Tag Archives: cooking

What Do You Do When It Is Subfreezing Temperatures?

We are warm and cozy indoors, the thermostat is set at 68f, but that is not what it is like outdoors.  This is what it is:



It is still gusty wind, so the wind chill makes it too uncomfortable to go play in the snow.  Let me qualify that and state that I have played in the snow, on skis at that temperature, wearing lots of windproof and waterproof layers, but I don’t want to put on ski clothes to take a walk, so until the sun warms things up to the upper teens and the wind dies down, I’ll stay inside and …



Start http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/zuzus-petals, a cowl out of Mountain Colors Bearfoot yarn in Lupine color for me.



Make chili, enough for lunch and 2 quarts for the freezer.  Actually, I spent yesterday while it was snowing making this, starting with dry beans, my small crockpot, lots of onions, jalapenos, garlic, and tomatoes from last summer’s garden and a pound of grass finished ground beef from the farmer’s market.



Collect and admire the hen gems, admiring the variation of color and size that the hens produce.  I need to enjoy this now, because come spring, I will be replacing many of the hens with more Buff Orpingtons and the variation will cease, but the flock will be self sustaining.  The collecting process involves layering scarf, hat, gloves, barn jacket and barn boots several times a day as eggs freeze and crack at these temperatures more quickly than you would believe.


The pretty tan birds are the Buffs and again they are in their coop, refusing to step out into the snow and the cold.  The Oliver Egger, my Houdini finally peeked out and I learned how she has been escaping, chased her back in and sealed up her escape hole.  If she gets caught outside the fence with no way back in, she will likely end up with frostbite or dead.

The dogs and I enjoyed some of their gifts for breakfast.


And read of course.  The current book is The Bloodletter’s Daughter (A Novel of Old Bohemia) by Linda Lafferty.  An interesting historical fiction, set toward the end of the Ottoman Empire, utilizing authentic locations and some characters but playing more on their insanity that history truly reveals.

So how do you spend shut in days?




Another Comfort Day

When we went to bed last night it was snowing and the ground was lightly covered.  It was around freezing outside and we had hope of rising this morning to our first real snowfall of the winter.  Instead, we woke to bright sun, 17f (-8c) temperatures and 35 mph wind.  The snow from last night was piled in neat dunes along the edges of each pass of the brush hog from the last mowing.  It is now mid afternoon and the temperature has only edged up to 22f (-5.5c) and not expected to rise further today and the wind is still howling.

When I was a child, on especially cold winter days (I’m from Virginia Beach, so it was rarely this cold), my Mom would make Vegetable Soup.  Her veggie soup had a soup bone in it and was made with canned veggies, but it was comfort food.  I cook much differently than my mother did, using fresh or fresh frozen veggies and only grass finished, pasture raised meat.  Hubby would rather have stew than soup, I prefer the soup.  On this cold winter day, I decided that we could have the best of both with a pound of stew meat in the freezer, plenty of our homegrown peas, green beans and tomatoes in the freezer, potatoes, carrots,celery, onions and garlic in the root cellar or refrigerator and dried herbs in the spice drawer in the kitchen.  The base for the soup as I make it and the stew are the same and from there I will diverge.


Vegetable Beef Soup

1 lb stew beef (or venison) lightly browned in a heavy stock pot with olive oil

1 large onion coarsely chopped

4 large cloves of garlic coarsely chopped

3 stalks celery with leaves, sliced about 1/4″ thick

1 Tbs dried basil

2 bay leaves

1 quart broth or water plus 2 cups water

1 c peas

2 c green beans cut in 1″ pieces

3 medium potatoes scrubbed and diced

2 carrots sliced

2 c crushed tomatoes

Saute the beef in olive oil til no outer surfaces are pink.  Add onion and continue to saute until onion is translucent, add garlic and saute for about 2 minutes, add celery, basil and bay leaves and stir to coat.  Add broth and water, bring to a boil and reduce heat to a low simmer for at least 2 hours.  Add tomatoes, potatoes and carrots and cook until potatoes and carrots are nearly tender, add peas and beans until thawed and hot through.  Serve with bread for a complete comfort dinner.


Before I met my husband (a long, long time ago), I was a non meat eater and owned several nutrition and cook books that have long since passed from my library.  One of those cook books, The Vegetarian Epicure, I think, had a recipe for Herb and Onion Bread which became a favorite with my family.  It is a quick bread that can be made easily in an afternoon.  It doesn’t require kneading, though, I often stiffen it a bit and knead it anyway.  It makes a lovely accompaniment to a soup or stew.


