Saturday, December 01, 2018

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Seasonal cooking

We have had an unusually early cold spell with snow off and on this year.  It seems to be this way through a lot of the States and except for a brief respite from time to time... I think winter is officially here.

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.

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Image:  Apple Pie Harvest by Janet Kruskamp


Darwin Girl said...

I love the picture, it’s so dreamy.

mdoe37 said...

Hmmm... soup! It just started to rain here in The Mitt. Dreary day. Rhonda Hetzel posted a recipe for VEgetable Soup w/meatballs. I need to haul that one out again. Its that time of the weather.

Anonymous said...

We need to cook more from home and the winter is the perfect time as you so aptly describe!!We want to make more using the crock pot. Nothing like great chicken soup is there? Wish you had a Trader Joe's...that is where I usually get frozen chicken wings...I do watch for markdowns on them as we love some baked BBQ chicken wings at times (we use Wilber's BBQ sauce). We need 10-12 for a meal...and I have often gotten them very cheap...just check out the markdown section at a good grocery store. Happy cooking!!

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I cook very differently in the cold weather months than I do in the warm weather months.

I have An Everlasting Meal, too! I should get it out again as well.

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

We love soup time! And cookie time. Because Emily and her husband have something to attend tomorrow afternoon,our first Advent singing will be today, with "kaffee und kuchen", usually in the form of cookies, afterwards. Somehow, now that December has begun, I feel full of Christmas spirit! Maldon, salt..........I had some but it was languishing at the back of an upper shelf I cannot reach without a little stepladder, but my son pulled it down this morning when he was looking for something else. I will certainly be roasting some vegetables. I have carrots, but may look for parsnips which we also love, ditto cabbage which we eat just cut up (not as thinly as for cole slaw) and saute. Your post made me happy but also slightly hungry today, Brenda! May you have all the joy of this season!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip about the Maldon salt. Must try it.

We like carrots with a little cinnamon on them. Sometimes I cook them with parsnips. They go good together.

Chicken wings are more expensive now that they are popular for snacks. Chicken thighs make good soup and they're cheaper. The only thing is you have to pull the skin off before they go in the soup pot or the soup will be 'fatty.'

Vee said...

Your mentioning “The Everlasting Meal” so many times is the reason I now have it in my library. I must get it out for a bit of dipping in and out myself. I also watched an excellent Netflix program on cooking and the science of it. I thought at first that perhaps the host was the author of “The Everlasting Meal,” but no. (Can not remember the name and a search has not helped.) Your description of your cozy kitchen with broth simmering and the oven going makes me want to whip up some chicken soup. Alas, it is snowing again and I am unprepared. Some day, I’ll catch on to your teaching here. 😉

Carol said...

I love roasted cauliflower and we may have that tomorrow evening with a meal. Not sure what tonight will bring for dinner as I will be going to celebrate Christmas with dear friends today.

Debi said...

I love roasted vegetables of all kinds and like you, I love having the oven on during cold, dreary days. I've not ever made soup stock from chicken legs but I'm definitely going to try it. Thanks for sharing that!

Anonymous said...

We like carrots and swede mashed together with a little salt and pepper.
Sometimes I've used this as a topping for Cottage Pie instead of the original mash potato covering.
I also like my favourite vegetables roasted - brussels sprouts and parsnips.
Brussels sprouts are also lovely sauteed with chopped bacon rashers.
Ooh! My mouth is watering now! :)
Kay in UK