gearing up for the dark days blogging challenge

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My entire house smells like the floral, slightly apply, slightly pineapply fruit most of us wouldn’t even recognize: the quince.  It’s a part of the supplies I’m gathering as part of the 3rd annual Dark Days blogging challenge, run by Laura of (not so) Urban Hennery up in the great rainy north (Washington).  I and a bunch of other food bloggers will prepare and serve one completely local meal through the roughest days of the year in terms of local produce: late fall, winter, and early spring.  It is going to be a challenge, but I’m excited about it, since I’m already learning a great deal about sourcing local grains and other necessities.  You can bet my preserved foods are going to be a big part of the challenge, and I’ve been looking through my freezer for what I managed to save over the summer.

If you’re interested in playing along, follow the link above (also listed on the right side column as a pretty little button) and join me!

As for the quince, he and his brothers will meet a sad but delicious end as a cooked, strained juice.  Quince is high in natural pectin, so it makes a great addition to jams and jellies.  It’s also delicious served as a compote.

I see quince as a long-lost friend because I had an alphabet book that couldn’t find anything else in the child’s universe for Q other than a quince.  A quince, sure!  Little did I know that unlike the banana or dog or umbrella, I wouldn’t see a live quince until college.  And, truth be told, it ain’t much to look at, either.  But the smell, oh man, words can’t even begin to describe it.  If you find an ugly, bumpy, yellow (or green that will ripen to lemon yellow) thing in the produce bin, pick it up and breathe it in.  There’s nothing like it in the world.

Edited to add:  Looking for quince recipes?  Our own Laura McCandlish, a Corvallis-based food blogger, has gathered a handful from various cooks, near and far, for an article for NPR’s Kitchen Window.