Als ich wisse das Morgen der Erde enden wuerde, immernoch wurd ich mein Apfelbaum pflanzen.

Even if I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

"Factory work's easier on the back, and I don't mind it, understand, but a man becomes what he does. Got to watch that. That's why I keep at farmin' although the crops haven't ever throve. It's the doin' that's important." Madison Wheeler in Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Working With What I've Got

Some of you have written recently about craving the simplicity of  winter following the business of Christmas.  You enjoy cleaning out the decorations and getting the house back to normal.  I enjoy that too, but one of my other favorite parts of winter is seeing how long I can go without buying groceries.

I love to cook and entertain, so I do a lot of that over the holidays.  I hosted eleven major dinner celebrations with family and friends, baked countless cookies and loaves of bread for gifts, and I splurged on items I don't normally buy during the rest of the year.  For a few weeks my kitchen was stuffed to bursting with local meats, cheeses, dairy items (oh heavenly cream), extra eggs and produce I didn't grow.  I love supporting our local farmers - but it's pricey. By the time January rolls around my wallet needs to get fatter and my waistline needs to be thinner.

One method to achieving both goals is to cook using just what I have.  At the moment I'm pretty well stocked, but I won't be replacing staples as they're used up.  I'll look for alternatives - olive oil instead of butter, etc.  I like to see how long I can keep this game going - most years I manage to buy very few groceries until Easter.  We eat what's in the freezer, in the canning cupboard and what's in the root cellar.  I'll start growing sprouts again, and later this month when I'm desperate for something green I'll go check on the lettuce under the row covers.

Some people probably think this is a crazy experiment.  I enjoy the challenge and I love watching the numbers on the VISA bill and the scale go down.  By the time the spring rolls around I'll be ready for my CSA share and I'll be back to buying butter, milk and cheese, but until then I'll hunker down and eat what I can find around here.

I'm curious.  Does anyone else do this?  How do you simplify in the winter?

Here's a sample of what's on the menu.

Savory Roasted Acorn Squash

Remove seeds and slice acorn squash (keep skin on).  Place on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and fresh sage.  Roast at 350 for 20 - 30 minutes.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and honey (if desired).


Roasted Butternut Squash

Peel and cube butternut squash.  Toss with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, fresh rosemary and sage.  Roast for 20 - 30 minutes at 350.  Serve by itself, or with a mushroom sauce topping.


 Orange Beets

Cook and peel beets.  Add a similar amount of chopped oranges and about 1 T of cornstarch.  Cook until heated through and thick.

 Pumpkin Pancakes

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 t. salt
2 c. soy milk, nut milk, milk or water
2 T honey
1 T baking powder
1 c. pumpkin puree

Mix all together and cook on the griddle.

Pumpkin Pancakes with Big Oaks Farm Maple Syrup (from Farmer Dan) glowing in the sunlight

French Onion Soup

This is how I used the last of the onions.  Delish..

Saute a slew of onions in butter or olive oil.  Cook them over a really low heat until they turn all golden and caramelized.  Add water or more butter/oil as needed. 

Add a bunch of broth (beef or vegi bullion works well) until you have enough (this will depend on the amount of onions with which you started).

Take some good bread.  Toast thick slices, then melt a slice of swiss cheese over the top (broiler or microwave works fine).  Float the cheesy bread on the bowls of soup and sigh - this is perfection.

Part of me wishes I'd waited and not used all of the onions on this soup, but the rest of me is so, so very glad I indulged.

Sweet Potato Waffles and Migas

Make your regular waffle recipe.  Add 1 c . mashed sweet potato, chopped walnuts and nutmeg. 

Migas is a Mexican breakfast meal that is fantastic all day long.

Cut several corn tortillas into strips and fry until crispy. Remove onto a paper towel to drain off the grease.  Saute chopped onions and peppers in the same skillet.  Scramble 6 eggs and add them to the skillet.  Then add a jar of tomatoes and chili powder to your taste ( 1/2 - 1 T).  If you're out of peppers and onions you can substitute a jar of salsa and a small jar of tomatoes.   Turn off the heat and mix in the tortillas.  Serve with black beans and extra hot peppers for those who like it spicy.

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