Saturday, December 01, 2018
Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Seasonal cooking
The thing I like the most about cold weather is that the kitchen is once again a welcoming place. Where my stove is located makes both the kitchen and the family room very warm and in winter, that is appreciated. Other seasons... not so much.
In warmer weather, I make baked potatoes in the microwave but come cold weather, they are a good excuse to turn on the oven. Usually accompanied by some protein and perhaps other veggies roasting. This past week, I found a good price on cauliflower and roasted it for dinner. It turned out pretty good but I think I left the florets too large and they didn't caramelize as much as usual. They were still good.
My favorite veggie to roast is carrots, which are left whole if purchased in the form of baby carrots but sliced in large pieces from a regular sized carrot. They develop a sweetness better than candy. Which is why one has to watch them carefully or they burn on the bottom, which I have done more than once. I call them blackened carrots at that time.
They are great sprinkled with a little sea salt (especially Maldon salt if you have some) and drizzled with some butter. Just a little drizzle of real maple syrup is good, too... but just a little or it is too sweet. I would enjoy a drizzle of sorghum syrup on mine but hubby hates the stuff. Obviously his mother was not from Kentucky!
I think we all have favorite seasonal veggies. I cook cabbage a lot more in cold weather, perhaps because my mother always did or maybe because it is a colder weather favorite in many cultures. Winter squash of all types if a favorite. This Thanksgiving season, I bought the prettiest pie pumpkin on clearance. Not because I was going to use it for a pie but I thought it beautiful. I have been admiring it long enough, now it is now time to cut into slices and roast.
Yesterday, I had chicken stock simmering on the back burner of the stove all afternoon and the aroma was heavenly. I purchased a family pack of chicken legs on sale at Aldi's just to make stock (both the legs and the wings make great stock but the wings no longer go below a dollar a pound where I live).
They were still slightly frozen in the morning so I roasted them for about an hour and let the celery, carrots, onion, and peppercorns simmer while the chicken legs roasted. They joined the stockpot when they were finished, minus the meat from two of the legs (which had to be shared with Florentine). They will simmer maybe another hour today before straining the stock, adding back what meat there is, and throwing in half a package of thin Essenhaus dried noodles.
I plan to reread An Everlasting Meal soon, perhaps right after Christmas. It always is an inspiration and I need ideas for veggie based soup. I remember she talks a lot about soup in the book. I have been using less meat now for a long time, especially ground beef since I have to buy it organic. Chili is on the menu later this week. I make the same recipe I did when there were four of us at home but now I freeze part of it for a later meal.
Now that it is December, it is time to begin the Christmas baking that can be easily frozen ahead of time. This year, I am concentrating on quick breads and my favorite shortbread cookies (I have a Christmas mold for them). They are both easy and well liked. I'm sure other cookies will be made between now and Christmas but the shortbread is definitely first on any list.
It is good to get the cooking/baking mojo back!
Mentioned in this Blog Post
An Everlasting Meal (my favorite book about cooking)... here.
Maldon Salt (the flaky kind of sea salt such as one uses to sprinkle over caramel when making salted caramels... or on veggies before serving)... found here. (Usually available at large grocery stores.) I store mine in a Ball jar to keep moisture out since I don't use it as often as I once did.
Maldon Smoked Sea Salt (I haven't tried this yet but it is going to be a gift for a favorite foodie)... here.
Disclaimer: Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.
Image: Apple Pie Harvest by Janet Kruskamp