Herb and Onion Bread

1/2 c scalded milk cooled to warm

1 1/2 Tbs raw sugar

1 tsp salt

1 Tbs soft butter

1/2 c warm water

1 Tbs dry yeast

2 1/4 c flour

1/2 small onion minced

1 tsp crushed rosemary

1/2 tsp dill weed dry

Dissolve sugar, salt and butter in cooled milk.  Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add milk mixture, flour, onion and herbs and stir vigorously with a heavy spoon until smooth.  Cover bowl and allow to rise to triple bulk, about 45 minutes.  Stir down and beat vigorously.  Turn into a greased loaf pan and let stand 10 minutes in a warm draft free location.  Bake @ 350f until done. (the recipe said 1 hour, however, I have never with any oven in any location I have lived been able to bake it more than about 45 minutes without it getting too brown and dry, just check it after about 45 minutes and decide).

Tonight we will both enjoy our own version of comfort food, as I will remove the meat and portion of the broth and add about half of the potatoes and carrots to it to cook then thicken for stew and add the other half of the potatoes and carrots along with the other vegetables to make my soup and we will both enjoy the bread.  What better way to spend a cold windy afternoon than filling the house with the aromas of homemade soup and bread.

Life is indeed good on our mountain farm.

Another food day

Today was a rainy day.  It started with frozen rain and a slick walk to the chicken coop to let them out, but then the rain set in.  Rainy days are comfort food days and as I had put away tomatoes in the freezer last summer and fall, after blanching, peeling and crushing them, I decided it would be a good day for a big pot of pasta sauce.  There are onions in the house, carrots in the fridge, celery that I had chopped and frozen, lots of garlic from last summer’s garden and the herb and spice supply well stocked.  I don’t use jarred sauce, well not commercial jarred sauce.  Instead, when I make sauce, I make plenty, jar up the extra in wide mouth pint jars and then either can or freeze it for a quick meal on another day.  My sauce takes many hours of simmering, but is so worth the effort.

Our use of the post holiday discount that we got from the local grocery had resupplied the dry pasta supply as well, so homemade sauce and angel hair was the meal of the evening.

Pasta Sauce

2 medium onions chopped

1 head of garlic peeled and minced

4 stalks of celery chopped

2 carrots, diced

12 cups of crushed tomatoes

1-2 Tbs dried oregano

1-2 Tbs dried basil

1 Tbs fennel seed

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

2 tsp salt (if tomatoes are unsalted)

EVOO to coat the bottom of a heavy pot

Saute the onions, celery and carrots until the onions are translucent.  Add the garlic and stir for a minute or two until the garlic is fragrant.  Add the tomatoes, herbs, fennel and salt, bring to a low boil and reduce to a low simmer for several hours, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking.  As the sauce thickens, break up the tomatoes and adjust seasoning to taste.

At this point, precooked Italian sausage links or crumbled sausage can be added if desired.  Hubby likes it with meat, I am just as happy with it as it.

Serve over the pasta of your choice and top with shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese and more crushed red pepper if you want more spice. 20130908_143737

This comfort meal provided a great meal for 2 plus 5 pint jars of sauce for the freezer for an easy meal on another night.

Mexican Night

Today is the day that our eldest son and family arrive to spend Christmas with us.  Today is Saturday and Saturday at their house is Mexican night.  The family is trying to learn Spanish, so on Saturday night, when son hasn’t had to work all day at the University, he prepares a Mexican dinner and they watch a movie in Spanish.

If you have been following my blog for at least a few weeks, you know that we spent the first week of December in Mexico, Zihuatanejo, on the southern Pacific side of Mexico, a quaint fishing village with lots of seafood as their traditional food, but it is in the state of Guerrero which is also noted for its Pozole Verde.  It is traditionally served in restaurants on Thursdays and we had a Pozole Verde lunch on our second day there.  I have had white and red Pozole before, but this was so much better.

When we arrived home, I searched the web for a recipe and found this http://www.patismexicantable.com/2011/09/you_know_you_want_it_green_pozole/.  It looks like the soup we had in Mexico and I decided to give it a try to help them carry on their tradition.  As we raise some meat chickens, I had a nice plump bird in the freezer for the meat base.  Being a locavore, the other ingredients don’t really fit my life style, limes, avocados, and tomatillos (this time of year) and as dry hominy is not available here, I bought Mexican style canned.  The recipe says it is better reheated, so Thursday afternoon and evening, I stewed the chicken in the crockpot, deboned and shredded it and added it back to the broth.  It was put aside in the soup pot in the refrigerator until Friday, when I added the Mexican hominy and made the verde sauce and added it.  It went back in the refrigerator until just before dinner today, it will be cooked for the last 30-45 minutes and the garnishes will be cut and put in service bowls and we will see how authentic it tastes.



Now if I could just find recipes for the tiny hot pepper stuffed empanadas and the tiny cheese stuffed fried cones of masa to accompany it, I could at least dream that we were back in Mexico on a Thursday.