Saturday, January 26, 2013

Worrying, Simplifying and Soup!

Well, I have been complaining about the need for Winter to get on with it already.  My demands have been answered!  And then some.  Twelve degrees overnight; 22 during the day - yes, thank you, that's Winter!

So, now like the good homesteader/gardener I am trying to be, I am in a panic over the cold frame!  After the whole thing crashed in a wind and rain storm in the Fall, we reconstructed it as a long box with the heavy translucent plastic we used enclosing the entire box. We raised the "roof" of plastic to about 15 inches above the dirt. The theory is that the higher the ceiling, the warmer the frame will stay.  It is sealed tight all around and, during this cold snap, I am obsessed with it.  The torture is that I can't actually see into it clearly, so either everything is frozen solid and dead or the structure is working and the temperature inside remains above freezing. Opening it would be supreme stupidity, so fingers crossed, the structure works.  If it hasn't,  I have learned something for next year.  Fingers crossed.

Simplifying, downsizing and de-cluttering

The projects continue.  Last night we put out six or seven contractor's bags from the third floor office/library cleanup. The floors are done and cleaned up beautifully.  We continue to work up there but now the work is much more fun - hanging art, going through the library shelves and dusting books and making the stacks look nice (OK for me that's fun!), and yes, getting rid of even more unused stuff.  With a cold snowy weekend, I predict this room will be done very soon.

Cold Weather Comfort Foods

A few days ago, I  noticed that we had a lot of potatoes down in the cold storage (our basement) - many of them looked like they should be used soon. It was very cold. Cream of potato soup seemed the clear answer.

Recipe:  Cream of Potato Soup

The beauty of this recipe is its flexibility.  Use onion - or leeks or green onions; bacon is great but ham works well too.  A little sautéed celery, with leaves, adds a nice flavor too.  If you don't have chicken stock, use water and maybe season a bit more. The non-negotiable here is richness.  Use the heavy cream. Use the butter. It's a cold weather treat.

Ingredients (what I used last time at least):

5-6 medium size potatoes (whatever is hanging around), peeled and chopped
Two medium leeks, dark green ends cut off, sliced vertically, washed and chopped
Two small garlic cloves, sliced
Three or four slices of bacon - I had thick cut for this preparation - chopped
Three to four cups of low salt chicken stock
Three to four tablespoons of butter
One cup of heavy cream


Cook the chopped bacon in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven - use medium heat, you want the bacon to give off a good deal of its fat.
When the bacon is darkening a bit and you have a good amount of bacon fat, remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and put the bacon bits aside for later.  Put  the chopped leeks, the garlic, and the chopped potatoes into the pot and add a tablespoon or two of butter.

Toss everything together, let everything sizzle for awhile - here you are getting good flavor into the potatoes.
After about 3-4 minutes of tossing and sizzling, add the chicken stock to cover everything
Bring the stock to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cover the pot and let it cook for 20 minutes or so or until your potatoes are fork tender.

When the potatoes are done, mash some and stir the mixture. You can use an immersion blender here too but don't blend everything because you want a little bit of chunky.
Add the cream and the remaining butter, along with the chopped bacon and
salt and freshly ground pepper.
Fantastic! It will warm you up and is a meal in itself.

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