challenge, local means within 100 miles, and can stretch a bit farther if needed during these more challenging winter months. I will be including exceptions during my challenge to allow for coffee, chocolate, oils, and spices (these items will be sourced ethically and sustainably even though they will not be from New England).

Serendipity has stepped in, and my first meat CSA from Chestnut Farms came this past weekend, which has made the start of this challenge much easier! Additionally, the folks at Lemon Thyme Farm partner with a local shop so I am able to get milk, cheese, and vegetables locally as well! So for dinner tonight I have made an herb roasted chicken with a turnip au gratin.

Fresh ingredients: Veggies from Lemon Thyme Farm, and cheese from Vermont to make the Turnip Au Gratin. The dish has a bit of a sweet taste from the apples which rounds out the bitterness of the turnips. I chose a sharp cow cheese but a softer cheddar or any other cheese which is locally available to you would work nicely as well. I also used thyme as my seasoning because I have a small plant still hanging on in my window box, but again- any savory herb which you might still find locally would work nicely.

The turnips must be peeled before cutting them into thin strips. I chose to use a variety of turnips available this past week at the farmers market. This one was particularly beautiful.

I served the chicken over a bed of sauteed onions and seasoned it with salt, pepper and thyme. A nice local wine and this meal is complete!