Saturday, February 3, 2007

Mid-Winter Crazies...

Yesterday I realized just how the mid-winter crazies can affect me. Here is a photo of our Groundhog Day dinner:

Look! Little ground-turkey groundhogs in mashed potato “snow”! This year, the official little rodent did not see his shadow, so no gravy was required… I made the mistake of splitting the broccoli crowns. I should have steamed them whole so that they would have stood upright. Live and learn. Jack is so patient with his budding lunatic!

Yesterday, before I began sculpting in ground turkey, we took a walk through our woods. It was gorgeous! The snow had been coming down all day and about 5” had settled in. The snowflakes were huge and wet and stuck to even the smallest branches. If I had not been concerned about taking my new camera out in the weather, I would have been able to snap some beautiful photos. I did, earlier in the day, take a few photos around the house when I walked down the driveway to get the mail.

Forward one day.

With the weather forecast to be the coldest we have seen in many years, this is my weekend to cook some hearty comfort food. Since our wonderful 142-year-old farmhouse lacks a heated kitchen (I wonder just what was going through the previous owners’ minds when they did this), I also like to keep the stove going just to maintain a comfortable temperature in that room as I cook.

The first thing to come to mind is chili. And cornbread, too. Also soup. What else for the oven? chocolate-chip banana bread, oven-fried chicken. I am going to make up for those 3 months in the summer when I do not turn the oven on at all (and that reason is lack of air conditioning).

The sky is clear blue with only a few wispy little clouds scattered around, and when I walked outside to fill the birdfeeder this morning the air temperature didn’t feel too bad, but then the wind blew and the frigid air took my breath away. The thermometer says 21˚, but that’s not including the wind chill. Even so, the high for the next few days are forecasted to be in the mid-teens, so I cleaned our cross country skis and boots, and wiped the cobwebs off of the poles, so we will head out after lunch.

To pre-warm us, and provide energy for skiing, I have made soup. My friend Jan sent me a recipe for a copycat version of Olive Garden’s Pasta Roma soup. I love it when she sends me recipes that she has tried because she goes to the trouble to clarify otherwise vague directions, make suggestions, and critique the recipe. The only thing that I did differently was to thicken the soup with arrowroot. Jack (strongly) prefers thicker soups. Along with a couple of slices of that wonderful No-Knead Bread, it makes for a sustaining lunch.

later that afternoon

Well, it was a nice thought. After cleaning the lunch dishes I decided to take a quick trip to the mailbox before we got ourselves outfitted for skiing. If I thought it was cold out earlier, then this was a real shock. So I became the weenie. I decided that nobody should have to venture out into this, and to make my point, I put together a couple of mugs of hot chocolate and asked Jack which he would prefer-- cross-country skiing in a 4F windchill or the more civilized option, hot chocolate inside. The smart man, he came over to my way of thinking!