Monday, February 10, 2014

Surviving a Serious Winter

    Exercise and Rationalize!

Yes, Readers it has been awhile!  The recovery period for Better Half - leaving me as a single urban homesteader, professional commitments and deadlines and the incredible demanding winter (the worst we have experienced in Philly in years) have eaten up the days in ways I never could have imagined.  Those of you out there who have been caregivers for a family member know exactly what I mean.  And the good news is that my Better Half is actually getting more functional with each passing day.  But she can't shovel snow, walk all three dogs at once, do much in the kitchen or drive.  But, we are very lucky.  With the help of good neighbors and friends, we're doing more than OK.

It's funny.  When I started this post, the weather - while cold - was pretty stable.  Now we are a few hours away from the beginning of a Nor'eastern with possibly a foot of snow and ice.  We knew it was coming so I did the "provision run" yesterday for the usual items that give us many options with our Larder and Freezer.  

Some of the things I've been craving and making over the weeks/months of this rough weather period:

Homemade Bread.  There's nothing like it.  And it is easy! The heat, aroma and flavor will lift your spirits and fill your stomach.

Spaghetti, Meatballs, Sausage, and good Red Gravy.  Followed by:  Baked spaghetti - with the left over pasta and sauce. A great way to put those left overs to use in a wonderful, satisfying way.

Soups - we had lots of asparagus from last season in our freezer.  Cream of asparagus soups at this time of year will lift your soul!  Onion soup is also a great idea.  While not creamy it provides a richness, with a bit of cheese melted on top, that will really hit the spot. If you canned tomatoes, or if you have good canned tomatoes, now is your chance to top anything from Campbells with a creamy rich tomato soup.

Shrimp and Grits - You don't need a whole lot of shrimp - just some good sized ones - to add to some creamy, cheesy grits.  Make them a bit spicy too.  Good reheated as well.

Brisket - a few days in a marinade in the 'fridge, a "low and slow" cooking process (adds warmth AND aroma to the house), and the addition of mashed potatoes and maybe a bitter green and you have a real comfort food dinner and fantastic sandwiches, with horseradish cream, for another meal.

Macaroni and Cheese - well, of course, the tried and true Cheddar kind, but also try just grating the pieces of cheese you find in your cheese drawer as well. You'd be surprised the impact of a llittle piece of blue cheese to your mac 'n cheese.  And if you dare, there's always the option of frying squares of what's left over!

Roasted Root Vegetables - spreading long cuts of carrots, butternut squash, and other veg onto cookie sheets topped with evoo, cumin, salt and pepper and maybe some dried pepper flakes (or whatever combination you want) and roasting at high heat, quickly, are delicious and can also be mashed later or processed together and made into a dip.  Really. Try it.

Chops - lamb especially but really gnawing on any bones is a good thing right now.  It is a natural craving and you can feel free to give right into it!

Pork - actually pork anything! - Chops, a loin, big fat sausages, whatever.  This is what you need to take the cold edge off of things!

Stews, chili, chicken pot pies - any and all "one pot" meals provide many options. 

Pancakes for dinner - you know you want it!  And with the addition of breakfast sausage and great maple syrup you will find yourself eating and grinning.  I promise.

Lastly, don't forget Sweets!  Chocolate is very important when the days are short and dark and the temperatures are low.  Of course, chocolate is very important when the days are long and bright and temperatures are high!  But seriously, in this bitter cold, you don't have to rationalize!  I also like to take some of the berries we froze last season to make tarts.  Scones are wonderful to have in the house - and not at all as hard to make as people think.  And, of course, since I make butter at home, Buttermilk Pie and Biscuits are in the house a lot.

My point of sharing these various ideas with you is to reinforce how much better you will feel through these short days, snow storms and bitter cold when you have good food bubbling or baking, lovely aromas wafting through the house and some seriously comforting dishes to eat. Forget guilt!  Choose delicious!  

Stay warm!

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